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Massive, Illicit Bust of Edward Snowden Stuck to a War Monument in Brooklyn (animalnewyork.com)
696 points by jdi626 on Apr 6, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 360 comments



It's interesting to see that these people (1) installed the bust in such a way that it can be easily removed without damaging the existing structure and (2) went to great lengths to ensure that the new design is honoring the aesthetics that were already in place.

One can argue otherwise, but I think this is a very creative and considerate form of protest which btw is also non-violent.


As I said in another response: it's a political statement made with public art. As far as Parks and Rec is concerned, it's big heavy piece of vandalism, the integrity of which they know nothing about.

To put this in a programmer's perspective: imagine if artists wanting to make political statements suddenly started littering your linux kernel with binary blobs which caused your boot screen to flash an image of Snowden. Let's pretend that this version of the kernel is hosted on an otherwise trusted package cache, and nobody is actually verifying checksums and so thousands of unsuspecting developers now have this tainted kernel. Funny? Innocuous? Ingenious? Perhaps, but I'd be amazed if you all didn't wipe your disks right then and there.

Edit: I don't mind downvotes (this is my most downvoted chain of comments so far). However if you do, please take some time to contribute to the discussion with a substantive argument. I fully support Snowden, these artists, and the Parks department here. My argument here is only an attempt to make better sense of what people seem to be ignoring for the sake of a political argument which many of us want to support.


Vastly different. In this situation, it's very clear what you need to do to remove the addition to the sculpture park.

In your example, the presence shows that the integrity of your system has been compromised. If this sculpture showed up inside of a high security museum display case, then your analogy would make sense.


Well as someone who lives right nearby, visits the park from time to time, knows people who work in the park... the integrity of their system has been compromised. Sure, the threat may be considered pretty mundane (by non-sculptors at least; anyone who has watched art students attempt large sculptural installations may get a twitch) but I think that you are massively underestimating the expectation of infrastructural safety in public parks.

https://web.archive.org/web/20111221041147/http://www.artfla... http://www.theguardian.com/local-government-network/2014/jun... http://hyperallergic.com/11146/8-deadly-works-of-art/


The integrity of the park against carrying junk into it is basically zero. Not an issue.


Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean– litter? Or "junk" as in something hidden in the statue (far more conspiratorial than I intended this whole discussion to go)?

Edit: I think I know what you mean based on your other reply to me; I'll respond there unless you want to clarify anyway.


I think he's saying that if it weren't handled as a political statement, there's no realistic defense against trash being brought into the park. It's the responsibility of the maintainers to notice - not people to prevent the natural flow of life from happening.

People leave cool stuff places. It happens. I mean how many times have cell phones been left somewhere on accident say, which if it was on purpose doesn't matter either -- OH NO, PARK BENCH SSL CERT MITM ATTACKED, PURGE YOUR LUNCHBOXES

No, it's an object left/put there. So unput it there. That's what parks & recreation does all the rest of the time. Now it's a rad piece of art, not a cell phone, not an umbrella, etc.


I think the point is that people are carrying binary blobs and littering the "kernel" (park) 24/7. That they were able to sneak a political statement onto a pedestal in a public place isn't shocking or fundamentally security-breaking.

And they're in the right, so there is that.


Absolutely, you can define this act as vandalism. And although I appreciate you framed your analogy such that it can be understood by the HN audience, it does not account for the nature of these two systems, Linux kernel vs social groups. You cannot always transfer the techniques or properties which work in one world, to another, and expect similar results.

The Linux kernel represents a collection of modules, which are predictable and fairly reliable, and as such the Linux kernel is to a certain extent fairly deterministic. A small change compromises the integrity of the entire system, as defined by its checksums.

People on the other hand are not as predictable and not at all reliable when compared to code bases. Therefore, a collection of individuals is a fairly probabilistic system. And as such, a small change in someone's, albeit not harmful behavior, will do little to compromise the integrity of our society.

And by the say, the Linux kernel you were talking about (for which supposedly you have the checksums) is static, whereas you could better describe our society as a dynamic, ever evolving system. You wouldn't compute the checksums of a running program, now would you?


Indeed, the analogy is rough and probably reveals that I am not a programmer by trade. As with all analogies, one hopes that others can lift them into slight abstraction in order to find the meaning and reach a similar conclusion or line of thought at least. Even if I could be helped in improving it, analogies are virtually never airtight– in this case comparing a physical park to software is not without difficulty. Sadly I can't think of any prankware that would really get the message across here.

Edit: Re-reading your comment I might have missed a few parts so I'll reply back while waiting for paint to dry (fun day).

I wasn't trying to equate the two systems or their intricacies and behavior. Rather, we are given some system with rules which govern what we expect it to "be". (I could say do, but consider this the "state" of the system; if it is code, it is not executing but just lines of code in files.) When that system is changed in a way we do not expect by an action that we had prior expectations for, we generally try to revert that action. You are responsible for your system, so you can do what you like. Parks and Rec is responsible for this park, and all of its users and rightly intends to remove this unexpected modification, regardless of its origin or meaning.

I'm just realizing what a missed opportunity to be hip it was– when you let a friend provision your vagrant images with unknown docker containers with [insert unexpected behavior] just before distributing it to thousands of users... (The potential danger of the thing would be a side-effect though so this one's not so good either. I tried!)


Depending on what you mean by "otherwise trusted", I would either not care or freak out worrying that I got something other than the Snowden blob.

Just displaying an image would be easy to verify with a disassembler. And it's misleading to use 'binary blob' as an analogy to a simple statue. Most binary blobs are effectively impossible to examine fully.


>> "...easy to verify with a disassembler."

Have to laugh at this, because only on HN is the use of a disassembler considered "easy."

True story, I program computers for a living, and I have literally no idea how to verify anything at all with a disassembler. Or even approximately how one works.


And whose fault is that? As a professional you should at least be aware (just aware, no need to be any kind of expert) of the pipeline you use. Which in this case is anything from your high level language of choice, all the way down to the actual electrons.

Knowing that, you should realize that a disassembler is just one or two of those steps reversed, the "assembler" steps, which should make if pretty much self-explanatory.


We're talking about a breach of a major distribution. It's the job of someone in charge to do the analysis, not every single end user. To them, it is easy.

And I'm talking about looking at a 20 byte function; you could figure it out if you wanted.


Read my analogy again (despite it's flaws). It isn't mainline kernel development has been breached. It is more like *Ubuntu accidentally set `APT::Get::AllowUnauthenticated "true";` and then thousands of users upgraded from a tainted mirror[1]. Regardless of how you lay blame, Canonical would have a responsibility to undo that action.

[1] I don't use Ubuntu so maybe it doesn't fully apply here. On Arch using pacman, the list of mirrors/caches is mostly commented out so that people can choose their own. They are "trustworthy" essentially until they're not, but we have signature checking to fall back on. In the physical world we don't have this, thus the setup of my (again, flawed) analogy.

Any more involved than that and it's missing the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I admit that the disassembler response made me chuckle.


I'm not sure what your objection is to my post. If Ubuntu sets AllowUnauthenticated, then it's Ubuntu's job to check the server logs and at least attempt to analyze what the kernel module actually does. If they find out it's two lines of code and is completely harmless, they can tell all their users that.

The point is that you're using 'binary blob' to sound scarier than it is. With a statue there's no reason to fear it (for reasons explained in other posts). With an image displayer an expert can poke it and then announce there's no reason to fear it.

You're telling me I should be ready to wipe my disks then and there, even though it's just an image displayer, but that's an overreaction. Your analogy just strengthens the point that the park shouldn't panic.


Any repository worth trusting would have exactly zero binary blobs, and a strong policy to ensure this. If you get your kernels from blob peddlers, displaying an image seems a lot more benign than something like iwlwifi. Disabling the former won't impact your work, the latter holds a part of your hardware hostage.


By otherwise trusted I simply mean that it is included by default, not that you specifically trust the source.

Is the the park's reaction much different from using a disassembler? They cover it up so until someone can come to inspect it and then remove it. You can't just look at it and say "yep, that's a perfectly normal bronze sculpture alright" without inspecting it (requiring removal).


The hiding is totally unrelated to removal, which is totally unrelated to realizing that it's a statue.

So yes very different.

And if they wanted to set up something dangerous, it would be easier to make it hidden. There's no good reason to suspect the statue is dangerous.


No, it's the universal sign for "this is the thing that needs to be removed". Unfortunately they don't have cones which read "unauthorized object subject to removal immediately" which would get the point across while preserving people's ability to see it until it was removed or properly evaluated. That would make the whole issue of removal look even more Orwellian though, would it not?

The reason why I brought up the potential danger of the statue is not because I or anyone expects it to be dangerous. (For a relevant incident though, remember the Boston Aqua Teen Hunger Force stuff... that got a terrible reaction, even though anyone who has ever played with electronics could tell that they were harmless. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Boston_bomb_scare ) I bring it up because it is both department policy and perfectly valid from the perspective of anyone who works to ensure safety in parks. If some circumstance, however crazy, causes someone to become injured by the installation then it's going to be a much bigger headache to Parks and Rec than a bunch of us calling them fascists/communists/whatever else is going on in here.

Edit: In case I wasn't clear, the point of my analogy is that... as far as you know it's just an image on the boot screen. As far as you know, it's just a sculpture that's properly installed and isn't going to just roll off as soon as some kids try to climb it (park employees try to stop this too, but it's still common esp. at this park). If it was an official installation, presumably Parks and Rec would have enough confidence in the work itself to say "this is fine" and then take responsibility for it in the future. Perhaps a better analogy would've been if someone pulled a similar stunt on NYPL's public computers or something, shrug. (I have no righteous love for my own analogy here, I just thought it would make the issue a little more clear. I seem to have been wrong about that.)


Something getting on my computer has massive potential to be malicious, and has bypassed security to get there.

A statue stuck in a park has no more potential to be malicious than a random rock, and has not bypassed meaningful security.

That's a big difference.

The argument of "it exists, therefore it 'could' be malicious" is trash. They 'could' alter anything in the park to be malicious. In the computer scenario I'm not worried because I know they put the image there. I'm worried because I know they could have put a malicious payload anywhere in the system, and I wouldn't be able to find it. But a park never has security. It's always true that someone could bring a malicious object into a park and stick it somewhere random.

It's okay to remove the statue, it's foolish to act like it's scary, and it's annoyingly political that it gets ultra-top-priority and covered with a tarp.

And just because department policy is to overreact doesn't make it valid to overreact. I hope Boston is mocked forever for their reaction to blinking lights, especially because they were doing it out of fear of blame. Fear of blame is a terrible motivator.


    - Smuggling a heavy bronze statue into a park has bypassed
      security (yes, parks have security).
    - Statues have potential but very small likelihood of being
      'malicious'.
    - Heavy statues have great potential to cause physical harm when
      not properly built or installed.
    - This potential for harm is considered minimal to non-existant
      when the sculpture is commissioned or otherwise created by people with
      known identities.
    - When some idiot goes into a park and stabs somebody, it's a
      police issue.
    - When a passerby (or some idiot trying to climb it) gets hurt by
      large, official looking part of the park, it's a city issue (lawsuit).
A random rock that's 100# and 8' off the ground is, potentially, a dangerous rock.

Your reasoning around my analogy actually illustrates my point fairly well– I'm afraid there isn't much I can do to bridge our disagreement there.

Rather than the city of Boston be mocked for their overreaction, I would be much happier if we improved our education in electronics. And other things, because education is the best way we know how to conquer fear in an institutional setting.

The idea that this had "ultra-top priority" because of its political nature is, while possible, extremely unlikely. The chance that its political nature was even noticed by the people responsible for removing it are incredibly slim, and if anything I'm surprised at how long it took for it to get a tarp over it. I've seen much quicker removals of defacements in parks across the city, by park officials to plainclothes police. Despite this, the political nature of the message is wholly irrelevant to the actual issue at hand.


It's a couple feet tall and entirely inside the width of a large pillar. It's not going to fall on anyone.

Education about electronics is good, but I think fighting back against "fear of blame" is also an important thing. I'm sure someone in the organization knew that blinking lights don't make bombs. Why didn't that message get to management?


> It's a couple feet tall and entirely inside the width of a large pillar. It's not going to fall on anyone.

You're probably right, but that's a very naive way to approach public safety and accountability. If it was still visible right now there would probably be a few people climbing up to it to get a selfie with Snowden.

> I'm sure someone in the organization knew that blinking lights don't make bombs. Why didn't that message get to management?

That's not how bureaucracies work. (The fear of blame point is very valid though.)


You are literally inventing problems that either don't exist or have an exceedingly small chance of occurring. Yes, a tornado could sweep through and blow the bust onto a passing baby stroller, but the saying, "don't borrow trouble," comes to mind.


I am not inventing them; it is their (Parks and Rec) responsibility to handle contingencies that could cause them or their users trouble. You don't know what chance it [the sculpture causing harm] is because you know absolutely nothing about it except what the article has told you. But they're responsible for it and what it does under "normal conditions".

The tornado example is funny because though it would probably be considered an "act of god", maybe then certain things that shouldn't get blown off would. Why? Because it's literally hydrocal glued onto a column...

"Don't borrow trouble" would be just as appropriate in response to the more conspiratorial views which I am trying to refute.

---

The best possible outcome of this would be that someone at the next commission meeting brings a proposal (or sends one to Laurie Cumbo, or the conservancy) to reinstall the piece. Probably couldn't go in the same location because doing anything with Preservation takes... forever... but I wouldn't be surprised if Fort Greene could muster up support of locals (as long as they don't mind attending plenty of evening meetings).


[flagged]


> People like you are why NYC is dying.

Personal attacks are not allowed on Hacker News.


Please don't "people like you" on the internet, towards someone whom you've only ever encountered through text.


I was born here in the '90s so I'm pretty sure I missed the whole phreaking scene, but your statement is a strawman regardless. I am advocating for this sort of public intervention. I support it 100%. Do I have to repeat that again? 100%. But reality will catch up with your ideals, and it's someone's job to take concerns that aren't yours and apply them in the best interest of the public [as determined by an imperfect, slow, and but at least somewhat democratic process]. Sometimes they fuck it up by overstepping their bounds and acting in ways they are not authorized to. This is not one of those times. This is the domain of Parks and Recreation, and they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do, for completely boring but sensible reasons. I have even more respect for the artists for knowing this in advance and planning for it. It is an act of defiance. Your act of defiance does not trump everyone else's way of life. I look forward to them (hopefully) releasing their 3D model for all of us digital yuppies to go and 3D print on our fancy printers while paying higher and higher rent so we can continue to live and work in our fucking city, you know? I just happen to like our parks, respect the people working in them, and find the whole blame game distasteful. They put up some art, it got taken away, political or not it's absolutely no surprise.

In summary: It's their job. You want to give change what they do? Great! We've got a process for that, and it happens every third Monday of the month (Community Board 2 @ Brooklyn Law School). When Parks and Rec starts browsing our emails for dick pics, maybe then people can "take to the streets" with their coup. The Memorial would be a fitting location.


> This is the domain of Parks and Recreation, and they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do, for completely boring but sensible reasons.

> Sometimes they fuck it up by overstepping their bounds and acting in ways they are not authorized to.

> I fully support the artists here– but it is precisely the job of Parks employees to assist in the removal of any form of unauthorized modifications to the park.

Deep breath. Okay, here we go:

As someone who deals with building codes every week, I understand the reason why codes exist, the reason why inspections exist. Yes, the Parks department is doing their job, of course. No big deal.

But here's the thing:

Processes of authorization, verification, etc. is just one of many ways to deal with the world and with unstable processes. It's not the way to deal; it's just one of many ways. It may appear to be a default mode of operation (get a protest permit, get a sound permit, get a building permit), and yes, it often works to maintain order, but it's not the only way, nor is it a default way. It's just one way.

What authorization/permitting processes do is that they are explicitly law-oriented (laws are not the only way to create social order within a society), and thus enforce order in a negative, punitive fashion (if you don't do this, you will be punished). Reading in the park? Okay. More than 20 people gathering for a purpose? In NYC, this counts a special event, and requires a special events permit, otherwise it is unauthorized. Think of the 'rule' as a very sharp line demarcating between what is possible, and what is not possible.

Other ways of enforcing order can be lines that are gradients, fuzzy, in which the boundary between what is okay and what is not okay is not so clear. 'Tradition', or rules of thumb generate these social phenomena -- think about the way in which you can drive a few miles over the speed limit and not be ticket. Is it codified in a 'rule'? Uh, no.

> Your act of defiance does not trump everyone else's way of life.

But see here: NYC's gorgeousness doesn't from from its rule-oriented, sharp demarcation of What-Is-Okay. It comes from tolerance, really, which is a very stretchy, flexible thing that happens between community. When someone decides to call himself an alien and play the saxophone wildly on the C train, do people call the police because that's unauthorized behavior? Not really. Why not? Isn't a little bit like the subway busker is driving a little bit over the speed limit?

My point is largely that 'tradition' or 'rules of thumb' are actually present, valid, important, and non-trivial processes for which a healthy and tolerant society is created. (Of course, not all traditions are healthy; some are incredibly harmful. But the same goes for rules and laws, of course.)

If all of a sudden, the 'no subway buskers' rule is harshly imposed, that's actually quite a deliberate judgment to ignore the category of processes called 'traditions' for the category of processes called 'rules'. It's not said as such; the excuse will be: "well, the rules are the rules". This is because rules are (by definition) much more visible and explicit ("Do not solicit for money in the subway"), while traditions are shifting, hard to pin-down. Saying "the rules are the rules" is not actually a neutral behavior - it's a stance, specifically biased towards one process that engenders society-formation through punitive measures.

And so of course, the common argument is that traditions are 'arbitrary'; no, they're not. They're decided by people; it's just that they are localized, are more in flux, emergent behavior. Think agent-based programming vs. imperative programming, for a tradition vs. rule analogy.

Tradition is hard to write down, and hard to pin down, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, and isn't important.

SO. In summary. NYC is specifically rich because it's a place where many things are okay and celebrated. I've been here for more than a decade as an adult enough to not be starry-eyed about beatniks running in its heyday -- but it's really gorgeous. It's one of the few cities that can change who you think you are. It's one of the few cities that can make you rethink your relationship to space and architecture and other people. It's one of the few cities in which public space is everywhere and alive, because of the subway and because of its parks, and in which people may not be 'friendly' but will help each other out when shit goes south, because the density and closeness -- and tolerance -- of it all brings people together.

It's not just the rules that create this kind of city -- so very much of it is the traditions, the informal processes, the difficult-to-transcribe ecologies, the behavior that emerges. Rule-oriented, legalistic processes of authorization and permitting are not the only answer to creating a society. Laws are not always the answer to dealing with other people; nor should it be a default. Let's not fetishize authorization and permitting.


My comments were solely directed towards those whose knee-jerk reaction was to call this a clear act of deliberate censorship[1] or "Soviet-style oppression" (in another comment chain). If you don't agree with those comments, then I don't intend to go so far out of the way to convince you of why rules exist and are enforced in the way that they are. Beyond that, I agree with pretty much everything you said in this comment.

[1] I decided to add the word deliberate here because this may be the source of some confusion in my comments. Many comments suggest that the intent is to cover up support for Snowden specifically. I believe this to have no known factual basis. If on the other hand, you consider this, and the policies which allow it, to be a general act of censorship on public art etc. then that is open to debate– I would tend to agree with it, and am happily writing to the Parks dept. today to say as much.


Is the park Mal-functioning because of this? I don't see how.

Maybe if they had decided to place it on a swing seat... different story... a funny one I'd say.


There are wildly different risk and trust profiles at stake. Your analogy is incomprehensible.


I can't agree with you more and you gave an excellent analogy.


Snowden's a hero and deserves his place on that memorial.

This whole deal with the people putting up a statue of a hero and the government tearing it down? Not what America's supposed to be about.

Combine that with the fact that most of the senators who voted for the Patriot Act probably read 1984, and didn't object to the obvious propaganda in the name Patriot Act? Not what America's supposed to be about either.


If you think that Snowden is a hero, start a petition to put up a statue of him in Fort Greene Park. The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument wasn't just put there by some guy on a whim. It was a decision made by government at all levels as the result of a process that is public and open to all citizens.

Is Snowden a hero? Maybe, I dunno. Ask your fellow citizens if they want to put a statue of him in the park. That's how democracy is supposed to work. It isn't perfect, in fact it's the worst form of a government. Except for all the others.


> It was a decision made government at all levels as the result of a process that is public and open to all citizens.

My family member went through this process to set up a memorial statue and it was a nightmare of bureaucracy. And this was in a tiny relatively unpopular park in a small town - not a big city.

It took about 3 years to finally happen (by that I mean approved to happen, its still not completed yet) after jumping through countless hoops and making friends with the right politicians, who then had to back the idea in order to get support by the town council.

The big reason it ended up happening was the person who she became friends with ended up becoming mayor of the town.

Yay democracy.


You're negelecting the power of status quo. If the People care enough to put up a statue, the mayor could try an experiment: He could say "the statue should be removed" and not do anything about it. Then we'll see whether other civilians care enough to organize its removal within one year. If yes, then the law was respected and the People want the statue removed.

If no, then we could honestly say that there are not enough people who care enough about the Prison Ship Martyrs compared to the memory of Snowden.


Shouldn't the American way involve a vote or some other involvement of the democratic process at some point? Is America now all about individuals just doing whatever they want, and if somebody doesn't like it, too bad?


Oh you mean like when we separated from Britain by asking them to come down and have a nice little vote on it?

Or when MLK asked all of the south to politely, democratically fix the whole racism thing.

Sometimes protest has to break the rules. Because protest.


As I recall from my history classes, they did ask before breaking the rules.


MLK and company most certainly took steps that were not approved by some democratic process or approved by the state. Asking alone and letting "business as usual" answer the question "can we do this?" wouldn't have brought the change that humanity had deserved.

You seemed, to me, to be implying that all conscientious objectors must at all times observe complete obedience to the rule of law. That approach will never keep things running sanely for long. You can clearly see throughout history that it never has. Power must always be kept in check and in support of that, some of the rules ordained by that power must always be broken.


Didn't George W. start this trend with his "The Constitution is just a Piece of Paper" and "Unitary Executive" jokes? I thought we gave up that whole "voting" thing when 9/11 changed everything.


How do we have a democratic process about such matters when they're secret?

We've tried the "trust our elected officials" approach. We got mass surveillance. Next idea?


Such matters? I thought we were talking about putting a statue in a park. Was this a secret statue? I guess it was, since nobody knew about it until it showed up.


I take it that the part about people erecting a statue of someone who they think is a hero and the government tearing it down is part of the art / political statement.


I don't think "the people" put up this statue. Some people did, but it's hardly some popular movement.


Snowden is a traitor who happened to bring up an important debate. Probably sold US secrets to China and Russia, while releasing public information so that he can have public support while doing so.

He's one of the most successful double-agents in history, with excellent public relations. If a double-agent were to happen again in the future, they'll do what they can to study how Snowden handled his case.

No, I don't think he's a "hero". At least Manning's ideology was pure, (although naiive). Snowden is almost certainly a double-agent based on the countries he fled to and who he is working with currently. Contrast Snowden with Manning: Manning didn't contact the Chinese Embassy while fleeing to Hong Kong before releasing only some of the data. Just think about it for a second. Manning released anything and everything he got his hands on. Snowden: he's visited multiple foreign countries and has direct contact with those governments.

If you want to discuss the collections programs, lets start with how you expect police to actually deal with modern criminals (ie: Swatters) if they didn't have the ability to track the location of their phone calls. You know, practical concerns that our law enforcement are attempting to solve. If tracking telephone "metadata" is too much, then what tools are you willing to give police in their battle?

EDIT: Here come the down votes. Come on people, lets see your stuff. Truth hurts, doesn't it?


I think you are getting downvotes because you are making very controversial claims for which the evidence is very weak. For instance:

1. you say: "most successful double-agents in history"

2. you say: "probably sold US secrets to China and Russia"

The NSA's leadership has repeatedly stated that they don't believe Snowden to be a foreign agent[0]. Unless you have more evidence than "based on the countries he fled to and who he is working with currently", your case is exceptionally weak. Additionally Snowden is not a "double agent". A double agent is a agent that is turned twice[1]. Even if Snowden were a foreign spy, he wouldn't be a double agent, unless he was recruited to work by a foreign government to spy on the US, but then was turned by the US to feed the foreign government misinformation. A theory that no one, outside of Alex Jones, is currently advancing.

[0]: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/03/nsa-chief-micha...

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_agent


Your own link contradicts your definition:

In the field of counterintelligence, a double agent (also double secret agent) is an employee of a secret intelligence service, whose primary purpose is to spy on a different target organization, but who, in fact, is a member of the target organization.

In other words, if Snowden worked for the NSA and spied on China or Russia, but at the same time was passing information over to China or Russia, he would then be a double agent. That's why it's so fishy when he repeatedly says that he specifically used to work on Chinese targets (for example: [1]), chose to flee the US and go to China, and his 3rd leak in the news was giving a Chinese newspaper a list of all of Chinese computers that had been targeted by the NSA[2].

That doesn't mean he's a double-agent, but it certainly raises some eyebrows...

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVwAodrjZMY#t=7m16s

[2] http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1260306/edward-sn...


Thank you for the link.

Nonetheless, the Metadata debate remains important, so I'll continue to bring it up. I've read through the rest of these threads, and they're all "Snowden's a hero!!!" without even touching upon the debate that he's brought up.

EDIT: Its as if this "metadata collection" is the most evil thing in the world ever done. Good gosh. Its still hugely ironic to me that Snowden fled to the state with the "Great Firewall of China" literally spying on every Chinese blogger with police powers that make those guys _literally_ disappear if they say the wrong things...

While over here in the US, this forum gets their panties in a twist over metadata collection.

I am happy that we all hold the US to a higher standard, but I still hold my point: to take down a Swatter, the Police will need access to metatdata.


Hong Kong was a stopover. It was the US gov made him stay there and blocked his travel to anywhere but Russia.


I doubt it. Part of Snowden's treasure trove was him revealing to China about US hacking into Chinese Universities.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2013/06/22/u-s-hacked-...

Snowden explicitly collected how the US was spying on China, went to China, and then "publicly" gave out those details. I think he was expecting the Chinese Government to take him in and protect him after the big reveal.

For whatever reason, China didn't want him. Probably because China has enough issues with their own whistle blowers. Or maybe China already knew the information Snowden had, so they didn't value him at all.

Russia apparently values Snowden very much. They like him if only because he serves as an anti-US rallying cry.


It's a matter of record that the US prevented him travelling after he got to Hong Kong. Your original comment claims he was a double agent for China and Russia. Now you speculate that he was a failed wannabe Chinese asset.

Wild speculations aside, you might want to consider the revelations on their own merits rather than a ham-fisted smear against the source. The fact remains that they have been confirmed as true and are therefore not some kind of black propaganda.

More worrying in some ways is that it seems he got everything using wget and further that there was no audit trail to understand what he got. If we believe as we are told that he was a relatively low level external contractor, that means internal security is non-existent and you can guarantee that any other competent agency also has everything (at least confirming part of your China theory above).


> Wild speculations aside, you might want to consider the revelations on their own merits rather than a ham-fisted smear against the source. The fact remains that they have been confirmed as true and are therefore not some kind of black propaganda.

Fair enough. I'm more interested in the political implications anyway.

So what do we do about Swatters? Metadata collection seems to be the only useful tool against them.


Swattings still happen on a regular basis despite pervasive metadata collection. Is your argument that we're not collecting enough to stop them?


> Swattings still happen on a regular basis despite pervasive metadata collection. Is your argument that we're not collecting enough to stop them?

Actually, I don't believe that the local police are taking advantage of their resources. I think better organization needs to be done around the metadata that is collected so that it is better distributed between the police officers in the case of a swatting incident.

But actually _having_ metadata is a necessary first step to beginning any swatting investigation. Or do you not think that the first step is figuring out the phone number that the Swatter called from?

Next: I'm not entirely sure that Swatting will ever be stopped. Nonetheless, I'd like to punish those who are swatting, and I think that if they are removed from society... that is one step towards fixing the problem.

If a swatter gets caught and his criminal record is updated such that everyone knows he is a swatter, then society will benefit from it overall.


> It's a matter of record that the US prevented him travelling after he got to Hong Kong.

Also, bull!@#!. _CHINA_ prevented the US from traveling after he got to Hong Kong. If the US had its way, then Snowden would be in jail right now.

CHINA prevented him from traveling after he got to Hong Kong. The US had very little power over the whole issue at that point.

There are other parties at play here.


[citation needed]


http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/24/us-usa-security-ho...

China had an extremely important role with Snowden. They didn't care about the "passport", they were buying time looking for some other country to take him in.

I guess Russia took him in after that (Snowden didn't want to go to Russia. So I doubt that Snowden is a Russian spy... but if he knew what was good for him, he probably was forced to give some of his secrets to the Russians under the table.)


China does not have extradition treaty with US. There couldn't be any extradition embarrassment then.


>Here come the down votes. Come on people, lets see your stuff. Truth hurts, doesn't it? Anyone wanna take me on?

Oh stop whining. You can't just accuse someone of being a spy and expect upvotes. Accusations without evidence (hint hint) are not 'truth'.

>how you expect police to actually deal with modern criminals (ie: Swatters)

Well for most crimes the police have traditionally gotten along fine without such vast metadata. For that crime specifically maybe they could use a warrant to the phone company? That seems easy to do without NSA interception. Or the police could keep track of calls to them and not have to do anything more than find the owner of a phone number.


> Oh stop whining. You can't just accuse someone of being a spy and expect upvotes. Accusations without evidence (hint hint) are not 'truth'.

Snowden is the first guy I'm aware of who fled to China (and later, to Russia) to protect his own free speech. Color me a little bit suspicious of him.

> Well for most crimes the police have traditionally gotten along fine without such vast metadata. For that crime specifically maybe they could use a warrant to the phone company? That seems easy to do without NSA interception. Or the police could keep track of calls to them and not have to do anything more than find the owner of a phone number.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/50/1861

> (A) a judge of the court established by section 1803 (a) of this title; or

The law we're discussing requires a judge to sign off on it. Its not necessarily a "warrant" per se, but do you think elevating these powers to require a warrant would suffice?

These are the kinds of questions we need to be asking ourselves if we actually want to progress.


> Snowden is the first guy I'm aware of who fled to China (and later, to Russia) to protect his own free speech. Color me a little bit suspicious of him.

There aren't that many countries who would not release Snowden to the US.


Yes there are.

Ecuador has proven itself reliable with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. It proved itself reliable _long_ before Snowden decided to pull Chinese-specific information from the US Spy agency, fly to China, release Chinese information and (probably) beg to stay.

Instead of going to a reliable country like Ecuador, he went to China. Snowden isn't a dumb guy either, he was clearly keeping up with the news. He chose China because the data he pilfered was Chinese specific.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2013/06/22/u-s-hacked-...

Once in China, after the reveal, Snowden became trapped. He couldn't fly over any other country that had US influence. He furthermore got trapped in Russia (it is extremely sketchy. I think Russia wanted him, and they got him. Russia probably won't let him go.)

I don't think Snowden is working with Russia. He was trying to get to Ecuador IIRC with help from Julian Assange. But based on what he did in Hong Kong, it is clear to me that he expected help from the Chinese Government. If Snowden went to Ecuador from the start, I'd have a much easier time believing that what he was doing was for good-will.


Maybe you missed this unprecedented act that kind of undercuts your point:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/02/world/americas/bolivia-preside...


Snowden would not have been safe from kidnapping in South America. Once his location was known, he would have been as good as captured. Only Russia or China have the kind of military might that could deter the US from attempting to take him back by force.


All the while, Julian Assange hangs out at the Ecuador Embassy, ready for the taking.

FYI: Snowden was trying to get to Ecuador when Russia trapped him in Moscow.


Snowden was going to Ecuador only after he went public, because at that point it was about politics, not black ops. A little-known individual can be easily taken out in US-friendly countries (see CIA "extraordinary renditions"), that's the threat he neutralized by being in Hong-Kong -- which is not just "China", it's a very complex country with a separate political system where both China and China's enemies have to tread carefully; by saying "he went to China" you're just pushing your own frame -- but then again, you already know that, don't you?


It's an entirely different proposition to kidnap an "enemy of the state" from an embassy than it is to kidnap one from an entire country.


> Truth hurts, doesn't it?

Except when it's not truth but a random rant.

You say:

> If you want to discuss the collections programs, lets start with how you expect police to actually deal with modern criminals (ie: Swatters) if they didn't have the ability to track the location of their phone calls.

Notice "THEIR phone calls", not "EVERY phone calls".

Truth is, views like yours are clueless and/or dangerous and fail to see the big picture.

I'm sure you embrace the "I've got nothing to hide, so I don't care" stance. So yeah, fk the rest of the people, don't give a sh*t.

Educate yourself.


Good ole' fear, uncertainty and doubt.


What? Swatting is a serious concern. How do you think we should solve the issue?

Have the police sit around doing nothing because they don't have the legal tools to look at business metadata? I'm trying to bring up an actual issue here. For a hundred years, the "metadata" standard has applied to mail, telephone records, business records and so forth as "free game" for the Police.

What makes the modern era so different that Police aren't allowed to look at metadata anymore?


1. It was not free game. They could not take copies preemptively.

2. There is vastly more metadata being stored now, and the police don't need access to most of it. We might even be better off with laws against storing it.


> 1. It was not free game. They could not take copies preemptively.

Wrong.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/us/monitoring-of-snail-mai...

It's been free-game for a hundred years. Keep up with the law dude. USPS "metadata" has been copied and tracked. Such information was used for the Anthrax cases of early 2000s... and other such crimes.

It is illegal for police to read the contents of an envelope, but they can (and have been) scanning the outside of envelopes and storing that metadata for police use for decades.

The difference between snail-mail and the business records provision is... terrorism was added to the words. But I'd bet what they were doing was legal before the Patriot Act was made.

> 2. There is vastly more metadata being stored now, and the police don't need access to most of it. We might even be better off with laws against storing it.

That doesn't answer the question. How do you expect to track down a Swatter without using metadata?


Okay, doing it for decades doesn't mean they need it. It wasn't there from the start.

>How do you expect to track down a Swatter without using metadata?

As I said in my other post, you don't actually need call records to find a swatter. They called the police, the police have the number, tada. I'm not arguing against deleting everything that could possibly classify as metadata, I'm saying we should cut down the types of metadata available. And we need to stop the government from making copies of private data 'just in case' and declaring it not to be a search/seizure until some later stage.


> As I said in my other post, you don't actually need call records to find a swatter. They called the police, the police have the number, tada.

And if the Swatter used another phone to call a Google Voice number to create a local line in another city, they will need Metadata to figure out what that _OTHER_ telephone number is.

Otherwise, they have a phone number to a fake google-account created in TOR. That's not very useful.

Phone Number 555-0000 called Google-Voice 555-9991, which THEN called the Police. Only having "555-9991" is completely worthless. You need metadata analysis to unravel the proxies.

Furthermore, executing a warrant generally requires a name and a case. You don't got a name yet, you're trying to build a case without warrant powers at this point of the Police game.

Do you think these Swatters are dumb or something? They aren't using their personal phone numbers to call the police, they're actually redirecting themselves a little bit.

> I'm not arguing against deleting everything that could possibly classify as metadata, I'm saying we should cut down the types of metadata available. And we need to stop the government from making copies of private data 'just in case' and declaring it not to be a search/seizure until some later stage.

The legal standard between 1940s (since the closure of the Office of Censorship, which straight up allowed the US Agents to read mail and censor them), and now has been that metadata collection doesn't need a warrant.

Metadata collection is NOT search/seizure in Smith v. Maryland. Its how things have operated for literally decades.

Now if you don't like it, that's fine. But know that you're moving from the status-quo. This is how the government has operated since the 1970s at very least (see again... Smith v. Maryland).

Going back to the cases before that was Olmstead v. United States, 1928, which collection of straight-up data was considered not search/seizure btw. (So we've actually cut back upon collection from a historical perspective. Police powers were greater in the 1920s than today)


Okay, you have a point, but that's about proxies, not normal calls between two people.

If the police can't get access to limited phone metadata with oversight, the solution is to give them a way to get limited phone metadata with oversight, not to give them access to all the phone metadata.

>Now if you don't like it, that's fine. But know that you're moving from the status-quo. This is how the government has operated since the 1970s at very least

Fine, I want a change from the status quo. But it's not just that, I'm saying two things.

1. It is important that metadata (and data) collection does not expand because of the ease of technology.

2. I would prefer metadata collection to be rolled back a few decades and limited.

It's 1 that really worries me, and no amount of historical collection is going to comfort that.

Thanks for the disappointing enlightenment.


> If the police can't get access to limited phone metadata with oversight, the solution is to give them a way to get limited phone metadata with oversight, not to give them access to all the phone metadata.

Did you read the business records provision?

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/50/1861

Read it again. It requires the agencies to check off with a Judge. It already _has_ oversight built into it. If something is wrong with the oversight, then tell me what you think is wrong with it.


From what I have heard, requests even by normal law enforcement are often for unreasonable amounts of data, and data is held onto and used for things other than the case they were requested for without oversight.

In addition, the NSA collects data before asking for permission. And I am doubtful that their oversight is effective.

But I don't want to argue about it for hours. I just want less metadata to be collected. Because even without the government it gets abused.


> In addition, the NSA collects data before asking for permission. And I am doubtful that their oversight is effective.

Snowden's first revealed document was the court order where the NSA / FBI was asking for permission from the FISA courts. Now I don't think you've even read Snowden's docs.

> But I don't want to argue about it for hours.

Fair enough. I hope that in our short discussion, you learned how things actually work.

> I just want less metadata to be collected. Because even without the government it gets abused.

You're welcome to have your opinion, but your opinion was tainted by horribly inaccurate facts. I thank you for being a good sport and listening to me through this.

In any case, now you know the specific law that grants the powers. You can now write to a Senator / House Representative and argue specifically against the law on your own. Even if you are on the "other side" of this debate, we Americans are much better off when all sides understand the debate. Our political system also works out well when discussions like what you and I just had happen more often.

Summary: Business Records Provision of the Patriot Act. Know it well, so you can criticize it. Take it down and the metadata of the NSA should fall.

Good luck on the political battlefield. Again, thank you for working with me in this debate.


>Snowden's first revealed document

Okay I'll be more specific. Without specific permission pertaining to a specific case, they collect whatever they feel like to sort out later. I don't like that.

>I hope that in our short discussion, you learned how things actually work.

I learned there has been more access to metadata than I previously thought, but my main worry is and has been the exploding amount of metadata and analysis, which I do have a pretty good grasp on.

Thanks for the discussion.


I know we want to close the discussion, but let me note one more thing.

> Okay I'll be more specific. Without specific permission pertaining to a specific case, they collect whatever they feel like to sort out later. I don't like that.

How do you expect the Police to go after a swatter then? The creation of 'nameless warrants' is looked down upon in general, and is grossly illegal in many jurisdictions. You cannot get a warrant unless a specific person is named.

Without a warrant, police cannot continue investigating. Police need access to the metadata to get a name so that they can get a warrant.

I know John Doe warrants exist, but their use is highly criticized. And it should be! We can't have the police getting nameless warrants regularly. With that said, we have to give the Police enough room to maneuver so that they can build a case before they are granted the high-powers of a warrant.

The Fourth Amendment promises _due process_. Metadata, in my opinion is a "reasonable" search. Or at least, we should _define_ metadata as the part that can be reasonably searched. (After all, not all data is innately private. The data that is "public" should be easily searched by the Police without warrants). The debate really should be about determining which bits of data are "public" and which bits aren't.


>How do you expect the Police to go after a swatter then? The creation of 'nameless warrants' is looked down upon in general, and is grossly illegal in many jurisdictions.

Well we're talking about a 'nameless warrant' to only access something they could access at-will before, so I don't see that as a real problem.

>we should _define_ metadata as the part that can be reasonably searched.

That sounds like a mess. Metadata has a pretty clear meaning already when it comes to communication.

>The debate really should be about determining which bits of data are "public" and which bits aren't.

Maybe, but things are much more complicated than public and not public.


> Well we're talking about a 'nameless warrant' to only access something they could access at-will before, so I don't see that as a real problem.

No. A warrant means they can start accessing data. Install bugs, tracking devices... the whole works. All fourth amendment protections are gone once a judge grants the Police a warrant.

The question is whether or not you want "Metadata" to be part of that pool or not. Personally speaking, I don't.

> Maybe, but things are much more complicated than public and not public.

Which is why discussion of this issue is important. The fact is, you expect something from the Police that is different than the Status Quo for the past decades.

It frustrates me to no end when all the YCombinator posters around here complain and protest in obscure ways (ie: putting Snowden up as a statue in a park), and then they don't really try and learn the intricacies of the law and try to find changes that everyone actually agrees upon.

The reason our political system is borked is because no one is actually discussing the law or how to change it. Our Congressmen get vague clues (ie: SOPA BAD!!), but they really are struggling to understand our opinion in general.


>No. A warrant means

Are you serious? We're talking about a new thing that only restricts access compared to before. It would not be the same as a warrant today. That objection is ridiculous.

>Status Quo for the past decades.

Part of the problem is that it used to take manpower to spy on people, and a lot of that is getting replaced with computers that do it for nearly free. It's not a legal change, but it changes the end result in a terrible way.


> Are you serious? We're talking about a new thing that only restricts access compared to before. It would not be the same as a warrant today. That objection is ridiculous.

Okay, I'm gonna cut off the conversation at this point. YCombinator is not a good forum for discussion. I see you're frustrated so we'll just let it end here.

I strongly disagree with your opinion, so I'm thinking its best to just agree to disagree at this point.


If you're seriously suggesting that FISA is some kind of check on the use/abuse of the government's surveillance powers, you're either a shill, or deluded.


And if that is where you stop your argument, then you aren't helpful at all.

Why don't you trust FISA? And if you don't trust it, what reforms to the FISA courts are you proposing?

Or are you just a lazy armchair protester who doesn't even think about how to improve the world around you? Hey look, I can fling insults at you too and be unhelpful!!

Seriously, the FISA system is documented, and it is part of the debate. Do you actually have an argument, or are you just gonna leave it there?


Since 1979, out of 33,949 requests submitted, the FISA court has denied 12 of them, 4 of which were later partially granted after being resubmitted. You're correct in saying that it's good that this number is documented, but it also makes it extremely clear that the FISA court cannot be meaningfully said to constitute independent oversight.


Or it makes it clear that the NSA is in fact, following the law.

Which as far as I'm aware, none of what has been revealed by Snowden has been shown to be illegal. Correct me if I'm wrong of course.


Irrespective of whether or not you're wrong, when the law is practically a blank check, staying within its bounds isn't much of an accomplishment.


At a minimum, I'd like something enabling me to trust that FISA isn't just the rubber stamp it has every appearance of being. It has denied less than 0.035% of the requests ever submitted to it (and a third of those were subsequently at least partially granted, anyway), and "modified" (where "modification" appears to be a request for clarification, given the public remarks one former FISA judge made on the subject) less than 1.5% of them.

As "oversight" goes, that sounds rather a lot like, "That's nice, son. You run along and play, now..."

Almost all of the sitting members of the court are former law enforcement in some way, and many of them have evinced strongly statist and authoritarian views in the rulings they've made in the trial courts they also sit in.

So I'd also like to see some membership on the panel that doesn't seem hand-picked to yes-man (nearly) every request that comes along. I'm not suggesting this as a definitive proposal for changing the court, but what about including members from (or elected by) demonstrably pro-liberty organizations like the EFF or ACLU or whatever, with some kind of veto-like power?

I legitimately believe that there is value in being able to investigate suspected "bad" actors — and that sometimes those investigations must be surreptitious, or that actor will become aware of the suspicion and change his behavior. I don't buy the leap from that being the case to, "We can look into anyone at any time for any reason, or no reason at all, and then use whatever we find against you down the road, or hand it off to sibling agencies for 'parallel construction' type purposes." (And don't even try to suggest that doesn't happen. We know it does.)

So there's two thoughts off the top of my head.


>How do you think we should solve the issue?

Step 1. Police don't kick a person's door down and shoot everyone based upon a single unconfirmed report.

>What makes the modern era so different that Police aren't allowed to look at metadata anymore?

The volume of available metadata.


> Step 1. Police don't kick a person's door down and shoot everyone based upon a single unconfirmed report.

No one has died to Swatting yet, (thank goodness). But the success rate at catching swatters has been less than stellar.

I'm more concerned about the "catching swatters" part. Why the general police forces of the US seem unable to catch them bothers me greatly.


>Probably sold US secrets to China and Russia

>He's one of the most successful double-agents in history, with excellent public relations.

>Snowden is almost certainly a double-agent based on the countries he fled to

All that speculation, then this gem:

>EDIT: Truth hurts, doesn't it?

But no. It's not cause your post is full of accusations and dubious speculation based on nothing and provides no evidence. It's cause you struck a nerve and showed the sheep here the truth and they can't handle it. That's definitely what it is.


I agree and I witnessed the World Trade Center fall before my eyes.

I upvoted you! Of course this account I created is going to probably die because I express the unpopular opinion too!


I agree, they were far more considerate than many of the people that have done things like this [not of Snowden obviously].


it's civil disobedience at its best.


The Wall Street Bull is also a piece of guerrilla art in New York City. That huge bronze was made by Arturo Di Modica and installed by him in 1989. It was once towed away to an impound lot, but enough people complained that it was moved to its present location.


This is probably the most relevant comment in this thread and something that I am glad to have learned.


For those looking to learn more, here is the history on it

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charging_Bull#History


It has already been covered over with tarp and the letting removed[1].

It's a wonderful piece of work with excellent sentiment behind it. Unfortunately it doesn't suit the government and mainstream media narrative, so I'm sure the act of its erection will be decried as liberal terrorism and vandalism, the piece taken down and Snowden-related news once again brushed over.

[1]http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/illegal-edward-...


Their point about the image of the bust remains. The fact that they covered the bust with a tarp itself creates an image with a message.

Consider the mentality of obscuring the bust with something that is even uglier. It is not a statement on the aesthetics of the work. It is literally saying "You may not look upon this unsanctioned idea"


Correct! For me a better political statement would have been to wait for the People to remove the statue. I want to know whether enough people who care about the memory of the Prison Ship Martyrs to organize the removal compared to the memory of Snowden. If someone removes it, it's a strong political statement that the People want this. If no one removes it, then the People has chosen new heroes.


So your theory is that they covered it up so no one will talk about Snowden? That doesn't make sense.


no. His theory is that the artists wanted to create this very scene.


I like part of Ruth Goldstein's, one of the park conservancy founders, response in that article. While I am fairly confident that asking and trying to go through legitimate channels to get the bust put up would not of worked, what she said makes me think there are at least people who would consider it, although probably not high enough in power structures to actually get it done.

“The park is such a symbol of American liberty; that’s what it’s all about, the founding principals of it,” she said. “It (the bust) is almost appropriate but inappropriate to do it (put up illegally).”


“The park is such a symbol of American liberty; that’s what it’s all about, the founding principals of it,” she said. “It (the bust) is almost appropriate but inappropriate to do it (put up illegally).”

As if the establishment of American liberty didn't involve breaking any laws in the first place.


yes, not being able to put up a statue in public property is basically on the same level as centuries of persecution, seizing of private property, taxation without representation, and company.

Imagine if McDonald's just decided to put up giant golden arches in the park. There's a reason the procedures exist.

I do think this is a clever and interesting thing to do, and I hope this ends with the statue staying somehow. But I really don't see the point in comparing this with the establishment of the nation.


I notice the author of the article is "Sasha Goldstein", I wonder if Ruth and Sasha are related.

Also, I wonder if Sasha would be pinged by the government about who is behind the act, and if Sasha would give them up, adding some irony(?), referencing 1984.


not have worked, "founding principles".


I am not certain that offering grammar corrections is very constructive.

Also if you read the article in the parent post you would notice that your second correction should be directed at it not me, as I accurately copy pasted that quotation.


Correcting the quote is silly, yes, but I think it's constructive to point out uses of the wrong word entirely. That's a far leap away from being ultra-picky about grammar.

Though it might make more sense to use "'ve" when correcting to emphasize that it's not a spoken vs. written speech difference, it's a transcription error.


* my comment was meant for other people reading your comment as much as it was for you. people soak up english in informal ways (such as reading stuff on the web) and someone might be led to use the wrong words. * some mistakes (and actual meanings) are obvious, others are more subtle. what else in the text conveys meaning that is different from the author's intent? * what purpose does it serve to say or write A when you meant B, outside of humor?


It's interesting that they choose to (almost literally) deface it.

They're fully in their right to remove it, but simply making it unrecognizable feels like a political act.


I wonder how long the sculpture stood up. The two articles were only published 2 hours apart.


It looks like they put it up around 6am and it was covered over around noon.

I hope, for the sake of the work that went into the piece, that it isn't destroyed.


That's amazing. Now if only the public works department could respond to potholes that quickly.


Maybe we could just start spraypainting Snowden's face in and around potholes? If it worked, the general public would know Snowden only as the pothole-fixing guy. No jury would ever convict! b^)


Actually, an approaching not entirely unlike that has been tried successfully in Russia.

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2012/09/embarrassing-pothole-c...


Ugg. "approach". Nothing like seeing your typos the following day.


That is an interesting point. People here are saying (paraphrasing) "they'd take down any busk that wasn't authorised" and while I believe that to be true, it ignores the fact of just how QUICKLY this one got taken down. Less than six hours? How long does other graffiti take to be removed, days, weeks, months?


I think the speed graffiti, bust, or other such expression is removed is going to be more or less relative to the amount of attention something draws / is expected to draw. Or at least I heard that is how wheels go about getting oil.


Yeah, I made my point in a snarky way, but there is definitely a political component to the swiftness of the action. It'd have been great if the job had to be submitted to a months long queue.


I showed up around 3:45pm and it was gone by then. NYPD were looking around though:

https://twitter.com/moyix/status/585181778438180864


Unless destroying it was the only way to remove it, it would likely go to the nearest impound lot (where I believe it can actually be claimed by the owners for a fee, though that might invite other problems).


Seeing them cover this thing up is a hideous moment in our history: https://vine.co/v/eBBvedaHtBz.

Shameful that something so harmless is immediately covered up (quite literally) because it challenges the state.

The U.S. is getting scarier by the day, folks.


If you'd done the same thing with a bust of your mother 10 years ago, they'd have covered it up as well. Try the same thing (with Snowden, or your mother) in France or China, and see what happens. Just because they parks department is doing their job doesn't mean democracy is ebbing.


I don't think so. If it is something unauthorized they probably would have removed it in due time. I.e., they would have taken a couple of days to hire professionals to do it. Now they immediately cover it up so that no-one can see it while they arrange for its removal. Why? Obviously they do not want anyone to look at it before it is removed. But why not? It is certainly not offensive in any way. It may prove to be a minor attraction and it will get Brooklyn in the national news.

It really does remind one of soviet style suppression.


I think you are looking at the situation from our little tech bubble. Regardless of all of our opinions on the situation, it is still very political. This guy is actively wanted by our government for possible treason charges. If you believe those charges have merit, then erecting a statue in his honor could easily be classified as offensive.

This is part of the problem with our side of the debate. We take it as a forgone conclusion that everyone agrees that Snowden is morally right and that the government is morally wrong. We need to do a better job of convincing the general public why issues like this are important. Erecting a statue of Snowden doesn't do anything besides antagonizing both sides of the debate.

EDIT: As this post currently stands at -2 karma, I have to say I am a little disappointed in HN. This isn't Reddit, we shouldn't have brigades of people downvoting comments that bring up gray areas in this debate. I don't think I said anything unreasonable in this comment. However if you do and downvote me, the least you could do is comment about how I am off base.


I agree with you. Comparing it to common graffiti is as much an exaggeration as comparing it to graffiti depicting genocide.

Some skaterz 'tag' is going to take weeks or months to be covered/removed. However, if instead they it was a picture likely to draw both political and media attention plus cause some individuals distress at a memorial they are going to move quickly.

The fact is in this case it was inflammatory toward the US government so we are quick to declare democracy and freedom of speech is ending. I don't think the parks department who franticly called a worker to get there and cover it up is part of this broader conspiracy to deprive americans of freedom of expression. They moved quickly on something they knew would get a lot of attention.


I listen to lots of progressive as well as libertarian radio/media, and they all support Snowden. He's not just a tech bubble sensation.

I might have agreed with you that erecting a statue does nothing. But that it was promptly covered with a tarp is more revealing than I would have expected.

The Weather Underground protested by blowing up a statue. This is pretty classy.


There isn't really a legitimate debate, there's the PR department of statism and fearfulness and then the reality-seeking people who decry government power-grabbing and anti-liberalism.

Dragnet surveillance is totalitarianism. I guess there are apologists for totalitarianism, but why, if we are a democracy, do we listen to those who actively advocate for tyranny?

EDIT: Haven't heard any objection to my points yet, primarily that it's not possible to argue in good faith that someone can be both be well-informed about the effects of dragnet surveillance and still be pro-surveillance.


Comments like this reinforce my point. You are basically framing this entire debate as good versus evil. That is not going to change anyone's minds and it serves no real purpose outside of rallying your own side. There is a middle ground between our government can read everything and our government can read nothing. I don't know where that line is, but the only way we find that line is through open debate. Except no side apparently seems willing to engage in that debate.


Middle ground does not always exist. For example, take the plans to set up decentralized networks outside of the government's control. There have been discussions on how to allow the government to still be able to fight certain forms of illegal data exchange (terrorism and child abuse) while banning it from being at all involved in the others (drugs). But there is no middle ground solution. Any network that comprises itself enough to allow the government in to monitor and combat certain data will weaken its ability to prevent the government from being able to do the same elsewhere.

As it stands, giving the government the power to read any one particular thing will result in it being abused to read other things that were never intended. And with a history filled with governments always overstepping their bounds, the only real solution is to create something that cannot be read, as any limit that depends upon 'please don't' is only a temporary patch.


>As it stands, giving the government the power to read any one particular thing will result in it being abused to read other things that were never intended.

Isn't this potentially the real problem? It is why our original system required courts and warrants, checks and balances. The Internet doesn't have to be completely different than the offline world. The police can knock down my door if there is a threat of child abuse or terrorism, but aren't allowed to do the same for a traffic violation. Why would that system need to be different online? We just need to make the process of acquiring and executing a warrant more transparent. That political debate would take precedence over any technical problem like designing a distributed system that could accommodate this type of request.


>It is why our original system required courts and warrants, checks and balances.

The problem is that current technology allows the government to hide behind 'you have no proof we did anything wrong' and 'state secret' defenses. Maybe a system that makes it clear when communications are being monitored, but the government is going to oppose that as much as a system that can't be monitored.

Also, there are few other considerations:

No foreign company is going to kick in your door, but they would be willing to hack your computer/listen to your chatter in an attempt to steal company secrets. Any weak point for the government is a weak point for all others.

Also, government is made up of some individuals that I do not want anywhere near any backdoors of my systems. Not to say everyone in government is incompetent.

Maybe they are if you are head of R&D for some massive project, at which point you would be taking extra precautions.


>Middle ground does not always exist

I think looking at issues with this lens is how the whole idea of "you're either with us or against us" gets started. It's possible to be less opinionated than that.

I think everyone should take a step back and actually analyze the situation for what it is, rather than immediately grabbing the pitch fork.


> >Middle ground does not always exist

He doesn't mean ideologically, he means technically. You're either encrypted or you're not.

This isn't about being opinionated, it truly is about whether or not we allow the government to monitor all the things.

The only options are all or none, there is no "just monitor some of the things" option.


The concern is that the technical binary nature of the issue does put pressure on the political sides towards being binary.

For example, those who want a system that protects jounalist in oppressive countries but that does not protect child predators have lots of positions to pick, but those positions (and the groups that hold them) can easily be divided along the lines of those who support a system that protects both and those that support a system that protects neither (it technically protects neither while it will often be sold as protecting one but not the other, and as such the majority of the group may fully believe it does protect one but not the other).


Not sure it's that simple. It's a given that everyone wants to be reasonable of course, but 1984 was framed precisely as a kind of political horror story. Should we really react in terms of compromise and middle ground if somebody proposes that we live in such a horror story?

My view is that this kind of thing is a part of what intelligence services are supposed to prevent, not implement, and they are therefore seriously failing to do their taxpayer-funded jobs. Not really sure of the point of employing smart people to protect you if they then use all of their wiles to weaken individual and state security.


That's still inside the tech bubble.

Talk to Old Lady A or middle-aged man B in any number of flyover states; the average American.

They have no concept of what type of data is available about them online. They have no worries about being watched by any agency, because they literally do not understand what is being watched.

Many, many people over the age of 40(ish) make assumptions about what is possible and what is not based solely on past experience. When it was nearly impossible to gather data, house data, and retrieve data about a monstrously large group, no one bothered. Therefore, average Americans from that time period have no idea what is possible.

Like the OP said - take the time to educate folks about what is possible and why they should worry, instead of argue for right versus wrong. All that does is make people pick sides, however irrational the side is.


Think of it from the point of the park officer. If they notice it, and not cover it up, then it will be read as an implicit endorsement, and will generate an unending amount of gossip and headache. Why would they want it.

The result would have been exactly the same if somebody put a bust of Hillary Clinton with letters "Clinton, 45th president of USA", even though Clinton would be a pretty safe choice for a lot of people (including those who hate Snowden).


I doubt the park officers decided by themselves to cover up the bust. I'm sure that they had orders from higher up to do this.


They have to wait for someone to move it (maybe someone within the Parks department, they have the equipment at least) but it's worth pointing out that a job in NYC Parks as highly bureaucratic it is desirable. Many employees are professionals (seriously, you have no idea if the guy throwing the tarp happens to have a masters in landscape architecture, or the next guy, or...) and park officers must be designated as special patrolmen by the NYPD. The very first rule of being an "Urban Park Ranger" is: "Under supervision, perform patrols of park facilities as part of a highly visible uniformed division. Ensure the safety and enjoyment of park users and the protection of park property." It's great that we can all discuss the merits of this from our own viewpoints– I fully support the artists here– but it is precisely the job of Parks employees to assist in the removal of any form of unauthorized modifications to the park. Simplest reason? Parks has no idea how the statue was made or how it was installed. What happens if it falls on someone? Or someone climbs it and a piece breaks off? We take it in good faith that this thing is just a harmless statement of expression– Parks employees most certainly should not.


> What happens if it falls on someone? Or someone climbs it and a piece breaks off?

How exactly does covering it up help with that? I agree that there are valid reasons for wanting to remove it, but covering it up before that is just ridiculous.


I said it elsewhere, but it's just a sign to the removal crew so that they don't have to look [hard] for it. It might be unnecessary, it might just be up the whim of whoever was working that day. We don't know, and so I'm not going to call it a conspiracy. An exception (i.e. protection for the display of public art, even if scheduled for removal) would be pretty great, just not a high priority for our public officials unless we're vocal enough in our support here.

Edit: Oh sorry, you meant how does covering up help with the potential of it falling... Not much, except to possibly prevent people from being interested in it and going near it. Only the people who know what it is already would be interested. But I don't think it's actually going to fall, just that if they're going to remove it there's no surprise that it's covered. It's not uncommon at all to see tarped statues in Parks when any sort of maintenance is being done for a variety of reasons.


"Not offensive in any way.." That' certainly subjective. Comparing Snowden as a war hero could be offensive to those that actually fought in wars. If they put it in the Nathan Hale statue at CIA, now that would be ironic.

I'm on a the fence about Snowden, however disrespecting a war memorial to prove a point seems to border on tasteless. How about putting a Snowden statue in front of an AT&T store; that would be better messaging in terms of protest without disrespecting actual war heros.


It's also arguable that what they did was disrespecting a war memorial. Today's wars are fought increasingly without conventional military units or weapons. I personally wouldn't consider Snowden a war hero, but I do consider him a hero, and I wouldn't begrudge people the opinion that he is indeed a war hero.


> It really does remind one of soviet style suppression.

If by "one" you mean "you", maybe.

No-one is getting gulag-ed or shot for doing this. To liken this response to Soviet-era human rights abuses betrays a pretty myopic view, IMO.


Hey man, we have Gitmo and all of our black sites around the world. Human rights abuses happen there with 100% certainty and 0% transparency.

Oh yeah, and we have the world's largest prison population by far.

So maybe not a real Soviet style gulag, just a bunch of smaller gulag-like places to store our undesirables.

Sure, it's not as bad as the USSR, but why is this sort of thing permitted whatsoever in a democracy again?


Not just Soviet-style suppression, but state sponsored censorship. While the local rules of the park may deem that this is simply vandalism, I fail to recall such instances in the US demanding this kind of censoring and it should be pointed out a little more saliently in the article for appropriate effect.


You are kidding right? This has nothing to do with "Soviet-style suppression, but state sponsored censorship". It is the Park service doing its job. It IS vandalism. Plain and simple.


I was pointing out the limited applicability of "Soviet-style suppression" in the above post - that much is obvious. The rest of my comment stands and your post counts as little more than needless handwaving.


Do you have examples of precedent where this occurred in the U.S.? If not, you're simply speculating based on your own opinion/mood/blood sugar level.

Graffiti is rarely covered up so quickly unless it is found to be particularly offensive. My personal belief is that this statue was deemed to be politically offensive and inciting as well as likely to draw media exposure and so was quickly removed from view even though this is not a required step in the process of restoring the monument to its former state.


Err... we're talking about an installation in one of the most heavily trafficked park systems in the world. I'm surprised it stayed up long enough for some stranger to get a video of it. Sure, there are neglected parks in NYC but the Ft. Greene / Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument is not one of them.

http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fort-greene-park/inspection... For fun.


There have been many different opinions expressed here with regard to how quickly a politically innocuous statue would have been taken down, with different people claiming "it just makes sense" that such a statue would/wouldn't be covered and removed as quickly. This is a nice illustration of why the human intestine has such limited epistemic utility: my gut and your gut will rarely agree and there's no way based on gut feel alone to decide which if either is correct in any given situation.

So the right thing to do now is to put up a politically innocuous statue and see how long it lasts, or to find cases that are closer to this situation than graffiti, which is both commonplace and relatively less obtrusive, and less likely to be taken for an "official" statement of anything.

I used to live beside a park where a local artist erected an extremely strange Transformer-like statue in a central location that took several weeks to be removed, but it wasn't in the US and it was in the poorer area of a small town, so there are too many differences to draw any useful conclusions from it.


There was a guy that placed a bust of himself in a University library in Sweden. The bust is still there.

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&pr...


Or maybe they would've removed it, and until they did left it uncovered. Neither of us know what they would've done.

Not sure what China or France doing things has to do with how we do things in the US.


Well I can tell you 15 years ago Giuliani would have been up there with a sledgehammer himself taking it down, holding a press conference, and vowing the harshest consequences possible once the perpetrators were tracked down. By that scale can we say that the state of democracy in the US is actually greatly advanced?


I agree. The response depends on who is in charge. Maybe in a place like Berkeley, birthplace of the free speech movement, they might consider keeping the statue there.


Don't worry too much, U.S. couldn't become China in one day just like you couldn't build Rome in a day.

I notice this little detail in the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989, five years after 1984. After the students build the parts of the statute named Goddess of Democracy, the state security bureau declared that any truck drivers helping them would lose their license.[0] At first this amused me a little bit, seeing how pathetic the security bureau was, but soon I feel so frustrated and disappointed be cause it hasn't been any better about politics after 26 years. Of course they have learned how to frame citizen under the coat of "Rule by law". Government without its chain is just like the Smaug.

[0] http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goddess_of_Democracy


> Shameful that something so harmless is immediately covered up (quite literally) because it challenges the state.

Playing devil's advocate here, but would have they done differently with an other bust? maybe it's just forbidden to put a statue in a park without authorization.


Good question. Actually, I'd love to see what happens if someone takes the same exact concept but instead of Snowden or a political figure, they take the bust of Mickey Mouse.

Bonus points for a Vine of them covering it up while kids cry in the background.


Or how about an illegal bust of George Washington.


It'd probably hit the news with the headline:

"Anonymous benefactor donates $30k statue to city park"


The terrorist?


freedom fighter.


I guess you're not British.


That Tree of Liberty wasn't going to water itself...


You don't cover over forbidden things, only embarrassing things.

That is the scary part, although not new. Is the authorities deeming information and political statements as dangerous and needing to be censored. Make sure more people don't hear about this and start asking questions like why do some people venerate as a here, this guy the government says is a traitor.


"You don't cover over forbidden things, only embarrassing things."

What? Wrong. That's just silly. Really it is.


Someone put up a naked devil statue in a Vancouver park. It was removed pretty briskly.

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/petitions-call-for-...


A naked devil grabbing his very erect penis. I can understand why some people may find that offensive but I personally wouldn't be any more offended by it than I was by the peeing "swordfight" statue at the Franz Kafka museum in Prague (with moving hips and penises no less) [1]

Art comes in all forms, including the goat f*cking variety [2] but that's another dimension of this argument that you aren't arguing against so I won't delve into it here.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5lzZP36xVE

[2] http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20130419-the-shock-of-the-o...


>The U.S. is getting scarier by the day, folks.

It really is. The facade of democracy is very quickly being peeled back to reveal something utterly terrifying. The response from the people has been the most disappointing and depressing thing though. The random sampling in NYC, of all places in the US, by Oliver's show was a brutal reminder of the mindset of the average person there.


Ignoring the republic/democratic state distinction, the US's democratic status has always been weak due to FPTP (ditto with the UK). It is essentially a system designed to keep the majority from even running and to keep the minority opinion silent.

If the US (or UK) cared at all about democracy like they always claim they'd move to something better (e.g. Open list, party list, full on proportional representation, or a number of other alternatives). Heck even run off voting (i.e. multiple votes) in FPTP is superior like the Alternative Vote.

But instead we have FPTP, and why? So we have this revolving door of "sameness" and monied politicians. Essentially bribery and corruption exist in the West, they're just completely legal and out in the open.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_of_voting_systems_by_cou... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party-list_proportional_repres... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_list https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting


I highly recommend the following CGP Grey video for further detail about the problems of First Past the Post voting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo).

> But instead we have FPTP, and why?

Its the simplest and most naive electoral system so Joe Bloggs understands it. Its just "the person who gets the most votes wins". The problems this system causes are ephemeral statistical problems that require more than a 10 second soundbite to explain or even to detect happening. So from Joe Bloggs point of view, you want to change his fundamental right to vote based on the fact that your intellectual busywork has concluded that the wrong person can win the election. That's how the UK failed to get Alternative Vote passed in 2011.


Essentially bribery and corruption exist in the West, they're just completely legal and out in the open.

You can't bribe an officer of the USA govt, it's called facilitation payment and it's legal.

This is made even more funny by the fact that the USA law prohibits foreigners from engaging in that same behavior with other foreigners, in foreign countries. Foreigners have been convicted and indicted in USA for providing facilitation payments, in third countries, to third country citizens.



FPTP = First Past The Post, for people whose first language isn't English. Took me a bit to figure out :)


Also for people whose first language is English.


The National Front will be part of the government in France. Is that what we should strive for?


>The National Front will be part of the government in France. Is that what we should strive for?

Yes. People should be free to elect whoever they want to represent them. I'm not a National Front supporter, but they clearly have support and why should they be withheld from running in a free election simply because others dislike their campaign platform?

The idea of "Only X parties that conform to Y beliefs should be able to run/hold government" is a very dangerous one.

I would rather see a world full of governments made up of mixed up groups of representatives than that which the US currently has - two sides of the same coin being flipped every 4 years with a very small number of families establishing themselves as political dynasties.

There's ~350m people in the US. There is no way the diversity of views in that 350m people is represented in the two parties that hold power there. Similarly, there are 350m people and yet those who hold the office of President are, and have been for decades, close relatives of former Presidents. 2016 is just around the corner and it's looking like the US may well have another Clinton or Bush in office. How the hell is that right?

A nation's power structure should be free to change as the people want it to. The government is supposed to represent and serve the people, not the other way around.

We're seeing former outlying political entities in Europe experiencing a large increase in support - UKIP in the UK, Syriza in Greece, Sinn Fein in Ireland, the separatists in Spain, etc. - because a hell of a lot of people feel the ruling entities there are no longer representing the people and are demanding change.

That is something that should be welcomed and embraced. A nation should be free to make its own choices and deal with the consequences, not be shackled to approved political ideologies.


Unfortunately, yes, I think they should have a seat.

While I disagree with everything they stand for, it isn't for me or anyone else to decide who should or shouldn't get their voices heard.

If they have enough citizens to vote for them, absolutely they should get a seat. In fact giving extremists a voice somewhat counter-acts extremism as they feel like they have an outlet for their perceived issues.


> In fact giving extremists a voice somewhat counter-acts extremism as they feel like they have an outlet for their perceived issues.

That's debatable. The ridiculous amount of coverage they have had in France has certainly improved their popularity.

The only good thing about them getting more power is that they can clearly demonstrate that they are just as incompetent and corrupt as the other parties.


Sponsored by the Kremlin from what I read recently. (And I'll don a tinfoil hat and bet all of the anti EU parties are getting backhanders from one of the other trading blocs.)


> The National Front will be part of the government in France. Is that what we should strive for?

[Citation needed]. Sure, they have about 25% of the public now, but the next presidential elections are not before 2017, and two years is a long time in politics.


>The facade of democracy

>The response from the people has been the most disappointing

Which one is it? Is it that democracy has failed, or is it that the majority don't care about this particular topic?


You are supposing that they are separate/independent failings when in reality they are linked.

The way the government and the media demonized Snowden and fed the public misinformation was designed to get people to not care about this issue.

By attacking Snowden and misrepresenting the facts (such as congressmen claiming he was certainly working for foreign intelligence agencies), they muddied the waters and left people confused and consequently apathetic.


These two things are not mutually exclusive.


Not sure why HNers were so disappointed with people's response to Snowden in NYC. Isn't it easily possible that out of 200 people they questioned, only 10 didn't know about him but they of course edited out 190? That's how these comedy news shows work.


So it would be shameful of me to cover up your political speech when it's inflicted upon my property without my permission?

Look, I emphatically believe in what Snowden did (though I may have some quibbles with his methods, his reasons were exemplary). I don't think that justifies what amounts to glorified — if tastefully done, and in keeping with the aesthetics of the monument — vandalism.

This is a war memorial. How might it feel to those who have lost loved ones in one of this country's innumerable wars, to have the monument to their loss, their sacrifice, appropriated for someone else's speech?


Your property? The monument is no more yours than it is mine. And since you asked, it would feel like someone understood the relative importance of things. It would feel like they hadn't died in vain, for an unappreciative, lethargic citizenry.

>appropriated for someone else's ends?

Appropriated for the same ends for which the original memorial was commemorating. The ends are the same.

Let's also include some perspective. The monument does not appear to be irreparably harmed. So, vandalism, technically, but definitely not comparable to the Sack of Rome https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sack_of_Rome_%28455%29


To change the point of view of a monument or previous piece of art in a easily reversible way is not vandalism in fact. Is art.

Art is not a democratic thing at all. This is the same that Banksy does. Is also the "monna-lissa with moustache" from Duchamp, the picasso's versions of velazquez paintings, and the impresionists showing his pictures in the "salon des refusees". People changed his point of view for better and just learned to deal with it.

What was claimed as inaceptable vandalism and breaking of the rules yesterday, is just culture today.

More interestingly, the success of a work of art is not linked to the objet permanence. If damaged o destroyed will spawn more controversy and will spread the idea (the real work of art), probably spawning a miriad of "photoshop restaurations" on internet.

A very smart move.


>This is a war memorial. How might it feel to those who have lost loved ones in one of this country's innumerable wars, to have the monument to their loss, their sacrifice, appropriated for someone else's speech?

This is the top of Fort Greene park, not Arlington Cemetery. The park runs concerts, movies, and food stands here. On a given warm day it's full of sun bathers, picnics, couples making out, personal training sessions, yoga, martial arts, &c. It seems disingenuous to suddenly pull out the "loss, sacrifice" card only when confronted with controversial speech.


They took due care to choose materials that would not harm the monument. Public monuments and property are there for the enjoyment and use of the public, if that usage does no harm it should be allowed. The placing of this bust pushes the limits of this usage but should still be considered fair use and free speech since the artists did no harm. Even though it will cost whatever the wages and rates for the equipment needed to move it will be, I would argue that this cost could be avoided in a freer country by sanctioning this type of protest so that the artists could come forward to remove it themselves (I'm sure they would have interest from galleries or individuals for this piece) or better yet there could be a popular vote on whether to keep it.


There is NO WAY this is "fair use and free speech". You can't even make that argument with a straight face.


To me, this is akin to chaining yourself to a tree in a public park to protest its removal or to a fixture in a courthouse or city hall or placing posters or drawing with chalk in such locations. This statue is about as permanent a fixture or modification as that would be. https://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-demonstrat...

It has been argued before http://www.nyulawreview.org/sites/default/files/pdf/NYULawRe...

If there's a case to be made protecting graffiti on private property I would say there is a case for protecting graffiti on public property if it is the public's will to do so http://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=...

EDIT: o_o


Interesting pattern of feigned disbelief in the comments here. Anyway, I thoroughly agree with your assessment.


My great-great-great-etc-grandfather fought in the war that monument commemorates, and I feel Snowden exemplifies the values he fought for.


That monument, if anything, belongs to the city and thus its people.

As for political speech I am quite okay with the rule that you can put up any bust that you have made for your own money, as a private citizen, so long as it is of that quality. I doubt the rule would be abused much.


You can be well assured some religious group is going to use this to put up some religious symbol, after which some non-religious group is going to put up another demonic thinking chair.


We have the establishment clause to deal with that particular kind of abuse - this is completely nonreligious.


The Establishment Clause is irrelevant to the behavior of private citizens.


It is, however, very relevant to the state's behavior in such a case.


So if I create the Church of Snowden, someone else can complain to have the statue removed?


In my hometown there's a mausoleum to a WW1 general that was built in Fascist times.

http://www.ecosistemaverbano.org/scheda.html?id=5955

The roof is held up by statues of service members from various branches... and a Blackshirt.

Every once in a while that gets covered (to signify anti fascism) or uncovered (to signify respect for the artist's intention). It used to be various local administration officials covering and uncovering it. Now it's just random people putting up tarps at night or cutting them down.

The town's official policy at this point is "we ran out of tarps in the early 1990s and don't care anymore".

I wonder how long that tarp will stay :)


It is almost funny how the "vandals" were careful, whereas the cop unceremoniously stands on the eagle while covering up the bust.

No wait - "symbolic". That's the word I was looking for.


Ha ha ha, the US has been scary for over a decade, and for the rest of the world, scary for many decades.


just start a fund or such to plaster billboards all over with his image


I don't think it's scary or represents the US changing in someway, but this vine is a great summary of the entire Snowden affair after he released the leaks.


It would be cool if his bust becomes the first viral 3d printing meme, where people 3d print his bust and leave it in public spaces all over the world.


The artists are anonymous but according to the article, the author knows how to reach them. Perhaps someone should contact the publication. This is the only email address I see:

tips@animalnewyork.com


Make the STL available and it'll happen, at least around here.


"Snowden is Watching You"?


Or perhaps "Snowden Was Watching Them Watch You".


Let's put this in some historical light. The British government abolished the slave trade in 1833 - 1838 and this was a big step (even if other schemes were in effect slavery). Only one monument was erected to commemorate this. Protagonists, e.g. William Wilberforce have statues however the event itself - abolition - only has this one memorial. It was built by a wealthy Quaker and served as the entrance arch for his mansion.

Step forward 150 years and this might be the one and only memorial 'made at the time' to the work of our hero.


We need a model of the bust so we can start printing these en masse on our 3D printers.


It will get even better when Diane Feinstein orders us to take the model off the Internet.


Or when she orders the death penalty for anyone who prints it! /s


I don't think a sarcasm tag applies here; I wouldn't hold such a thing above the likes of her.


If you dislike Feinstein you should hope she tries something like that, she would be out on her ear before noon.


SENATOR Feinstein. Please, she earned it.


Like Chancellor Palpatine.


This software may help. http://www.123dapp.com/catch "Turn ordinary photos into extraordinary 3D models."


Coopting memorials this way bothers me, especially in the case where the person being idealized would have been against it. I do appreciate the relevancy of the memorial being used. Using the location and its history as a running point for a demonstration / gathering would have been more impactful as well as being respectful to the purpose of the memorial.


>>"They fused it to part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers."

I'm not sure that the Prison Ship Martyrs would have minded. And I disagree that hosting a "demonstration / gathering would have been more impactful as well as being respectful". It certainly wouldn't have been more impactful, as I am fairly confident that I wouldn't have even heard of it had that occurred. As for disrespecting the monument, I can imagine war heroes preferring temporary or even permanent defacement of their memorial as preferable to the memorial remaining in tact while freedom is destroyed instead.


> Using the location and its history as a running point for a demonstration / gathering would have been more impactful

Would we know about it on HN?


Agreed. I love the sentiment behind this, but lets not deface existing monuments/memorials.


I'm not sure Snowden would be against it, if it stood a good chance of getting people talking about the upcoming reauthorization of the Patriot Act on June 1.


Hell yeah he would be for it, he was willing to stoop to an extended penis joke in his interview with John Oliver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEVlyP4_11M


I'm still trying to decide how I feel about the presentation and the underlying messages that episode delivered. On one hand, I believe it is sadly necessary to present the issue in such elementary terms to the people who wouldn't otherwise give a shit. I don't think it trivializes the problem - it just makes it more accessible to the ignorant (at best) or WorldStarHipHop-filming (at worst) voting population.

On a tangent, I think Jon's demeanor was a bit to jerkish for my taste. I appreciate the desire to not look like a softball interviewer, but some of his jokes and remarks and mannerisms were embarrassing either in its insult to Ed/Julian or in its pure unfunny character.


My statement regarding approval was referencing the article: "The artists admit that Snowden probably wouldn’t approve of the project, since he never wanted the leaks to be about him, but they hope he’d understand why they did it."

Considering it was intended to be a temporary art installation, the MIT Hacks reference seems appropriate: " It is a traditional courtesy to leave a note or even engineering drawings behind, as an aid to safe de-installation of a hack."-nightworks

The difference is that this was intended to be temporary and decisions were made to ensure safe removal, which I appreciate, but no instructions were left to a staff, possibly unfamiliar with the removal procedures, leading to risk of damage to the monument.

I also think it unfair to assume the victims for which the memorial was for would believe this is a valid usage - while the theme is close, the artists are equating Prisoners of War losing their life in a situation they had no control over ( at that point), versus a situation very much in the hands of snowden (ignoring the injustices, there are and have been many decision open to him). Having researched a bit more, equating the situation of a single person, to the thousands (~11,500) who were effectively murdered due to the inhumane conditions of their captivity is distasteful at best.

This is an opinion I know, and I appreciate this is a civil conversation if unpopular. I urge more reading on the memorial itself and its reason.


My support for Edward Snowden is unstinting. Nevertheless, I think what they've done here is wrong. In my opinion, they desecrate another monument, and they have no business doing so.


A lot of the discussion in this thread talks about "the government" like it's some vast, coordinated entity. It really, really isn't. I wouldn't be surprised if the people who put a tarp over that Snowden bust didn't even know who Snowden was, they just knew someone snuck into their park overnight and put this thing there.


I 3D scanned the place where the illicit Snowden bust was sitting just a few months ago :) https://sketchfab.com/models/20d2c70c4e164c7596e9393139ad0b7...


Neat. What did you use to do the scan?


Don't overlook the potentially enormous cost to the artists for this brief statement, in both time and money:

The materials needed to create a bust of this type cost thousands of dollars, and the pair ponied up the cash. It then took a little over six months to sculpt, mold, cast and ship to New York. Had the sculptor charged market rates, he said it would have cost tens of thousands of dollars. “The amount of work that goes into this kind of stuff, it’s easily a 30 grand project,” said the 30-something sculptor. “If it were bronze, it could be a $100,000 piece of artwork, maybe more.”

[From the article]


This is the hacker spirit.


Glorious hack! I wonder how many HNers are hustling over there for a selfie right now...?

EDIT: Already too late :(


Step 1: the creators should release the files necessary to 3D print the bust

Step 2: thousands of little versions of the bust begin showing up around the country

Step 3: ...


Didn't last long; it was covered this afternoon[1]. The best comment on Twitter: "Snowden busted; massive coverup underway"...

Bummer I missed it. I was just a few blocks from the park. They should have done on the weekend.

[1] https://vine.co/v/eBB171WXqIL


This is pathetic and selfish. Regardless of how you feel about Snowden (or anything) it is not okay to vandalize a memorial or any work of public art. Go put up your own statue but it is extremely selfish and unempathetic to forcefully co-opt an existing piece as a venue for your own. I'm disheartened by the widespread support for this using Snowdens actions as justification. What was put there is irrelevant to the fact that it is wrong and selfish to coopt a memorial to spread whatever message. How sad.


I'd pay $500 for the smaller scale version, if they plan to offer those.


Somebody should put up a second, uninteresting, benign bust just to see what happens to it vs Snowden's.


What we really want to know is where can we get giant Snowden busts and is there a directory of empty plinths on the internet?


Giant Snowden busts should look really great as the next generation of science fair soda volcanoes. The flame of truth everywhere... yup


Very cool idea. It doesn't look too much like Snowden though.


Google image search agrees with you: http://bit.ly/1CdboIs

note: jack from "the shining" shows up


Google image search is not a face recognition engine or even a way to find different pictures of the same object.

What it does is look for different versions (sizes and croppings) of the exact same picture, and if that fails, look for images with similar colors (Jack from the Shining).


It's actually pretty effective at face recognition when given actual faces:

Obama: http://bit.ly/19Zkgur

Putin: http://bit.ly/1aDAvyA

Lindsay Lohan: http://bit.ly/19ZkFgk

Matt Damon: http://bit.ly/1xYl5il


That only works because it found exact versions of that same picture on different websites and looked at the text of those sites and saw that the name "Barack Obama" was in the text of all those sites so it did an image search for "Barack Obama". Like I said: it searches for exact picture matches.

If you took your own picture of Obama that had never been posted online before and did a reverse image search, it wouldn't work.


Obviously it works better if it can find the exact image, but I don't think that's all that it's doing. For example, here's a picture of the Golden Gate bridge that I took myself from Angel Island, never before uploaded to the Internet:

http://bit.ly/1HJy0oL

It couldn't get the query, but it does get similar images, including at least one other that's also of the Golden Gate bridge. I unfortunately don't have any personal pictures of celebrities, but here's one of a slightly-askew photo of my computer screen that includes Obama's face (but deliberately not all of the original picture):

http://bit.ly/1CNk9wa

It managed to guess that one correctly, even though it didn't have the exact original image.


For the Obama one toward the bottom of the page there is the section "Pages that include matching images", so it did find the exact original image. I knew it would match even cropped images, but apparently it can also handle slight rotation and some color changes.


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