Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
NSA whistleblower warns of surveillance state (startribune.com)
282 points by Errorcod3 on June 8, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 104 comments



So I guess the lesson is that if you want to have a bigger impact when you blow the whistle, you need hard documentation and evidence. You can't just tell the world there is a bad thing happening. You need to show them the paper that proves it.


But you will charged with "treason" when you acquire hard evidence, since now a days, every thing is a "state secret".


"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell


"If you speak the truth, have a foot in the stirrup." [1]

[1] http://www.quotes.net/quote/34890


Civilization IV: improving the world's pithy quote vocabulary since 2005. =D

http://ericmack1.hubpages.com/hub/civ4quotes


That's a good one, thanks! :)


Sounds like Orwell, but wasn't: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/02/24/truth-revolutionary.

And if you look more closely, it doesn't sound like Orwell after all. It's too grandiose.


"Truth is treason in the empire of lies." - Ron Paul


No, not everything is a state secret. Documents produced by the state and specifically marked as such are. And yes, stealing those documents and publicly sharing them is treason.

Perhaps treason that serves a higher good. Perhaps not. Reasonable people can disagree. But not need for the scare quotes.


To be a bit pedantic, stealing classified documents is a violation of 18 USC § 1924 ("Unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material") and publicly sharing them is a violation of 18 USC § 798 ("Disclosure of classified information").

Treason is defined in 18 USC § 2381 (pursuant to Article III definitional constraints) as a citizen of the United States "lev[ying] war against [the US] or adher[ing] to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere."

In this, US law follows the arguments of Blackstone, who believed that high treason, more so perhaps than any other crime, must be precisely defined and delineated ("For if the crime of high treason be indeterminate, this alone ... is sufficient to make any government degenerate into arbitrary power"). Madison warned in The Federalist that only a narrow Constitutional definition of treason could protect citizens from "new-fangled and artificial treasons" enacted to serve political factionalism. Arguably, were Snowden to be convicted of treason for exposing questionable government activity, it would be a textbook case of constructive treason, precisely that which the Founding Fathers sought to prevent.

Now, Snowden has been tried in the media as being guilty of treason (perhaps most famously by Richard Clarke), but that, I think, is a tough row to hoe, even in a post-9/11 America; the only "enemies" the US is specifically at war with are al-Qa'ida-affiliated terrorists, and there's just no evidence that Snowden had an "intent to betray" the US to terror groups.

Disclosures relating to, e.g., China or Europe are non-treasonous, as we are not at war with any of those states; in the same way, Jonathan Pollard was convicted of espionage due to his spying against the US for Israel, but his actions did not fit the definition of treason.

In summary, the charge of "treason" sets an extremely high legal bar, one that Snowden's actions -- while unquestionably illegal -- almost certainly do not rise to. He is a criminal on the run, certainly; a hero, possibly; a traitor, not at all.


Thank you for the information.

> "adher[ing] to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere."

Incidentally, the information that Snowden shared was clearly not giving "aid and comfort" to the enemy, it was giving information to the people, so as you eloquently point out, treason is not applicable. Unless of course we now consider the citizens of the United States to be the enemy...


i think we have a winner. notice the uncontrolled mass influx of non citizens into the country of late and the preferential treatment they get, especially regarding privacy issues?


Indeed you are correct. Thanks for the pedantic details!


Treason (n.): "the crime of betraying one's country.."

This is not an absolute truth. Revealing "state secret" documents is only treason if you identify the elites and elected officials as the country, and not the population. Arguably, when Ed released state secrets to the citizens of his own country, it was NOT treason. He certainly didn't betray the citizens who were being lied to by their government, and the citizens compose much more of the country than the government does.


The only way to fight surveillance is to make all secrets of every state and every single individual on the planet public knowledge. Total surveillance of everybody at all times available to anyone who wants it. To completely destroy the concept of being alone. That way there is perfect alignment between elites, people, corporations, and governments as to their attitude and thereby policy toward surveillance. We need to hack this and make this a reality. Hackers of the world unite!


Thanks but no thanks. Total transparency for government organizations, total privacy for individuals.


Middle ground: inverse relation between power and privacy.

If information magnifies power relationships, then require the powerful (governments, corporations, the wealthy), as well as those who've violated social contracts (criminals).

Which is fairly much how Europe's Right to be Forgotten is working in practice (as some of us predicted).


Unfinished sentence in 2nd par: ... to have proportionately increased disclosure.


The world is already ahead of that; increasingly, the actual, hard power lies in the hands of private corporations.


The hard power is - more so than at any other time in history - in the hands of central governments.

Governments used to have to go begging to private wealth to finance themselves, during panics, at times of war, etc. Today Bill Gates is hilariously undersized compared to the US Government (as are all corporations); 120 years ago, Rockefeller by himself towered over the US Government. During the 19th century governments of Europe had to beg for private financing for wars and bailouts.

What corporation, anywhere on earth, has any meaningful hard power? Tanks, jets, machine guns, aircraft carriers, cruise missiles, nukes, legal surveillance capabilities, thousands of soldiers, transports, military bases, the legal right to knock down your door and arrest you, the ability to put you in prison for 15 years with minimum sentencing laws, the legal ability to steal your property at gun point through civil asset forfeiture with no compensation, the right to arrest you for smoking pot, and on it goes.

Name a few corporations with anything even resembling those powers.

All real control over currencies today rests with central governments and their proxies (eg the Fed). That was not the case prior to the global establishment of the modern central banks in the last century. A little over a century ago, JP Morgan ruled the financial markets, and was vastly more powerful than the US Government in financial matters. Today, one month of QE is bigger than the entire fortune of the world's wealthiest man.

At what other point in world history, other than the last century, have governments been singularly all-powerful when it comes to military might? No domestic entity even remotely dares threaten the big governments of today. See: China, Russia, US.


I think the comment parent was not referring to hard power in the geopolitical sense, but rather real power or decision power in the more abstract sense.

No corporation can arrest you for smoking pot, but corporations could decide for smoking pot to become legal overnight. No corporation can launch a missile, but they can arrange for the missiles to be bought, installed, etc..

That said, I would soften your statement that governments are singularly all-powerful: ISIS, al-Qaeda, the iraqi insurgency writ large, MEND, and other non-state groups have been able to quite successfully go toe-to-toe with nation states and make out quite handsomely.


This comment does not counter your larger point but point out a couple of exceptions.

The Federal Reserve is not a government entity. Though the Fed's President is appointed by the government, candidates suggested by the member Banks who hold shares in the organisation.

Here are a list of private military companies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_military_company


i cant upvote you enough. people blaming corporations for controlling everything is lame. the politicians who are elected have the free will to choose, the electorate can easily review the politician's record if they like. just because huge numbers of them are corrupt isn't the fault of the corporations...


This is orthogonal to the topic of corporations, but I don't believe elected politicians have "free will to chose". Frankly, I think that politics is the place where you literally lose free will as you move up the chain. You can't really have much agency where every decision you make is necessarily based on all the little deals, agreements and power plays you've had to get embedded in to garner support. This is really a systemic problem, I find it increasingly hard to blame particular politicians for it.


That actually brings up an interesting thought. Corporations are able to be ruthlessly competitive with each other in some part because they keep things secret when they can.

Is it plausible that one of the reasons that major corporations have so much power now is because the government was TOO open for enough decades that the corporations were able to out compete?


I think this would only work if everyone also had perfectly equal power to abuse the resulting information flood. In the U.S., it's common knowledge (or at the very least, common belief) that the majority of politicians are corrupt and routinely do things that would land the rest of us in prison. Despite that knowledge, we generally have no power to do anything meaningful about it because they make the rules.

I don't want a world where every move I make is being watched and I'm subject to arbitrary action by people who have power. I think total surveillance, even if it includes the powerful few, would be a disaster for human rights and freedom in general. So what if the dictator is impeccable in his daily routine, if he's watching every move of a population and subjecting them to unequal treatment under the law?


> The point is that hypocrisy would eventually cause a change, but there would be a period where things would work the way that you describe.

That may be possible, but it's also possible that total surveillance would result in a permanent entrenchement of whoever manages to gain (or maintain) power through the transition. It's very hard for a competing ideology to rise in prominence if it's possible to detect and crush every individual who starts to disagree, before they can even communicate it to anyone else. I think it's likely that with total surveillance we'd soon see the rise of rapid automated enforcement, which would be a incredible impediment to any attempt at changing the status quo.


Don't even pretend like we're not 100% there right now. You are describing reality as it exists currently, nothing more. The tolerance of ideological debate is at the pleasure of those in power, but try to take it any further than you will be visited by various systems of control.


The point is that hypocrisy would eventually cause a change, but there would be a period where things would work the way that you describe.


hypocrisy has never stopped anyone from doing what they want.


"I don't want a world where every move I make is being watched"

That's already the case. There is (near) total transparency for the population. The only way to fight back, is to have total transparency for the powerful few too.

But they make the rules, and have the money and the power, so this ain't happening.


No, this is not where we should go. The human psyche simply cannot handle that scale of unforgetting, unrelenting, unforgiving violation.


> The human psyche simply cannot handle that scale of unforgetting, unrelenting, unforgiving violation.

I don't like it either, and it's completely foreign to my (and almost everyone's) current way of living, but there are a lot of things about the current way of living that would have been completely foreign to anyone a century ago. (Imagine how previous generations would have felt about the quantity of information we make public, intentionally and un-, on social media!)

I am not defending or supporting this, but I think that it might be overambitious to declare (presumably without evidence beyond emotional reaction) what the human psyche can or cannot support.


Two centuries ago, the kind of thing that we post today on social media was common knowledge, passed from person to person as gossip. People that didn't have that trail of information were viewed with suspicion.


I know that the "oh noez social media" attitude that I might have seemed to be promulgating can be overblown, but I don't think that this response doesn't get at the heart of it. It's true that people in your community likely knew about you, and newcomers to a community would have had to build up that background of trust; but I think that there's a huge difference between the sort of reciprocal information sharing that goes on in physical communities, and the undifferentiated, omni-directional outward flow of information that social media makes possible.


Money being equivalent to power, privacy will always be distributed inequally.

So if you think transparency could be applied to everybody in society, you're wrong.

Rich people will have the means to protect their privacy, not the "middle class" and not the poor nor the extremely poor.


There is a plethora of math that will show you this is not a self-enforcing agreement:( But yea, it would be nice


I totally agree with this. Privacy is a lost war. We have to turn this on its head. Seems paradoxical, but anyone who doesn't like the surveillance state, having lost the war for privacy, should be FOR surveillance and accessibility to it for all. Equalize the power.


What is most worrisome is that even with all the overwhelming documentation, people, especially in the USA are largely ignoring it. Sure there are some that protest and there is much ado about the violations in European countries, but reality is that nothing substantial is happening beyond token and illusory reforms.

It's almost as if someone discovered a time machine, went back in time, showed everyone the documented and recorded evidence that a totalitarian dictatorship was forming; and everyone simply shrugged and called you a witch.

Unfortunately, humans are not really all that good at being preemptive. We are ultimately a rather stupid, reactionary life form that won't get it until after we have teetered on the edge of the abyss.


It doesn't affect people directly, so people don't care. When Facebook started using people's faces on ads, people cared - it affected them. Now though, the NSA does sweeping data gathering, as do all the major internet companies - but they don't show you how they use it, so nobody feels like it's affecting them.


Did you see the John Oliver episode about dick pics?

Oh, they care once they really understand. The problem is, most people, aren't really thinking that critically about it until it smacks them in the face at which point its (usually) too late.


Interviewing people on the street is mostly a rhetorical (political) or comedic technique. Extrapolating anything serious from it is unwise at best.

At the end of the day, John Oliver hosts a comedy show. Though it tends to be on the informative side, it still oversimplifies and exaggerates to get its effect. The more I've watched him, the more I've grown tired of his explicit style of "share a factoid before immediately following on with a forced pop culture reference" that summarizes his work.

He seems to be becoming more popular as a research substitute, though.


> Extrapolating anything serious from it is unwise at best.

I suppose but I've seen literally the exact same reaction when I've explained things like this to people in those sorts of terms vs. the terms the news uses.

The problem is the "official research" doesn't explicitly state things like that but use it in terms vague enough people really don't believe/understand that the pics they send their lovers are being stored.

> http://www.gallup.com/poll/163043/americans-disapprove-gover...

Posing the question like that has serious biases because people really and genuinely do not understand the implications.

We need official research that is clear, concise, and written in a manner where the connections are obvious. Official research that relies on statements/questions that are vague enough to be heavily biased by the sources of the media the person consumes is valueless, honestly.


He is the closest thing to journalism you can get on your television; the fact that he is becoming popular is encouraging. If nothing else, he is showing us that it is possible to discuss issues at length and in detail with facts and research and still keep an audience, hopefully we will see more shows follow this model instead of the standard news/journalism model which is setting two talking heads who know nothing in a boxing ring and asking them to scream at each other.

edit: also, are you really surprised that a comedian is better at explaining important issues to ordinary people in a way they understand than a security researcher or academic? He wasn't attempting to take a sample, rather describe how the issue should be framed. I wouldn't take it as evidence of anything, but rather a heuristic for arguments with your less-privacy-conscious peers, and it's a pretty solid heuristic I think.


But it does affect people directly, through tax dollars, which is how I talk about it. Conversley, there must be a lot of jobs created by the program, jobs which would be lost if the program was cut.


And those of us who have lived under such a totalitarian state cower in fear both of the government and the idiots ignoring the warnings and thereby enabling the government's tyranny.


I don't think it's so much that we're not good at being preemptive, although that is probably a part of it. It seems that what is most inhibiting intelligent and passionate discourse about Western surveillance is misdirection. In the United States, one is taught to focus virtually entirely on making ends meet and achieving financial success -- anything other than the financial well-being of a person and that person's family is largely considered secondary. The effect of this is a population that suffers from the condition of caring a great deal about social issues, but not acting on their beliefs. I'm not sure how much this applies in Europe, but in the US I am faced time and time again with the sentiment that XYZ is "undeniably a bad thing, but there isn't much I can do about it." Complimenting this is the fact that many of the people who feel most passionately about these issues are also the people who realize that the consequences of our current political climate are severe, and will stay silent in order to avoid the traditional punishments of the state.


Well, there really isn't anything effective that people can do about it without dire consequences. The only person who "did anything" about mass-surveillance is now exiled to Russia, likely for the rest of his life.


They're not ignoring it, they just don't know what to do.


You're leaving out a major piece of the analysis, which is making the conceptual leap from surveillance to totalitarianism. The real world is quite a bit more subtle than the Sci-Fi that makes that leap seem inevitable.


But it is inevitable. Even if it doesn't happen in the short-term, you're setting up a turn-key totalitarian state. All it takes is a major crisis, and the right leader to galvanize people behind the cause. Just look at how populate opinion has changed towards things like surveillance in response to the War on Terror.


Surveillance is a red-herring in your hypothetical. If a major crisis allowed the right leader to institute a totalitarian government, it would be utterly trivial for that same regime to force Google/Facebook/AT&T/Verizon to implement a surveillance infrastructure, whether or not one was already in place.

Totalitarianism begins and ends with control of the military. You can't be a despot without control of the military, and once you have that everything else is trivial.


>showed everyone the documented and recorded evidence that a totalitarian dictatorship was forming

This "dictatorship" involves virtually every country in the West cooperating. That narrative does not work very well so we concentrate on how evil the US is and ignore who is working with them. This line of thinking guarantees the status quo is safe.


>you need hard documentation and evidence.

How is anything Snowden released hard evidence? Every single thing Snowden released could have easily been faked. Hell, those powerpoints look fake. Who thought an intelligence agency would use something straight out of the world of TPS reporting and cookie-cutter presentation templates? Note, I'm not saying they're fake, but it would be trivial for someone to make this stuff if they wanted. So the argument that there's this overwhelming proof that the public can't ignore seems like weak sauce to me. The public isn't terribly interested in hard proof (or have the time/expertise to weigh claims), historically. If they were, we'd probably be a society of hard atheists scoffing at anything that can't be trivially proven in the lab.

The real issue here is why certain things go viral and others don't. Snowden's fleeing was fairly dramatic and I'm assuming that helped get the ball rolling. The timed release aspect of his disclosures are fairly clever too. Frankly, I think Assange cut a path for him by normalizing this type of leak and the journalist/news system was ready for it. In the past, this system was too busy avoiding these issues, or worse, being a mouthpiece for the current administration (See the NYTimes' disgraceful Iraq pre-war reporting, repeating Bush admin propaganda without question.)

Without the Assange/Manning path, the previous whistleblowers only received marginalized exposure. Now news managers realize how profitable leaks are especially with the White House not reciprocating with the 'blocking of access.' Obama's more liberal direction probably guarantees more leaks in his terms. We'll see how things are with the next POTUS. I suspect a GOP POTUS won't be as forgiving as the Bush administration has shown (Valerie Plame/Wilson affair for example).


It's the reaction. With faked documents, the administration is free to say the documents are faked. The leaker can be immediately discredited. The wiser approach to faked documents is no comment, but that lacks the political power of completely discrediting opposition.

With real stuff, people freak out and tip their hand. Media contact is made, discussions about endangering lives are had, and everyone accepts that the core idea is true.


  > Who thought an intelligence agency would use 
  > something straight out of the world of TPS reporting 
  > and cookie-cutter presentation templates?
In short, the crappy clip art and cookie-cutter templates make me appraise it as authentic. I think that anyone who as ever dealt with any defense contracting bureaucracy, with their endless slides, documents, and so forth, would feel similarly.

These are people interested in making arguments, and dumping massive presentations on other people. Defense IT is pretty much 99% Microsoft, and the people making presentations are neither designers nor (usually) people who care about optimum information delivery. They add what flair they can.

Imagine the most restrictive IT department ever, with layers of bureaucracy hardened over years to prevent you from getting work done. No one is going to open Photoshop and make custom photos, as no one can install it, and the military networks are so locked down that I'd be surprised if they could reach sites with stock photos. (OK, that's probably allowed.) I expect that the only things they have are MS OFfice and the stock clip art.


> So the argument that there's this overwhelming proof that the public can't ignore seems like weak sauce to me.

Your argument is that someone could fake them so having documents or not doesn't matter.

The one big issue is when they aren't fake and that people look at the documents no matter how real or fake they look and test them to see if they are true. That is what happened with Snowden. He got documents and SOME of them were able to be used to show validity and than the other documents and his actions build up the case. Without those this whole Patriot Act would have just been extended. Not that this new one is extremely better.


I don't think anyone was ever credibly claiming that Snowden's documents were fake, so that doesn't really seem relevant.

There's a huge difference in terms of media appeal, journalistic norms, and general public appeal in having original source documents vs just a story.


>Every single thing Snowden released could have easily been faked.

If it were faked, it could easily have been denied.


"it would be trivial for someone to make this stuff if they wanted" - it gets hard to consistently fake it when you have so many documents. Wikipedia says it is thousands - anyone has more precise stats?


agreed.


For all we know, Snowden is a CIA agent who's taking one for the team as part of the ongoing NSA/CIA turf war. Honestly I kind of lean that way -- he was a CIA direct hire before he was an NSA contractor.



Along the lines of a Snowden conspiracy theory, Dave Emory has done a fair amount of research and constructs quite a complex theory (see the "For a The Record" series on spitfirelist). He presents some interesting arguments that serve as counter point to the pervasive (libertarian) rhetoric that hails Snowden as a champion of freedom.


Stepping through the dreck of Emory's arguments[1], the only substance I can find is claim that all these folks are libertarians or right-ward sympathizes (It's not true that everyone defending Snowden is Libertarian but that's only one problem with Emory's off-kilter claims and argument-style).

I'd view myself as left-to-far-left with zero sympathies to libertarian politics as such. But any claim that all the libertarians are working together seems preposterous. Libertarianism appeals to geeks, constitutionalists and other sectors of the American population who tend to take it's positions seriously.

[1] http://spitfirelist.com/news/snowdens-ride-part-i-eddie-the-...


Hey downvoters, he actually was a CIA direct hire before he was an NSA contractor. Read the Guardian's profile of him.


You weren't down voted for the CIA System Admin job he had (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Snowden) You were down voted for saying he "Took One for the Team". I didn't down vote you though. You were presenting a conspiracy theory.


>You were presenting a conspiracy theory.

Rewind to a decade ago and suggesting that "the government" was committing mass surveillance and spying on everyone would be considered a conspiracy theory. You'd be assigned to a mental ward if you suggested that several governments were working together on this spying.

Not to defend his theory - but I find negatively reacting to any "far-fetched" theories merely because they are theories is rather short sighted given the number of them that turn out to be true, or partially true.


> Not to defend his theory - but I find negatively reacting to any "far-fetched" theories merely because they are theories is rather short sighted given the number of them that turn out to be true, or partially true.

You are falling prey to survivorship bias. You forget the huge, overwhelming majority of conspiracy theories that are wrong, and remember the ones that turn out to be right. Without evidence, it's a waste of time to even consider them.


I never said to consider them - be as neutral and uncaring as you like. But to be negative to them by default is inherently wrong if they have even a scrap of evidence or reason to believe. If they have zero evidence or logical reason to be suspect - be as critical and negative as you like.

Poor evidence is evidence that is still investigated and proven to be credible or not. In the scenario where it cannot be investigated, one forms a belief around it and chooses whether to believe it themselves or not. This is how many conspiracy theories form. Feel free to be negative of people who hold their beliefs even after whatever evidence they had has been disproven, proven to be fake, or proven to be non-credible.

Snowden was a CIA agent. There is at least some history of the alphabet soup agencies competing and trying to shortchange another. That can be reason enough to suspect he's a plant.

The world is not black and white. There is a ground other than "believe" and "don't believe". You don't have to believe Snowden is a CIA plant. However you don't need to hold a negative view against the possibility, however small or improbable.


>You were presenting a conspiracy theory.

And what's wrong with that? He didn't present it as if he thought it were fact. Why do people have such a strong reaction to "conspiracy theories"? It's not as though these things never turn out to be truthful, but some people seem to reject all things that resemble conspiracy theories without consideration of any kind. Some even seem to take the existence of a conspiracy theory as evidence of the opposite.

As far as the idea in his post goes, the hypothesis presented is reminiscent of the USSR, where historically multiple internal security and intelligence units competed behind the scenes for power and sometimes undermined each other for the same.


The issue is this belittles Snowden and what he has gone through. This wasn't some patriotic act with great personal harm but a man following orders.

I lean toward he did this at great personal sacrifice. If it was a turf war he wouldn't left for China and stuck in Russia.


I lean toward he did this at great personal sacrifice.

I agree, but I am not so well informed that I can reasonably exclude all other hypotheses; nor do I think is anyone else so well informed. I don't put a lot of stock in the Snowden-is-a-CIA-operative-kneecapping-the-NSA hypothesis; it's more of a whimsical idea that is amusing to think about. It reminds me of some spy fiction I read years ago by Viktor Suvorov https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Suvorov

>If it was a turf war he wouldn't left for China and stuck in Russia.

I'm not sure how that follows. Snowden's wellbeing would definitely be in jeopardy if he had remained in the US, even if he were a CIA operative.


Many of you have probably seen this, but I highly recommend the PBS Frontline documentary, United States of Secrets: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/united-states-of-sec...

Binney, along with the other NSA whistleblowers, are interviewed at length for the film.

That, and Citizenfour were, for me, the most intriguing documentaries about these issues.


A key point in United States of Secrets is that they discuss Google just as much as they discuss the NSA in part 2. Government and corporations work under different sets of restrictions; by working together, it becomes easy to work around many of theses restrictions.

The recent theater about section 215 is a new step in this relationship: the government gets to look like they re making changes while Google (el al) get their letter of marque, excusing their continued mass data collection.

If you found part 2 of United States of Secrets to be interesting, I strongly recommend Aral Balkan's recent talk on the same subject ( https://projectbullrun.org/surveillance/2015/video-2015.html... ). If you found Frontline's description of Google in part 2 to be a bit frightening or disturbing, then Balkan's talk might terrify you.


A year before Snowden took off to Hong Kong, William Binney was on a panel at Def Con where NSA surveillance was talked about at length, worth a watch - www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqIz-RNUL1g

A lot of the stuff which was later leaked by Snowden is discussed here, nice to see Binney vindicated.

Interestingly, the NSA facility in Hawaii where Snowden was working at the time is mentioned by name.

I often wonder if this Defcon talk inspired him to do what he did.


I belive Binney's talk[1] at Hope 9[2] came out before defcon[3] -- at any rate it is well worth a watch. It's been a while since I watched the defcon talk -- not sure how much repletion there is.

Does he mention there how he managed to blackmail the FBI to not prosecute him? ;-)

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxnp2Sz59p8

[2] http://www.hopenumbernine.net/speakers/

[3] According to wikipedia DEF CON 20 was held at the Rio Hotel & Casino July 26–29, 2012 -- according to the Hope 9 page, Hope 9 was 13th-15th of July the same year.


Waow his talk at Hope is really interesting, just from a technical/data science aspect, thanks for linking

It's cool the way he talks about solving technical problems on pen and paper. He says, "miracles don't happen on the computer, they happen in your mind", that is awesome!

Super smart guy!

Also, he mentions later on that Laura Poitras was at attendance at that talk, who of course went onto direct Citizenfour.


Word abut the surveillance programs (dubbed Echelon) was common-sense on #phrack as far as 2002. We have had American and German Intelligence agencies capture traffic at the Slovenian Internet Exchange at least since 2007. When the affair broke out, Germans stated that they will cease cooperation with the Slovenian Intelligence Agency, and the entire thing was swept under the rug.

Unfortunately, whistleblowing really takes substantial evidence, and that's what Snowden provided.


"Binney doesn’t see much distinction between the Bush and Obama administrations when it comes to intelligence policy."

This has been such a disappointment for me. I had such high hopes for Obama. :(


This is the core of the problem. Many of the other commenters are pining on about how nothing has been done about the state of surveillance since the Snowden/Binney/Drake/Risen leaks, but what everyone is either not saying or ignoring is that the buck stops with the Executive branch.

I keep wanting to cheer for the exec. It should have some of the best intelligence in the world on subversive actors at play in the beltway and wallstreet, so I often expect a power play against those interests. Given that the exec repeatedly fails to do so tells me one thing:

The executive is already compromised. Uncomfortable conclusion to say the least. I mean more than just monied interest making donations too, as should be obvious.

I have two main questions: was continuity of government (aka shadow government) put into operation on 9/11, and does it still continue? I haven't found anyone but Peter Dale Scott asking these questions, and I never hear any answers.

"What is the first step out of this current state of affairs, in which the constitution appears to have been superseded by a higher, if less legitimate authority? I submit that it is to get Congress to do what the law requires, and determine whether our present proclamation of emergency “shall be terminated” (50 U.S.C. 1622, 2002).

As part of this procedure, Congress should find whether secret COG powers, never submitted to Congress or seen by it, are among “the powers and authorities” which Bush in 2007 included in his prolongation of the 2001 emergency.

This is not a technical or procedural detail. It is a test of whether the United States continues to be governed by its laws and constitution, or whether, as has been alleged, the laws and constitution have now in places been superseded by COG. "

What I would say is that as a former Marine and a combat vet who tried to understand the "why?" behind the war(s), I consistently return to Smedley Butler and the attempted facist coup known as the business plot and Butler's testimony to the committee. (also his War is a Racket speech)

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/McCormack-Dickstein_Committee#...

Honestly, I don't think the facists ever went away, they just went "underground" and became subversive while playing along with whatever both parties were spouting. Hence the business class owns both parties.

All these are tough and complex issues and many of the answers are dirty and unpleasant. The American people are propagandized into the ground by the same interests, which is my main quabble with those who just want to blame the American people for their ignorance and apathy. They didn't get there all on their own!


This is a good assessment of the situation but it requires an intense amount of research and probably first hand experience as well in order to grasp.

Unfortunately even very astute individuals can easily get sucked into the "us vs. them" vortex of the divide and conquer tactics used by the "deep state".

Even if you do grasp the synergy of global finance, politics, the military-industrial complex, etc... most people in positions of authority and power have too much to lose or genuinely fear blackmail and/or physical harm. The connections are not too hard to find but they are antithetical to mainstream education and institutions and require a good deal of emotional and intellectual fortitude to accept. Reading the last will and testament of Cecil Rhodes including the political notes is one starting point.


These are very insightful and well articulated comments. I'd like to find some additional reading material and authors who propound similar ideas, in addition to Cicil Rhodes and Peter Dale Scott.


Then may I suggest Carroll Quigley's works relative to the Rhodes groups, in particular "The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden" and "Tragedy and Hope".

Michael Parenti, while a bit loose with his citations and sometimes on the edge, is another who does a good job of broad overview summary.

Lately Chris Hedges and Robert Fisk, two men who have actually seen war, are also good men to listen to on the subject, though I find them less detail oriented and more social movement commentators.


Thank you Arca_vorago.

Yes I will look into this positively. I follow the lessons of Noam Chomsky and some from Dr. Cornel West. They seem to extol the benefits of local community organization, and the fact that despite how it may seem, many people are actually working on the same problems.


Yesterday Thomas Drake spoke on this topic: https://voicerepublic.com/talks/the-digital-surveillance-sta...


I knew about the surveillance program since 2006 and i dont work for the nsa....


Did you tell anybody about it?


A lot of people have known about the surveillance the whole time. I found out through friends working at ISPs many years before any Binney went public.

I told a lot of people. I don't think many of them believed me at all. Even after room 641A was documented by the New York Times, talking about the surveillance programs I personally knew of in an online discussion was always met with demands for proof or ridicule.

Only after Snowden does the general public accept the truth.



Yea. It was common knowledge to me just as the sky is blue. Seeing where we were at with technology, it's a matter of fact that the "government", (which ever of the 3 letter divisions we are talking about) would have the tech and the want, to do this.


Hell, Drake warned back in 2005, and Congress rushed back into session to make it legal. Drake managed to do it without passing reams of classified data to Wikileaks, too...


You're thinking Chelsea Manning.


No, FFS, I'm thinking Thomas Andrews Drake[0].

0: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Andrews_Drake


I think he means Snowden didn't leak anything to wikileaks.


So Bill Binney is often described as a legendary mathematician inside the NSA, have anyone ever had a technical discussion with him about things like ECC?


Yawn.


> “I’m out here exposing their underwear,” he said.

But with no proof other than his word. It's easy to ignore one disgruntled former employee's lunatic ramblings. Not so easy with actual documents supporting their claims.


Well, if we want to go that route, then one could say Frank Church was aware (and his committee made the results public) some 38 years or so before Snowden.


I lost trust in anything Binney says when I saw that he did an interview with Alex Jones on Infowars. You need to completely separate yourself from that garbage if you want people to take you seriously.


How is this downvoted?


Because your comment lambasts him for doing an interview, not for anything he said.


Has nothing to do with him doing the interview. its his association with someone who has a horrible reputation for misinformation and barely being able to keep his facts straight on the myriad of conspiracy theories he believes in.

Not exactly a solid source you want to align yourself with.


The issue at hand here is how do we prevent terrorist attacks from within our own borders without mass surveillance of the population and without the profiling of certain populations (ie middle easterners, northern africans, etc)??

I don't think we need mass surveillance since it creates more useless data and not enough indicators someone is planning something. So where is the line drawn between mass surveillance and no surveillance? How do we keep this country safe, without infringing people's freedom?




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: