Edward Snowden Archive

Edward Snowden Says Disclosures Bolstered Individual Privacy

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Snowden: ‘Being Patriotic Doesn’t Mean Simply Agreeing’

Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who lives in exile in Russia, in an interview with The New York Times in a Google Hangout, discussed his view of patriotism.

Published On

Sept. 16, 2016

By Steven Erlanger

Sept. 16, 2016

ATHENS — Edward J. Snowden, the former American intelligence contractor who leaked documents about surveillance programs, said on Friday that his disclosures had improved privacy for individuals in the United States, and he declared that “being patriotic doesn’t mean simply agreeing with your government.”

Mr. Snowden also said he was grateful for a campaign, led by human rights and civil liberties groups, calling on President Obama to pardon him, a move that would allow him to return to the United States without facing the prospect of many years in prison.

In 2013, after The Guardian and The Washington Post published articles about widespread, secret National Security Agency surveillance and data collection programs, Mr. Snowden identified himself as the source of the information. He had fled to Hong Kong, with the aim of escaping to Latin America via Moscow, but his passport was annulled and he was left stranded in at a Moscow airport.

If he is not pardoned, he could face charges on two counts under the 1917 Espionage Act, which does not allow for a “public interest” or “whistle-blower” defense, making it almost impossible for him to explain his motivations or present a proper defense, Mr. Snowden said.

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“I am legally prohibited from even speaking to the jury about my motivation, and this brings up the question of, ‘Can there be a fair trial when you can’t put forward a defense?’ ” he said. One can speak to the judge during sentencing, he said, but not to the jury, and “that’s not very democratic.”

Mr. Snowden said he would consider serving a prison term as part of a plea bargain arranged before he leaves Russia.

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Opponents of Mr. Snowden have argued that his disclosures have made it more difficult for the United States to gather intelligence on terrorists and other foreign threats. The damage to national security, they say, was so extensive that he should not be granted a pardon, which appears unlikely, in any case. The Obama administration has rejected the idea in earlier petition campaigns and has said that Mr. Snowden should face trial in the United States. On Thursday, lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee unanimously signed a letter asking the president not to pardon him.

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Speaking via an internet connection from Russia to a session of the Athens Democracy Forum, sponsored by The New York Times, Mr. Snowden said he would maintain his focus on United States surveillance policies.

NYT Athens Democracy Forum 2016 – Google Hangout: Privacy vs. Security

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Watch the full interview of Edward Snowden speaking to The Times about privacy and security.

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“I would argue that being willing to disagree, particularly in a risky manner, is actually what we need more of today,” he said, adding that he remained a patriot. “When we have this incredible, often fact-free environment, where politicians can simply make a claim, and then it’s reported, without actual critical analysis of what that means, what the effect would be — how do we actually steer democracy?”

Most people think of privacy in terms of their settings on Facebook, Mr. Snowden said. “But privacy is the fountainhead of all our rights, from which all rights are derived,” he said. “It’s what makes you an individual.”

Freedom of speech, he said, “doesn’t have much room if you don’t have the protected space.”

The danger is there, he said, “when everything you’ve ever done, every purchase you’ve ever made, everywhere you’ve ever traveled with a cellphone in your pocket is suddenly available to third parties.”

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Asked whether he had accomplished anything permanent with his revelations, he said: “Do I think things are fixed? No. Can any single individual fix the world? No, that’s too much. Have things improved?”

Answering his own question, Mr. Snowden said, “Yes.” There have been important changes in American and European laws, some internet companies are responding with full encryption and pushing back against government pressure, and people are more aware of the issue, he said, adding, “It’s gotten a little better.”

An appeals court ruled in 2015 that the bulk data collection of Americans’ phone records that Mr. Snowden first revealed was illegal. Congress replaced that program with one in which the bulk data stays in the hands of phone companies.

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But the United States still distinguishes between its citizens and others when it comes to surveillance, because court approval is not necessary when American agencies want to monitor noncitizens outside the United States.

Mr. Snowden said he was fully aware of Russia’s anti-democratic traits, and he said he had spoken out against them — even though, as Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch who was also taking part in the Athens forum, noted, the Russian government is the only thing between Mr. Snowden and “a jail cell.”

Mr. Snowden denied engaging in self-censorship concerning Russia, adding that he did not think his opinions would have much influence in the country because he does not speak Russian very well.

Asked what he did all day, marooned in Russia, Mr. Snowden joked, “I speak in conferences in Athens mostly.”

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But then he added: “I’ve always been a sort of an indoor cat. My life has been the internet, and perhaps this is an explanation of why I was so moved by what I witnessed at the N.S.A.”

Snowden,” Oliver Stone’s portrait of the whistle-blower, which was made with his cooperation, has just been released. Asked if he recognized the film version of himself as rather dull, he laughed.

“I am what I am,” he said. “I am never going to be the coolest guy on stage. But that’s O.K., because that’s not what I’m going for.”

Mr. Snowden, who is a director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, is also working to give journalists better tools to protect themselves against unwanted surveillance.

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“I think this is a worthy cause that makes me feel good about what I am doing, even if it doesn’t get as much attention as the things I’m sort of best known for,” he said.

Regarding the presidential election in the United States, Mr. Snowden said he would vote by absentee ballot but declined, “as a privacy advocate,” he said, with a rare touch of humor, to reveal his choice.

Correction: October 13, 2016

Because of an editing error, an article on Sept. 17 about an assertion by Edward J. Snowden, the former American intelligence contractor, that his leaking of documents about surveillance programs had improved individual privacy in the United States referred incorrectly to the revocation of his passport in 2013. It was revoked while he was in Hong Kong, not after he had traveled to Moscow.

RT (Russia Today) Ad Depicts Eldery Obama, Predicts Edward Snowden’s Presidency

by Andrew Husband | Dec 5th, 2015, 4:24 pm

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Ever heard of, read or watched RT? It’s the satellite news network formerly known as Russia Today, a generally pro-Russia news network that reports on Vladimir Putin‘s hockey bad-assery and operates as a “propaganda bullhorn” for the Russian president’s administration. Well they just released a new ad and it’s, erm, interesting.

The advertisement, titled “2035,” celebrates the network’s 10th anniversary by imagining an elderly Barack Obama sitting on his porch with an even older John Kerry in the year 2035.

 

 

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“So what’s new?” Obama asks his former Secretary of State.

“Apart from the fact that no one is afraid of us anymore, there’s nothing new,” Kerry tells his former president.

 

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Following an awkward jab at Obama’s “Yes We Can” slogan,” the ex-president goes into his house to grab a few drinks. On the kitchen’s television set, President Edward Snowden hold a press conference in which he promises “a new era of transparency.”

Yes. President Snowden.

Kerry, in a reference to his famous quote, calls the RT broadcast “propaganda bullhorn.” Obama repeats the claim.

So yeah, that happened.

Check out the clip above, via RT.

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RT (Russia Today) Ad Depicts Eldery Obama, Predicts Edward Snowden’s Presidency

by Andrew Husband | Dec 5th, 2015, 4:24 pm

Tweet

Share

Ever heard of, read or watched RT? It’s the satellite news network formerly known as Russia Today, a generally pro-Russia news network that reports on Vladimir Putin‘s hockey bad-assery and operates as a “propaganda bullhorn” for the Russian president’s administration. Well they just released a new ad and it’s, erm, interesting.

The advertisement, titled “2035,” celebrates the network’s 10th anniversary by imagining an elderly Barack Obama sitting on his porch with an even older John Kerry in the year 2035.

 

 

Audible Free Trial

Your first audiobook is on us

and always yours to keep.

 

 

“So what’s new?” Obama asks his former Secretary of State.

“Apart from the fact that no one is afraid of us anymore, there’s nothing new,” Kerry tells his former president.

 

An error occurred.

Try watching this video on www.youtube.com, or enable JavaScript if it is disabled in your browser.

Following an awkward jab at Obama’s “Yes We Can” slogan,” the ex-president goes into his house to grab a few drinks. On the kitchen’s television set, President Edward Snowden hold a press conference in which he promises “a new era of transparency.”

Yes. President Snowden.

Kerry, in a reference to his famous quote, calls the RT broadcast “propaganda bullhorn.” Obama repeats the claim.

So yeah, that happened.

Check out the clip above, via RT.

JUST

SOLD

IN

55418

BED

2

BATH

1

$257,000

Jessica Brunsell

BRIX Real Estate

CONTACT ME TO START SELLING

Ad by Homesnap

[h/t Slate]

[Image via screengrab]

— —

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German University To Award Edward Snowden Honorary Doctorate

JENNIFER KABBANY – FIX EDITOR

MAY 16, 2014

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Heralding him as the “Columbus of the Digital Age,” faculty at a German university have voted to award NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden an honorary doctorate.

The decision was reached Wednesday by the faculty of arts at the nearly 600-year-old University of Rostock. Twenty professors voted in favor of the honor, with one against and one abstention, reports the German newspaper Die Welt.

In making their decision, educators called the degree a symbolic and political act, citing Snowden’s “moral courage” and “substantial contribution to a new global discourse on freedom, democracy, and the rights of the individual in a globally networked digital world,” the paper reports.

Through his lawyers, Snowden has told Rostock scholars he will gladly accept the honor, and there are logistical plans in the works for him to receive it through some sort of unorthodox ceremony, since it is believed that he currently remains exiled in Russia.

The decision can be halted by the university’s rector, but it remains to be seen whether that will happen.

Wednesday’s vote was more than a half-year in the making, as the faculty had first voted to approve a resolution calling for the honor last fall.

In a four-page resolution, scholars praised Snowden as one of the “great examples of civil disobedience in the history of modern civil society,” alongside Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Snowden carries on the “very democratic tradition of civil disobedience,” the resolution states.

In June 2013, Snowden disclosed to the media massive amounts of information about National Security Agency programs that track and analyze Americans’ every move, including cell phone calls and locations, emails, personal Internet activity and social media posts.

Citing Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” the German scholars said for the democratic rule of law to work, civil disobedience remains a necessary function, and called Snowden’s decision to become a whistleblower “courageous.”

“The Snowden-NSA affair is not about … the interception of (personal data), but the ratio of protected privacy and state control,” the resolution states. “It’s about the tension between power and law. …. It’s about the relationship between democracy and totalitarianism.”

Snowden looms over Pulitzer Prizes

By DYLAN BYERS 03/13/2014 05:03 AM EDT Updated 04/14/2014 11:29 AM EDT

NOTE: Ahead of the awarding of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes at 3 p.m. today, POLITICO is republishing this March 13, 2014, story looking at the issue raised by Edward Snowden being the source of stolen government documents that were used in the reporting of the NSA stories.

Next month, the trustees who oversee America’s most distinguished journalistic award could face their toughest decision in at least four decades.

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The issue before the Pulitzer Prize Board: Does it honor reporting by The Washington Post and The Guardian based on stolen government documents that are arguably detrimental to the national security of the United States, and which were provided by a man who many see as a traitor? Or, does it pass over what is widely viewed as the single most significant story of the year — if not the decade — for the sake of playing it safe?

The politically charged debate surrounding the National Security Agency’s widespread domestic surveillance program, and the man who revealed it, Edward Snowden, is certain to prompt intense discussion for the 19-member Board as it gathers to decide this year’s winners, according to past Board members, veteran journalists and media watchdogs. The debate echoes the historic decision in 1972, when the Board honored The New York Times for its reporting on Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers, they said.

( WATCH: Edward Snowden speaks at SXSW festival)

“This is an institutional question for them,” said Robert Kaiser, the veteran Washington Post journalist and a previous Pulitzer Prize finalist. “This is a very good argument to have, and there are members of that Board who are going to raise these questions and want to talk about them.”

The risks are manifold, and there is no easy answer: Honoring the NSA reporting — particularly in the coveted category of Public Service — would inevitably be perceived as a political act, with the Pulitzer committee invoking its prestige on behalf of one side in a bitter national argument. In effect, it would be a rebuttal to prominent establishment voices in both parties who say that Snowden’s revelations, and the decision by journalists to publish them, were the exact opposite of a public service. President Barack Obama has said that Snowden’s leaks “could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come.” Former Vice President Dick Cheney has called him “a traitor.” Snowden, who is living in Russia, is facing three felony charges in a criminal complaint filed by the Justice Department.

Yet to pass on the NSA story would be to risk giving the appearance of timidity, siding with the government over the journalists who are trying to hold it accountable and ignoring the most significant disclosure of state secrets in recent memory. It would also look like a willful decision to deny the obvious: No other event has had as dramatic an impact on national and international debates over state surveillance and individual privacy. Last December, in a move that Snowden later described as vindication, a federal district judge ruled that the NSA surveillance Snowden exposed most likely violates the Constitution. Another judge later found the surveillance lawful.

( Also on POLITICO: Snowden Inc.)

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“The stories that came out of this completely changed the agenda on the discussion on privacy and the NSA,” said David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. “There’s an enormous public good in that, and it’s yet to be proven at all that somehow did great damage to national security.”

Two teams are being considered for their work on the NSA leaks, POLITICO has confirmed. One is made up of The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill, who published the first landmark report on the NSA’s collection of Verizon phone records, and have since played an integral role in building upon those revelations. The other is Poitras and Barton Gellman, who reported on the wide-ranging surveillance program known as “PRISM” for The Washington Post.

Here, too, the Board faces a challenge: In the eyes of privacy advocates, Greenwald’s work has been much more consequential in the larger arc of the Snowden story, and it was Greenwald who flew to Hong Kong to meet with Snowden and earn his trust. But Greenwald, a staunch anti-surveillance advocate with a brash, outsider’s persona, is not the type of journalist the Pulitzer Board has typically admired. Gellman, by contrast, with his serious and soft-spoken demeanor and decades in the business, comes straight out of Pulitzer central casting. But on what grounds could the Pulitzers recognize Gellman and not Greenwald?

( Also on POLITICO: Snowden: Hill, FISA need watchdog)

All of these questions will be on the table when the Pulitzer committee meets on April 10 and 11. The winners will be announced on Monday, April 14, at a 3 p.m. news conference at Columbia’s Journalism School.

Sig Gissler, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, and several board members declined to comment on the group’s approach to the NSA reporting, citing the confidentiality of the selection process. “Jurors sign oaths of confidentiality. We certainly do not comment on what is or is not entered or nominated,” Gissler said.

Both Greenwald and Gellman also declined to comment, as did the top editors at The Guardian and The Washington Post. Submissions in each category have already been considered by separate juries, which nominate three finalists to the Board. The Board then considers those nominations for the prizes; with a three-fourths vote, they can move a submission to a different category or recommend another work for consideration. The Guardian’s reporting was conducted through its U.S. outlet in New York, making it eligible for submission.

Several journalists believe that Snowden’s actions should have no bearing on the Pulitzer board’s considerations. It is the reporting that is being honored, not the source, they said.

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( Also on POLITICO: Snowden still stirring the political pot)

“The question always is, ‘What was the best journalism produced in the past year?’ And it’s hard to think of a story that has had the impact of the NSA revelations,” said Rem Rieder, the media editor and columnist at USA Today . “These articles made public really important information that the public needs to know, and started a very important national debate over something that should not be decided unilaterally by the executive branch without public input or knowledge.”

Others have a harder time drawing such a definitive line. Michael Kinsley, the veteran political columnist and commentator, has wondered if there isn’t a dubious double standard in the way journalists are honored as heroes while their sources are portrayed as criminals. “If Snowden is guilty of a crime, why isn’t Bart Gellman guilty also?” he asked in an essay for The New Republic last year. Kinsley declined to comment for this piece.

Many of Snowden’s critics are often quick to paint Greenwald, Snowden’s staunchest public advocate, as an accomplice. James Clapper, President Obama’s director of national intelligence, even referred to “Snowden and his accomplices” while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee in January.

America’s Spies Want Edward Snowden Dead

“I would love to put a bullet in his head,” one Pentagon official told BuzzFeed. The NSA leaker is enemy No. 1 among those inside the intelligence world.

By Benny Johnson

Posted on January 16, 2014, at 11:25 p.m. ET

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

Snowden’s Russian refugee document.

Edward Snowden has made some dangerous enemies. As the American intelligence community struggles to contain the public damage done by the former National Security Agency contractor’s revelations of mass domestic spying, intelligence operators have continued to seethe in very personal terms against the 30-year-old whistle-blower.

“In a world where I would not be restricted from killing an American, I personally would go and kill him myself,” a current NSA analyst told BuzzFeed. “A lot of people share this sentiment.”

“I would love to put a bullet in his head,” one Pentagon official, a former special forces officer, said bluntly. “I do not take pleasure in taking another human beings life, having to do it in uniform, but he is single-handedly the greatest traitor in American history.”

That violent hostility lies just beneath the surface of the domestic debate over NSA spying is still ongoing. Some members of Congress have hailed Snowden as a whistle-blower, the New York Times has called for clemency, and pundits regularly defend his actions on Sunday talk shows. In intelligence community circles, Snowden is considered a nothing short of a traitor in wartime.

“His name is cursed every day over here,” a defense contractor told BuzzFeed, speaking from an overseas intelligence collections base. “Most everyone I talk to says he needs to be tried and hung, forget the trial and just hang him.”

One Army intelligence officer even offered BuzzFeed a chillingly detailed fantasy.

“I think if we had the chance, we would end it very quickly,” he said. “Just casually walking on the streets of Moscow, coming back from buying his groceries. Going back to his flat and he is casually poked by a passerby. He thinks nothing of it at the time starts to feel a little woozy and thinks it’s a parasite from the local water. He goes home very innocently and next thing you know he dies in the shower.”

There is no indication that the United States has sought to take vengeance on Snowden, who is living in an undisclosed location in Russia without visible security measures, according to a recent Washington Post interview. And the intelligence operators who spoke to BuzzFeed on the condition of anonymity did not say they expected anyone to act on their desire for revenge. But their mood is widespread, people who regularly work with the intelligence community said.

“These guys are emoting how pissed they are,” Peter Singer, a cyber-security expert at the Brookings Institute. “Do you think people at the NSA would put a statue of him out front?”

The degree to which Snowden’s revelations have damaged intelligence operations are also being debated. Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, recently called the leaks “unnecessarily and extremely damaging to the United States and the intelligence community’s national security efforts,” and the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Dutch Ruppersberger said terrorists have been “changing their methods because of the leaks.” Snowden’s defenders dismiss those concerns as overblown, and the government has not pointed to specific incidents to bear out the claims.

On the ground, intelligence workers certainly say the damage has been done. The NSA officer complained that his sources had become “useless.” The Army intelligence officer said the revelations had increased his “blindness.”

“I do my work in a combat zone so now I have to see the effects of a Snowden in a combat zone. It will not be pretty,” he said.

And while government officials have a long record of overstating the damage from leaks, some specific consequences seem logical.

“By [Snowden] showing who our collections partners were, the terrorists have dropped those carriers and email addresses,” the DOD official said. “We can’t find them because he released that data. Their electronic signature is gone.”

Edward Snowden, The Dark Prophet

He pulled off the year’s most spectacular heist. Exiled from his country, the 30-year-old computer whiz has become the doomsayer of the information age

By Michael Scherer@michaelschererDec. 11, 2013

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Illustration by Jason Seiler for TIME

To avoid surveillance, the first four Americans to visit Edward Snowden in Moscow carried no cell phones or laptops. They flew coach on Delta from Washington with tickets paid for by Dutch computer hackers. After checking into a preselected hotel not far from Red Square, they waited for a van to pick them up for dinner.

None could retrace the ride that followed, driven by anonymous Russian security men, nor could any place the side door of the building where the trip ended. They passed through two cavernous ballrooms, the second with a painted ceiling like the Sistine Chapel, and emerged into a smaller space with salmon-colored walls and oil paintings in golden frames—like Alice in Wonderland, remembers one of the group. There at the bottom of the rabbit hole, in rimless glasses, a black suit and blue shirt with two open buttons at the collar, stood the 30-year-old computer whiz who had just committed the most spectacular heist in the history of spycraft.

By all accounts, Snowden was delighted to see his countrymen, though over the next six hours he did not partake of the wine. At one point, Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst, recited from memory in Russian an Alexander Pushkin poem, “The Prisoner,” which he had learned back in his days spying on the Soviet Union. “We have nothing to lose except everything, so let us go ahead,” said Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department attorney, quoting Albert Camus’s warning at the dawn of the nuclear age. Another attendee, the whistle-blowing FBI agent Coleen Rowley, compared Snowden to Benjamin Franklin, who as postmaster general in 1773 helped leak letters from American officials who were secretly collaborating with British authorities.

Even Snowden’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, raised his glass for a toast. Coming from a man with close ties to the Kremlin and a knack for misleading the press, Kucherena’s words captured the surreal nature of Snowden’s Moscow exile. “Ed, I am going to give you the biggest gift that I can probably give,” he told Snowden through an interpreter. “I’m writing a novel about you.”

The gathering had been called to deliver an award, given by four dissident veterans of the U.S. national-security apparatus to one of their own. But for Snowden it was something more, a chance to reaffirm to the world the purpose of his actions, for which he has been charged in absentia with theft and violations of the Espionage Act. Since escaping his country in late May with tens of thousands of its most secret documents—“one of everything,” jokes one person with access to the stash—Snowden has chosen to lie low. No Twitter account. No television interviews. No direct contacts with U.S. authorities. He held his tongue as Kucherena boasted to the press about Snowden’s new Internet job in Moscow, his new Russian girlfriend and his dire money troubles. Most of that is fiction, like the novel, according to several people who communicate regularly with Snowden.

But he has nonetheless begun to figure out a life for himself in Russia, where he has been granted asylum for at least one year. He is learning Russian, recently read Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and spent weeks living with his WikiLeaks protector, Sarah Harrison, who has since flown to Berlin, fearing that she could face criminal charges if she returns to her native Britain. Most important, he has been able to spend time on the Internet, his lifelong home, where he has watched through encrypted and anonymized connections as his leaks roil the world—diplomatic crises, congressional reform efforts, new federal lawsuits, financial damage to U.S. technology companies and an as yet uncertain harm to U.S. national interests, including documented changes in the way terrorists communicate online. “This increases the probability that a terrorist attack will get through,” says General Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency (NSA). “I think it’s absolutely wrong.”

For Snowden, those impacts are but a means to a different end. He didn’t give up his freedom to tip off German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the American snoops on her cell phone or to detail the ways the NSA electronically records jihadi porn-watching habits. He wanted to issue a warning to the world, and he believed that revealing the classified information at his fingertips was the way to do it. His gambit has so far proved more successful than he reasonably could have hoped—he is alive, not in prison, and six months on, his documents still make headlines daily—but his work is not done, and his fate is far from certain. So in early October, he invited to Moscow some supporters who wanted to give him an award.

EPA

After the toasts, some photographs and a brief ceremony, Snowden sat back down at the table, spread with a Russian buffet, to describe once again the dystopian landscape he believes is unfolding inside the classified computer networks on which he worked as a contractor. Here was a place that collected enormous amounts of information on regular citizens as a precaution, a place where U.S. law and policy did not recognize the right to privacy of foreigners operating outside the country, a place where he believed the basic freedoms of modern democratic states—“to speak and to think and to live and be creative, to have relationships and to associate freely”—were under threat.

“There is a far cry between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement—where it is targeted, it’s based on reasonable suspicion, individualized suspicion and warranted action—and the sort of dragnet mass surveillance that puts entire populations under a sort of an eye and sees everything, even when it is not needed,” Snowden told his colleagues. “This is about a trend in the relationship between the governing and governed in America.”

Edward Snowden, The Dark Prophet

He pulled off the year’s most spectacular heist. Exiled from his country, the 30-year-old computer whiz has become the doomsayer of the information age

By Michael Scherer@michaelschererDec. 11, 2013

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Illustration by Jason Seiler for TIME

That is the thing that led him to break the law, the notion that mass surveillance undermines the foundations of private citizenship. In a way, it is the defining critique of the information age, in which data is increasingly the currency of power. The idea did not originate with Snowden, but no one has done more to advance it. “The effect has been transformative,” argues Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who has been helping Snowden from the confines of the Ecuadorean embassy in London. “We have shifted from a small group of experts understanding what was going on to broad public awareness of the reality of NSA mass surveillance.” If Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is the sunny pied piper of the new sharing economy, Snowden has become its doomsayer.

The Information Grid

When electronic surveillance began, with the invention of the telegraph and radio, the only way to record an intercept was with ink and paper. Now there are technologies that allow for the wholesale copying, sorting and storage of billions of records a day—everything that passes through a fiber-­optic cable, for instance, or gets beamed through the airwaves. By itself, this is a revolutionary development. But its real power comes from the way regular people have changed their behavior. In the 19th century, humans rarely produced electronic signals. Now almost every part of daily existence can cast off bits and bytes.

The cell phone in your pocket records your movements and stores that information with your service carrier. The e-mail, chat and text messages you create map your social relations and record your thoughts. Credit-card purchases show spending habits and tastes. Mass-transit databases note when you board subways and buses with fare cards. The search terms you enter into your ­laptop—preserved­ by Google in ways that can be used to identify your computer for a standard period of nine months—may tell more about your deepest desires than anything you would ever admit to a friend or lover.

Then there are the emerging technologies that will soon add even more information to the grid: The wearable-computing devices that monitor your pulse. The networked surveillance cameras rigged with facial-recognition software. The smart meters that record what time of night you turn out the lights. Retail companies like Nord­strom and Apple have debuted technologies that use your cell phones to track how long you linger before any single display. The possibilities are dizzying, and your information funds the whole enterprise. “Surveillance is the business model of the Internet,” explains Bruce Schneier, a security technologist who has access to some of the documents Snowden provided.

Snowden’s theft revealed a massive, secret U.S. national-security state—$52.6 billion a year, with more than 30,000 employees at the NSA alone—struggling to come to grips with this new surveillance potential in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Electronic intelligence historically focused on foreign governments and their public officials, but the hijackers who took down the World Trade Center were private individuals, born abroad and living in the homeland. So as the rubble still smoldered, the great arrays set up by the NSA turned inward and shifted focus. The subjects of collection grew to include patterns within entire populations and historical data that could literally retrace the steps of individuals years before they became suspects. The challenge, explained one NSA document made public by Snowden, was to “master global ­networks and handle previously unimagined volumes of raw data for both passive and active collection.”

So new databases were built, and ground was broken on a massive classified data center in the Utah desert that will need as much as 1.7 million gal. (6.4 million L) of water a day just to keep the computer servers cool. And the data was collected. Since 2006 the U.S. government has gathered and stored transaction records of phone calls made in America. For a time, the government sucked up similar metadata on Internet traffic as well. Cellular location data, mostly from foreign-owned phones, has also been collected, with some 5 billion records a day absorbed by databases that can later be used to reconstruct a person’s movements or find out who joins a meeting behind closed doors.

One NSA document released by Snowden estimated that 99% of the world’s Internet bandwidth in 2002 and 33% of the world’s phone calls in 2003 passed through the U.S., an accident of history that proved a gold mine to sift through, with or without the cooperation of American companies. The agency hacked overseas cables and satellites and surreptitiously sucked information transiting among foreign cloud servers of U.S. technology companies like Google and Yahoo. It harvested and stored hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant-messaging accounts on services like Yahoo and Facebook. A program called Dishfire sucked up years’ worth of text messages from around the world, and a database by the name of Tracfin captured credit-card transactions. “High performance computing systems must extract meaning from huge data sets and negate data encryption and computer access controls,” reads a 2007 classified NSA mission statement released by Snowden. “Fortunately, information management and mining is central to the Internet age.”

The NSA is not the only one playing the game. It just does it better, on a grander scale, than anyone else, at least so far. Russia and China have similar surveillance infrastructures, say current and former U.S. officials, and petty dictatorships the world over have been buying their ­technology on the open market. When rebels overthrew Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, they found a device from the French company Amesys that allowed the dictator to gather up and search in bulk the Internet traffic generated by his people. No Libyan activist had been safe to send an unencrypted e-mail or post a Facebook comment. The company’s sales pitch, later leaked to WikiLeaks, began with a slide that read, “From lawful to massive interception.”

Privacy Protections

With all this information now public, the important questions are easy to spot: What should distinguish democratic governments from totalitarian ones in an era of mass surveillance? Are privacy protections a human right or just a convenience of nationality? Can the massive U.S. ­national-security apparatus be trusted to make the right choices in secret when the next crisis comes? Even President Obama encourages the conversation as he continues to seek Snowden’s imprisonment. “I think it’s healthy for our democracy,” he said just weeks before the White House refused to confirm or deny its role in rerouting the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales after a false rumor that Snowden was on board.

In an interview with Time conducted via e-mail in early December, Snowden ­explained his answers to those big questions, even as he allowed for the fact that the U.S. public he sees himself serving may not ultimately agree. The privacy of regular citizens, he believes, is a universal right, and the dangers of mass surveillance litter the dark corners of the 20th century. “The NSA is surely not the Stasi,” he argued, in reference to the notorious East German security service, “but we should always remember that the danger to ­societies from security services is not that they will spontaneously decide to embrace mustache twirling and jackboots to bear us bodily into dark places, but that the slowly shifting foundation of policy will make it such that mustaches and jackboots are discovered to prove an operational advantage toward a necessary purpose.”

Edward Snowden, The Dark Prophet

He pulled off the year’s most spectacular heist. Exiled from his country, the 30-year-old computer whiz has become the doomsayer of the information age

By Michael Scherer@michaelschererDec. 11, 2013

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Illustration by Jason Seiler for TIME

Snowden’s hope, he continued, is that the disclosure will force five distinct civic bodies—the public, the technologist community, the U.S. courts, Congress and the Executive Branch—to reconsider the path ahead. “The President,” Snowden wrote, “could plausibly use the mandate of public knowledge to both reform these programs to reasonable standards and direct the NSA to focus its tremendous power toward developing new global technical standards that enforce robust end-to-end security, ensuring that not only are we not improperly surveilling individuals but that other governments aren’t either.”

As for the technologists like him, it is important that they know as well what is being done, so they can invent new ways to protect citizens. “There is a technical solution to every political problem,” Snowden argued. One of the NSA programs he revealed, called Bullrun, described a $250 million annual effort to engage with “the U.S. and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products’ designs,” providing the spies a back door to encrypted communications. Though the law-­enforcement purpose of such an effort is clear, as terrorists and foreign powers experiment with encryption, Snowden believes private citizens also have a right to create unbreakable encryption software. “In general, if you agree with the First Amendment principles, you agree with encryption. It’s just code,” he wrote in an e-mail to Time. “Arguing against encryption would be analogous to arguing against hidden meanings in paintings or poetry.”

America In the Dark

The NSA, for its part, has always prided itself on being different from the intelligence services of authoritarian regimes, and it has long collected far less information on Americans than it could. The programs Snowden revealed in U.S. ­surveillance agencies, at least since the 1970s, are subject to a strict, regularly audited system of checks and balances and a complex set of rules that restrict the circumstances under which the data gathered on Americans can be reviewed. As a general rule, a court order is still expected to review the content of American phone calls and e-mail ­messages. Unclassified talking points sent home with NSA employees for Thanksgiving put it this way: “The NSA performs its mission the right way—­lawful, compliant and in a way that protects civil liberties and privacy.” Indeed, none of the Snowden disclosures published to date have revealed any ongoing programs that clearly violate current law, at least in a way that any court has so far identified. Parts of all three branches of government had been briefed and had given their approval.

But the court rulings and briefing books that undergird the surveillance programs have long been so highly classified and technically complex that they remained opaque to the public. Snowden believed that the standard for review needed to be different, with transparent public debate and open court proceedings. In the tradition of other national-security whistle-blowers, who have played a role in the messy American system of checks and balances by leaking the Pentagon Papers and the details of President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program, Snowden decided he had an individual obligation to defy his government and his own contractual obligations. “What we recoil most strongly against is not that such surveillance can theoretically occur,” he wrote to Time, “but that it was done without a majority of society even being aware it was possible.”

At the time Snowden went public, the American people had not just been kept in the dark; they had actively been misled about the actions of their government. The provision of the 2001 Patriot Act that allowed for the collection of American phone records, for instance, was publicly described as analogous to a grand jury subpoena by the Department of Justice, suggesting individual secret warrants. But secret interpretations told a different story. “Tell me if you’ve ever seen a grand jury subpoena that allowed the ­government on an ongoing basis to collect the records of millions of ordinary Americans,” said Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a longtime critic of the programs, in a recent speech.

In a 2012 speech, NSA director Alexander said, “We don’t hold data on U.S. citizens,” a statement he apparently justified with an unusual definition of the word hold. Months later, National Intelligence Director James Clapper told Congress in an open session that the NSA did not “collect” any type of data on millions of Americans. After the Snowden documents were leaked, Clapper apologized for his “clearly erroneous” answer, saying he was only giving the “least untruthful” response possible in an unclassified setting. “When someone says ‘collection’ to me, that has a specific meaning, which may have a different meaning to him,” Clapper said.

Intelligence officials have now been forced to join the public debate, and Obama has authorized the declassification of thousands of pages of documents. Nonetheless, current and former government officials say the way Snowden went about leaking his documents and the documents he selected will cause clear harm to his country’s legitimate interests. “We have seen, in response to the Snowden leaks, al-Qaeda­ and affiliated groups seeking to change their tactics,” warned Matthew Olson, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, in July. Snowden has maintained that he did not download information that would put other intelligence officials in danger or give up sources and specific methods to foreign rivals of the U.S. But his disclosures were also not limited to revealing the mass surveillance of otherwise innocent civilian populations.

Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP / Getty Images

While in Hong Kong, Snowden gave an interview and documents to the South China Morning Post describing NSA spying on Chinese universities, a disclosure that frustrated American attempts to embarrass China into reducing its industrial-espionage efforts against U.S. firms. A story that showed up in Der Spiegel, using Snowden documents, showed how British spies working with the U.S. used fake Linked­In accounts to install malware on the computers of foreign telecom providers. Other stories have given details on NSA spying operations on traditional surveillance targets like diplomatic delegations at international summits. And many of the most controversial disclosures in the Snowden documents concern not mass surveillance but the targeting of foreign leaders. “They’re being put out in a way that does the maximum damage to NSA and our nation,” says Alexander. “And it’s hurting our industry.”

American technology and telecommunications companies, some of which have long histories of cooperating with the NSA, have also suffered as a result, and they are scrambling to increase encryption of their systems and assure foreign customers of their commitment to privacy. A December paper by eight U.S. technology giants, including Apple, Facebook and Google, called on the U.S. government to end to “bulk data collection of Internet communications” and “limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes.” In India, government officials may soon be barred from using e-mail with servers located in the U.S., and recent estimates say the risk to American firms in the emerging marketplace for cloud computing could reach $180 billion. In a recent earnings call, Robert Lloyd—­president of development for Cisco Systems, a provider of Internet hardware—said the revelations were already affecting overseas sales. “It’s certainly causing people to stop and then rethink decisions, and that is, I think, reflected in our results,” he said.

Edward Snowden, The Dark Prophet

He pulled off the year’s most spectacular heist. Exiled from his country, the 30-year-old computer whiz has become the doomsayer of the information age

By Michael Scherer@michaelschererDec. 11, 2013

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Illustration by Jason Seiler for TIME

From Russia, Snowden does not defend every story that has been written, but he says he tried to design his actions to ­ensure that he was not the ultimate arbiter of what should and should not become public. “There have of course been some stories where my calculation of what is not public interest differs from that of reporters, but it is for this precise reason that publication decisions were entrusted to journalists and their editors,” he told Time. “I recognize I have clear biases influencing my judgment.”

That question of judgment is at the heart of the issues Snowden has raised. Polls still show Americans largely conflicted about the programs that have been revealed. Since the disclosures, a majority of Americans say they believe their privacy rights have been violated. But polls also show continued willingness to give up limited amounts of privacy as part of efforts to combat terrorism.

The most striking numbers show a generation gap in the way people think about Snowden. Just 35% of Americans ages 18 to 30 say Snowden should be charged with a crime, compared with 57% of those 30 and older, according to a November poll by the Washington Post and ABC News. And 56% of young adults say he did the “right thing,” compared with 32% of their elders. Younger people, who are moving away from Facebook and embracing technologies like Snapchat, which destroys messages after a few seconds, have also been shown to spend far more time than their elders tightening privacy settings on phones and apps. “Snowden is an effect, not a cause,” says General Michael Hayden, a recently retired director of both the NSA and CIA. “This new generation has a different take on where the appropriate line is.”

The shifts could have far greater implications than just what apps people choose for their smartphones. Historically, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which offers no protections for non­citizens outside the country, has been the source of privacy protections under U.S. law. But the rhetoric now coming from European governments and even senior officials of the Obama Administration points to broader, as yet undefined rights, which several countries are now seeking to codify in ­international law at the U.N. “We must use the unprecedented power that technology affords us responsibly, while respecting the values of privacy, government transparency and accountability that all people share,” said National Security Adviser Susan Rice in a December speech.

Growing Up Online

Arundel Schools / Splash News / Corbis

The fourth American to attend Snowden’s October awards ceremony was Thomas Drake, who, like Snowden, was a veteran of the NSA and a former contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton. For years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Drake sounded alarm bells with Congress and the military about the NSA’s behavior, eventually deciding to give unclassified information about certain programs to a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. For this, he was charged under the Espionage Act on flimsy ­charges that fell apart in court but still caused Drake years of hardship. When the Americans walked in for dinner in Moscow, ­McGovern remembers that Snowden looked past him and focused on Drake, whom Snowden had never met before but had long regarded as a role model. “I was an inspiration to him,” Drake acknowledges. “He represents, for me, the future.”

Like Snowden, Drake grew up online, living his life inside the nascent Internet, finding friendships and forming an identity. His first computer, in the 1980s, was an Atari 8-bit. “I lived a double life, the virtual life in this digital space, in this transnational space,” says Drake, who is now 56. “It was unbelievable, this culture of sharing information.”

For Snowden, a high school dropout with a GED who grew up just miles from the NSA’s headquarters in Maryland, the Internet was also always a source of identity. His father, a Coast Guard officer, and his mother, a clerk in federal court, separated when he was young. As a teen, he spent years playing games online. As a young CIA employee in Switzerland, he vented and socialized regularly on anonymous chat boards. In this virtual space, national borders mattered less, and electronic privacy mattered more. By the time he had risen to become a senior technical consultant for the CIA, working as a Dell contractor, those values remained. “The one thing you resisted was this authoritarian power that wanted to own you,” says Drake, who will quote Star Trek and Tron to explain his values. “I was with the user.”

At some point in the coming months or years, Snowden’s fate will be decided. It is not clear if his asylum in Russia will be renewed. He continues to receive financial support from abroad, and a team of lawyers around the world is working on his behalf, pursuing other asylum applications and waiting on offers of negotiation from the U.S. authorities. Though the Department of Justice has promised not to apply the death penalty, no other offers of leniency have been forthcoming.

As the dinner wound down, ­Harrison, Snowden’s WikiLeaks adviser, explained to the group why she had put her life in legal jeopardy to help Snowden. “There needs to be another narrative,” she said in reference to Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army private formerly known as Bradley, who leaked massive amounts of documents and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. “There needs to be a happy ending. People need to see that you can do this and be safe.”

Snowden, a libertarian activist who gave up his freedom only to live at the whim of an authoritarian state, has not fully succeeded in that regard. But he will not be the last of his kind, either. Both Assange and Laura Poitras, one of the first journalists Snowden contacted, say his efforts have already emboldened other leakers. “What Snowden did was really empowering,” says Poitras. “I mean, think of all the people who have security clearance. There are hundreds of thousands, millions of them. They see that this is really a historic moment, and they are starting to question their belief in the job they were asked to do.”

It is an odd corollary to this new era of mass surveillance: the same technologies that give states vast new powers increase the ability of individuals on the inside to resist. Those dynamics are fixed, a code that underpins the world we now inhabit. That is what Snowden ultimately realized and exploited, a matter of simple physics. His example is the most consequential and dramatic, but it is unlikely to be the last.

The proposed bus ads would read ‘Thank You Edward Snowden.’

Snowden pic coming to D.C. buses

By TAL KOPAN 11/20/2013 01:24 PM EST Updated 11/21/2013 01:20 PM EST

Edward Snowden will soon be following Washingtonians around D.C. — or at least his face will.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund announced Wednesday that buses carrying ads with the National Security Agency leaker’s face next to the message, “Thank You Edward Snowden,” will be hitting the streets of the D.C. area next week.

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The group has been raising money to support the ad campaign and put a mockup of what the ad might look like on the website where they are asking for donations.

( WATCH: Who is Edward Snowden?)

“The elites in D.C. may not ride the bus, but they can’t avoid reading the bus!” the group wrote on its donation site.

The Thank You Edward Snowden campaign also includes a participatory online message of support, which as of Wednesday afternoon had nearly 14,000 signatures.

PCJF said it had raised $10,200 to date and hopes to continue to expand the campaign.

According to CBS Outdoor, which handles advertising on Metro, wrapping a single bus for four weeks costs $5,000. Advertisers cannot control which route the bus operates on.

Former NSA/CIA Chief Jokes About Putting Edward Snowden on Obama’s Kill List

BY BRYAN PRESTON OCTOBER 4, 2013

Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden is making waves today for an off-color joke he recently told.

The retired spymaster was speaking at a Washington Post forum on cyber security recently when he acknowledged that NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been nominated for a human rights award. Hayden quipped, “I must admit in my darker moments over the past several months, I’d also thought of nominating Mr. Snowden but it was for a different list.”

The Obama administration, which unsuccessfully sought to get Snowden returned from Russia where he has been granted asylum, is known to maintain a list of terrorists for killing via drone strike. U.S. citizens have not only found their way onto that list, some have been killed. Islamist hate preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son were both killed in separate drone strikes in Yemen. They were U.S. citizens. Awlaki had exorted Muslims including Nidal Hasan to kill Americans. Hasan carried out a massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 while he shouted “Allahu Akbar!” He sits on death row, while the Obama administration characterizes his terrorist attack as “workplace violence.”

 

 

The report on Hayden’s remarks, below, comes from Russia Today. That channel is funded by the Russian government, which itself has been known to kill journalists and others who get on President Vladimir Putin’s bad side.

Former NSA/CIA Chief Jokes About Putting Edward Snowden on Obama’s Kill List

BY BRYAN PRESTON OCTOBER 4, 2013

Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden is making waves today for an off-color joke he recently told.

The retired spymaster was speaking at a Washington Post forum on cyber security recently when he acknowledged that NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been nominated for a human rights award. Hayden quipped, “I must admit in my darker moments over the past several months, I’d also thought of nominating Mr. Snowden but it was for a different list.”

The Obama administration, which unsuccessfully sought to get Snowden returned from Russia where he has been granted asylum, is known to maintain a list of terrorists for killing via drone strike. U.S. citizens have not only found their way onto that list, some have been killed. Islamist hate preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son were both killed in separate drone strikes in Yemen. They were U.S. citizens. Awlaki had exorted Muslims including Nidal Hasan to kill Americans. Hasan carried out a massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 while he shouted “Allahu Akbar!” He sits on death row, while the Obama administration characterizes his terrorist attack as “workplace violence.”

 

The report on Hayden’s remarks, below, comes from Russia Today. That channel is funded by the Russian government, which itself has been known to kill journalists and others who get on President Vladimir Putin’s bad side.

Edward Snowden on Aadhaar: ‘Something Seriously Wrong With This System’

Edward Snowden on Aadhaar: 'Something Seriously Wrong With This System'

Edward Snowden virtually addressed a media fest in Jaipur | File Image | (Photo Credits: Getty)

Jaipur, Aug 12: Whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has been declared as a fugitive by the United States of America, addressed a media fest in Jaipur from an anonymous location. During his speech, Snowden criticised the Aadhaar system in India, saying it could be used for surveillance purpose.

Snowden’s participation in the fest – ‘Being a Whistleblower’ – was unconfirmed till the final minutes of his virtual appearance. He was connected from undisclosed location, with a white background behind his face.

Snowden did not mince words while condemning the Aadhaar, saying there is “something seriously wrong with this system”. He further claimed that the manner in which it is designed is not merely for identification purpose, but could be used for mass surveillance.

The pro-privacy crusader further attempted to dismiss the arguments posed by the government on the pretext of national security. Snowden said the terrorists are technologically updated and remain untraceable. Systems like Aadhaar, he added, are not intended to track down the terrorists, but monitor the common citizens.

Snowden claimed that he is not fearful of the US government which is taking strenuous steps towards locating and extraditing him over the past decade. On the contrary, he claims to be afraid of the entire “world turning into a Chinese market”. He was referring to the mass surveillance programmes being allegedly mooted by governments across the globe. Such monitoring was earlier considered to be practiced by only the communist regimes of China and the erstwhile USSR.

The concerns raised by Snowden on Aadhaar comes in the backdrop of the Supreme Court reserving its verdict on a clutch of petitions which challenged the mandatory usage of Aadhaar. The final judgement, reserved by the apex court on May 10, is scheduled to be released in the near-future.

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