Edward Snowden exposes National Security Agency domestic surveillance

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by The Wrong Guy, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    GCHQ Faces Legal Action over Hacking Program

    Following revelations about the involvement of the GCHQ in the NSA’s spying efforts, there’s going to be some legal troubles for the Brits.

    The Intercept has recently reported that the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been working with the NSA to develop surveillance systems capable of covertly breaking into millions of computers and networks from anywhere in the world.

    Privacy International, a civil liberties group based in London, has filed a legal complaint against the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), accusing the agency of violating European human rights laws through its hacking techniques, saying that they are not subject to sufficient safeguards against abuse.

    “This type of activity, often called ‘hacking,’ is a criminal offense in the UK. The Computer Misuse Act 1990 (CMA) prohibits unauthorised access to a computer, both to get at any programmes or data on that computer (Section 1) or with knowledge or reckless disregard for the fact that such access may impair the operation of the computer (Section 3),” reads a blog post from Privacy International explaining the law behind the legal challenge it brought against GCHQ.

    The group believes that the GCHQ is guilty of both and seeks to obtain information from the target’s computer, use their cameras and microphones to conduct surveillance and more.

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  2. The Wrong Guy Member

    Sony Pictures acquires film rights for Greenwald's book on Snowden | Reuters

    Edward Snowden, the Movie? Sony Options Glenn Greenwald Book | Mashable

    Sony Acquires Rights To Edward Snowden Story For Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson To Produce | Box Office Insider
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  6. The Wrong Guy Member

    U.S. revealed secret legal basis for NSA program to Sprint, declassified files show | The Washington Post

    Under threat of a court challenge, the Obama administration in 2010 revealed to Sprint the secret legal basis of a then-classified program that collected Americans’ phone records by the billions for counterterrorism purposes, according to newly declassified documents and interviews.

    The company — the nation’s third-largest wireless provider — was the only firm to demand access to the legal rationale underpinning the National Security Agency program before its existence was revealed in June as a result of a leak from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, current and former U.S. officials said.

    But after being shown the documents, the company dropped its challenge and continued to turn over customers’ call-detail records to the NSA.

    Civil liberties advocates seized on the case to argue that the disclosure of the program’s legal reasoning to the phone company alone was not sufficient to protect the public’s privacy rights.

    “The real story here is the almost complete failure of the telecoms to protect their subscribers’ interests,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, whose organization has filed a lawsuit contesting the program’s constitutionality and legality.

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  9. The Wrong Guy Member

    Glenn Greenwald on ‘limitless’ ambitions of NSA

    Published by PBS NewsHour on May 15, 2014

    Glenn Greenwald was the first reporter to meet with Edward Snowden when the former NSA contractor wanted to disclose secrets of the agency. Greenwald sits down with chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner in Washington to discuss that initial encounter and what he learned, detailed in his new book, "No Place to Hide."
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  10. The Wrong Guy Member

    Will Only the Rich Benefit From the EU's New Right to Purge Google? | Mother Jones

    Danny O'Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation isn't happy about the new EU court decision that requires Google to delete links to information that people find troublesome:

    When a newspaper publishes a news item, it appears online....Attempting to limit the propagation of that information by applying scattergun censorship will simply temporarily distort one part of the collective record in favor of those who can take the time and money to selectively edit away their own online blemishes....Meanwhile, a new market is created for mining and organizing accurate public data out of the reach of the European authorities. The record of the major search engines will be distorted, just as it was by Scientology and the Chinese government. Outside of Europe's reach, rogue sites will collect the real information, and be more accurate than the compliant search services.

    There are two interesting points here. First, that the EU ruling will mostly benefit the rich, who can afford to hire people to police their image and make legal demands to have links deleted. Second, that this will prompt the rise of "rogue" search engines that can bill themselves as uncensored.

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  11. The Wrong Guy Member

    Encrypted Web Traffic More Than Doubles After NSA Revelations | WIRED

    Startup pitches snoop-proof (even NSA-proof) email | Gigaom

    If you really don’t like the idea of the government (or anyone but the recipient for that matter) reading your email, you may want to check out ProtonMail, a new email service which claims to be immune from prying eyes.

    The year-old company was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, by MIT, Harvard and CERN researchers upset by Edward Snowden’s disclosures about NSA data scooping procedures, according to a BostInno report. They wanted to create an email system that was even more secure than the Lavabit mail Snowden used, and so they set out to build ProtonMail.

    The company’s locale is important given all the NSA and U.S. Patriot Act hullabaloo. ProtonMail’s servers are in Switzerland and the company is incorporated there, which gives it the purported advantage of being outside the scope of both U.S. and E.U. regulations, according to post in FreedomHacker. The idea is that Swiss-based ProtonMail can offer users a layer of legal privacy protection they cannot expect in other European countries.

    Co-founder Jason Stockman told BostInno that end users need not sweat the details — all that security stuff is under the covers — and they can also layer ProtonMail atop Gmail if they like. With ProtonMail users can send messages to users on non-protected email services because the system uses symmetric encryption. When an encrypted message is sent to an non-ProtonMail user, the recipient gets a link to load the encrypted message into their browser which they decrypt using a passphrase the sender shares. ProtonMail users can also opt to send self-destructing messages — a sort of Snapchat for mail.

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  12. The Wrong Guy Member

    Everyone should know just how much the government lied to defend the NSA | The Guardian

    By Trevor Timm

    If you blinked this week, you might have missed the news: two Senators accused the Justice Department of lying about NSA warrantless surveillance to the US supreme court last year, and those falsehoods all but ensured that mass spying on Americans would continue. But hardly anyone seems to care – least of all those who lied and who should have already come forward with the truth.

    Here's what happened: just before Edward Snowden became a household name, the ACLU argued before the supreme court that the Fisa Amendments Act – one of the two main laws used by the NSA to conduct mass surveillance – was unconstitutional.

    In a sharply divided opinion, the supreme court ruled, 5-4, that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs didn't have "standing" – in other words, that the ACLU couldn't prove with near-certainty that their clients, which included journalists and human rights advocates, were targets of surveillance, so they couldn't challenge the law. As the New York Times noted this week, the court relied on two claims by the Justice Department to support their ruling: 1) that the NSA would only get the content of Americans' communications without a warrant when they are targeting a foreigner abroad for surveillance, and 2) that the Justice Department would notify criminal defendants who have been spied on under the Fisa Amendments Act, so there exists some way to challenge the law in court.

    It turns out that neither of those statements were true – but it took Snowden's historic whistleblowing to prove it.

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  13. The Wrong Guy Member

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  14. The Wrong Guy Member

    Greenwald: 'Bipartisan Coalition' Emerged Against NSA Spying | The Daily Caller

    Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who helped Edward Snowden reveal the massive domestic surveillance program being run by the NSA, hailed the “extremely inspiring bipartisan coalition” against government spying, noting opposition cuts across traditional political cleavages.

    Greenwald appeared on NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday — although host David Gregory controversially did not conduct the interview — to discuss his new book and how the NSA spying scandal continues to unfold nearly one year later.

    He denied that the disclosures did anything to help terrorists, a charge frequently leveled against him by top intelligence officials.

    “This claim that these disclosures have helped the terrorists is the same script from which they always read whenever people shine a light on what they’re doing,” Greenwald shot back, “and I hope nobody is willing to accept it on faith but instead demands evidence that that has happened, because there actually is none.”

    The journalist also spoke hopefully about the future of government surveillance, noting support for ending the practice is spread across the political spectrum.

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    Glenn Greenwald on Meet The Press: Traitor Label Badge of Honor

    Glenn Greenwald appeared on Meet the Press, things ended poorly for David Gregory. On Sunday morning, Greenwald appeared on the show for the first time since the contretemps, though NBC put two layers between Greenwald and Gregory, having justice correspondent Pete Williams conduct the interview and fielding the questions from social media.

    Greenwald told HuffPost Live he was disappointed Gregory wouldn't be conducting the interview, as he was curious how the host's approach may have changed since last summer. Alas.

    The most pointed question asked how Greenweld reconciled his comparison of NSA leaker Edward Snowden to Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, given that Ellsberg stayed to face trial while Snowden fled the U.S. and eventually defected to Russia. He quoted Ellsberg's op-ed arguing that the justice system had become considerably harsher toward whistleblowers. "If Edward Snowden were to go on trial, he would be rendered incommunicado, he would not be released on bail, he couldn't argue his case to the public," Greenwald said.

    Greenwald also got a question about potential legislative fixes to the NSA abuses he and Snowden revealed.

    "One of the most encouraging aspects of the story has been that there has been a complete breakdown in the traditional, standard divisions between left and right or conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat," he responded. "There has been this extremely inspiring bipartisan coalition that has emerged that has demanded that there be constraints imposed on the NSA."
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  15. The Wrong Guy Member

    In Letter to Obama, Cisco CEO Complains About NSA Allegations | Re/code

    Warning of an erosion of confidence in the products of the U.S. technology industry, John Chambers, the CEO of networking giant Cisco Systems, has asked President Obama to intervene to curtail the surveillance activities of the National Security Agency.

    In a letter dated May 15 (obtained by Re/code and reprinted in full below), Chambers asked Obama to create “new standards of conduct” regarding how the NSA carries out its spying operations around the world. The letter was first reported by The Financial Times.

    The letter follows new revelations, including photos, published in a book based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden alleging that the NSA intercepted equipment from Cisco and other manufacturers and loaded them with surveillance software. The photos, which have not been independently verified, appear to show NSA technicians working with Cisco equipment. Cisco is not said to have cooperated in the NSA’s efforts.

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    Cisco chief urges Obama to curb NSA surveillance activity | Reuters

    The NSA, Cisco, And The Issue Of Interdiction | TechCrunch
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  17. The Wrong Guy Member

    A Deep Dive into the House's Version of Narrow NSA Reform: The New USA Freedom Act

    By Mark Jaycox, Electronic Frontier Foundation

    NSA reform is finally moving in Congress. Last year, Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the USA Freedom Act, one of the first comprehensive bills to address multiple aspects of the NSA's spying. The Senate version has languished since October, but last week the House Judiciary Committee (chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte) introduced and passed out of committee a heavily rewritten House version. As a result, two versions of the USA Freedom Act exist: the narrowed House version and the more encompassing Senate version. The movement in the House is a good indication that Congress is still engaged with NSA reform, but the House's bill must be strengthened and clarified to ensure that it accomplishes one of its main intentions: ending mass collection.

    Here's how the House version of the USA Freedom Act compares to the Senate's version, what the new House version of the USA Freedom Act does, and what it sorely lacks.

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  18. The Wrong Guy Member

    Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): Right To Be Forgotten

    Published by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on May 19, 2014

    John Oliver covers the new European law that would allow people to erase themselves from internet search engines.

    He also proposes the hashtag #MutuallyAssuredHumiliation to save us from our own pasts by posting phenomenally embarrassing photos of ourselves.

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  19. The Wrong Guy Member

    Data Pirates of the Caribbean: The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in the Bahamas

    By Ryan Devereaux, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, The Intercept

    The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas.

    According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government. Instead, the agency appears to have used access legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country’s cellular telephone network, enabling it to covertly record and store the “full-take audio” of every mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas – and to replay those calls for up to a month.

    SOMALGET is part of a broader NSA program called MYSTIC, which The Intercept has learned is being used to secretly monitor the telecommunications systems of the Bahamas and several other countries, including Mexico, the Philippines, and Kenya. But while MYSTIC scrapes mobile networks for so-called “metadata” – information that reveals the time, source, and destination of calls – SOMALGET is a cutting-edge tool that enables the NSA to vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation in an entire country.

    All told, the NSA is using MYSTIC to gather personal data on mobile calls placed in countries with a combined population of more than 250 million people. And according to classified documents, the agency is seeking funding to export the sweeping surveillance capability elsewhere.

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  20. The Wrong Guy Member

    Quoted from the above article:

    Documents show that the NSA has been generating intelligence reports from MYSTIC surveillance in the Bahamas, Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines, and one other country, which The Intercept is not naming in response to specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence. The more expansive full-take recording capability has been deployed in both the Bahamas and the unnamed country.

    WikiLeaks@wikileaks 1h
    This Day in #WikiLeaks: WikiLeaks to name mass surveilled country censored in The Intercept article; other news:

    WikiLeaks Threatens To Reveal Information That Glenn Greenwald Says Could Lead To 'Deaths'

    "We will reveal the name of the censored country whose population is being mass recorded in 72 hours." – WikiLeaks on Twitter
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  21. The Wrong Guy Member

    NSA Records All Cell Phone Calls in the Bahamas, Finds Some Guy Mailing Marijuana | Reason

    Last two paragraphs:

    Not even the NSA is immune to crowing about the low-hanging fruit they've gathered to make an extremely expensive system appear to be successful. But it's important to remember who "low-hanging fruit" is to any sort of law-enforcement agency. It's not the big drug lords and heads of terror organizations. It's average joes who don't have the resources to protect themselves and are in difficult economic situations. Is catching a guy mailing dope from the Bahamas to the United States what this program is all about?

    Given that this massive NSA surveillance program hasn't actually succeeded in catching terrorists or stopping terrorist plots, one doesn't have to be a conspiracy theorist to note that the government rarely shuts down massive programs just because they aren't successful. And, as The Intercept reminds, the DEA has been using information gathered through secret surveillance to launch criminal investigations against Americans and then trying to hide the source through its "parallel construction" process.
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  22. Anonymous Member

    Suggested fill-ins for the redaction from Cryptome:

  23. The Wrong Guy Member

    Electronic Frontier Foundation Nominates Justice Department's National Security Division for Golden Padlock Award for Egregious Secrecy

    For the second year in a row, Investigative Reporters and Editors solicited nominations from the public for one of the least coveted prizes in government: the Golden Padlock. The award recognizes “the most secretive publicly-funded agency or person in the United States,” and the U.S. Border Patrol last year took home the inaugural honor for stonewalling Freedom of Information Act requests related to agent-involved shootings along the border. While we’ve had our own FOIA battles with Customs & Border Protection in the past, it’s nothing compared to what we’ve encountered trying to shine light on how the NSA conducts mass surveillance.

    This year, we formally and publicly nominate the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, or DOJ NSD, for the Golden Padlock.

    For years, EFF has been trying to obtain opinions issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court, that contain secret interpretations of the Constitution and federal surveillance laws. The government then relies on those secret interpretations to justify the NSA’s surveillance programs. We requested these opinions from DOJ NSD, which represents the government before the FISA court. After the government refused to produce the opinions, we sued — twice.

    In each case, DOJ NSD claimed that none of the FISA court’s opinions — not a page, not a portion of a page, not a sentence, not a word — could be released without damaging national security. In some cases, DOJ NSD even refused to tell us how many pages the opinions contained.

    The Snowden leaks changed things. In the government’s scramble to contain the damage from the leaks, they publicly disclosed many aspects of the programs the opinions described. That allowed us to successfully argue in court for the release of many of these opinions, which show multiple ways in which, by policy, error or outright misconduct, the rights of Americans were violated by NSA’s surveillance programs. But we also learned something else from these releases: DOJ NSD had misled EFF and the courts hearing our lawsuits when they claimed that nothing could be released from the opinions they were withholding.

    There are numerous examples we can point to, but one is just so spectacularly egregious that it, alone, is worthy of special recognition.

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  24. The Wrong Guy Member

    Part 2 airs tonight.

    The Robot Defense: How Google Saw Privacy Before Snowden

    Early Clip Of New PBS Documentary About NSA, 'US Of Secrets' | The Daily Caller
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  25. The Wrong Guy Member

    Wikileaks Might Cause a Shitstorm This Week | VICE
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  26. The Wrong Guy Member

    The messenger that’s UNHACKABLE: Engineers 'create world’s most secure communication app' - and it can't even be broken by a quantum computer

    • SRD Wireless has launched an app with an advanced encryption algorithm
    • The instant messenger known as PQChat promises to be safe and private
    • It uses the strongest cryptosystem currently known, called McEliece
    • PQChat holds no personal info and users can remotely delete messages
    • This means 'nobody can share dodgy holiday snaps or drunk texts except you' according to the company

    By Jonathan O'Callaghan

    The privacy of instant messages has become a hot topic in recent months with the spotlight being shone on popular services like Facebook, Snapchat and WhatsApp.

    So it’s timely that SRD Wireless has announced the launch of PQChat - an app for iOS devices based on the company’s own ‘Never-The-Same’ (NTS) encryption.

    PQChat is essentially an instant messenger with a twist - its encryption system has never been broken, and the company even claims future quantum computers will not be able to break it.

    Designed to make communications between people and businesses as safe, secure and private as possible, NTS protects data using the McEliece cryptosystem, the strongest currently known.

    McEliece is an encryption algorithm developed in 1978 by mathematician Robert McEliece that has never been broken - even using techniques designed for the new era of quantum computing.

    PQChat allows users to share and delete encrypted messages, voice, video and images as they desire, whilst the application itself holds no personal information on users. As a result, SRD Wireless said users can have the utmost confidence that their private communications remain just that.

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  27. The Wrong Guy Member

    Encryption company Silent Circle, creator of Blackphone, raises $30 million | The Washington Post

    Silent Circle, the Maryland-based mobile security company that gained traction after revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, just picked up a $30 million investment.

    The company, co-founded by the developer of the e-mail encryption service Pretty Good Privacy, is helping to develop Blackphone, a secure smartphone, among other products. Silent Circle received the latest funding from venture capitalist Ross Perot Jr. and the private investment fund Cain Capital, the company announced Wednesday.

    The money will primarily be used to meet demand for Silent Circle’s products and services, including Blackphone and Out Circle, its encrypted calling network, the company said. Blackphone, the mobile device that Silent Circle developed with Madrid-based Geeksphone is slated to hit the market next month, but the company’s Web site says initial production has already sold out.

    The tech firm has also said it plans to develop a Blacktablet and a range of other secure devices.

    Edward Snowden’s revelations last year about the extent of the NSA’s electronic surveillance on ordinary citizens sparked privacy concerns that helped propel Silent Circle’s products into the spotlight. The company moved its headquarters into a 16,000 square-foot facility in Maryland’s National Harbor earlier this year. In Wednesday’s announcement, Silent Circle also said it was moving its global offices from a Caribbean island to Switzerland because of the strength of that country’s privacy laws.

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  28. The Wrong Guy Member

    Free App Lets the Next Snowden Send Big Files Securely and Anonymously | WIRED

    When Glenn Greenwald discovered last year that some of the NSA documents he’d received from Edward Snowden had been corrupted, he needed to retrieve copies from fellow journalist Laura Poitras in Berlin. They decided the safest way to transfer the sizable cache was to use a USB drive carried by hand to Greenwald’s home in Brazil. As a result, Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was detained at Heathrow, searched, and questioned for nine hours.

    That’s exactly the sort of ordeal Micah Lee, the staff technologist and resident crypto expert at Greenwald’s investigative news site The Intercept, hopes to render obsolete. On Tuesday he released Onionshare — simple, free software designed to let anyone send files securely and anonymously. After reading about Greenwald’s file transfer problem in Greenwald’s new book, Lee created the program as a way of sharing big data dumps via a direct channel encrypted and protected by the anonymity software Tor, making it far more difficult for eavesdroppers to determine who is sending what to whom.

    “If you use a filesharing service like Dropbox or Mega or whatever, you basically have to trust them. The file could end up in the hands of law enforcement,” Lee says. “This lets you bypass all third parties, so that the file goes from one person to another over the Tor network completely anonymously.

    “It’s basically 100 percent darknet.”

    When Onionshare users want to send files, the program creates a password-protected, temporary website hosted on the Tor network — what’s known as a Tor Hidden Service — that runs on their computer. They provide the recipient with the URL and password for that site, preferably via a message encrypted with a tool like PGP or Off-The-Record encrypted instant messaging. The recipient visits that URL in a Tor Browser and downloads the file from that temporary, untraceable website, without needing to have a copy of Onionshare.

    “As soon as the person has downloaded the file, you can just cancel the web server and the file is no longer accessible to anyone,” Lee says.

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  29. The Wrong Guy Member

    Lavabit founder explains why he shut down service after Snowden leaks

    House to vote on “watered down” NSA phone metadata spying reform bill | Ars Technica

    The House on Thursday is expected to vote on legislation reforming the National Security Agency's phone metadata spying program, a package that some civil rights groups quit backing following 11th-hour changes supported by the Obama administration.
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  30. The Wrong Guy Member

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  31. The Wrong Guy Member

    The House Just Passed A Bill to End Mass NSA Spying. But Will It Really Change Anything? | National Journal

    House legislates curbs on NSA record-gathering | Associated Press

    House votes to shut down NSA phone-snooping | Washington Times
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  32. The Wrong Guy Member

    Pentagon’s ‘Damage’ Report Fixates on Potential Harm from Snowden That May Never Occur | The Dissenter

    Journalist Jason Leopold obtained a “heavily redacted” report that was prepared in December by the Pentagon on the “damage” caused by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures. The government refused to not censor any portion of the report that might describe specific details related to allegations of “damage.”

    It contains one sensational line: “The scope of the compromised knowledge related to US intelligence capabilities is staggering.” There are, however, no examples to support this sweeping statement.

    Julian Sanchez wrote an excellent summary for The Guardian on how the Pentagon’s report on the “grave” threat posed by his disclosures is overblown.

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  33. The Wrong Guy Member

    EXCLUSIVE: Edward Snowden Gives Wide-Ranging Interview to Brian Williams | NBC News

    NBC Nightly News' anchor and managing editor Brian Williams traveled to Moscow this week for an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with Edward Snowden. The former NSA contractor's first-ever American television interview will air in an hour-long NBC News primetime special on Wednesday, May 28 at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central.

    Williams' in-person conversation with Snowden was conducted over the course of several hours and was shrouded in secrecy due to Snowden's life in exile since leaking classified documents about U.S. surveillance programs a year ago. Williams also jointly interviewed Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has reported stories based on the documents in media outlets around the world, about how they came to work together and the global debate sparked by their revelations.

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  34. The Wrong Guy Member

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  35. The Wrong Guy Member

    WikiLeaks@wikileaks 18m
    STATEMENT: WikiLeaks statement revealing censored #NSA mass recording country X as #Afghanistan
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  36. The Wrong Guy Member

    Pentagon Report That Supposedly Shows How Much Harm Snowden Caused... Actually Shows No Such Thing

    By Mike Masnick, Techdirt

    from the staggeringly-misleading dept

    For a few months now, the NSA's defenders -- primarily Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and House Intelligence Committee boss Rep. Mike Rogers -- have been waving around a "classified" report from the Pentagon, concerning how much "damage" Snowden's leaks have caused. Rogers had put out a press release about the report as if it was proof of how much harm was caused -- and based on that release, people quickly realized that the claims of harm were based on two very questionable assumptions.

    1. That everything Snowden "touched" while employed at the NSA, he took with him and gave to reporters -- amounting to something like 1.7 million documents.
    2. That all of those files are in the hands of America's adversaries

    As many people have highlighted -- both of those claims are extremely questionable. Glenn Greenwald and Ewan Macaskill have both admitted publicly that Snowden only gave them around 60,000 documents.

    Either way, the Guardian has a new report with a redacted version of the Pentagon's report, obtained via a FOIA request by FOIA champion Jason Leopold. Leopold wrote a summary of the report, noting that the Pentagon claims "the scope of the compromised knowledge related to US intelligence capabilities is staggering."

    However, Julian Sanchez quickly pointed out that the Pentagon is playing word games. It's saying (as noted in our assumptions) that the scope of what Snowden touched is staggering, not the actual damage. As Sanchez points out:

    The first thing to note is that the Pentagon report does not concern the putative harm of disclosures about the National Security Agency programs that have been the focus of almost all Snowden-inspired stories published to date. Rather, the Defense Intelligence Agency's damage assessment deals only with the potential impact of "non-NSA Defense material" that the government believes Snowden may have obtained. Any harm resulting from the disclosure of NSA-related material – in other words, almost everything actually made public thus far – is not included in this assessment.

    In fact, the unredacted portions of the report don't discuss published material at all. Instead, the Pentagon was assessing the significance of the information "compromised" by Snowden – all the documents they believe he copied, whether or not they ever see the light of day.

    As Sanchez notes, it absolutely makes sense for the US government to assess the possible damage from other possible leaks based on what Snowden has touched, but it's wholly irresponsible for politicians and the press to misrepresent the report as looking at the actual harm caused by the leaks to date. Because that's not what the report says at all.

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  38. The Wrong Guy Member

    USA Freedom Act Passes House With Protests and Sighs | Truthdig

    Many legislators and campaigners are unsatisfied with the “watered-down” version of the anti-surveillance bill that passed the House of Representatives with a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, 303 to 121, on Thursday.

    The USA Freedom Act is the first piece of legislation “aimed specifically at curbing U.S. surveillance abuses revealed by Edward Snowden,” The Guardian reports. When he accepted the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 30, Snowden described the legislation as “the only act that really starts to address these concerns.”

    Last-minute efforts by lawmakers loyal to the intelligence establishment weakened key language in the bill. The revision lost the support of several influential members of the House Judiciary Committee who had previously voted for it, including Republicans Darrell Issa, Ted Poe and Raul Labrador and Democrat Zoe Lofgren.

    Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said: “The bill is littered with loopholes. The problem right now, especially after multiple revisions, is that it doesn’t effectively end mass surveillance.”

    Zeke Johnson, director of Amnesty International USA’s security and human rights program, declared the House had “failed to deliver serious surveillance reform.”

    “People inside and outside the U.S. would remain at risk of dragnet surveillance,” he continued. “The Senate should pass much stronger reforms ensuring greater transparency, robust judicial review, equal rights for non-U.S. persons, and a clear, unambiguous ban on mass spying. President Obama need not wait. He can and should implement such safeguards today.”

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  39. The Wrong Guy Member

    Afghans Probably Aren’t Surprised the NSA Is Recording All of Their Phone Calls | VICE

    By Patrick McGuire

    Earlier this week, I wrote about the potential shitstorm Wikileaks was threatening to cause by releasing the name of “Country X,” a previously unknown territory that the NSA is targeting under their once-classified SOMALGET program, which allegedly records 100 percent of the phone calls in a target country.

    On Monday, The Intercept revealed that Kenya, the Philippines, Mexico, and the Bahamas were all under the SOMALGET program. They made an editorial, and moral, decision to redact the name of the fifth country. Glenn Greenwald tweeted that releasing the name of the final country “could harm innocents,” an explanation that evidently pissed off Wikileaks. So, early this morning, Assange and his leak-team published the name of the final country where the NSA is tapping every single phone call: Afghanistan.


    To get a sense of what the reaction might be like in Afghanistan, and to figure out whether or not The Intercept’s concerns were justified, I reached out to Graeme Smith. Graeme is a Senior Analyst for the Crisis Group, an NGO dedicated to resolving and preventing deadly conflict worldwide. Graeme currently oversees the Crisis Group’s faction in Kabul.

    I asked Graeme whether or not this morning’s Wikileak is likely to incite more conflict in Afghanistan. In short, he doesn’t think it will:

    “...nearly all of my Afghan friends already understand that the U.S. deploys intense electronic surveillance in this country. The television series 24 was wildly popular here, and many Afghans imagine that the fictional Jack Bauer is a realistic depiction of U.S. intelligence at work.

    Besides, it's not only the Americans. In a war zone like Afghanistan we usually assume that half a dozen spy agencies are monitoring our communications. It was also grimly amusing to read the WikiLeaks comment that ‘If a nation wants to engage in a revolt on the basis that the US government is recording all their phone calls, that is their right,’ because, really, it shows the enormous gulf in perceptions between somebody sitting comfortably behind a laptop in the West and an ordinary person in rural Afghanistan. There's a frenzy of concern about surveillance in the rich world at the moment, but over here the problems are more basic: rising violence, villagers fleeing their homes, Taliban choking off supply routes, the war economy grinding to a halt, etc.”

    While Graeme is not a fortune-teller, he makes a very persuasive argument. Why would Afghans, who have been struggling with an American invasion for more than a decade, be surprised that the Americans are also listening to their phone calls?

    Beyond a national revolt, the U.S. government must also be concerned with the safety of their own nationals who are currently working to rebuild the country, or at least to keep it somewhat stable, in an already volatile time. Not to mention the troops still stationed over there. This news certainly can’t make anything better. But, Assange teasing at a “revolt” is probably not based in reality.

    Hopefully the shitstorm has been averted for now, because Afghanistan certainly doesn’t need more shit to deal with.
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