The Guardian today released additional excerpts from Glenn Greenwald’s videotaped (by documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras) interview conducted in Hong Kong with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden before he outed himself last month. He accurately predicted the government’s response to his revelations and explains clearly why he felt it necessary to do what he’s done.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (Guardian photo)
He is a very principled man of great courage troubled by what his government has become, as am I.
Are you listening, Uncle Sam?
Uncle Sam BW (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Thursday night Charlie Rose interviewed London Guardian editors Alan Rusbridger and Janine Gibson, who are responsible for the release of the materials Edward Snowden took from the National Security Agency.
It is an in-depth discussion of how the Guardian is dealing with the materials Snowden has disclosed to them, of which there is more coming. While both British and US officials told the Guardian they would rather none were published, they were given an opportunity to argue the case if publication of any specific document would truly endanger national security. Neither government offered any such argument!
There is also a good exploration of Snowden’s motives and his understanding of the consequences of his actions—excellent interview.
“NSA surveillance may be legal — but it’s unconstitutional” by Laura K Donohue, Georgetown law professor and director of the Center on National Security and the Law, in the June 21, 2013, Washington Post. NSA surveillance programs undermine purpose of FISA, which was established to prevent this kind of overreach
“The top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant” by Glenn Greenwald and James Ball in the June 20, 2013, London Guardian. FISA court submissions show broad scope of procedures governing NSA’s surveillance of Americans’ communication; documents show that discretion as to who is actually targeted lies directly with the NSA analysts.
This morning, the Guardian has a summary of Edward Snowden’s online chat comments yesterday, as well as an overview of the number of government data requests various Internet service providers have been receiving—Yahoo reports c. 2,000/month; Apple, c. 750; Facebook, c. 1,500; Microsoft, c. 1,000. They were unable legally to break out how many of those were Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests as opposed to the more numerous requests related to criminal investigations.
In an unprecedented bow to citizen journalism, for about an hour and a half this morning, Edward Snowden answered 18 questions submitted online. The questions and answers are republished in full at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/17/edward-snowden-nsa-files-whistleblower?commentpage=6
While he did not get to my specific questions, Snowden provided useful clarification about the difference between policy restrictions and technical capabilities for accessing communication content.
While he made it clear that he was divulging information only to journalists, not governments, the mainstream media did not fare well:
Initially I was very encouraged. Unfortunately, the mainstream media now seems far more interested in what I said when I was 17 or what my girlfriend looks like rather than, say, the largest program of suspicionless surveillance in human history.
I loved his witty response to the question of whether he was supplying China with information in exchange for asylum:
Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn’t I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now.
The Guradian yesterday released a survey by Public Policy Polling which indicates that Ameircans may be more concerned about the National Security Agencies digital dragnet than polling results reported earlier suggest. PPP polls are generally reliable and target voters, which may explain some of the variations in attitudes. Of course different questions were being answered, too.
Two-thirds of the voters surveyed want NSA surveillance activities reviewed; 56 percent want greater congressional oversight. Sixty percent want the government to open up about its data collection programs to understand what’s going on; 61 percent welcome fresh debate about the balance between security and privacy.
PPP also found a major (58%) concern about the role of private contractors’ access to state secrets. Voters are pretty evenly split on whether they approve of the government’s collection of their personal phone and internet data.
Clearly, Mr. Snowden has stirred the pot. The Guardian reported:
The poll suggests that his stated ambition has, at least for now, been achieved: some 90% of those surveyed said they had heard about the recent news involving the NSA’s collecting and storing of Verizon phone records and gaining access to data from major internet companies…
Other reports, in the Guardian and elsewhere, show Snowden playing a skillful yet very dangerous game. Some have questioned his choice of Hong Kong to make his stand. He seems to have the US government in a Catch 22: If he is charged and extradited, Hong Kong police must arrest him, seize his files and computers; and hand them over to the Chinese government, which the US may want to avoid.
If the Brits were to get involved, it would make one heck of an MI5 episode! But it looks like the Brits do definitely not want to be involved. The Home Office has alerted the world’s airlines that Mr. Snowden is persona non grata; dropping him on British soil will cost—£2,000 + cost of housing and/or disposing of Snowden. The Brits don’t want to become entangled in another secret documents leak scandal. Last year, facing extradition to Sweden WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was granted political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London,