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The Standard

Snowden performed a public service

Written By: - Date published: 10:16 am, January 4th, 2014 - 99 comments
Categories: International, internet, Media, Spying, us politics - Tags: ,

While I was looking for background on the GCSB yesterday, I happened on this AFB article “New York Times backs Snowden in US online spying row

Washington — The influential New York Times hailed fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden as a “whistleblower” on Thursday and threw its weight behind calls for him to be shown clemency.

The editorial was quickly seized upon by activists campaigning to persuade President Barack Obama’s administration to drop its bid to prosecute the former National Security Agency contractor.

And it touched a nerve with Times readers. More than 1,200 left comments on the daily’s website within hours of the item going online, and it soared to the top of its “most viewed” items of the day.

The editorial from the NYT’s  editorial board 1  proved to be interesting and well linked 2 reading.

Seven months ago, the world began to learn the vast scope of the National Security Agency’s reach into the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the United States and around the globe, as it collects information about their phone calls, their email messages, their friends and contacts, how they spend their days and where they spend their nights. The public learned in great detail how the agency has exceeded its mandate and abused its authority, prompting outrage at kitchen tables and at the desks of Congress, which may finally begin to limit these practices.
The revelations have already prompted two federal judges to accuse the N.S.A. of violating the Constitution (although a third, unfortunately,found the dragnet surveillance to be legal). A panel appointed by President Obama issued a powerful indictment of the agency’s invasions of privacy and called for a major overhaul of its operations.

All of this is entirely because of information provided to journalists by Edward Snowden….

Those two other judicial probes are referenced further down in the editorial.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rebuked the N.S.A. for repeatedly providing misleading information about its surveillance practices, according to a ruling made public because of the Snowden documents. One of the practices violated the Constitution, according to the chief judge of the court.

A federal district judge ruled earlier this month that the phone-records-collection program probably violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. He called the program “almost Orwellian” and said there was no evidence that it stopped any imminent act of terror.

It is fascinating looking at the extent of the NSA’s activities, which clearly extend far beyond anything that is known in public about the powers they have been issued with.

One of the standard attacks on Snowden has been that he had other avenues to blow the whistle on these activities. Turns out this was not the case.

The president said in August that Mr. Snowden should come home to face those charges in court and suggested that if Mr. Snowden had wanted to avoid criminal charges he could have simply told his superiors about the abuses, acting, in other words, as a whistle-blower.

“If the concern was that somehow this was the only way to get this information out to the public, I signed an executive order well before Mr. Snowden leaked this information that provided whistle-blower protection to the intelligence community for the first time,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference. “So there were other avenues available for somebody whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions.”

In fact, that executive order did not apply to contractors, only to intelligence employees, rendering its protections useless to Mr. Snowden. More important, Mr. Snowden told The Washington Post earlier this month that he did report his misgivings to two superiors at the agency, showing them the volume of data collected by the N.S.A., and that they took no action. (The N.S.A. says there is no evidence of this.) That’s almost certainly because the agency and its leaders don’t consider these collection programs to be an abuse and would never have acted on Mr. Snowden’s concerns.

In retrospect, Mr. Snowden was clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not.

Indeed.

I must have a look at our local whistle blower legislation to see if the same contractor hole exists here. Anyone know?

 

  1. That the NYT publishes who writes / signs off on the editorials is a welcome contrast to the anonymity of newspapers like the NZ Herald. Look at this one today.
  2. What is it with newspapers? You can understand why newsprint can’t have links. But probably these days there are far more people reading online versions of every article. It is a welcome contrast to online newspapers like the NZ Herald when you see the NYT’s meticulous links in their editorial. 

99 comments on “Snowden performed a public service”

  1. Morrissey 1

    Snowden, Manning and Assange are all heroes, and all need to be released immediately.

    In a sane world, a law-abiding world, the politicians whose crimes they have exposed would be facing war crimes charges.

    • QoT 1.1

      Sigh. I’m not going to have the Assange argument again, but I will point out that he’s not imprisoned, he’s choosing to hide out in an Ecuadorian embassy.

      • Morrissey 1.1.1

        Sigh. I’m not going to have the Assange argument again…
        “Again”? You did not engage in an argument about him in the first place. All you did was to repeat the bizarre concoctions of a couple of not so ingenious fantasists in the Swedish police, who were helping out the embarrassed but vengeful U.K. and U.S. regimes.

        I note too that your defiant reiteration of the fantastical claims against Assange continued even after it had been pointed out to you that Swedish women’s groups, including Rape Crisis, had rejected the charges against Assange. They recognized a crude political set-up, straight out of the Soviet playbook, even if people like you perversely continue to refuse to face facts.

        …I will point out that he’s not imprisoned, he’s choosing to hide out in an Ecuadorian embassy.
        Similarly, using your logic, this guy was not imprisoned. He chose to hide out in an American embassy….
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-17877005

        And this guy was not imprisoned either. He chose to hide out in an American embassy….
        http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2011/5/9/1304949615150/Ai-Weiwei-001.jpg

        As for this guy: I wonder what you would have done if some vengeful right wing fanatics had worked with New Zealand’s secret services to concoct a sex scandal around him like happened to Julian Assange….
        http://cdn.3news.co.nz/3news/AM/0-Articles/156662/ahmedzaoui_320.jpg?width=370

        My bet is that you would have behaved in exactly the same way you behaved toward Julian Assange.

        • Lanthanide 1.1.1.1

          :roll:

        • The March Hare 1.1.1.2

          Sigh. Morrissey trots out the same tired old zombie arguments perpetuated by Assange and hus supporters. These arguments are entirely deconstructed, one by one, in a more convincing manner than I can ever hope to achieve, in the following article:

          http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/david-allen-green/2012/08/legal-myths-about-assange-extradition

          • Morrissey 1.1.1.2.1

            Four points, my bewildered Staggers-reading amigo…..

            1.) It’s invariably a bad sign when someone begins a speech with a world-weary sigh. It’s an expression of defeat, an admission one has nothing to contribute. How much worse it is, then, when someone actually uses the word “Sigh” to begin a WRITTEN piece. You have, foolishly, conceded that you don’t have the wherewithal to argue your case in this debate.

            2.) David Allen Green’s contemptible little attack-piece, which could have been written by Alistair Campbell himself, is firmly refuted in the Comments section. British readers are clearly more discerning than you are.

            3.) Why they (i.e. political functionaries and crawlers like David Allen Green) want to destroy Julian Assange….

            4.) And finally, you—in fact every flunkey and amateur apparatchik—would do well to ponder this…..

            “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”—George Orwell

            • The March Hare 1.1.1.2.1.1

              Morrisey – is that *really* the best that you can provide as a response?

              Your first point is based on the assumption that anyone who starts their response by ‘sigh’ doesn’t know what they are talking about. This assumption is not underpinned by any evidence or logic.

              Your second point is simply a statement of opinion (yours) that again lacks any coherent argument or reasoning.

              Your third point is irrelevant. The worthy work of Wikileaks in releasing that video has nothing to do with the allegations of rape against Assange. It is disingenuous of Assange and his supporters to conflate the two.

              And the fourth point is simply an Orwellian quote that can be applied just as well to your position on this issue as to mine.

    • Te Reo Putake 1.2

      Only Manning can be ‘released’, Moz. Snowden has temporary asylum in Russia and the rapey one is hiding out in London, too scared to face up to a judicial critiquing of his own alleged crimes.

      Btw, what politician’s crimes have they exposed? I thought all 3 exposed the behaviour of the military, big business and the spy agencies, but I can’t recall any pollies shown to have engaged in proven criminal behaviour.

      Any examples I may have missed?

      • enjoy every sandwich 1.2.1

        ‘the rapey one…’

        geez I pity any person that has you on the jury.

        • Morrissey 1.2.1.1

          Pity the Labour Party: you can be sure he unleashes such foul personal attacks against people on the “wrong” side of any issue….
          http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-04082013/#comment-674390

          • Te Reo Putake 1.2.1.1.1

            Cite? You’ve made this absurd claim several times, Moz, without evidence. Because I regularly embarrass you with facts and common sense doesn’t entitle you to defame me.

            ps, still waiting for you to back up your claim about pollies. Not holding my breath, coz you’re not big on the truthiness, are you?

            • Morrissey 1.2.1.1.1.1

              Cite?
              I urge any Standardisti with a strong constitution to click on Te Reo’s name and scroll through his posts. Standardisti may like to take a pencil and note down every time where, instead of respectfully disagreeing, our friend accuses an opponent—not only this writer, i.e. moi—of “making shit up” as well as any number of other demeaning strategies.

              You’ve made this absurd claim several times, Moz, without evidence.
              The evidence, sadly for you, is no further away than a quick Boolean exercise.

              Because I regularly embarrass you with facts and common sense…
              Hmmmm…. What do we think about the reliability of THAT statement, Shaq?
              http://bigtonysfantasyleague.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/shaquille-oneal-yeah-right-face.jpg?w=368

              …doesn’t entitle you to defame me.
              Oh, the irony! As the late great Geoff Sinclair would have howled: Oh my giddy aunt! Next up, we’re going to have QoT railing against the use of foul language and Tequila-guzzling….

              • Te Reo Putake

                So no evidence to back up your claim? Oh, dear.

                • Morrissey

                  You’re floundering, my friend. I provided people with the means to check up for themselves just how craven and brutally personal your behaviour towards others has been on occasion—-and, sadly, quite clearly continues to be.

                  I cited two examples—your mindless repetition of the “making shit up” insult and (more damaging to your reputation) your willful reiteration of official lies and fantasies intended to destroy journalists, whistle-blowers and political dissenters.

                  You really do have no comeback, of course, so I expect to see many more of your ridiculous, desperate “no evidence” claims.

                  • Te Reo Putake

                    Yeah, so no evidence at all. Perhaps you’re still half asleep?

                    • Morrissey

                      Yeah, so no evidence at all.
                      As I pointed out just two minutes ago: You really do have no comeback, of course, so I expect to see many more of your ridiculous, desperate “no evidence” claims.

                      Perhaps you’re still half asleep?
                      Ha! And what if I were? That would make your performance look even worse, surely.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      How quickly the dim-witted forget:

                      http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mik-27122013/#comment-749972

                      ps, the names of the politicians you claim to have been exposed as criminals? Thx!

                    • Morrissey

                      Te Reo, that was an error on my part, which made me look kinda silly. I’m the first to admit I made foolish error, due no doubt to my expecting that particular reporter to have said something as hypocritical as I had imagined I heard him say.

                      I made a mistake: who hasn’t?

                      What YOU are up to, on the other hand, is something of a different order altogether. Your perverse insistence on continuing to repeat those spurious, discredited fantasies concocted by the Swedish Public Fantasist, Ms Ny, is not the result of a foolish eagerness to presume the worst—as my gaffe was. Whatever motivates you, and a few others on this otherwise excellent forum, to consciously, deliberately, flagrantly repeat this official black propaganda, it is not simple carelessness.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      And the names of the politicians are?

      • Morrissey 1.2.2

        “…the rapey one…”

        That obscene little slur says everything we need to know about your integrity.

        That moniker of “Squealer” has never seemed more apposite.

      • Yoza 1.2.3

        More ‘whistle-blowers’ have been prosecuted under the Obama regime in the US than at any other time in that nation’s history. Across the West, regardless of which band of crooks control the Treasury benches, there has been a determined effort to criminalise dissent.

        The New Zealand Labour party going after the democratically elected politician Ahmed Zaoui and overseeing the deeply racist paramilitary assault against Tuhoe during the raid on Ruatoki are a couple of domestic examples of the criminal behaviour of politicians. If a politician is in power and the departments over which they have oversight behave reprehensibly, then those politicians need to be held to account.

        • Te Reo Putake 1.2.3.1

          Except neither of your NZLP examples show criminal behaviour by politicians, Yosa. I suspect the same will be true of the Mother Jones article. No laws were broken, which is the real problem.

    • Bill 1.3

      Jeezuz fucking wept. Another thread trashed.

      • lprent 1.3.1

        I’d move them to open mike. However I am sitting in the sun at arrowtown. Doing that on a small tablet via cell isn’t a good idea.

        • Bill 1.3.1.1

          Yeah…last time I tried moving threads, hmm….not good results. I notice RL’s around 😉

      • Morrissey 1.3.2

        Bill, are you criticising ME for responding to the provocations of someone who used the insult “the rapey one” to attack the reputation of a political dissident? Elsewhere on this column, someone has posted a funny-face in an ill-advised attempt to derail the discussion: maybe you were thinking of him.

        Please clarify who exactly you are having a go at.

        [RL: Any further diversionary comments along this line, from anyone, will be moved to Open Mike. The topic is Snowden and whistle-blowers in general, not just Assagne and his peculiar case.]

  2. tricledrown 2

    Trp
    What about the murdery ones they have exposed.
    And the coveryuppy ones that are not bringing the murdery ones to justice.
    But locking up the truthy whistley blowy ones.
    The Hawaiikey liarkey one? will be pleased with your efforts.

  3. tricledrown 3

    Booze Allen the socold contractor is the CIA.
    They have long links with the National Party.
    No Doubt Key will be getting breifed on how to use every dirty trick in the book from Booze Allen contractors in Hawaiikey the very office Snowden was contracted to.

  4. Bill 4

    Question I have is that amnesty is granted to people who have done some wrong ie, something criminal. What crime has Snowdon committed?

    edit – yes, I hear accusations of treason and espionage … but they are just kinda thrown out there with no examples or arguments of why ‘spilling the beans’ on agencies involved in (among other things) espionage constitutes either of those things.

    • Morrissey 4.1

      What crime has Assange committed? What crime has Manning committed?

      • Bill 4.1.1

        yeah Morrissey…I don’t believe Assange should be forced into holing up in embassies and I reckon Manning should be rewarded by society instead of being punished. But since the post is about Snowdon…

        • Morrissey 4.1.1.1

          Snowdon is the “good” one, is he? You can’t see a connection between the three of them?

          The U.S. and U.K. governments, who want to silence all three of them, certainly do. And so does everybody else. How can you possibly talk about Snowdon, and not talk about Assange and Manning?

          • Bill 4.1.1.1.1

            Did you actually read my comment before replying?

            • Morrissey 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Yes, Bill, I appreciate your point. But I am concerned at this recent move to separate Snowden off as the “acceptable” whistle-blower, while deliberately ignoring Chelsea Manning (currently condemned to a life sentence) and Julian Assange (forced into taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy—the modern equivalent of what Paris and London USED to be).

              I am sure that Edward Snowden, who acknowledges the great example of both Manning and Assange, would be concerned to learn that attempts are being made to portray him as qualitatively different to his two fellow dissenters.

        • Yoza 4.1.1.2

          I thought it was about the criminalising of dissent, of which Snowdon is but one example.

      • Te Reo Putake 4.1.2

        Assange is accused of rape. Manning plead guilty to ten charges related to espionage and was found guilty of a further 17 offences.

        • Morrissey 4.1.2.1

          Squealer. Reliable as ever…..

        • Bill 4.1.2.2

          I know what Assange is accused of TRP. And I know Manning plead guilty to some stuff….not that pleading guilty and actually being guilty are necessarily the same thing.

          But I won’t be engaging with you if, as I suspect, this is about to be another tedious example of your pointless jousting style of discussion/debate. Just saying.

    • Te Reo Putake 4.2

      He’s charged with espionage and the theft of Government property, Bill. On the face of it, he’s guilty, though, as the article suggests, he’s more of a whistleblower than a spy and the crimes were committed in the public good.

      • Bill 4.2.1

        He’s been formally charged in his absence, or when you say ‘charged’ do you mean accused? Because if he’s been formally charged, then surely there exists some argument centered on specifics out there, no?

        • Te Reo Putake 4.2.1.1

          Charged in absentia, Bill. There’s probably a formal state department document on the net somewhere, but this is how the Guardian reported it last year:

          http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/22/us-charging-edward-snowden-with-espionage

          edit: More here: http://jurist.org/forum/2013/07/tung-yin-edward-snowden.php

          • Bill 4.2.1.1.1

            Those charges were within a matter of hours (maybe a day or three). And seeing as how the NSA still doesn’t know what info he has, it kind of stretches credibility a bit to view them as anything other than a ‘catch-all’ they were hoping to justify retrospectively…and done primarily to smooth his extradition from Hong Kong.

            My question remains. See, if they had specific shit to build a case on or justify their stance, it would be out here and in our faces. They have a need to win over public opinion. And since they failed in previous attempts at character assassination (the idiotic attempt to portray him as a nutter on the back of a couple of chat logs)…and since he, unlike Assange, has been smart enough to make sure the leaks and not he are front stage and center, and smart enough to make sure he had a more free space than an embassy in the country of a US ally to live in…

          • Bill 4.2.1.1.2

            missed your edit. From the second link

            Section 793(d) states in relevant part

            …the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation…

            Well, that obviously doesn’t count.

            And Section 798(a)(3) makes reference to a fine being imposed as possible punishment if classified info is passed to a third party.

            So….chase somebody around the world ….take the extra-ordinary move of grounding the Presidential plane of a foreign nation…arrest and harangue the partner of a journalist… plus whatever else is going on under the radar…because someone committed a fineable offence?!!!

            • Te Reo Putake 4.2.1.1.2.1

              I saw in a couple of places that it was a sealed indictment. I’m assuming that the Gov’t don’t want it known whether the charges could lead to death penalty verdicts, which would complicate the extradition process.

              Regarding the legality, I’m not sure if Snowden is actually trying to defend his actions on the grounds that were not criminal per se. More that his motivation minimised his criminal liability. Similar to the attitude of those who stopped the Boks game in Hamilton, I think. Yes, it was breaking the law, but it needed to be done.

  5. greywarbler 5

    I think the moderator would be justified to do the Siberia thing. Send someone/s to Russia to be with Snowden on an indeterminate stay, out of sight, out of contention. Just a passing thought of no importance.

  6. joe90 6

    The sourcing in this article has me doubting the veracity of the claims made but if only half of what’s being insinuated is true I doubt there’ll be much in the way of clemency for Mr Snowden.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/03/snowden-lied-about-china-contacts.html

    • Morrissey 6.1

      Joe, you could not have chosen a more Obama-friendly, biased, partisan source than the Democratic Party rag The Daily Beast to find a piece denouncing an official enemy. A couple of generations ago, confused people were citing Pravda in the same manner, doubting the veracity of its claims, but feeling bound to give them the benefit of the doubt, just as you have done here. The same thing went on in apartheid South Africa, Mao’s China, and in Stalinist regimes like Czechoslovakia.

      At least you have the gumption and the wit to acknowledge that the veracity of that attack piece is highly questionable; but I’m concerned that you are prepared to give it any credence with your “if only half of what’s been insinuated is true” comment. That’s a good example of the Soviet/Red China/Te Reo Putake theory that if you fling enough mud some of it will stick. I urge you to reconsider your (admittedly half-hearted) semi-endorsement of that crude piece of black politics masquerading as an article.

      By the way: for connoisseurs of hypocrisy and irony, here’s another hilarious piece from the Beast, with especially disgusting bits of hypocrisy and irony in bold type….

      With a touching, handwritten letter, President Obama paid tribute to the power of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on the speech’s 150th anniversary. In the note, posted online, Obama writes that he sometimes walks to Lincoln’s office late at night in the White House to look at the original copy. He ruminated on the lines “a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” and wrote: “Lincoln’s words give us confidence that whatever trials await us, this nation and the freedom we cherish can, and shall, prevail.”

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2013/11/19/obama-pens-gettysburg-tribute.html

      • Morrissey 6.2.1

        Thanks for that Joe. Poor old Slate magazine has never recovered from losing its only respected journalist. He’s gone on to better things…

  7. Morrissey 7

    Here’s Glenn Greenwald again. This time he’s schooling the bewildered former Bush aide Ari Fleischer (he’s the one who shakes his head toward the end of the clip) and Anderson Cooper (he’s the one trying really hard to look serious and intelligent)….

  8. One Anonymous Knucklehead 8

    Snowden performed a public service.

    That may be so – personally I think it’s true – but “If a secret piece of news is divulged by a spy before the time is ripe, he must be put to death together with the man to whom the secret was told.”

    Snowden chose his profession and cannot expect any other treatment, but it begs the question: on whom is the war being waged and to what end?

    • Polish Pride 8.1

      “If a secret piece of news is divulged by a spy before the time is ripe, he must be put to death together with the man to whom the secret was told.”

      The question you need to ask yourself is ….Is this the kind of world you want to live in..

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 8.1.1

        Clearly, since I quote something, I approve of its content without qualification. On Planet Polish Pride.

        • Polish Pride 8.1.1.1

          not saying you approve. It is a question everyone should ask themselves.

          • One Anonymous Knucklehead 8.1.1.1.1

            I want to live in a world where people don’t proffer inanities. Thanks: another desire unsatisfied. I think I’ll become a Stoic.

            • lprent 8.1.1.1.1.1

              You could even extend the idea from the Greek concept to the more modern one of

              a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.

              Just try to avoid the path of becoming a flagalent. Or a Vulcan (those 7 year mating rituals sound like a real itch)

            • Polish Pride 8.1.1.1.1.2

              Really and pray tell exactly what are you doing about it or is having a whinge on a blog enough for you.

              See the thing is knucklehead – its easy to misconstrue intent with the written word and when it happens there’s no need to be a dick about it. There’s enough negativity in the world as it is.

              • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                Enough negativity, but as yet no indication that you understand my original comment, let alone the question it poses. On whom is the war (Hence the quote from Tzun Tsu) being waged and to what end?

                Snowden got into bed with these crooks. Clearly, mechanised mass murder wasn’t enough to make him question his position, but wiretaps on American citizens? Beyond the pale!

  9. SPC 9

    Whistleblowers are an embarrassment to someone.

    The argument against government conspiracy theories was that if they were true we would know because they could not keep anything secret.

    Now we know that a number of American companies knew they were spying on us through them and they did not tell us either. The entire system – the security institutions, the legislature and the executive and all those corporates kept this massive illegal surveillance secret.

    Microsoft’s willing involvement the most credible – it explains why the anti-trust legal action against them in the late 90’s was killed off by Bush when he became President. They were so willing to be of service to the US government – they designed backdoors for the spooks to use.

    Now all the ruling classes seek is to make a show of trimming some of the excess to suggest they have listened to public opinion and then take that as consent to continue (with how much we do not know as well).

    And if what Snowden claims about how much there is yet to reveal – as if this is a beginners primer to the real depth of it all … .

    They will trace locations via cell phones, they have your digital DL or passport on record and they can use it to identify you when you are in public places, they can “bug” keyboard to screen interface.

    How do you communicate to organise political protest? This is regime security.

  10. CC 10

    On the topic of Edward Snowden, did Auckland and Christchurch International Airports have anyone waiting for him on the 3rd as part of the world-wide protest? (Refer to item on ‘The Liberal Agenda’ on TDB). He didn’t arrive at Wellington but had a pick-up waiting if he had done.

  11. Yoza 11

    Great interview Morrissey, Glenn Greenwald is brilliant in these kinds of interviews, especially when up against courtiers like Fleischer.

    Chomsky repeatedly makes the point that from the perspective of the state the real enemy is the general public. All ‘good’ politicians – whether Democrat, Republican, National or Labour – and senior public servants inherently understand the greatest threat to their positions of authority and status come from the aspirations of the general population. The ‘war on terror’ is a pretext the authorities cite to ratchet up their control over people generally. Snowdon’s great crime is warning the public of the reprehensible activity of unaccountable little despots. This is always a form of treason in the eyes of the state; one of its agents siding against them with the hated enemy – the general public!

    • Anne 11.1

      George Orwell’s “1984” Yoza?

      An interesting interview on Radio NZ recently:

      http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/2580163

      It covers a proposed “Amnesty” deal with Snowden provided he stops leaking official material. The NSA official spearheading the deal is one, Richard Leggett who, in due course, is in line to take over from the current NSA head… who is adamantly opposed to any deal with Edward Snowden. Oh dear, wheels within wheels.

      What the interview does suggest to me is that the USA Security Services are wetting their collective pants about what may be about to be revealed by Snowden.

      And talking of USA Security Services:

      Given John Key’s business background in the USA and the well known close ties between big business and the CIA… does it not seem reasonable to assume John Key has had “close ties” with the CIA since probably before he became NZ’s prime minister? Indeed I suspect they had a hand in getting him elected as PM in the first place. We know American money was involved in National’s 2008 victory (and probably 2011) and as a member of the Five Eyes network, it would be convenient to install someone who was essentially working for the USA rather than NZ.

      If so, there was just one hiccup. I bet they didn’t bank on Helen Clark getting a top position in the UN and likely to end up Secretary General when Ban Ki-Moon’s term expires.

      Tit for Tat Uncle Sam!

      • McFlock 11.1.1

        What the interview does suggest to me is that the USA Security Services are wetting their collective pants about what may be about to be revealed by Snowden.

        I suspect that by now they have a pretty good handle on how much and what data he compromised. While it’s possible that he has the file on who killed jfk, I suspect it’s more just concern at the aggregate quanitity of data that remains to be published. And he might actually have some folk within the hierarchy who agree with him, of course – as you say “wheels within wheels”.

      • RedbaronCV 11.1.2

        Which is one good reason for electoral donations to be public so foreign countries cannot buy our politicians and elections.

        • Anne 11.1.2.1

          Which is one good reason why National (and Key) will fight tooth and nail to stop full donation disclosures through political trusts and off-shore financial laundering institutions.

          Mr Snowden…. cooeee…. are you there.

  12. Philj 12

    Xox
    Imagine if Snowden
    exposed USA with
    Twin Towers revelations!

  13. Chooky 13

    “A panel appointed by President Obama issued a powerful indictment of the agency’s invasions of privacy and called for a major overhaul of its operations.”

    Question is: ….if it is not Obama or the CIA in charge of the NSA….who and what is?…is the USA even in charge of the NSA?

    …and why have they been able to get away with doing what they have been doing for so long and so comprehensively?

    …maybe Snowden was directed by the CIA to spring the NSA?

    ( more on this please….)

    • Anne 13.1

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

      I think it originally came under the auspices of the US Military – the US Navy to be precise. I may have that wrong.

      Unlike the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, the NSA has no authority to conduct human-source intelligence gathering, although it is often portrayed so in popular culture. Instead, the NSA is entrusted with coordination and deconfliction of SIGINT components of otherwise non-SIGINT government organizations, which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities without the approval of the NSA via the Defense Secretary

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 13.2

      Bankers who knew about the impending GFC felt powerless to stop selling dodgy credit derivatives because they knew they’d simply be replaced. Bank CEOs rarely understand the complex financial instruments their employees create (cf. Eisman’s “Could you explain that again in English?”).

      Our forestry companies kill their employees.

      As with the NSA, what’s missing is genuine regulation and oversight.

  14. Chooky 14

    thanks Anne…yes that is what it says…but (maybe my spy novel imagination is running away with me) what is the NSA really?….who really controls it? ( at the moment it seems as if it has got away on the USA govt)

    • Anne 14.1

      …it seems as if it has got away on the USA govt

      That is how it looks to me too. That is why I am sure there are former colleagues of Snowden (I use the word colleagues in the loosest of terms) who will agree with him. It seems to me that the NSA has devolved into a huge powerful agency that has largely taken control of it’s own destiny.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 14.1.1

        I think you have too much faith in people’s ability to “control”. If the NSA is plotting its own course, it is almost certainly heading straight for some rocks.

  15. Chooky 15

    “Snowden performed a public service”…..I would agree Snowden has done us all a huge public service! ….in fact he is a HERO imo.

    In a December 2013 letter to the people of Brazil, Snowden wrote:

    “There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying … and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever … These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”[145]

    “I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”[299]

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

    • Huginn 15.1

      Thanks Chooky. It definitely bears repeating that:

      ‘These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.’

      The problem that I have is that this is coming at a time of an angry, resentful, withdrawal from political engagement. In uncovering this massive breach of trust by a single agency, Snowden’s revelations are pointing to a much greater erosion of trust between the political class and the general population. They feel that they need to spy on us because they don’t trust us; they don’t trust us because we’ve stopped talking to them; we’ve stopped talking to them because they don’t listen, and we’re angry about that; they’re spying on us because we’re not talking – but they know we’re angry . . . and so on.

      I also can’t help wondering whether this withdrawal from political engagement is related to the way that real power is being shifted outside of the political process eg through the Reserve Bank Act, the TPPA, the re-structuring of local body politics and so on. These cack-handed implementations of the thoughts of James M Buchanan that are so dear to the Neo-Liberal Project.

      When the assumption is that the world is a unified, self-equilibrating structure subject to natural laws, then exceptions will be seen as transgressive aberrations. Which is possibly why there was so little sceptical inquiry into an overblown security agency that seemed to think that it was ok to spy on the entire population of the world, no doubt to positively identify a growing list of transgressive aberrations.

      There’s no room in this picture of the world for the notion of ‘trust’ or the idea that trust in politics has to be built and maintained with people who think differently.

      • Anne 15.1.1

        this is coming at a time of an angry, resentful, withdrawal from political engagement. In uncovering this massive breach of trust by a single agency, Snowden’s revelations are pointing to a much greater erosion of trust between the political class and the general population.

        And that I suspect is precisely why he did it.

        I also can’t help wondering whether this withdrawal from political engagement is related to the way that real power is being shifted outside of the political process eg through the Reserve Bank Act, the TPPA, the re-structuring of local body politics and so on.

        Insightful comments Huggin.

        And I’m going to repeat it again:

        These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.

        And there you have the whole sordid scene in a nutshell.

  16. Jan 16

    As far as I am aware not one of these ‘whistleblowers’ stood to gain personally from their actions, and indeed have all undergone a considerable amount of personal suffering. They have all, as far as I can see, acted for what they believe is the public good, and their actions should surely be perceived as civil disobedience which, Thoreau would argue, we have a moral obligation to carry out:
    “it is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right… Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice”
    or John Stuart Mill’s
    “‎Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

  17. BEATINGTHEBOKS 17

    Governments have always monitored their populations, spies have always been around, the only thing that has changed is now they can do it very easily, thanks to the technological devices that are now indispensible to us. All computers and phones can be used to eavesdrop , they can even see you through your phone camera ( and not just governments).

    It is unrealistic to expect governments to trust you just because you think you are a good person. The reality is a percentage of the population are literally plotting to kill you. The world is not a nice place, freedoms are hard won, thank God NZ is in the middle of nowhere and the only commodity we have worth a damn is grass.

    What about the right of governments to keep the people who voted for them safe, surely that is an idea worth considering.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 17.1

      Governments don’t have rights; they aren’t people. The people who comprise them have the same rights as you and I. This always proves difficult for authoritarians to understand. Here, wear this uniform.

    • Murray Olsen 17.2

      “The reality is a percentage of the population are literally plotting to kill you.”

      I think you should get some help with that paranoia. I find it quite hard to believe that any percentage of the Kiwi population is literally plotting to kill me. I find it even harder to believe that our paying spooks to break our laws and send information to the seppos will help defend me from your imaginary plotters.

      • BEATINGTHEBOKS 17.2.1

        To clarify, Reality is, it is unlikely people are plotting to kill you , you are not of strategic importance, more on this later ( you’d still be dead in a random attack though). An Orwelian type state is not ever going to be a desirable outcome, but the means now exists for it to be accomplished very easily. Nations like Nth Korea are a sad example of what can happen when a nation considers ideology more important than the real needs of its people, state surveillance there is extreme. The consequences of dissent are out of proportion. Nth Korea is no example to be proud of. It is what happens at the extreme ends of the right and left political spectrum. Some of the brainwashed population are happy but most are living in fear and paralysed as to what to do.

        NZ is an extremely safe place to live but it was only 60 years ago when a naked and powerful aggressor threatened our nation, Japan. Two nuclear bombs needed to be dropped to stop their madness and they are a relatively small nation. They got close to NZ and if we had lots of oil we would have been a serious strategic objective of theirs. We were saved by the US interestingly enough. There are other nations out there who would consider Pacific expansion when it suits them, China has a track record here with Tibet and ongoing territorial disputes with neighbouring islands. What if they wanted a nice big farm for fresh milk and lamb ( I know they are trying to buy up farms etc ). Possibly paranoia but it would be unwise in the extreme to bury our head in the sand. Keep an open mind. Wars always have and always will be fought over resources, Iraq Kuwait and Afghanistsan are examples, freedom or democracy were never a concern.

        On a domestic note what do you think Iti and co where doing performing stunts with vehicles and firearms. Playing a grown up version of cops and robbers perhaps, or were they planning serious mischief. Whatever they were up to was not good. I doubt civilians were targets but there were definitely targets, why else would a grown man waste hours playing in the bush, bang bang your’re dead. No I have no proof, but in my opinion something smells fishy here. Note the police raids killed no one, and the cops knew they had weapons ( this would cause a normal individual to panic/ trigger finger), they had been watching films of them pointing guns around for months, that moderates accustions of fascism and paranoia.

        You will never know the danger you were in or how safe you are, thanks to a brave few. It will be interesting to see what our next pm does around this issue, my bet they will stick to the status quo once they get to see the truth.

        • Colonial Viper 17.2.1.1

          What snivelling deference. Fear card played in order to bolster totalitarian surveillance state. Operation 8 raids are an example of a fuck up, not an example to follow. Couldnt even make simple firearms charges stick.

          Those with the most power in the state apparatus need to be the ones most accountable.

          Seen fuck all of that, so far.

          When the state knows every single thing about our activities all the time, but we know nothing of their activities any of the time, the power assymetry willwill be maximal and mean that democracy is over and the pooch will be well and truly screwed.

          We will continue to play a responsible role in empire, but let’s not kid ourselves that its an empire in decline.

  18. Jan 18

    So, BEATINGTHEBOCKS, are you saying that it’s alright because it’s been done before? Wow, that’s some code to live by.
    And as far as I can see, it’s mostly been less about protecting their ‘voters’ (and what about the people who didn’t vote for them – are they fair game?) than protecting their own agendas. What do you suppose the ordinary USA citizens would think if they knew what was being done in their name and to what degree of danger they are consequently being exposed ?

    • BEATINGTHEBOKS 18.1

      NO, In reply it is not okay that every government in the world has a history of spying on its population. My assertion is, the technology exists now to make it very easy to spy ( a simple mechainical reality), and if govts had the means we have now they would have used them.

      To answer the next part; in a democratic country the rights of the private citizen to dissent should always be protected, unless they involve discussions about concealed explosives etc. Now using that word explosives, could unfortunately trigger an automatic response to have the both of us investigated. Sorry, and I hope you have nothing to hide. That is the real problem or strength with mindless technology, it doesn’t care who you are, or who you voted for, it just records the situation.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 18.1.1

        I realise that as an authoritarian you may find some of these concepts difficult, but here goes.

        In a democracy private citizens are the government. The government has no “rights” (because it isn’t a person) to spy on us (otherwise it would just be called “looking”). The enforcement arm of the judiciary, they can apply for a warrant to spy on us under limited circumstances.

        Just trying to bring you up to speed.

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