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Photos by: joanneleon. August 15, 2013.


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Update: Hat tip to OLinda in the comments.  Well, when I saw that Independent article late last night, I wondered if Snowden had begun to give some documents to other media outlets, and I also wondered if Miranda had been forced to cough up encryption passwords in addition to email and social media passwords.  The UK govt. claims that they have been going through the documents to see if Miranda was involved in terrorism or if there is a national security risk. If they are telling the truth about reading the docs, then they've broken the encryption or they have passwords. Or, someone else has given them access to some or all of the documents, (like the UK or US government), trying to undermine Snowden and muck up the works.  

Greenwald is also addresses the claim in the Independent that the Guardian might have cut a deal with the government.  He claims that he personally did not.  

When you've got the most powerful government in the world and its allies singularly focused on something, things are going to happen.  If the Independent article (which was an odd article to begin with -- why focus on a listening station in the one place in the world that nobody would object to, the Middle East?) is a result of maneuvering by the US/UK government, then perhaps they've got their act together, presumably, and have a plan to sabotage the Snowden Files project by mucking up the works, diluting the Guardian and WaPo domination of the subject, and leaking things about themselves to influence public opinion or maybe to confuse people.  Just my guess.

Snowden: UK government now leaking documents about itself
The NSA whistleblower says: 'I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent.'

The Independent this morning published an article - which it repeatedly claims comes from "documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden" - disclosing that "Britain runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies." This is the first time the Independent has published any revelations purportedly from the NSA documents, and it's the type of disclosure which journalists working directly with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have thus far avoided.

That leads to the obvious question: who is the source for this disclosure? Snowden this morning said he wants it to be clear that he was not the source for the Independent, stating:

I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent. The journalists I have worked with have, at my request, been judicious and careful in ensuring that the only things disclosed are what the public should know but that does not place any person in danger. People at all levels of society up to and including the President of the United States have recognized the contribution of these careful disclosures to a necessary public debate, and we are proud of this record.

"It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post's disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others. The UK government should explain the reasoning behind this decision to disclose information that, were it released by a private citizen, they would argue is a criminal act."


One other matter about the Independent article: it strongly suggests that there is some agreement in place to restrict the Guardian's ongoing reporting about the NSA documents. Speaking for myself, let me make one thing clear: I'm not aware of, nor subject to, any agreement that imposes any limitations of any kind on the reporting that I am doing on these documents. I would never agree to any such limitations. As I've made repeatedly clear, bullying tactics of the kind we saw this week will not deter my reporting or the reporting of those I'm working with in any way. I'm working hard on numerous new and significant NSA stories and intend to publish them the moment they are ready.

Another big update: Journalist, Joshua Foust is being accused of working for the government as a contractor.  If this is true, I hope this is just the first of many outtings.  This is hard to excerpt, and it involves articles and Twitter messages, so you'll need to read it to get the gist.  Foust has denied it and has changed his LinkedIn profile.
Journalist Joshua Foust Outed As Government Contractor

If the ethics of journalists are to be examined as much as possible, it is only through self-policing.  The long-running issue of conflict of interest, especially when writing about topics where one has prior work experience, is usually settled by disclosing the work you have done, and hoping that, through that acknowledgement, one's credibility will remain intact.  However, as is evidenced today by Twitter's outing of national security journalist Joshua Foust as a contractor for the federal government, things can get pretty nasty when someone accuses another of being unethical.

UPDATE: Guardian has a new Snowden Files article by Ewen MacAskill.  Are the tech companies are going to be scrambling to deny again?
NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies
• Top-secret files show first evidence of financial relationship
• Prism companies include Google and Yahoo, says NSA
• Costs were incurred after 2011 Fisa court ruling

The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency's activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.

The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, incurred the costs to meet new certification demands in the wake of the ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court.

The October 2011 judgment, which was declassified on Wednesday by the Obama administration, found that the NSA's inability to separate purely domestic communications from foreign traffic violated the fourth amendment.
An NSA newsletter entry, marked top secret and dated December 2012, discloses the huge costs this entailed. "Last year's problems resulted in multiple extensions to the certifications' expiration dates which cost millions of dollars for Prism providers to implement each successive extension – costs covered by Special Source Operations," it says.

Britain is using a national security as a reason for examining the materials. No word on the encryption.

LONDON (AP) — Britain has launched a criminal investigation into Edward Snowden's leak of classified material to the Guardian newspaper and is sifting through documents it seized from the partner of one of the paper's journalists, a government lawyer said Thursday.

The revelation by lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw came at London's High Court, where lawyers for David Miranda — the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald — unsuccessfully sued to stop police from combing through digital material seized from him Sunday at Heathrow Airport.
Greenwald had said earlier this week that Miranda's documents were "protected by very advanced and heavy forms of encryption" — software that scrambles data so it's unreadable by anyone without a digital key.

Laidlaw, the government attorney, didn't explicitly contradict that, but his comment Thursday that police were already "partway through" the material suggested that British authorities had managed to read the files regardless.

Bradley Manning: "Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society"

Alexa O'Brien, a fantastic independent journalist, is not only good at writing and court reporting, she's a great interviewer too.  DemocracyNow gives her a chance to show it here.
"He Wanted To Help America": Manning Attorney in First Extended Interview After 35-Year Sentence

Free Chelsea Manning.  Manning asked that she be referred to by this name and with the female pronoun as she begins this new phase of her life.
"I Am Chelsea Manning. I Am a Female": Bradley Manning Announces Gender Transition

These points cannot be made often enough, in my view.  Juan Cole.
Bradley Manning in a World of Cheneys, Hadithas, and NSA Domestic Surveillance

The sentence given Manning was much harsher than that he would have received in democratic countries. And the government took us another step down the road to authoritarian government by convicting him on espionage charges, confusing leaking with spying for the enemy. If the government could have, it would have convicted him of aiding al-Qaeda (yes), but the judge laughed that one out of court.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney and his staff, who tried as hard as they could to out Valerie Plame as a CIA field officer working against Iran’s nuclear program, in which they indirectly succeeded, went mostly unpunished. Plame’s dummy company and everyone ever associated with it were burned.

And of course almost none of the US war crimes in Iraq or Afghanistan have ever been punished. Unlike Mylai, Americans mostly never heard of Haditha.

And while Manning is jailed for letting us read the ambassadors’ email, the NSA is allowed to spy on us and to read ours and to lie to the FISA judges about it with impunity.

Globe and Mail in Canada, which might also have a domestic surveillance problem.  Canada is part of the "Five Eyes" spying cooperative with the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Watchdog says spy agency might have illegally eavesdropped on Canadians

Critics are urging the Harper government to lift the veil that shrouds Canada’s electronic eavesdropping agency in the wake of an overseer’s report that suggests ordinary Canadians may have been illegally spied on.

In his final report to Parliament before he leaves his post, commissioner Robert Decary says some of the spying activities at Communications Security Establishment Canada may have affected Canadians in the last year.

However, thanks to poor record-keeping, Decary — a retired judge who has been the agency’s independent watchdog since 2010 — said he can’t be sure.

“A number of CSEC records relating to these activities were unclear or incomplete,” said the report, tabled Wednesday.

“After in-depth and lengthy review, I was unable to reach a definitive conclusion about compliance or non-compliance with the law.”

CSEC says, however, that it did not break the rules.

This is just absurd, a slap in the face, appointing Cass Sunstein to the NSA review panel.  Marcy Wheeler talks about it on the Real News.
Advocate of Government Surveillance Promoted to Review NSA Oversight

This Sunstein appointment caused quite a fuss on Twitter last night and even hatched its own hashtag, #SunsteinAcronyms, which was pretty funny. But the fact of the matter is, most people don't seem to have the first clue who he is or what he's about. That will change soon, since he's Samantha Power's husband and Obama's most likely pick for SCOTUS. Geez, that hearing's going to be interesting.  But if you haven't read the Greenwald piece about Sunstein's infamous white paper (as he was advising Obama in his run for president, no less) then put it on your to do list today.  And after you read it, come back and tell us about any parallels you might see with what you've experienced as a blogger and social media user and activist, especially if you tend to be critical of this administration.
Advocate of Secret Infiltration, Cass Sunstein, on Obama’s “Committee To Make Us Trust the Dragnet”

ABC reports that, along with former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell, former Homeland Security Czar Richard Clarke, and former Obama special assistant for economic policy Peter Swire, the White House (or James Clapper — who knows at this point) has picked Cass Sunstein for its Review Committee on NSA programs.

Charles Pierce at Esquire, a favorite of mine, has really been disappointing lately.  He buys the "conspiracy theory" justification for Sunstein's infiltrator, paid troll ideas.  As soon as he hears the word "conspiracy" he jumps right to 9/11 truthers and has absolutely no imagination about the other things that could be considered conspiracy theory by the shill contractors or the authoritarians or the intel community.  This is very short-sighted and I'm surprised that he himself has not been trolled by them.  In any case, the good news is that he reads Emptywheel.  This is a curious post though.  He starts out by saying that if Emptywheel is not impressed by the Sunstein appointment then he is not impressed either.  But then he goes on to try to undermine her main argument about why Sunstein is a horrific choice for this particular panel, and he does it with the all too familiar cheap shot at Glenn Greenwald's 2010 post about Sunstein's infamous white paper.  

What's up, Charles? Was this whole thing sarcasm?  Well, this wouldn't be the first time I've been surprised by a journalist's actions since the Snowden Affair began.  WTF?  Maybe he should hang around dkos to see how often critics are accused of being conspiracy theorists.  Or maybe he should follow some of the administration's most respected investigative journalist bloggers and watch how they are trolled. Someone like... Emptywheel, for instance, someone whose writings he seems to follow and seek out for advice and information.  On Twitter, for instance, as she mentions in the video above. I get the sense that it was a cheap shot attempt to undermine both Emptywheel and Greenwald, upon a third reading. 'Oh that's just overripe old news that only pertains to crazyass truthers, meh, this panel is just a bunch of typical government types trying to preserve the status quo, meh, predictable, nothing to see here'.  That's what it sounds like to me.  I'd be happy to find out that's not what his intention was.  I'll leave it at that.  


Greenwald's assessment of the Sunstein paper is a little overripe -- Paid government spooks hanging out in 9/11 Truther chat rooms doesn't rise to a new COINTELPRO. I don't even find it that creepy. In fact, it seems like a dreadful waste of money.  -- but it's a fair enough assessment of Sunstein's ideas to make you realize that the new "oversight" panel's mandate is not entirely what the administration would like to have us believe it is. It sounds like an elaborate effort to make the status quo more palatable, nothing more than that.

Seems a good time to watch this documentary again, made by Laura Poitras and published by the New York Times a year ago this week.  The interview is with William Binney, who disclosed information about the NSA.  The FBI burst into his house with guns, but he walks free, since he did it while Bush was president.  He's been vindicated now because of Snowden, whom he doesn't defend and has condemned, somewhat, though he has enjoyed the fact that finally he is being listened to by the media and the country.  

Many officials and apologists argue that Snowden should have used the proper channels.  Binney makes it very clear that he and two other NSA whistleblowers, Thomas Drake and Kirk Wiebe, had tried to blow the whistle while staying within the government for years and that it had no effect on the program and in fact things just kept getting worse.  

Another reason for watching this short documentary again is that it's another sample of Laura Poitras' work.  I find that she has a signature style and it's really growing on me.  I hope that we get to see more of her work soon.  

And yet one more reason to rewatch is to consider that this was released a year ago by one of the most well known media organizations in the world and yet, I hardly remember it even making any waves. So it's another reminder of just how effective the Guardian, Greenwald, Poitras, Gellman and Snowden have been. A big reason for that is that he had documents. Hard evidence. He's also a more interesting character than the others, perhaps and his story had more drama.  I agree that this should not be the focus but it's impossible to deny that it is still of interest and has played a big role. And we're not caught up in the frenzy of a presidential campaign. But I think it's hard to deny that the principals in the Snowden Affair have been masterful at their work.  I really hope that the seizure of the material at Heathrow and the new investigation in the UK is more a cover up for their unlawful detention of Miranda and a maneuvering to keep the material they seized illegally than a new attempt to stop this Snowden/NSA by throwing people in jail.

NSA Whistle-Blower Tells All - Op-Docs: The Program

Jeff Jarvis, journalist and CUNY professor, in the Comment is Free section of the Guardian.
As a Democrat, I am disgusted with President Obama
I voted for Obama reluctantly, but never did I imagine he would become another Richa
rd Nixon

Never did I imagine that you would instead become another Richard Nixon: imperial, secretive, vindictive, untrustworthy, inexplicable.

I do care about security. I survived the attack on the World Trade Center and I believe 9/11 was allowed to occur through a failure of intelligence. I thank TSA agents for searching me: applause for security theater. I defend government's necessary secrets. By the way, I also defend Obamacare. I should be an easy ally, but your exercise of power appalls me. When I wrote about your credibility deficit recently, I was shocked that among the commenters at that great international voice of liberalism, the Guardian, next to no one defended you. Even on our side of the political divide, I am far from alone in urgently wondering what you are doing.

As a journalist, I am frightened by your vengeful attacks on whistleblowers – Manning, Assange, Snowden, and the rest – and the impact in turn on journalism and its tasks of keeping a watchful eye on you and helping to assure an informed citizenry.

As a citizen, I am disgusted by the systematic evasion of oversight you have supported through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts; by the use of ports as lawless zones where your agents can harass anyone; by your failure on your promise to close Guantánamo, and this list could go on.


NEW YORK (AP) — Trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange halted for three hours Thursday, renewing concerns about the pitfalls of computer-driven trading.

The outage disrupted what had otherwise been a quiet summer day on Wall Street, and sent brokers and traders scurrying to figure out what went wrong. It was the latest in a growing list of snafus to hit financial markets, though hardly as stunning as the "flash crash" that set off a sudden stock-market plunge in May 2010.

"The market has gotten quite complex and needlessly so," said Sal Arnuk, co-founder of the brokerage Themis Trading.

This one photo from 1998 includes everybody involved in the Fed chair decision

Take a look at the photo above. President Bill Clinton was talking about the economy in the White House Rose Garden in 1998. Just behind him, his face partly blocked, is Larry Summers, then the deputy Treasury secretary. The woman on the right is Janet Yellen, who was the White House chief economist. On the front right edge of the photo are Jack Lew and Gene Sperling, who are key advisers helping the current president decide whether to appoint Summers, Yellen or a dark horse candidate to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. (Confession: The headline above isn’t completely accurate, but it  would be if then-assistant Treasury secretary Tim Geithner had shown up for the photo-op, along with then-Illinois state senator Barack Obama. The deftly altered version below gets closer.)

What’s the point of this, other than that men wore shockingly wide lapels in the late 1990s? There are two points: The Democratic economic policy elite has been remarkably stable over the last two decades, involving a surprisingly small number of people. And the decision over who will be the world’s most powerful economic policymaker this time next year is being made among people who have long histories together. It is the subtext of this excellent story by Zach Goldfarb on the behind-the-scenes wrangling over the Fed appointment.

Here's a story from the Guardian.  I'll also mention that Juan Cole wrote a post about the chemical weapons in Syria too where he compares Saddam's use of chemical weapons to this, and says it was used to terrify civilians.  He does mention that it's not certain that Assad was the perpetrator, but just barely.  I think that given the well known fact that Syria is a proxy war and the horrendous history of the hired jihadists painted as the Free Syrian Army, and their use of lies and propaganda, that was an incredibly irresponsible thing for Juan Cole to do.  I had just begun to regain a bit of trust in him after his ridiculously zealous support of "intervention" in Libya.  Yeah, I should have trusted my instincts about him and quit reading him for good.  I'm not going to link his ridiculously skewed post here.
Syria crisis: Russia calls for UN inquiry into chemical weapons claim
US and Russian foreign ministers discuss situation, as Ban Ki-moon renews calls for UN inspectors to investigate

Earlier, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, renewed his push for Syria to allow UN inspectors immediate access to the site of the alleged attack.

"I can think of no good reason why any party, either government or opposition forces – would decline this opportunity to get to the truth of the matter," he said at a diplomatic forum in Seoul.

Syria's government has offered no public response to UN calls for its team to inspect the site of the attack, in which opponents of Assad said 500 to more than 1,000 people died.

The White House has described itself as "appalled" by the reports of the death toll and the US held a flurry of diplomatic talks on Thursday to discuss possible action against the Syrian government.

Though it stressed it had still not yet seen conclusive proof of chemical weapon use, the US state department revealed that Kerry had held seven calls with his foreign counterparts on Thursday, and had taken part in a national security council meeting at the White House.


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