that went up some 8 hours ago at the Washington Post website - in fact I am surprised not to see something at the top of the Rec list.
The piece is titled Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished and it is the result of the Post reporter interviewing Snowden in Moscow.
The "tease" quote - on Twitter and elsewhere - has been this line: For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished. Let's put those wordsin a slightly more complete context:
“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he said. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”This is a must-read. It gives a more complete portrayal of Snowden by allowing him to speak for himself. It also gives the lie to some of what the Intelligence community has said about him.
“All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed,” he said. “That is a milestone we left a long time ago. Right now, all we are looking at are stretch goals.”
Please keep reading.
Continuing the thought started above the squiggle, consider these words:
It is commonly said of Snowden that he broke an oath of secrecy, a turn of phrase that captures a sense of betrayal. NSA Director Keith B. Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., among many others, have used that formula.Boy, does that jump off the page for me. The rationalizations we heard from the Bush administration when James Risen finally was able to get the >New York Times to print his exposure of the NSA's use of a secret room in San Francisco to tap into the internet was similar to what we now hear when Snowden is accused, and in no way provided an appropriate Constitutional justification - how an agency or an administration sees its mission does NOT give it the right to violate the Constitution either to restrictions on government actions nor to violation of rights of persons - and constitutional rights says "persons" not citizens, which means if the Supreme Court case describing corporations as persons can be used to allow them to participate in the political process, it should similarly protect their rights under the 4th Amendment.
In his interview with The Post, Snowden noted matter-of-factly that Standard Form 312, the classified-information nondisclosure agreement, is a civil contract. He signed it, but he pledged his fealty elsewhere.
“The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy,” he said. “That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that Keith Alexander and James Clapper did not.”
There is a section of the interview in which Snowden asserts that he attempted to inform superiors of the nature of what he had discovered, that some were shocked. The NSA claims there is no record of such an effort by Snowden. But then, he did not write a memo, he talked with people.
Here's Snowden's side:
Beginning in October 2012, he said, he brought his misgivings to two superiors in the NSA’s Technology Directorate and two more in the NSA Threat Operations Center’s regional base in Hawaii. For each of them, and 15 other co-workers, Snowden said he opened a data query tool called BOUNDLESSINFORMANT, which used color-coded “heat maps” to depict the volume of data ingested by NSA taps.And from the NSA we get:
His colleagues were often “astonished to learn we are collecting more in the United States on Americans than we are on Russians in Russia,” he said. Many of them were troubled, he said, and several said they did not want to know any more.
“I asked these people, ‘What do you think the public would do if this was on the front page?’ ” he said. He noted that critics have accused him of bypassing internal channels of dissent. “How is that not reporting it? How is that not raising it?” he said.
Asked about those conversations, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines sent a prepared statement to The Post: “After extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden’s contention that he brought these matters to anyone’s attention.”Of course, it depends upon what Vines means by "evidence." Also, note it is phrased in terms of "former NSA supervisors and co-workers" which I read to mean NSA coworkers. But what if all the people to whom Snowden spoke were, like him, contractors at the NSA installation. Does that statement categorically contradict what Snowden is saying. The statement did NOT say "at the facility where he was working at the time." I am actually surprised that Gellman does not make that point.
Further, it does not say that the individuals denied the conversations took place, only that there is no "evidence" to support the contention.
Let me also point out this:
In the Moscow interview, Snowden said, “What the government wants is something they never had before,” adding: “They want total awareness. The question is, is that something we should be allowing?”Unfortunately, not many Americans are aware of how important the use of general warrants was in enraging many in the United States. And yet, the NSA is not the only example of this principle - the "stop and frisk" approach used in New York City in the Bloomberg administration is a form of the same principle, and clearly in violation of the original intent and clear language of the Fourth Amendment, which should force someone like Scalia to oppose it, were he intellectually honest and consistent.
Snowden likened the NSA’s powers to those used by British authorities in Colonial America, when “general warrants” allowed for anyone to be searched. The FISA court, Snowden said, “is authorizing general warrants for the entire country’s metadata.”
“The last time that happened, we fought a war over it,” he said.
One last snip before some final thoughts of my own:
Privacy, as Snowden sees it, is a universal right, applicable to American and foreign surveillance alike.What immediately comes to mind on this is the idea that in the one-sided procedure of the grand jury a prosecutor has all the power and can indict a ham sandwich, as the saying goes. That the FISA Court has operated without an adversarial process tends to give the government too much power: our legal system depends upon vigorous contention by advocates from both sides for justice to be achieved. Skew that process and whatever results by definition is not just, no matter how much the government says it is necessary.
“I don’t care whether you’re the pope or Osama bin Laden,” he said. “As long as there’s an individualized, articulable, probable cause for targeting these people as legitimate foreign intelligence, that’s fine. I don’t think it’s imposing a ridiculous burden by asking for probable cause. Because, you have to understand, when you have access to the tools the NSA does, probable cause falls out of trees.”
Here I again quote a Latin phrase I have found applicable in these discussion, a text usually attributed to Juvenal, although there is some doubt as to its precise origin: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?. "Who watches the watchers?"
We have intelligence communities that are tasked with the responsibility, but under the current leadership - Mike Rogers in the House and Dianne Feinstein in the Senate - there is strong evidence that they have chosen NOT to inquire (and in the article Snowden makes clear his low opinion of the two Committee chairs). At least in the Senate we have had the likes of Ron Wyden attempting within the strict rules under which he operates as a member of the Committee to inform his colleagues and the American public that there was something very wrong in what was happening.
Snowden no longer has control of his documents - the journalists to whom they were turned over, Gellman as well as Glenn Greenwald, do. Snowden no longer has any of the information on his computers, at least according to what he showed Gellman on his laptop.
Snowden is in Moscow because the US Government prevented him from going to a Latin American safe have.
This is a must read article.
It gives a much more complete portrayal of Snowden and his motives.
I will end by letting Snowden have the last word, as he does in the article as well:
“There is no evidence at all for the claim that I have loyalties to Russia or China or any country other than the United States,” he said. “I have no relationship with the Russian government. I have not entered into any agreements with them.”Read the article.
“If I defected at all,” Snowden said, “I defected from the government to the public.”