Gov't Officials Leak Classified Info To Journalists To Discredit Snowden For Leaking Classified Info To Journalists

from the we're-from-the-government,-we-don't-do-irony dept

We already mentioned the bizarre NY Times article from over the weekend that described how Snowden apparently used some basic web crawler software to collect the documents he later leaked. As we noted, the basic story itself is unremarkable, other than for how the NY Times tried to turn "man uses basic tool" into a story. However, there is a really good quote from Snowden himself (via his lawyers) in response to the article. Since most of it involves senior government officials telling NYT reporters about security problems at some NSA facilities, Snowden was quick to point out the irony:
"It's ironic that officials are giving classified information to journalists in an effort to discredit me for giving classified information to journalists. The difference is that I did so to inform the public about the government's actions, and they're doing so to misinform the public about mine."
Kinda puts it all in perspective, doesn't it?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 10th, 2014 @ 9:14am

    Is it a surprise at all? The bright side is that in this age of communications these shady tactics cannot be hidden from the people as easy as they would like.

     

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  2.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 10th, 2014 @ 10:14am

    And this will help so very much with the growing understanding that there are different rules and laws depending on who you are, in the country where all men are created equal.

    Not only are they using V for Vendetta and 1984 as a playbook, it seems they also read Animal Farm.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 10:15am

    Be very suspicious every time NYT publishes an article that gives gives masked praise to the NSA or makes them look positive and Snowden & Co bad.

    NYT has been doing it quite a lot lately, which is disappointing, before for a while I thought they finally "got it" and they would start being more like TheGuardian and WP and others in regards to these posts, but they still seem to mainly keep the side of the government. Shame. It's almost like it's not the same paper that protected Daniel Ellsberg several decades ago.

     

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  4.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Feb 10th, 2014 @ 10:19am

    Re:

    Strike almost and you nailed it... it's not.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 10:24am

    As usual...

    They set them up for him and he knocks them down.

     

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  6.  
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    Dan Mitchell (profile), Feb 10th, 2014 @ 10:33am

    OK, I'm seeing a lot of this criticism from the geek quadrant. Yes, yes, you're all much savvier than the normals, and certainly than the journalists who aren't TOTALLY ON BOARD, all the time, with everything you believe.

    But the story was a fairly big deal -- it showed just how incredibly mismanaged the NSA is, especially with its own security. That was the point of the story. How it makes Snowden look bad and the NSA look good has so far gone unexplained, because it simply isn't true. But it's easier to just say that the story does that than to actually, you know, demonstrate it.

     

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  7.  
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    Trails (profile), Feb 10th, 2014 @ 10:36am

    Re:

    But the story was a fairly big deal

    No it's not. The "tools" used to "scrape" "websites" are actually very common. I have them on servers I admin. AFAIK they're included stock with most linux distros.

    It's like saying "ZOMG he used teh NOTEPADSES!!!!"

     

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  8.  
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    krolork (profile), Feb 10th, 2014 @ 10:47am

    We need a revolution.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 10:56am

    Re:

    The NYT is just pissy because they are not the ones breaking the big news. They feel there is something wrong with any big story that didn't come from them. Just put it down to arrogance and pity them.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 11:00am

    Re:

    How is it a big deal?

    Part of an admins job is to find and move files around, make backups, etc. Without the tools they describe, he can not do his job. Period. So he automated part of the process. Guess what? That too is part of his job. Sys admins often times write scripts to handle big maintenance tasks that would take way too long to handle in a manual manner and need to be run frequently. That's not surprising. The only thing he did (which isn't new) is take content home on thumb drives the release it to the journalists. That's it. This is more a government official speaking to the NYT about stuff that isn't surprising at all and using loaded terms that they then parrot in the article to make it sound sensationalistic. The quotes are meant actually meant to diffuse backlash for using those loaded terms by effectively saying "these are their words not ours." It's a fluff piece and that is why they are getting mocked by those who see it for what it is.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re:

    I think the 'big deal' was that he was able to get so much with such simple tools.

     

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  12.  
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    ECA (profile), Feb 10th, 2014 @ 11:04am

    I wonder.

    Secret agencies want to get RID of secret data...
    ALL that OLd stuff just takes up Room, and its a PAIN to control distribution, and regulate WHO uses it..

    You cant consider that the USA is the smartest group of people, unless you make EVERYONE ELSE STUPID..

    they do enough of that to the Citizens..

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 11:13am

    pathetic! while they were scooping headlines, the journalists involved were on the Snowden articles like flies on shit! now they have been targeted for possible law suits, they are almost all back pedaling! typical self-interested only ass holes!

     

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  14.  
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    PRMan, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    They are showing their complete incompetence with this story without even realizing how incompetent they look.

    So, basically, they leave all their documents sitting around on an intranet that Snowden had complete access to.

    Seems like poor document management if you're the NSA.

     

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  15.  
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    DanMitchell (profile), Feb 10th, 2014 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re:

    As the story makes clear, and as we should already know anyway, these are *highly classified documents* we're talking about here. Yes, admins use scraping tools all the time, but they shouldn't be able to use them as employees of government contractors who have no clearance to access *highly classified material*. Also as the story made clear, most NSA offices had security in place to prevent such a thing from happening, but the office Snowden worked on didn't

    Yeesh. I mean, the NYT perhaps made a bit more of a big deal out of this than it deserved, but it's still a story, and not a minor one. It contains details we didn't know before, which is the definition of news. Yeesh.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 12:37pm

    Re:

    Yes, but the US Government are terrorists. That simple.

     

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  17.  
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    DanMitchell (profile), Feb 10th, 2014 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Well, like the NYT reporter, I made a very clear point that you continue to choose to ignore: he used these very simple tools to download huge volumes of highly classified information. The fact that such tools are commonly used by admins is sort of the point.

     

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  18.  
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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Feb 10th, 2014 @ 1:58pm

    So, it's okay if the government leaks documents but it's not okay if an average citizen does or someone employed by the government does? WOW! Talk about a double standard.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, all reports I've seen said that he HAD clearance to see the documents. And a sys admin without access can't be a very good sys admin as access to the files is necessary for him to do his job. You have to trust you sys admin to a certain point with access otherwise your system falls apart without anyone to maintain it. Where they screwed up was that they were lax about it and had no one looking over his shoulder to make sure he didn't walk out with anything. That's the big problem. And it's also not new.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 2:42pm

    wow

    much scare

    excellent journalism

    such tech

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 2:50pm

    Re:

    If those documents had been encrypted, then the admins can do their job but not gain access to the contents. So once again a government department is trying to deflect the blame for their own bad practices. The question that should be addressed is not how did Ed Snowden get hold of the document, but rather why were they not encrypted with keys that he did not have.

     

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  22.  
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    Aerilus, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 4:17pm

    In a ideal world we would put him in charge of gathering intelligence and lock up the current douchebags.

     

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  23.  
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    Aerilus, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 4:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The really ironic thing is if they had just given him access to the meta data and encrypted the content none of this would be happening.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re:

    Vat is dis "linux" you spaek of? Jou must be a communist sympathizer to use "tools" such as dese...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    all_irony_aside, Feb 12th, 2014 @ 6:59pm

    actually there's a triple-standard, by design

    *yes* IT Security means different strokes for different folks!

    1, you might be a nobody -- you don't get to see or do sh*t

    2, you might be a current employ -- you can ask for & get granted privileges to do a whole sh*t ton of cool Top Secret sh*t

    3, you might be an ex-contractor suspected of espionage -- you get all the privileges of a nobody, plus get to defend your pants-to-ankled government & armed spy agencies & their adversarial lawyers +1 elected prejudicial judge-jury-executioner drone assassin Command In Chief

    Double-standards and hypocrisy are irrelevant here. We aren't having a moral debate, or battle of ideas.

    This is your country. And this is your country on terrorism.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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