Someone Using A US Senate IP Address Edits Wiki Entry To Change Ed Snowden From 'Dissident' To 'Traitor'

from the it's-Wikipedia,-not-an-opinion-page dept

Last Friday, the Wikipedia entry for Ed Snowden received a small, but charged, edit.

[Click through to embiggen.]

The anonymous editor changed the word “dissident” to “traitor.” The edit appeared shortly after Russia announced it would grant Snowden asylum. This would be run-of-the-mill vandalism except for one fact: the IP address linked to the edit traced back to the U.S. Senate.

NetRange: –
OriginAS: AS3495
NetName: USSAA
NetHandle: NET-156-33-0-0-1
Parent: NET-156-0-0-0-0
NetType: Direct Assignment
RegDate: 1991-12-03
Updated: 2007-04-05

OrgName: United States Senate
StateProv: DC
PostalCode: 20510
Country: US
RegDate: 1991-12-03
Updated: 2011-09-24

Government employees editorializing entries isn’t uncommon. In fact, there’s an entire Wikipedia entry devoted to the subject. But editorializing by editors using government IP addresses rarely goes unnoticed. Now, whoever did this may feel Snowden is a traitor but the verdict is still out (quite literally) on that. He’s been charged with espionage but until there’s actual court proceedings, he’s nothing more than a “dissident” (although that term has its problems as well), albeit one the government would like to have back in the US as soon as possible.

Why bother pointing out such a petty edit? Well, if it wasn’t for the IP address, no one would care. But it’s a bit obnoxious when someone in the Senate offices somehow feels the government doesn’t have enough power and takes it upon themselves to “set the record straight” by taking a swing at Snowden via Wikipedia.

(H/T to a handful of unnamed readers who sent this in.)

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Comments on “Someone Using A US Senate IP Address Edits Wiki Entry To Change Ed Snowden From 'Dissident' To 'Traitor'”

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Greg (profile) says:

There has been a metric crap ton of activity on this page since then.

Passage now reads “Some have referred to Snowden as a hero, whistleblower or even a dissident, while others have described him as a traitor.”

I would say that Wikipedia has put the hive mind to work on this one and found a description that is more about fact and free of opinion.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Honestly, pointing out that there’s four different common opinions of Snowden is actually the most accurate thing one could say on Wikipedia right now.

The crowd that things everything the government does is automatically bad probably sees Snowden as a hero for (re)revealing some of the shady activities the most secretive agency on the planet has been doing for quite a long time, along with all the more recent surveillance-y shenanigans.

Then there’s the group who see Snowden as a traitor (most of them probably have security clearances and may have a little more faith in the government than others).

For everyone else, he falls into the whistleblower/dissident category.

So it’s a pretty accurate description of Snowden’s public image right now.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Before we get carried away here

We shouldn’t be too quick to accuse people in the US Senate/their staff of being responsible for editing Snowden’s page just because the the change was made from their IP Address.

This argument is almost identical to the claims made by Prenda Law and their ilk.

Just because something came an IP address does not necessarily mean the owner of that address was responsible.

That being said, the probability that the change was made by someone in Congress (or more likely, one of their tech-savvy staffers did it for them) is 51% at a minimum, especially considering the content of the wiki article in question.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Before we get carried away here

You know your right, considering everything that has happened recently we should give the US Senate/their staff the benefit of the doubt, they have done absolutely nothing in regards to the Snowden situation that should ever make people consider that they don’t have his best interests at heart. It’s not like certain people have already declared him a traitor and want him punished before his trial has even begun, cause situations like that would really make people begin to doubt them when it comes to situations like this

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Before we get carried away here

“This argument is almost identical to the claims made by Prenda Law and their ilk.”

Not really.

First of all, the argument usually used by those people is that an individual can be identified by the IP address, which is utterly wrong. That’s not the argument here, only that the IP address seems to be related to an organisation. Nobody’s saying that the head of the DOJ should be held criminally for his employees’ actions, which is usually the claim made in piracy cases against account holders even if they can prove that someone else committed the act of piracy (if one occurred at all).

Secondly, because no individual is being held responsible, there’s room for investigation. If the DOJ wished, they could perform an internal investigation and see who within their ranks is doing these things and discipline them or demand that they stop (assuming the actions weren’t officially sanctioned, of course). Doing so would satisfy any claims against them, and at least make them look better by publicly realising that such shoddy attempts at altering the discussion will not work. No such soft solutions are offered to Prenda’s victims – they’re threatened with pay thousands now or pay more later.

Thirdly, it’s far less likely that IP spoofing, router hacking, etc. is a serious problem at a place like the DOJ than in a domestic situation – or at least it should be. An professional organisation with enterprise level equipment and full time dedicated IT staff is in a far better place to avoid common security issues than random pensioners who barely know how to connect to the internet, let alone change their router’s settings from factory default. So, assuming all of the above staff are competent, they should not fall prey to most common attack vectors and thus it’s more likely that the IP is indeed under their control.

Even without the above, there’s a huge difference between claiming that an organisation is potentially responsible for some shady activity and holding individuals financially responsible for huge sums of money just because their name’s on an account, even if the evidence used is the same.

Anonymous Coward says:

Pointing out that Snowden’s whistle blowing has been highly politically charged in addition to revealing that those in our government are trying to white out over the real issues he exposed pushes Snowden from whistle blowing status to political refugee. Many, many, countries allow acceptance into their borders over that classification.

So far what I see out of all this, is the US painting itself into a corner for the future. We are becoming what we claimed was repugnant of Soviet Russia.

Anonymous Coward says:

No one in the US government reads the constitution's definition of Treason

Apparently NO ONE in the US government can be bothered to read the definition of Treason, put in the US Constitution by the founding fathers themselves.

The US government has NEITHER of these requirements against Snowden.

1) Two witnesses who saw Snowden commit the crime. (no a ton of people who read about it or investigated it after the crime happened are NOT witnesses)


2) A confession by Edward Snowden in open court that he committed Treason.

Without either of these things, Edward Snowden CANNOT be convicted of treason. The Founding Fathers put that in the constitution precisely because the ‘treason’ charge is a favorite weapon of dictators to get rid of people they don’t like, and people who oppose them, by defining Treason as broadly and vaguely as possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No one in the US government reads the constitution's definition of Treason

OP already covered whether or not it’s possible…

Per Article III, Section 3 (again, already addressed by the OP):

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Even if you could argue the first point, I’d like to see how you’d handle the second.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: This ought to be good.

Snowden is no hero to the American people. All he did was open a huge can of worms that in the end is going to make it harder on the American people.

Oh, do elaborate, please!

So many of us seem eager to give up our privacy, perhaps on the premise that we’re not targets (we will be) and that the department of justice will adjudicate perfectly (they’re terrible at it now).

Our nation was founded on the premise that people in the government cannot be trusted, hence the checks and balances system to make sure that no one could wreak too much havoc.

This was before corporations became large enough to capture all three branches, and cause them all to fail.

The barbarians aren’t storming the gates yet, mind you, but the gates are looking pretty tattered for their inevitable arrival.

So yes, do tell how Snowden was at fault for revealing to the public how our government is sabotaging our nation’s future. This really should be something to read.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The still have “mainstream” media playing lap dog to the narrative and not talking about the releases, except to say how horrible things will happen.
They have software to manage sock puppets to put the narrative on social media.
They were hoping no one would notice the edit, and this would complete keeping the public confused.

In the alternate universe where congresscritters minds take them in all of that free time they have while they aren’t fixing the fucking country or helping the public.

Mike (user link) says:

That Same IP Address Noted by Bloggers for YEARS!

That same senate IP address has been noticed for years to anonymously comment, ostly on OBAMA Postings, even before he was elected to the Whitehouse ( Here’s a Sample”

Welcome United States Senate Sergeant at Arms: Peace!
Posted on November 28, 2005 by Peter Kirstein
I think it interesting that three of the hits to my blog came from:

U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms
StateProv: DC
PostalCode: 20510
Country: US

They accessed my site from using an Icerocket search engine for ?Obama.? I had commented critically on the Illinois junior senator earlier in the day in the posting directly beneath this one.

Mike (user link) says:

Senate Sargeant of Arms is Terrance Gainer at that IP Address

Search “Terrance Gainer + Obama” and see lots of Pictures of these two buddies together! Get a Freedom of Information Request on His Computer. The IP has Trolled Blogs and Others anonymously for years!

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer advised lawmakers Tuesday to refrain from the temptation to take their security into their own hands by carrying firearms following the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) this weekend.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Gainer said on ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” The Hill reported. “I think we should leave the law enforcement and security to those professionals.”

Anonymous Coward says:

It might not have even been anyone in the Senate. lists that address as having a “confirmed proxy server”

meaning there is likely some kind of publicly accessible proxy on there.

That should be a riot when the new felony streaming law ultimately gets written and passed, and someone uses that proxy to send an illegal stream.

That would be something to see the FBI descending on the US Senate building looking for an illegal streamer that was elsewhere.

robertsgt40 (profile) says:

Scott Ritter

I’m getting a clearer picture. RememberScott Ritter? He was a weapons inspector in Iraq before the last invasion. Had good credentials. Ex military. Straight shooter. He was on Fox telling everyone Sadam didn’t have WMDs. Next thing you know, they “find” kiddie porn on his computer. Never heard from him again. Great way to off opponents.

Allen K says:


Gov’t wasting more time and losing the war of truth, yet another violation of our rights. The gov?t constantly violates our rights.
They violate the 1st Amendment by caging protesters and banning books like ?America Deceived II?.
They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by allowing TSA to grope you.
They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars.
Impeach Obama.
Last link of ?America Deceived II? before it is completely banned:

Danny says:

Traitor is more accurate.

Quick reality check; Here’s a brief primer on the English language:

A “whistle-blower” makes a report of illegal or unethical malfeasance to the LEGITIMATE AUTHORITIES RESPONSIBLE FOR REGULATING the misbehaving parties.

A “dissident” is a rabble-rouser to spreads public malcontent about something with which they disagree, and attempts to build support for their anti-government agenda.

A “traitor” is one who skips both these steps, and takes confidential information which he was sworn to protect, and attempts to sell it to foreign governments in exchange for fame, publicity, cash and favor… ie, purely for personal gain or political activism.

Selling him as a “whistle-blower” is just a misnomer that plays well in the media by fanning fears of government malfeasance, violations of constitutional rights, and privacy.

Did this guy make attempts to file complaints through established oversight channels? Contact his congressman to discuss his concerns? Report violations of law to the FBI? Resign in protest? No. He downloaded as much data as he could take with him, and fled to China, Russia, anywhere that would give him sanctuary.

Most ‘traitors’ are just maladjusted, paranoid crybabies whose careers aren’t turning out to be as stellar as they believe their genius and charisma merits.

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