Former NSA Official: Anyone Who 'Justified' Snowden's Leaks Shouldn't Be Allowed A Gov't Job

from the because-our-government-is-above-reproach-ALWAYS dept

A few days ago, the FTC announced that it had appointed Ashkan Soltani as its chief technology officer. Soltani is a well-known (and often outspoken) security researcher who has worked at the FTC in the past. Nothing about this appointment should be all that surprising or even remotely controversial. However, recently, Soltani had been doing a lot of journalism work, as a media consultant at the Washington Post helping Barton Gellman and other reporters really understand the technical and security aspects of the Snowden documents. His name has appeared as a byline in a number of stories about the documents, detailing what is really in those documents, and how they can impact your privacy.

Apparently, this has upset the usual crew of former NSA officials.

Let’s start with former NSA director Michael Hayden. The publication FedScoop heard the news about Soltani, and decided to ask Hayden and other NSA-types their thoughts. You can tell by the opening paragraph what angle FedScoop is digging for with its article:

The Federal Trade Commission has hired privacy and technology expert Ashkan Soltani to serve as the commission’s chief technology officer. But security experts and former senior U.S. intelligence officials are questioning the FTC’s decision, given Soltani’s very public role as a consultant for The Washington Post, where he co-authored multiple articles based on classified documents stolen from the National Security Agency by former contractor Edward Snowden.

The loaded language in the introductory paragraph telegraphs FedScoop’s desire to have its predispositions confirmed by the NSA’s defenders, even though this move is more of a return to form for Soltani rather than an indication of the FTC’s willingness to give the administration the finger by proxy, or whatever it is that Hayden feels is going on here.

His job will be to advise the commission on evolving technology and policy issues, a role similar to one he held previously at the FTC before leaving government to become an independent consultant.

Hayden’s criticism of Soltani’s selection begins with a sentence that shows (and immediately denies) what he’d like to do in the limited time FedScoop has granted him.

“I’m not trying to demonize this fella, but he’s been working through criminally exposed documents and making decisions about making those documents public,” said Michael Hayden, a former NSA director who also served as CIA director from 2006 to 2009.

Yes, how dare he do journalism in association with a well-known and (mostly) respected news organization. The FTC has so far refused to comment on its “controversial” selection. The NSA has yet to comment either, although one wonders if anyone outside of FedScoop truly believes the agency actually has anything to comment on here. Neither did the White House, despite FedScoop’s endless harassment.

The White House Office of Personnel Management […] did not respond to FedScoop’s repeated requests for information on the FTC’s ability to hire Soltani given his role in consulting with the Post as it disclosed the Snowden documents.

But guess who else has an opinion on this matter — a hiring so controversial that no one actively employed by the government has felt the slightest urge to comment on? It’s our other favorite NSA apologist, and he manages to top Hayden’s vague but judgemental statements, as well as somehow managing to have even less of a grasp on the subject matter.

Stewart Baker, a former NSA general counsel, said, while he’s not familiar with the role Soltani would play at the FTC, there are still problems with his appointment. “I don’t think anyone who justified or exploited Snowden’s breach of confidentiality obligations should be trusted to serve in government,” Baker said.

But those who aided and abetted the expansion of domestic surveillance programs and betrayed the American public should be “trusted” to “serve” (themselves and their agencies) for years to come. Those who question the government should be kept as far away from the inner workings as possible, at least according to these two NSA defenders. And they base this judgement not on Soltani’s upcoming position (which neither seem to know anything about), or actual government policies (which neither cite in defense of their claims), but rather on their feeling that no one who has “betrayed” the Agency (even if to serve the public or the Constitution) should be allowed to serve the public in any capacity.

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Comments on “Former NSA Official: Anyone Who 'Justified' Snowden's Leaks Shouldn't Be Allowed A Gov't Job”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Well, you say “aided and abetted the expansion of domestic surveillance programs and betrayed the American public”, we say “those boys kept their silence – the omerta. They’re good fellas.”

…I really can’t see any difference between old-school Mafia values and the values of high-ranking spy guys.

David says:

Re: There is a difference.


“This is a nice country. It would be a real shame if something happened to it. Fortunately, we can provide insurance. Just give us $40000000000 dollars per year and let us listen to every single phone call you make and read every single mail you send (you would not want to hide anything from us, would you?), and we’ll not make your life miserable.”

The Mafia does not bleed a whole country to death. And they don’t root every single communication through their eavesdropping network. And the justice system does fight the Mafia rather than having joined it wholesale from the top down.

The Mafia might have infiltrated government, but it does not run the government.

MarcAnthony (profile) says:

No confidence vote in the NSA and their ilk

Snowden merely exposed the treachery of the sleazeball politicians and investigative agencies that did an end run around our civil rights and alienated our allies around the world. It is these people that can’t be trusted to serve in government, except when that service is to their own interests and hidden agendas; their breach of duty trumps Snowden’s breach of confidentiality any day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I like that Baker dude. Essentially we hear him repeat: “I have no clue about this subject or case, but if it is good for NSA, I like it!”

No contextual understanding at all, just pure lobbyism for NSA. At some point I would hope the media can see through what he is doing. His comments are worthless.

Hayden is far better at providing some context and he actually engage in a discussion about moral, instead of broadly labeling large amounts of the population as unfit for government office (which in itself is quite elitist and fiercely anti-democratic).

Anonymous Coward says:

No one who has betrayed the public confidence can be trusted to work for the public

From that relatively obvious subject line, perform the following substitutions:

for the public -> for the government
No one who has betrayed the public confidence can be trusted to work for the government.

the public confidence -> their oath to uphold the Constitution
No one who has betrayed their oath to uphold the Constitution can be trusted to work for the government.

Constitution -> Constitution, whether by conducting blatantly unconstitutional activities or by protecting unconstitutional activities conducted by anyone,
No one who has betrayed their oath to uphold the Constitution, whether by conducting blatantly unconstitutional activities or by protecting unconstitutional activities conducted by anyone, can be trusted to work for the government.

work for -> work for or influence opinion about
No one who has betrayed their oath to uphold the Constitution, whether by conducting blatantly unconstitutional activities or by protecting unconstitutional activities conducted by anyone, can be trusted to work for influence opinion about the government.

Applesauce says:

Which Oath did they take?

“I, _____, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend **the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic**, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”

Hayden and Baker seem to think they took a different oath: to protect the American people from “terrorists” at all costs. And maybe to profit from investing in surveillance companies.

There is nothing in the **actual** oath about protecting the criminal activity of your fellow officers. Hayden and Baker should re-read the oath they took and reflect on their failure to to be faithful to it.

I’m not holding my breath.

Anonymous Coward says:

When a whistle blower shows more validity and verifiable (with in the limits of the whole national security hiding hole), accuracy than the entire government (who consistently gets caught in lies of it’s own making), it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who is on the right side by the public.

The entire government has lost considerable good faith from it’s citizens over these actions/reactions. I no longer put any credence in what I hear coming from the propaganda branches. This especially includes government officials both named and especially undisclosed sources.

Anonymous Coward says:

“I don’t think anyone who justified or exploited Snowden’s breach of confidentiality obligations should be trusted to serve in government”

The undemocratic nature of these statements should be noted. It is not any one person, agency, or small group of people that get to unilaterally decide who can and should be allowed a government job and who shouldn’t. It’s the American people. This is supposed to be a democracy and so everyone should get a voice. Reminds me of IP extremists that only think ‘legitimate businesses’ should be allowed to participate in the ‘democratic’ process.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let’s analyze Baker’s comment:

I don’t think anyone who justified or exploited Snowden’s breach of confidentiality obligations should be trusted to serve in government

The conduct of Baker et al certainly justified Edward Snowden in coming forward and blowing the whistle. Baker et al exploited this in order to defend their livelihood and grant the national security establishment more powers.
So there you have it folks – Stewart Baker is admitting that he, nor Michael Hayden, nor his colleagues are fit to serve in the government.

gezzerx (profile) says:

It has been 1year 4 months 18 days since the Guardian news paper reported about the NSA leaks & no government officials have been held to account for their incompetent or illegal subverting the Constitution . They are the people responsible for their actions & inaction s. To date nothing has changed and the government continues with it’s illegality as usual !

Time to wake up America, Democrats or Republicans. Liberals or Conservatives it’s two sides of the same evil coin it’s called Fascism. So the next time a Democrat or Republican asks for your vote, support or money just say no & vote for an Independent candidate. Send a message they can’t ignore & will understand ! ! Both parties have been complicit in this criminal activity. Some will say they don’t want to waste their vote, but you are already wasting your vote on Democrats & Republicans because they are the ones who have already betrayed us & they have been doing it for decades. This should be a joint effort on the part of all Americans, Democrats,Republicans & Independent voters ! Organize now before its to late ! Your liberty is at stake and that of your children & grandchildren !

No more lies, excuses, rationalizations,or justifications, the public needs to hold these officials to account to the fullest extent of the law under Title 18 sec. 241 & 242 (Google it), so any future traitors will know there will be consequences to such behavior.

As Mr. Snowden said the Politicians are afraid of you ! Now is the time exercise you power, you may not get another chance !


Some word of true Patriots are as follows, as opposed to the words of false flag patriotism of today.

He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.
Benjamin Franklin

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
Benjamin Franklin

Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those
entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by
the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but
the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
Thomas Jefferson

In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
James Madison

Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.
James Madison

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
Patrick Henry

“We the People are the rightful masters of BOTH Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution”
Abraham Lincoln

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
Abraham Lincoln

We should not forget the waring of President Eisenhower .
The NSA is controlled & operated by the DOD & the MIC (Military Industrial Complex) Private Corporations.

“The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.”
President John F. Kennedy
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
April 27, 1961

As is said in the law, falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. (“False in one thing, false in all things” is an instruction given to jurors: if they find that a witness lied about an important matter, they are entitled to ignore everything else that witness said.)

As a reminder Hermann Goering said at the Nuremberg Trials .
“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
Benito Mussolini

Time to start removing the corporate Congress from office & defunding the NSA to force them to comply with the law & impose jail time for non compliance under USC Title 18 Sec. 241 & 242 (Google it) .

Disclaimer: Be advised it is possible, that this communication is being monitored by the National Security Agency or GCHQ. I neither condone or support any such policy, by any Government authority that does not comply, as stipulated by the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Prokofy Neva (profile) says:

Appalling Placement of Snowden-Related Tech in Government Office

Another operation by the Snowdenistas, trying to sneak this under the radar, then count on skittish liberals being too scared to sound politically correct if they object.

This is appalling at every level. NO ONE in the loop with the stolen Snowden documents should be getting jobs in government.

The Pentagon Papers Supreme Court decision doesn’t protect technicians. It protects journalists who leaked government documents in the public interest.

Snowden has gone far, far beyond the public interest in leaking numerous documents that undermined and harmed national security and relations with allies, and aided and abetted Russia, China and terrorist groups.

None of this is related to the privacy and civil rights of Americans.

Ashkan was brought in because Barton Gellman made mistakes in his reporting that cost him credibility with the tech community. We don’t know that he didn’t keep copies for himself or that he might not leak items not intended to be leaked.

No one willing to help commit the crime of stealing and publishing should be in government.

Journalists rely on the technicalities of the Supreme Court decision to skirt just shy of jail with this sort of case. But nothing says technicians are exonerated, and in fact it was the intention of the Court to go behind actual public interest.

This was an op in the crypto wars.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Appalling Placement of Snowden-Related Tech in Government Office

Anyone in the Government who condones spying on everyone without a warrant for no specific reason does not deserve their job.

It was important to know that our out of control government is performing illegal acts on it’s own citizens and then lies to cover it up. The US government is the biggest terrorist group on the planet.

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