Edward Snowden: Whistleblower Behind Leaks Outs Himself

from the boom dept

Well, here's a bit of surprise. Rather than waiting for the massive manhunt that was surely underway to track him down to find him, the guy behind last week's incredible whistleblowing concerning the NSA's massive surveillance capabilities has outed himself as Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old who used to work for the CIA, and has been working as a contractor for the NSA for a while:
The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said.
The Guardian piece explains what he did and why ("My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them"). It also notes that he feels that his case is one of pure whistleblowing, distinguished from, say, Bradley Manning, in that he carefully chose which documents to reveal for the sole purpose of exposing a surveillance system that he (correctly) blew the whistle on a surveillance infrastructure that appears to go well beyond what the public believed was appropriate or within the bounds of the 4th Amendment.

The companion interview is probably even more interesting than the initial Guardian article.
Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?

A: "The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."
Snowden left Hawaii, recently, where he lived to travel to Hong Kong, where he's been hiding out in a hotel. He appears to be fully aware that a lot of people are going to find him and that "nothing good" is about to happen to him, but he felt that he couldn't stay silent.
Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?

A: "That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians."
There is some additional scary stuff about the culture within the intelligence community concerning how they feel about due process and the Constitution. It's been widely reported that a foreign affairs analyst overheard some intelligence officials in an airport lounge discussing how the leaker and the reporters involved in these leaks should be "disappeared" -- and Snowden responded to that by nothing that he's not surprised, because this is how things work:
"Someone responding to the story said 'real spies do not speak like that'. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process – they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general."
And, like Bradley Manning -- who Snowden calls "a classic whistleblower... inspired by the public good," -- Snowden appears to believe strongly that his actions are not to hurt the US, but to help it.
"I think the sense of outrage that has been expressed is justified. It has given me hope that, no matter what happens to me, the outcome will be positive for America. I do not expect to see home again, though that is what I want."
There's plenty more in both the article and the interview that's worth reading. I'm sure there will be much more on this, but this truly does seem like a classic whistleblower case, though I doubt that's how Snowden will be portrayed by many in power.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 3:17pm

    I'm sure tomorrow we'll all be reading about how he was arrested and charged as an enemy of the US.

     

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    Dan S (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 3:21pm

    So glad he decided to come forward, and I can only hope for his well being.

    That said, it is INSANE that he is in fear for his life... because he exposed a program that is about American safety. Dafuq?

     

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    S. T. Stone, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 3:23pm

    Re:

    Or how he ‘fell’ twenty stories to his death…

     

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    S. T. Stone, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 3:25pm

    Re:

    Bradley Manning leaked the information he had for a similar reason, and look at his life nowadays.

    I don’t consider it surprising that Snowden fears for his life. I consider it surprising that he lived long enough to say so.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 3:30pm

    Re:

    Hong Kong is now under Chinese sovereignty, so more likely offered political asylum.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 3:31pm

    So a program everyone disavows is running and apparently has no oversight because they lie about it to their bosses.

    So a program is running amok, but they are so terrified of looking soft on terror they are willing to sacrifice the law, citizens rights, and another person willing to point out the emperor is naked.

    FSM have mercy on us all...

     

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  7.  
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    FM Hilton, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 3:44pm

    The denials are already starting...

    His former employer claims he had only been working with them for 3 months. "Never heard of the guy."

    Oh, how nice to have a 'deniable plausibility' clause in your employment contract.

    But he's still a hero for all of that. Takes guts to take on the biggest security apparatus in the world, I say.

    Let's see if he makes it out alive from Hong Kong.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 3:47pm

    Re:

    He is for sure an "enemy of the state", a friend of the public, but I am not sure about what that makes him to the country?

     

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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 3:49pm

    Disappeared

    Brave to come forward, but stupid. When Americans go back to watching "Ow, My Balls!" next week, he'll get snatched up for several years of solitary confinement until his "speedy" trial can be arranged.

     

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    Rekrul, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 3:53pm

    Everyone seems to expect that the outing of this program will lead to a real debate and possibly a scaling back of the surveillance and better accountability. What will actually happen is that Obama and the other lying weasels will pretend to have a debate about this and to install more accountability, while behind the scenes, things will continue as usual. Nothing will change. The gradual march toward a fascist dictatorship will not be deterred by anything other than outright revolution.

    For anyone who hasn't figured it out yet, the US government doesn't give a shit about the law. They believe that they have the right to do anything they want, therefore whatever they do is automatically "legal" and anyone who opposes them is a traitor.

    As for Snowden, I expect the Obama administration to paint him as the worst criminal in US history and to use every trick in the book to put him away for life. I'm calling it here and now; They'll try to claim that his choice of Hong Kong as a safe haven shows that he's in cahoots with the Chinese government.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 3:59pm

    Well, if this story holds up -- already under attack -- then

    we've a genuine MORAL hero, one's who actually prepared to take a bullet -- perhaps literally -- for the public.

    Getting out in public is the best way to stay alive. -- Note how casually but chillingly this guy confirms that the NSA is full of savages who don't care beans about your rights. The attack dogs trained in Iraq are now turned on Americans. This is why "moral panics" EARLY and OFTEN are the only wise course: you can't make people moral again once they've tasted blood.

    SO, turns out all the "conspiracy kooks" are right so far... But you can bet your last fiat dollar that the conspirators aren't done yet. I'm still of the opinion that this "leak" is carefully calibrated -- this guy even admits that it is! He's claiming that he did it alone, but WE don't know that.

    To repeat, he and NSA may still be working a psyop. Time won't tell, because in any case they'll have moved on to the next stage of ratcheting up the tyranny.

     

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    Avantare, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 4:19pm

    Even though he wasn't in the military.

    I would have to think he signed papers or took an oath to defend the USA against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic ala Shooter.

    I applaud this American Hero. We need more people like him and Bradley Manning.

    The American government is way out of control and people like these do this country good.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 4:19pm

    Snowden is a true patriot, loyal to America's founding ideal of the citizens being protected from the goverment

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 4:30pm

    And the denials by Google and Facebook begin to fade:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/08/technology/tech-companies-bristling-concede-to-government-surveill ance-efforts.html?pagewanted=all

    As was clarified here by your present writer, the lawyerly weasel-worded "direct access" and "back door" non-denial denials of Friday actually mean that they built special front ends for NSA:

    "But instead of adding a back door to their servers, the companies were essentially asked to erect a locked mailbox and give the government the key, people briefed on the negotiations said. Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information, they said."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 4:33pm

    Re: And the denials by Google and Facebook begin to fade:

    Stop tarnishing Blue's name with logic, facts and civility.

     

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    Founding Father, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 4:39pm

    “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”
    ― Benjamin Franklin

    “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
    ― Benjamin Franklin

    “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
    ― Benjamin Franklin

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 4:55pm

    "The current of director of national intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, who issued a stinging attack on the intelligence leaks this weekend, is a former Booz Allen executive. The firm's current vice-chairman, Mike McConnell, was DNI under the George W Bush administration. He worked for the Virginia-based company before taking the job, and returned to the firm after leaving it. The company website says McConnell is responsible for its "rapidly expanding cyber business".

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/booz-allen-hamilton-edward-snowden

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 4:56pm

    Fully expect him to have a full smear campaign and then commit "suicide". Doubt the govt wants another Manning. Is it wrong i completely believe our militarized police and overly aggressive govt is capable and willing to do it..

     

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  19.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 5:04pm

    Re: The denials are already starting...

    Umm, how are denials like that supposed to make the NSA look good, or even better?

    'We're so focused on security we let people who haven't even been with us half a year have access to highly classified briefing materials.'

    Yeah, that would make them look so much better...

     

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    horse with no name, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 5:15pm

    troubling

    His actions are troubling. His actions violate everything about his job, and place his moral certainty above that of actually doing the job he signed up for.

    A few more like him and Manning, and the US is done for. This is the sort of failure in chain of command that shows that you just cannot trust the very people in positions of trust.

    What happens when all of this turns out to be within the law, reasonable, and within the scope of military operations? What happens when it turns out that every member of congress (even the sainted Wyden) had at least some knowledge? What happens to the guy when it turns out that all he did was destroy a legal intelligence program that took years to built, and now is pretty much busted?

    If you call this guy a hero, you missed the point.

     

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  21.  
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    horse with no name, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re:

    Hong Kong is not that much a part of China. Citizens of Hong Kong require a visa or approval even to enter mainland China.

     

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    Violated (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 5:18pm

    Degrees of shame

    Now we get to see how much Congress has sunk into this shit hole of Fourth Amendment violations.

    We can all hope that Congress calls Edward Snowden before them in the Capital in a fully open meeting to question him about the abuses of the intelligence services.

    Should they do so in a closed meeting then they want answers themselves while working on a pubic cover up.

    Then should they not take up this opportunity then he would only be a traitor to them and who they would soon let Obama bury.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 5:24pm

    Pardon Him

     

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  24.  
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    Violated (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 5:29pm

    Re: troubling

    When soldiers are ordered to butcher innocent villagers then they should refuse to obey. When Government officials violate the US Constitution and Bill of Rights as a matter of routine then they should be expose.

    Simply following orders is never an excuse. To stay silent in a corrupt system makes you a part of that corruption.

    I am quite sure though that he has violated national security laws, confidentiality agreements and a whole lot more to reveal these documents. Quite a brave man who simply wants the United States to be a better place.

     

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  25.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 5:30pm

    Re: And the denials by Google and Facebook begin to fade:

    Blue, you're getting the stories out of order. This was the one we covered yesterday. Keep up.

     

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  26.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 5:39pm

    Re: troubling

    What happens when it turns out that every member of congress (even the sainted Wyden) had at least some knowledge?

    Of course Wyden had knowledge. Why do you think he's been asking the questions he's been asking?!?

     

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  27.  
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    marak, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 5:44pm

    I applaud his actions. The things revealed are quite scary when you think about it.

    IF i was a us citizen id be very unhappy with the people i elected to represent me.

    As a foreigner i am concerned about the direction the us government is taking, and think something seriously has to give soon.

     

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  28.  
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    Atkray (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 6:02pm

    Re: Re: And the denials by Google and Facebook begin to fade:

    Hey! at least he didn't have any ad-homs and related nonsense.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 6:09pm

    Re: troubling

    … and within the scope of military operations?


    When the executive branch is monitoring my calls to my U.S. representative—something is seriously unbalanced.

    When the President, in his CinC role, orders the military to monitor my calls to the legislature—then something is just plain wrong.


     

    No matter how severe the terror threat might be today, we are not living in a state like Tennessee in 1862. Even if we were —even under those peculiar conditions— I'd still have serious doubts about letting the military interfere in communications between citizens and their Congress.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 6:20pm

    Re: Disappeared

    I am not so sure it was stupid. If he did not come forward, yet was found, he could be disappeared. And who would know?

    At least this way he might get one of them thar high priced defense attorneys, pro bono. I think it's probably better in the sunlight, given his position.

     

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  31.  
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    horse with no name, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 6:48pm

    Re: Re: troubling

    When the executive branch is monitoring my calls to my U.S. representative—something is seriously unbalanced.

    If you pay attention, you would understand that they are NOT monitoring your calls. They are collecting data that you give to a third party (which phone number calls which phone number, for how long, if mobile where the mobile is). All of that data is generally considered 3rd party.

    Nobody is recording your calls and listening to them You aren't that important.

     

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  32.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 6:49pm

    Re: troubling

    Voted funny because the alternative is too terrible to seriously consider.

    Assuming you were being serious though, I have to say, with a mindset like that any would-be-king or dictatorship would absolutely love to have you around, as you seem to be saying that being in charge or in a position of power, no matter how they got there, is enough to make people and organizations unquestionable and above reproach.

    To say that this is wrong is like saying a forest fire is kinda warm, a monumental understatement, and if you need any reasons provided look up a whopping three posts above yours for a few quotes from someone apparently much wiser about such things than you.

     

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  33. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    horse with no name, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 6:49pm

    Re: Re: troubling

    The question would be when did Wyden have knowledge, and why hasn't he been forthcoming about it? What does he have to hide?

    How did he vote on the creation and maintenance of this stuff anyway? You should know his voting record on this, right?

     

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  34.  
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    horse with no name, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Re: troubling

    I see nobody butchered on the floor. This is at very worst a judgement call thing, where the data collected appears to be outside of the need for a warrant beyond approval of the FISA in general terms.

    The system isn't corrupt - the system works fine. There is always, always a trade between law enforcement, public safety, and your absolute privacy. When you give it up (by using third party services) there is no reason why the government can't collect the information.

    You may not like it, but it's a fact of life. My suggestion for you is turn off your cell phone, disconnect your computer from the interwebz and find a cave to go live in. At least you have less chance of a terrorist blowing up your children... right?

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 6:56pm

    Re: Pardon Him

    Returns a 404 error, either your link is wrong or the admins decided to disappear this petition.....

     

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  36.  
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    Dave Xanatos, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 6:59pm

    Re: Pardon Him

    404... Surprise! Well, ok. Not really.

     

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  37.  
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    Rob, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 7:06pm

    God bless Edward Snowden

    Mr. Snowden is a true American. Someone how decided to stand up for liberty and freedom. Now watch my government try to pound him into dust. We are no longer free. The terrorist won.

     

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  38.  
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    Wolfy, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 7:11pm

    As a former intelligence professional, keep in mind this is only ONE program, multiply the lies by at least 1,000. The classified community is off the leash. The politicians will never know the true extent, because those running the black programs want to keep their budgets and power.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 7:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    Collecting all the private metadata on innocent citizens that they can is not a legitimate function of a goverment

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 7:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    I watched the webcast of the Senate Appropriations Committeee (Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee) FY14 DOJ Budget Hearing (June 6, 2013).

    Senator Mark Kirk, from Illinois, begins his questions and remark a little after the 2:00:00 mark in the webcast.

    Senator Kirk is followed by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. I listened to him too.

     

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    Jay (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 7:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    He couldn't tell about the program at all.

    If he did, he wouldn't be able to give the warnings that he did. Which is worse, to know how this program began and get these people on the record, or to be on the outside looking in while they do this without explicit knowledge?

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 7:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    Your questions are stupid, and you know they are stupid.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 7:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    You are shameless and sad.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 7:28pm

    Re:

    Learn to think for yourself.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 7:32pm

    @38

    then one day that money just stops....
    sorry dont know what thats for canceled...and so on.
    THE leash becomes the pooper scooper and the poop bag is where they all go.

    A few people get unemployed and the rest fo the nation gets more debt paid off quicker.

     

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  46.  
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    Colin, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 7:59pm

    Re: Re: Pardon Him

     

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    BentFranklin (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 8:06pm

    When someone like Snowden has his life ruined for protecting us from our would-be protectors, I view him as a hero who gave his life in the protection of liberty, every bit as much as I do a soldier who loses his life in war.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 8:28pm

    Re: Re:

    or droned

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 8:38pm

    Re: Re:

    Not really since he is not military they cannot pull that type of shit. They can fuck him over very good still but they'll not be able to be private about it. Hopefully with the public outrage that will be enough to let the guy live in peace.

    The law is not above the law and he made the right choice for the good of the nation. If anything this man is a hero.

     

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  50.  
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    JMT (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 8:45pm

    Re: Re:

    Not sure why you think quoting Ben Franklin and thinking for yourself are mutually exclusive.

     

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  51.  
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    JMT (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 8:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    "The question would be when did Wyden have knowledge, and why hasn't he been forthcoming about it?"

    You seem to be woefully behind the times regarding Wyden's actions. Please try to keep up.

     

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  52.  
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    Robert (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 8:51pm

    It's Obvious

    Edward is an epileptic. If that's true, then that's what will happen. There will be some "oversight" committee established, a lot of hoop-la from Congress and the Senate, even the Prez will change his tune. However, before he can testify, or maybe before they even do the grand jury, Edward will pass away in Hong Kong from a seizure.

    How? That's obvious. An asset will poison his food, he has to order it in, they'll get to it while in transit or have someone cook it into the food. The autopsy will be faked or twisted and he'll be cremated or something like that.

    Then the masses who might just be waking up will fall back asleep with the next reality show.

    The CIA's greatest play was manipulating the people of their own country of origin, using the apathy program.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 8:53pm

    I can't wait to hear how the egotistical sociopaths in power react to this. Cause an international incident? Declare war on China? Or maybe just the usual grandstanding and rhetoric?
    No matter what they do, it's gonna be hilarious.

     

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  54.  
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    ottonomy (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 8:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRhjgynfhag

    Catch up on a few more news stories; Wyden has been asking questions that are way out in front of everybody else, including almost every other member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

     

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  55.  
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    JMT (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 8:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    "Nobody is recording your calls and listening to them..."

    They don't need to:

    http://gizmodo.com/why-the-metadata-the-nsa-has-on-you-matters-512103968

    What they are trying to say is that disclosure of metadata — the details about phone calls, without the actual voice — isn't a big deal, not something for Americans to get upset about if the government knows. Let's take a closer look at what they are saying:

    They know you rang a phone sex service at 2:24 am and spoke for 18 minutes. But they don't know what you talked about.

    They know you called the suicide prevention hotline from the Golden Gate Bridge. But the topic of the call remains a secret.

    They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour. But they don't know what was discussed.

    They know you received a call from the local NRA office while it was having a campaign against gun legislation, and then called your senators and congressional representatives immediately after. But the content of those calls remains safe from government intrusion.

    They know you called a gynecologist, spoke for a half hour, and then called the local Planned Parenthood's number later that day. But nobody knows what you spoke about.

    Sorry, your phone records—oops, "so-called metadata"—can reveal a lot more about the content of your calls than the government is implying.

     

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    Justin (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 9:02pm

    Worse than Watergate

    I started thinking about this is terms of Watergate, the actions taking and the results.

    Nixon spied on one group of people and covered it up for 2ish years. It may have been for more personal reasons, but the line of national security was used to try and justify it. We already know that really wasn't the case.

    Bush and Obama spied on the entire nation and who knows how many foreigners for 7 years. It may not have been for as many personal reasons that Nixon had, but if not already, it was only a matter of time before this program would have been used to do much more than Nixon ever thought possible.

    Nixon was run out of office for his actions, I would hope for a similar resolution to this scandal for anybody that did not try and stop it.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 9:10pm

    Re: troubling

    Okay, I'm going to show you why just having the metadata is horrifying in and of itself.

    Horse with no name is walking around, bumps into NSA man. NSA man is a dick, and demand's Horse's name. Horse, being the willing slave that he is (according to what he writes, he'd be the kind of person who would gladly do this) gives up his name. NSA man doesn't arrest Horse or have a cop do so (I'm unsure if someone from the NSA can arrest someone but that would be incidental here).
    NSA man goes to his office and has access to Horse's name and details. He looks up Horse's phone records. He notices a few interesting details.
    He sees that Horse has called a doctor well known for specializing in AIDS related diseases. Horse has also called a suicide prevention hotline, a gay support network. With information culled from Facebook and Google, he learns that Horse is from the Bible Belt, from an area where it is generally not socially acceptable to be gay.
    NSA man has enough information here to ruin Horse's life. He does not need call recordings. Just this metadata is enough for NSA man to use logic to figure out that Horse is homosexual, that he hides said homosexuality from his family and friends, and that he has contemplated suicide and is worried about possibly having AIDS.

    Now...what if it turns out that Horse is a political candidate or already in office? Suddenly, NSA man now has leverage over him.


    Think about it. That is what can and will happen.

     

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    Lyle, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 9:11pm

    terrorists should have known about this:

    If they had watched any law and order they would have learned about disposable cell phones, or even stolen cell phones, and used them. Send a first class letter with the new number every so often, since a first class letter does not need a valid return address, all they could say is the recipient got a letter from such and such a postal sector. (If you buy the stamps with cash). Because the post office has been around the longest it has the best protections. Recall that during prohibition the courts said wiretapping in general was quite ok (see olmstead vs US 1928) it was overturned in 1967. So there is a good precident for general wiretapping.

     

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    saulgoode (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 9:37pm

    If you are correct

    If all of the data collection that the government has been engaging in is on the up-and-up, why the need for secrecy?

     

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  60.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 9:37pm

    This guy was smart to go public. If anything happens to him now the government will not be able to cover it up. He would either "disappear" or end up under Guantánamo Bay. Now he better not get so much as a hangnail. Too many people consider him a hero. Eventually when all the truth comes out Watergate will pale in comparison. Senator Wyden and many others have been trying to get honest answers about this for some time. They will jump on this like stink on shit!

     

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  61.  
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    rmartell (profile), Jun 9th, 2013 @ 10:35pm

    Re: troubling

    Of course the government would never lie about listening to our phone calls -- never! Snowden said that from his desk he could tap anyone -- audio -- data -- everything! It is naive to think they aren't listening to phone calls.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 11:12pm

    I am really in awe of this guy. I just hope it spurs the larger conversation about the 4th amendment, its easy to get lost in the blame game, blame the guardian, blame snowden what was his motives, who knew what when. None of that really matters in the long run.

    We need to decide what kind of world that we want to live in, one where privacy is trampled for what is to be thought as minimal security gains, or one where we have an open and free society because currently we don't. Adopting a siege mentality is ultimately self defeating and that is what is happening now. Snowden has give us the information that was hidden from us and he gave us what we need to be able to decide what kind of world we want to live in. Now its up to us to do something with it.

     

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  63.  
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    horse with no name, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 11:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: troubling

    Sorry, your phone records—oops, "so-called metadata"—can reveal a lot more about the content of your calls than the government is implying.

    The same could be said for having someone note the license plates of cars that go to local gun shops (legal) and those who visit local politician's offices (also legal), and combining that list. "Metadata" is a scare word to use here, when really it's just data that you disclose to third parties (breaking privacy) or that happens in your normal course of life in public.

    They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour. But they don't know what was discussed.

    They can imply things, and this information may (in a given situation) create probably cause for a wiretap or similar in the case of insurance fraud as an example. There is very little real value to that information because it beyond the obvious because it cannot be used outside of criminal cases.

    All you need to do is replace "called" with "drove your car to" or "walked" to understand that the data can be collected anywhere, which is pretty much the standard.

     

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    horse with no name, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 11:27pm

    Re: Re: troubling

    Now...what if it turns out that Horse is a political candidate or already in office? Suddenly, NSA man now has leverage over him.

    Wow... you went a long way for that one. Have you considered that (a) if they are a political person they would already be known, no requirement to "ask their name" and (b) most people are discrete enough not to do those sort of things openly.

    Basically, the politician wouldn't walk into an aid clinic in the open, and they generally wouldn't be stupid enough to use a phone that can be tracked to them for the same purpose. Remember, each of your calls, like it or not, is information given to a third party (the phone company). Every call on your cell phone is tracked. It's the nature of the device.

    You guys need to step back and discover reality, and stop getting all excited about some grand secret conspiracy. Just go look at your cell bills "detailed calling" list. It's all there. Aren't you shocked?

     

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    haiku, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 11:43pm

    Re: The denials are already starting...

    Better still, according to his employers, Snowden's whistle-blowing is "... a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm ..."

    Report to the HR department immediately !!

    NB: According to the reporting none are actually denying wrong-doing: it's now "it's Snowden's fault for whistle-blowing"

     

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  66.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 11:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: troubling

    "The same could be said for having someone note the license plates of cars that go to local gun shops (legal) and those who visit local politician's offices (also legal), and combining that list."

    Can be yes, is it? Only when law enforcement have a reasonable suspicion of wrong doing (they have to justify the man hours). I've got no problem with limited targeted surveillance but grabbing everything with no oversight is not good.

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2013 @ 11:57pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That is more the limit the influence of Western culture that has 'corrupted' Hong Kong than anything else.

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 12:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Agreed.

     

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  69.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 12:35am

    Re: troubling

    Your excuse for a "hero" include the likes of Andrew Crossley, Evan Stone, Cary Sherman and Brigham Feld.

    Any definition of "hero" you have needs to be taken with a shaker of salt.

     

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  70.  
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    The Old Man in The Sea, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 12:49am

    History of the Second American Civil War

    The genesis of the Second American Civil occurred in the second decade of the 21 Century. Due to revelations of massive government corruption and spying on its own citizen. the .......

     

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  71.  
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    horse with no name, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:08am

    The more I read about this guy...

    The more I am starting to wonder if he isn't a "spy" himself. After all, he seemed to work very hard to get a very specific job, and within a very short period of time he leaking stuff like this.

    I would almost think he is Wikileaks symp.

     

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  72.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:10am

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    Can you, at the drop of a hat, name every single politician (let's make it easy, let's just say your state senators) and correctly match those names to photos? Yes, if you're a political person, you are well known, but not every one is capable of remembering every single politician's name and face.

    Oh and notice what you said, "walk into an aid clinic". I never said my hypothetical Horse would walk into one. He called an AIDS specialist doctor. Big difference. As for using a phone that can't be tracked to them? That's a big problem in and of itself. It means that now, just to make private calls, they now have to go out of their way to get specific phones.
    Yes, I know that call information is given to a third party, the phone company, (have to, in order for their service to work, their systems have to know what your phone number is and who you're calling, and since most people use mobile phones, their system needs to know where the recipient is), but that's a completely different entity than the NSA! Why does the NSA have to know who Politician Horse called? Or Random Bob? What if Politician Horse called a sex line from his office (not a bright thing to do, but not illegal) and Dick NSA Man is easily able to find that out? Now Dick NSA Man can very easily extort favours from Politician Horse.

     

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  73.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:13am

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    "Stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself"

     

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  74.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The Chinese government has the right to veto extradition from Hong Kong if they deem it to be a matter of national security or foreign policy.

    Before that the US government would have to prove to the Hong Kong authorities that the request was not politically motivated.

     

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  75.  
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    JMT (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: troubling

    "The same could be said for having someone note the license plates of cars that go to local gun shops (legal) and those who visit local politician's offices (also legal), and combining that list."

    And if that were happening on anywhere near the same scale as this you might have a point. But it's not, so you don't.

     

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  76.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:43am

    Re: Re:

    Learn to think for yourself.

    I'm sure I've seen that line somewhere before ..

    Learn to reference properly!

     

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  77.  
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    Stephen Pate, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 2:53am

    NSA surveillance

    I don't know why, except for media consumption, the news that NSA is monitoring phone calls is news.

    It was revealed in "Clear and Present Danger" almost 20 years ago.

    Rational thinking would lead one to believe that Tom Clancy had sources about phone surveillance. Frankly, other than bleeding hearts, it would seem like a good idea to be vigilant against the bad guys.

     

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  78.  
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    Stephen Pate, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 2:57am

    Re: founding fathers

    Ben Franklin said a lot of stuff, most of which is not appropriate for this age.

    Why do we have to quote the Bible, Koran, or "moldy Babylonian Gods" to find answers to the challenges of our time.

    The world would probably be better off without religion and quotes from Shakespeare. Think.

     

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    techflaws (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 3:29am

    Re: troubling

    A few more like him and Manning, and the US is done for

    I'd rather say some more mindless drones like you are doing far worse to any society.

     

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  80.  
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    Pragmatic, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 3:29am

    Re: Re: Re: And the denials by Google and Facebook begin to fade:

    If it's any of the Blues, it's Libertarian-leaning Blue. But this one is too civil and rational to be any of them. Note the lack of Google-bashing.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 3:30am

    Re: Re: founding fathers

    Why is Ben Franklin not appropriate for our time? And no, no-one here quoted the Bible, Koran or any moldy Babylonian gods, so I haven't got a clue where you got that from. And Franklin is two centuries ahead of Shakespeare, so again, what the fuck are you talking about?

     

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  82.  
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    Pragmatic, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 3:31am

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    Yeah, because all that frantic spying prevented the Boston bombing. Wait...

    ... oh, yeah, it utterly failed to do so. My bad.

     

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  83.  
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    Pragmatic, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 3:36am

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    Maximalists are, by nature, authoritarian. You rely on it to get your way. That's why it's pointless trying to reason with you, Horse.

    It's not going to be your problem till it affects you, and then what will you say? "But I'm one of you?" Good luck with that.

    You really think it's only for "the pirates," don't you?

     

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  84.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 3:52am

    Snowden is a real live hero

    This is what they look like. Not overpaid athletes, nor actors in SFX-laden movies; just an ordinary person who risks everything they have and everything they are for the greater good.

    I'm humbled by his sacrifice and proud to share a planet with him.

     

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  85.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 4:24am

    Re: Re: troubling

    … a political candidate or already in office? Suddenly, NSA man now has leverage over him.

    That's a key word in the context of this enterprise:   “leverage”.

     

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  86.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 4:51am

    Re: Re: founding fathers

    Specifically, these issues are EXACTLY the very sort that the founding fathers were concerned with when they were drafting the Constitution so quotes from them are particularly relevant.

     

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  87.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 4:58am

    Re:

    I don't really know about that. If something were to happen to him now, it would bring down even more attention on it which is the last thing they want. Right now they must be analyzing every piece of information they have on him to try to discredit him and paint him in as unfavorable light as possible.

     

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  88.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 5:03am

    Re: troubling

    You are right, you cannot trust the chain of command, the rusty weak links in the chain of trust are at the top between those in power and the public that they are supposed to represent. Only by replacing those weak links with new stronger ones will the strength of the chain be restored.

     

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  89.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Pardon Him

    Little premature. I think you have to be charged with something before you can be pardoned for it.

     

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  90.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 5:15am

    Re: Worse than Watergate

    Agreed. Watergate was all politically motivated against the opposing party, not the general public as this is. This is much bigger.

     

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  91.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 5:20am

    Re:

    I think this is the pendulum swinging back in the other direction. After 9/11, it swung so far in one direction that it had to eventually reverse it's course.

     

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  92.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 5:47am

    On behalf of Canadians: america, get the fuk out of my country and our emails. some truly disgusting sht this is and yet who knows, everyone probly does it.

     

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  93.  
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    This is why i'm hot, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 5:47am

    Good for you Snowden.wake up Americans

    This is what we need..to know people on the inside have some decency left, Kudos and thank you Edward Snowden, because i was starting to believe there was none left..when is the govt going to remember history repeats itself... don't call him a whistle blower he has the courage to stand up for freedom and if I find out anything happened to this guy there's a real problem boiling and America needs to FN open our eyes. Period.

     

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  94.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 6:17am

    Re:

     

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  95.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 6:23am

    "It also notes that he feels that his case is one of pure whistleblowing, distinguished from, say, Bradley Manning, in that he carefully chose which documents to reveal for the sole purpose of exposing a surveillance system that he (correctly) blew the whistle on a surveillance infrastructure that appears to go well beyond what the public believed was appropriate or within the bounds of the 4th Amendment. "

    Except Manning also had access to a lot more top secret documents he didn't leak because he felt that there were legitimate security risks to leaking them.

     

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  96.  
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    Rick Smith (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Unfortunately they can, and probably will. They just classify him as a terrorist and enemy combatant; they then feel like they can do whatever the hell they want. He wouldn't be the first US citizen this has been done too and he won't be the last.

     

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    Rick Smith (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 7:53am

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    The system isn't corrupt - the system works fine: I completely disagree with this statement I do think the system is corrupt and I don't think the system works any longer.

    When you give it up (by using third party services) there is no reason why the government can't collect the information but this I agree with, as long as it applies to everyone else as well.

    Laws should be applied to everyone and everything equally. So what is good for the government should be good for the citizen. Conversely, if its illegal for the private citizen then its supposed to be illegal for a corporation and government agency's, but often we find this not to be true.

    When laws are not applied evenly or consistently, and are changed in secret, there is a problem (a big problem) in the system that controls the laws. This is the situation we are faced with in the United States government. I don't know how long its been going on, but its clear that it has been for some time. I personally feel like the government is both traitor and terrorist rolled into one.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 7:59am

    Cool. Can't wait till he is rotting in a cell without trial forever and the mainstream forgets about him just like Manning. Also, inb4 he is subject to the ridiculous scrutiny that he describes in an attempt to discredit him.

     

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  99.  
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    The Real Michael, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." ~ George Orwell

     

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  100.  
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    The Real Michael, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: The denials are already starting...

    "Better still, according to his employers, Snowden's whistle-blowing is '... a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm ...'"

    When a firm's 'core values' consist of violating the Constitutional rights of millions of Americans, that firm has no credibility.

     

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  101.  
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    The Real Michael, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 8:37am

    Re: Re: founding fathers

    There is no expiration date on wisdom. Human rights, privacy, self-defense, etc. never go out of date, because there will always exist a need for them.

     

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  102.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 8:42am

    When you give it up (by using third party services) there is no reason why the government can't collect the information


    This has been an end run the government has been using for decades. While blocked from directly getting that info prior to all the laws that have been made since, it was somehow not illegal for them to pay 3rd party to get it for them. The end results come out the same.

    Another questionable is:
    His former employer claims he had only been working with them for 3 months. "Never heard of the guy."


    Security and spying are notorious for the paranoid mindset. So if he's only been with them 3 months, he really didn't learn much at all about the real deep down security, he just learned what everyone else already knows within the agency.

    I'm pissed about this, so should you be.

     

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  103.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 8:54am

    Snowden

    If he wants to be safe all he needs to do now is run for a political office...I'd vote for him.

     

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  104.  
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    Stephen Pate, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re: Re: founding fathers

    Why, because he didn't have a computer, smartphone, rock and roll, because he came from the age of slavery, subjugation of women, and a whole lot of other discredit ideas.

     

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  105.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re:

    A hero.

     

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  106.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    The system isn't corrupt - the system works fine.


    Ahhh, and here's the nut of the source of our disagreement.

    I think the system doesn't work fine. It's incredibly corrupt -- to the point of collapse.

     

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  107.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    If you pay attention, you would understand that they are NOT monitoring your calls. They are collecting data that you give to a third party (which phone number calls which phone number, for how long, if mobile where the mobile is).


    I call that "monitoring my calls". How nice that they (claim they) aren't actually listening to the call contents themselves, but that's pretty weak sauce. It's still monitoring by any definition of the word.

     

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  108.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    The system isn't corrupt - the system works fine.

    Wow.

     

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    nasch (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 9:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Pardon Him

    Little premature. I think you have to be charged with something before you can be pardoned for it.

    Apparently they started extradition proceedings; doesn't that imply he's been charged with a crime?

     

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  110.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re:

    A patriot.

     

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  111.  
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    PRMan, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: founding fathers

    Yep. Might as well ignore the collected wisdom of millenia collected in ancient writings and try to re-figure it all out in our lifetime. I'm sure that will work out well...

    How does the wise saying go?

    "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it."

     

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  112.  
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    Chris Brand, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re: troubling

    "When soldiers are ordered to butcher innocent villagers then they should refuse to obey." - Actually, it's even more concrete than this. They have a *legal obligation to disobey the order* in this case. They have to obey "lawful orders" and they have to disobey "unlawful orders". It actually puts them in a very difficult position.

     

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  113.  
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    Hopponit, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:07am

    leaks

    Just before reading this I checked out an article by Ed Bott. He had a copy of the report from the paper that broke the story. On page 5 of the their story they had a quote from Microsoft clarifying their involvement. Their spokesman stated that if there was a voluntary program to share info that Microsoft was not part of it. It struck me as odd that they stuck that into their statement. Makes me wonder if there is such an active program and Microsoft is under a gag order to prevent them from talking about it? Could this have been a way to slip the existence of such a program to the public without breaking the gag order?

     

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

  114.  
    identicon
    Cowards Anonymous, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    So, what you're really saying is that in order to be a clean politician you have to actively make sure nothing you do can be traced to anything negative for their entire life from birth.

    A normal representative citizen then either couldn't be an elected politician or would have enough dirt on their record to be blackmailed and controlled the minute they take office.

    Or these politicians would be an elite class of people with the know how to disguise their every move from surveillance, but they are about to take public office.

    This is the sort of non-representative government you would approve of?

     

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

  115.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:42am

    Re: Re: Re: founding fathers

    Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.


    Not only was this said by George Santayana 75 years or so ago (so he lived in a different time and anything he says couldn't possible hold any relevance to us now), but he didn't actually say that. He said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

    But, he just ripped that off from Edmund Burke, who said "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.". Burke lived in the 18th century, so we can safely ignore him even harder.

    Plus, this sentiment comes directly from the teachings of Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato -- so we can ignore this so hard that history itself will break into a thousand pieces!

    /sarc

     

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

  116.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: troubling

    The same could be said for having someone note the license plates of cars that go to local gun shops (legal) and those who visit local politician's offices (also legal), and combining that list.


    Yes, it could. In fact, I'll say it (and denounce it) myself. It's an incredibly dangerous and invasive practice that, if extended to all the metadata you generate, amounts to wholesale, invasive surveillance of the sort that the Constitution was trying to prevent.

     

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

  117.  
    icon
    Daemon_ZOGG (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 12:02pm

    The Voice In Your Head

    Long live Edward Snowden. Best of luck, in whatever country will offer asylum. Secret oversite, secret courts.. I'm sick of it. Snowden simply confirmed, with evidence, what many of us knew all along. The politicians who act in suprise to the NSA spying issue, are simply grandstanding. Some already knew, and those who didn't, buried their heads in the sand. Pretending it didn't exist. This NSA fascist crap has been going on as far back as the 1970s and 1980s. In a few select locations, AT&T has NSA approved BlackBoxes installed.. been there for years. ;p

     

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

  118.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: troubling

    Obama has solved that problem. He sends drones to butcher innocent villagers.

     

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

  119.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:27am

    Re:

    He will actually commit suicide on his own. He is borderline mentally ill. Look carefully at his choice of words.

     

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

  120.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2013 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Well, if this story holds up -- already under attack -- then

    They are working a psyop and they are doing it at my expense (among others).

    I'm supposed to be framed up and killed soon. Maybe it will be days, months, or possibly years. Who knows?

    I just know my friends are dead (like the boston guys friends). They started in on me when I was a 12 year old, and did what they could to twist me along the way. We are ruled by psychopaths.

     

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

  121.  
    identicon
    jonslater, Jun 26th, 2013 @ 4:54am

    hey looks like they got Snowden, he was spotted in a building window
    check this footage out http://youtu.be/Z3EF2pvKuo4

     

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


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