NSA Now Revealing A Lot More About What It Does Than Snowden Leaks Did; So Is That Harming America?

from the just-wondering dept

One of the key refrains that has come out from those who are unhappy about the revelation of details around the NSA's surveillance efforts is that Edward Snowden's leaks are somehow harmful to America. During hearings about all of this, NSA boss Keith Alexander claimed that "Americans will die" because of these sorts of leaks. But... between those same hearings and other revelations from the administration and Congress, we're actually learning much more about the various programs directly from the government, as information is now being "declassified." And, apparently, President Obama is asking the NSA and the Justice Department to look into declassifying even more. So while the initial shove to declassify information may have come via Snowden, the stuff that we're really learning about is coming through revelations following Snowden's leaks -- revelations that never would have happened without his leaks.

So that raises a fairly basic question: if Snowden is somehow a traitor and putting lives at risk... why isn't the other information we're actually learning about the programs equally as problematic? The real answer seems to be that the information Snowden leaked does not harm us at all, but has simply revealed that the government has kept classified information from the American public that never should have been classified at all. The fact that only now are they looking to declassify it (and then doing so) shows pretty clearly that the information was improperly classified in the first place.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 3:34am

    Snowden made America stronger.

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

  • icon
    McCrea (profile), 24 Jun 2013 @ 3:35am

    Well, we already knew Obama was harmful to America

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 3:41am

    Of course not. It's just like the RIAA. Ripping off artists never harms them if they're doing it, unlike dead grandmothers downloading music off Kazaa on a Macintosh computer.

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

  • identicon
    FM Hilton, 24 Jun 2013 @ 3:49am

    Wasn't that the point of Snowden's revelations?

    To make the government open up more about the massive spying efforts that they have?

    One cannot have it both ways-it's either total secrecy or transparency.

    Sorry, NSA, you had it coming to you. Karma's a bitch.

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

  • icon
    RyanNerd (profile), 24 Jun 2013 @ 4:23am

    Yelling at my TV

    I can not watch the news anymore. Especially CNN I saw yesterday afternoon some asshat talking about how Snowden had been harming America and other such asyndeton. My wife thought I'd lost my mind because I kept yelling at the TV: "What the hell! Reporter lady now ask HOW exactly did Snowden harm America?" But instead of challenging this absurd assumtion she thanked the asshat for his factual statements and went on with the next news item.
    My poor wife... I was in a foul mood the rest of the day.

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

    • icon
      Zakida Paul (profile), 24 Jun 2013 @ 4:32am

      Re: Yelling at my TV

      I do the same when watching the news on TV or listening on the radio. It must be a funny sight meeting me on the road and seeing me yelling at (seemingly) nothing.

      In the end, I just gave up.

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

    • identicon
      chrissmithatwork, 24 Jun 2013 @ 4:48am

      Re: Yelling at my TV

      This is why I avoid cable news. PBS Newshour is much more sensible.

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

    • identicon
      The Real Michael, 24 Jun 2013 @ 4:51am

      Re: Yelling at my TV

      Mainstream news outlets are run by corporate and government interests. That's why they only present one side of the story, i.e. whatever fits their biases. Small wonder their ratings are in the trash -- hardly anyone trusts them anymore.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 4:55am

    So NOW they're declassifying information...Shame we had to ruin YET ANOTHER life to get it.

    I'm looking at you NSA.

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

  • icon
    RyanNerd (profile), 24 Jun 2013 @ 5:00am

    Okay letís list the items that have come to light during the Obama administration (No particualar order):

    1) Bradly Manning being charged with 34 violations one of which carries the death penalty.
    2) IRS targeting conservative groups.
    3) The Benghazi cover-up (which is actually 3 scandals in one)
    - The failure of administration to protect the Benghazi mission.
    - The changes made to the talking points in order to suggest the attack was motivated by an anti-Muslim video.
    - The refusal of the White House to say what President Obama did the night of the attack.
    4) The criminalizing of an NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden.
    5) The Justice Department massive data gathering of Associated Press reporters' phone records as part of a leak investigation.
    6) The Justice Department accusing Fox News reporter James Rosen of being a criminal for reporting about classified information and subsequently monitored his phones and emails.

    I could actually go on but these are most of the major ones. Now tell me again exactly who is harming America?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 5:12am

      Re:

      You sid you were going to stop watching Fox News.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 11:18am

        Re: Re:

        This could just as easily be the NPR list. It's not like anything in the above is some kind of wingnut conservative conspiracy theory now, this is all mainstream stuff.

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

    • identicon
      Ed C., 24 Jun 2013 @ 8:02am

      Re:

      Benghazi? Do you have any idea how many such attacks happened under Bush?

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

    • icon
      Nick (profile), 24 Jun 2013 @ 10:49am

      That list is already 6 entries too large for my tastes

      Don't forget the massively increased use of drones for targeted killings in sovereign nations, assassination kill list, and the fact that Americans can be and are put on previously said list.

      Whether you all agree with the severity of legitimacy of these scandals (most of the ones regarding Benghazi in particular I think are absurd), the fact is that this list is already too large already. In fact, we should be pointing at and laughing at every single allegation on the list as another "whitewater-gate" scandal. Instead, we are either forced to defend them (in the cases of some people suddenly demonizing Snowden and praising the NSA spying efforts) or just staying passive about it (such as the Manning trial (a horrible miscarriage of justice).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 5:02am

    Ryan I agree with you Candy Crowley is a tool who tried to trap Rand Paul with her line of interrogation.

    The thing that galls me the most is David Gregory saying that Glenn Greenwald should be investigated for criminal actions.

    Gregory who back in 2012 broke Washington DC law with the on air possession of a high capacity magazine. But because he was doing the governments bidding received a pass.

    It would be interesting to look back and see what he had to say about the DOJ abuse of the AP and Fox news reporter James Rosen.

    Just a guess I bet it did not support the DOJ.

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

  • identicon
    me, 24 Jun 2013 @ 5:50am

    It's called making an example of. Yet his flying irectly to Moscow is not exactly helping his case.

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

    • icon
      Niall (profile), 24 Jun 2013 @ 8:25am

      Re:

      Oh yes, because flying to one of the US's poodle one-way extradition client states would really help it. Because Manning and Assange have had such a great time.

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

  • identicon
    Ben, 24 Jun 2013 @ 5:53am

    Context

    This is a tough one, because as much as I prefer to know about this type of intelligence gathering, I believe it's pretty clear Snowden broke the law by exposing this information. And as much as people don't like what he NSA was doing, it's far from clear at this point that it was illegal.

    Apart from some public support, what's the difference between Snowden's acts and a infiltrator working at the behest of a foreign power making embarrassing information public?

    Should we just make it legal to publicly expose classified info, as long as a single person (the person doing the releasing) thinks the public should know?

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

    • identicon
      Michael, 24 Jun 2013 @ 5:57am

      Re: Context


      Should we just make it legal to publicly expose classified info, as long as a single person (the person doing the releasing) thinks the public should know?


      Yes.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 2:22pm

        Re: Re: Context

        It IS legal. It's called freedom of the press and it's supposed to be guaranteed in the 1st amendment of the Constitution.

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

    • identicon
      The Real Michael, 24 Jun 2013 @ 6:20am

      Re: Context

      "And as much as people don't like what he NSA was doing, it's far from clear at this point that it was illegal."

      Ever read the 4th Amendment of the Constitution?

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

      • identicon
        Ben, 24 Jun 2013 @ 7:02am

        Re: Re: Context

        "Ever read the 4th Amendment of the Constitution?"

        Did you make it to the part where SCOTUS is in charge of making that call?

        If there was a glaring Constitutional issue, why did Congress stand pat for years? They can pretend ignorance, but they all have access to details of those programs.

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

        • identicon
          Michael, 24 Jun 2013 @ 8:21am

          Re: Re: Re: Context

          Are you suggesting that Congress has never supported anything unconstitutional or written and voted in unconstitutional laws?

          If Congress doing something (or in the case nothing) could make something constitutional, we wouldn't need a Supreme Court.

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

          • icon
            art guerrilla (profile), 24 Jun 2013 @ 8:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Context

            it appears he is an hopeless appeaser and authoritarian...
            ben's brain is stuck on "OBEY!"

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

            • identicon
              Ben, 24 Jun 2013 @ 9:15am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Context

              "it appears he is an hopeless appeaser and authoritarian...
              ben's brain is stuck on "OBEY!""

              And even if that were true, it would still be more mature than the "Government = Bad, lulz" position you fellows are pushing.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 10:51am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Context

                Actually, it wouldn't be more mature. If you aren't mature enough to question authority...

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 11:47am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Context

                Here's the thing: no one is pushing that position. It's a straw man you just made up on the spot. In fairness it was in response to someone else making a similar thing up about you.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 9:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Context

            "Are you suggesting that Congress has never supported anything unconstitutional or written and voted in unconstitutional laws?"

            I'm saying it's not up to you, or me, or Snowden to make that determination.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 11:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Context

              But it is up to me, you, and Snowden. The people are what grants SCOTUS the right to make the determination. If we feel they've made the wrong call we have the power to correct them. The people are the ultimate authority.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 11:27am

          Re: Re: Re: Context

          Did you make it to the part where it opens 'we the people' and then goes on to explain that it is the people who are granting these powers?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 2:24pm

        Re: Re: Context

        If what they are doing ISN'T a violation of the 4th amendment then... well... I don't know what purpose it serves because not much of anything is.

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

    • icon
      art guerrilla (profile), 24 Jun 2013 @ 8:37am

      Re: Context

      ^ AUTHORITARIAN ALERT

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

    • identicon
      Eric, 25 Jun 2013 @ 9:23pm

      Re: Context

      "And as much as people don't like what he NSA was doing, it's far from clear at this point that it was illegal."

      Ummmm...how about a mass warrant for gathering information on people who have absolutely NO probable cause? Do you not understand what the heck you're talking about?

      Let me help you to then, Step 1) Unilateral national warrant for gathering digital info, Step 2) Unilateral national warrant to search and/or seize anything the government deems "dangerous to public safety" from public buildings and corporations, Step 3) Unilateral warrants to search your private residences to insure the public that you don't have anything in your possession that could threaten their "safety".

      "Whatever, that will never happen". Oh right...because it didn't happen in Germany in 1933, or in Continental America WHEN OUR FOUNDING FATHERS WROTE THE STINKIN' THING INTO OUR CONSTITUTION!!!!

      They had the FORESIGHT to protect US from our ridiculous government, who in turn is trying to make them out to be senseless individuals with "antiquated" ideals. Just like King George III did to those who made laws before him. Ohhhh yeah suuuuuure, tell them it's about their "safety" and they will get on hands and knees to thank you for stripping their rights to protect them from the boogeyman.

      Grow a brain.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2013 @ 4:57am

      Re: Context

      Snowden broke only contract law - so far this is correct and undisputed.
      Was he a traitor for exposing classified information that harms American lives? Like Assange and Wikileaks?

      Now why would the NSA tip around this hot roof when all they do is
      a) in the spirit of the constitution of the USA
      b) operating within the words of the law of the USA
      c) not appearing to hide something more
      d) not upsetting the citizens of the USA
      The government must show the government is keeping everyone "safe" - without admitting that to do so is to take away the basic principles of American life and citizenship. And the NSA is in the dead center of a hurricane and doesn't want to budge for good reason.

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

  • identicon
    out_of_the_blue, 24 Jun 2013 @ 7:03am

    usual rubbish, he broke the law putting lives at risk should face trial like manning and assange

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 7:11am

    Snoden is not being charged for "harming America" he is being charged for theft, and wrongfull use of classified information.

    And for providing classified info to people not cleared to view it.

    I dont see anything about "harming America" on his charge sheet, so what is the point of your argument.

    Also NSA officials are allowed to make statements and provide information, Snoden signed legal documents and made statements under oath that he understood he is NOT allowed.

    So trying to build a defense for which he is not being charged is not that smart an idea, it would be better (by far) to actually build a defense claim that some how defends what he is being charged for !!! would you not think ??

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

    • identicon
      Michael, 24 Jun 2013 @ 8:24am

      Re:

      If "wrongful use of classified information" is a crime, I think the entire executive branch should be facing prosecution right about now.

      And did he steal, or infringe? Disney has me all confused on that one.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 9:15am

      Re:

      For someone claiming to be a solar panel engineer you sure have a way of completely fucking up technicalities.

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

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 24 Jun 2013 @ 5:49pm

      Re:

      "Snoden is not being charged for "harming America" he is being charged for theft, and wrongfull use of classified information.

      And for providing classified info to people not cleared to view it.

      I dont see anything about "harming America" on his charge sheet, so what is the point of your argument."


      This actually made me giggle. Not really a high-level thinker are you?

      "Also NSA officials are allowed to make statements and provide information, Snoden signed legal documents and made statements under oath that he understood he is NOT allowed."

      What you clearly want (like the USG apparently) is to prevent whistle-blowing. And the only people who want to prevent whistle-blowing are people who know the public would not be happy with the info provided by whistle-blowers, i.e. people who know what they're doing is wrong, legally or otherwise. People like you who want to suppress knowledge of governmental misdeeds sicken me. You are an anathema to good democratic government process.

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

  • identicon
    Pete Austin, 24 Jun 2013 @ 7:33am

    The NSA could not afford to its technology secret

    The article forgets two vital facts (1) Snowden fled to China, where they have become very effective at applying for patents and (2) "first to file" is now the law in the USA.

    If the NSA had continued to keep the details of their monitoring secret, it would only have been a matter of days before some Chinese company applied for patents covering the whole thing and required $billions in license fees. The risk was too great.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 7:54am

    Just so long as nothing revealed embarrasses the united states then it's not a danger to anyone. Otherwise, it's a danger to the United State's reputation and we can't have that.

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

  • identicon
    FM Hilton, 24 Jun 2013 @ 9:15am

    "usual rubbish, he broke the law putting lives at risk should face trial like manning and assange"

    The only life he put at risk was his own-for daring to stare down the government over illegal activities.

    Now we see what happens when you do such things-you get the government all pissed off and embarrassed by its' overreaction and floundering steps.

    The government in turn, assumed that anything they asked for would be given to them, and they were shocked to find that they're not as above the law as they think.

    Hong Kong said so: "Sorry, fill out the rest of the paperwork and come back when it's done."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 2:57pm

    I'm amazed no-one in the GOP has yet thought of running against Obama on a 'pardon Snowden' ticket......

    Simple retoric.....Obama = dictator who may/may not have murdered US and non-US citizens without oversight and is now going after any and all whistleblowers that expose the hypocrisy and general evil of his administration.

    As a side swipe they could promise to have a FULL and public financial investigation of Obama and Biden's personal wealth since they came to power.....

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2013 @ 3:27pm

    "The fact that only now are they looking to declassify it (and then doing so) shows pretty clearly that the information was improperly classified in the first place"

    It does not necessarily follow. Since Snowden revealed the program it is probably true that much of it no longer needs to be classified. At this point pretty much everybody assumes that the NSA is wiretapping anything that passes through the US. The government's argument is that before the revelations there were some people out there who did not take precautions and now will.

    Declassifying now is pretty understandable if only so they do not have to continue doing crazy things like asking everybody with a security clearance to not look at the documents online.

    The central point in this fiasco has always been whether it is appropriate for the government to do capture data on this scale based on the general warrants. Not telling the wiretapped person that he is being wiretapped is not exceptional, the problem here is the target is everyone.

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

  • identicon
    tartar, 24 Jun 2013 @ 4:25pm

    Wow! Seems to be the consensus is that sometimes you got to shake it up a bit. Thank you young man. We all kind of knew it and now it is confirmed. Thank you government for wasting my tax dollars on your ludicrous expeditions. Just shake it.

    This country will go on without many government agencies because, at the end of the day, we are a nation of good people.

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

  • identicon
    Andy, 24 Jun 2013 @ 8:22pm

    legal smegal

    Some of the greatest heroes in history did illegal things; the Boston Tea Party, the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Harriet Tubman, and more recently Daniel Ellsberg.

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

  • identicon
    Eric, 25 Jun 2013 @ 9:42pm

    Come, sign up now to surrender your rights!!!

    General warrant = Unconstitutional = illegal. So why are we even considering Snowden to be a traitor and a criminal? I guess a "nation" can't possibly do anything illegal and be held accountable since there is no one person to blame (or is there...). Good grief people...this is ludicrous!

    Again, as I said before, tell everyone that you're stripping them of their rights to protect them...oh! And put in a little psychological snippet to say that it's "for the children", and they will bow down and thank you for saving them from the monsters in the closet.

    It's like your parents grounding you for life to protect you from "the rapists" and "pedophiles" that you probably will never encounter. Same concept, now how does that sound to you? Not so romanticized anymore, is it?!

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

  • identicon
    keith, 7 Jul 2013 @ 11:26pm

    History

    The Church Committee in 1975, the Patriot Act in 2001, and y'all are just now finding out about the NSA spying on us in 2013???

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


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