by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
ed snowden, nsa, secrets, surveillance

Intelligence Officials Can't Keep Story Straight: Snowden Both Did And Did Not Get Key NSA Secrets

from the which-is-it? dept

We've already talked about how NSA surveillance supporters are trying to claim both that Ed Snowden's links were either "nothing new" or "false" and that they "harm America." We had trouble understanding how both could be true -- but supporters were making both statements. Now intelligence officials are doing their own sort of contradictory statements, as pointed out by Glenn Greenwald. First up, we've got intelligence officials claiming that Snowden didn't get the really deep dark secrets of the NSA:
U.S. intelligence now believes Edward Snowden did not gain access to the "crown jewels" of National Security Agency programs that secretly intercept and monitor conversations around the world, CNN has learned.
Note that comes from CNN reporter Barbara Starr who is well known for basically spreading the NSA official line so much that she's been called "the Pentagon spokesperson who works for CNN." However, just a day later, another site published a quote from General Bob Kehler, who "oversees cyber warfare" and is "sort of" NSA chief Keith Alexander's boss, claiming something quite different:
He referred to the type of information Snowden released as ”the deepest of the deep secrets.”
So... he didn't get access to the "crown jewels" but has already released "the deepest of the deep secrets"? How does that work?

The reality is that these guys are basically just posturing for different audiences. They want to downplay the seriousness of the leaks, while still attacking Snowden and making it out like this action is so dangerous. The problem is that both things can't be true. But, of course, when has the NSA and the intelligence community ever cared about truth? You'd just think they'd be a bit more careful about so obviously contradicting themselves.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 26 Jul 2013 @ 11:11am

    Quantum physics at work. Is the cat in or out of the bag? Is it alive or dead? Or Both? Schrödinger would be proud!

    Jokes apart they'll say whatever fits at the occasion. Obscurity sometimes may be the best card you can play when shit has hit the fan. Maybe shift focus from what happened to "was it deep secrets or not"? Or maybe shift it to Snowden personality or something? Seems to work with alienated people though.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2013 @ 11:31am

    Anyone with an IQ higher than a dog (I guess the gov doesn't fit in that category) knows that this leak did not to as much damage as the actual spying.

    It's called consequences to your action. Something which the US gov. think doesn't apply to them.

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

  • icon
    Wally (profile), 26 Jul 2013 @ 11:42am

    Playing off of Ninja's first comment..

    Honestly there is more than one way to skin Schrödinger's cat here.

    Snowden did likely indeed take classified material with him....his knowledge base...and some private personal data of people the NSA has spied on...but some of the documents he carries are quite publicly accessible. Policies like what to do in an emergency should never be classified.

    I think that this sudden turn around is a combination of not admitting you're wrong, and at the same time trying to save face.

    As long as Snowden preserves (meaning he doesn't crack under torture) the classified information that needs to be classified, he should be ok.

    The NSA and congress have no reason to fear him yet they do. I'm reminded of an old Western proverb:

    "Sinners flee when there is no sin committed to flee from."

    This means that only a person hiding something would run or backpedal when they've been caught. Snowden is fleeing...but not for the same reason the NSA is trying to backpedal on what it has been saying.

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

  • icon
    uRspqF7L (profile), 26 Jul 2013 @ 11:43am


    interesting in NSA's use of a term similar to CIA "family jewels," which were also largely about wiretapping & surveillance, & which were supposedly "released" in 1977. Then released again in 2007, & quite differently (& to almost no notice from media).

    good overview & complete (as of now) documents at:

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    out_of_the_blue, 26 Jul 2013 @ 11:44am

    YEAH, they need to HYPE yet can't admit huge breach.

    Entirely consistent with limited hangout psyop. When needed in one venue to be bad, it's said to verge on catastrophe; when elsewhere answer "how could you be so careless?", why, it's minor.

    I like how you let me prove I've been right from the start of this "leak", so, Mike, keep running these pieces in which YOU are puzzled by obvious inconsistency that a limited hangout psyop explains perfectly.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2013 @ 12:25pm

      Re: YEAH, they need to HYPE yet can't admit huge breach.

      Even you seem to be getting tired of your inane babble.

      Go take a nap, or find a real job.

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

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 26 Jul 2013 @ 11:44am


    Schroedinger's Whistleblower?

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

  • icon
    Cory of PC (profile), 26 Jul 2013 @ 11:48am

    So if Snowden's leak "harmed America," then why hasn't anyone jumped on the opportunity to attack? If they are making this like Snowden revealed all of these secrets and is threatening to destroy national security, then someone should've jumped on that and do something about it.

    If this is "nothing new" then why are they making a big deal outta this!? This seems like attention getting if they're trying to make one guy look like the biggest threat to the US, or just something to top the previous scandal.

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

  • icon
    Internet Zen Master (profile), 26 Jul 2013 @ 11:54am

    Wait wait wait

    The NSA's deepest, most closely guarded secret is that they have got a literal Schrodinger's cat locked up somewhere in their headquarters?

    Animal cruelty! Someone call ASPCA! And PETA! (Hey, if PETA tries to throw fake blood at the NSA building and they get arrested for it, it's a win-win for everyone, right?)

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

  • identicon
    Eponymous Coward, 26 Jul 2013 @ 12:05pm

    I don't know enough about all the different logical fallacies that exist (I could do an easy Google search, but I'm being lazy), though it seems to me that if there isn't yet one named for these types of contradictory claims there should be. Right now I'm thinking 'Contradicotomy', or 'Contradiametric' claims, is a fitting term(s) to describe this argument approach (but that's biased by my enjoyment of a good portmenteau). Any other good ideas?

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

  • identicon
    Alt0, 26 Jul 2013 @ 12:39pm

    I bet they have NO IDEA what he's got, hence the man hunt.
    All they know is what he has released so far.
    I doubt he is carrying the only copies too.

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

  • icon
    SolkeshNaranek (profile), 26 Jul 2013 @ 1:01pm

    Much like a drowning man trying yo save himself, the NSA will not fail to grasp at any metaphorical straw no matter how small or futile, in an effort to save face.

    Lately whenever I see an article with "NSA" in the title, I hear the theme from 'The Three Stoges" play in my head.

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

  • icon
    LVDave (profile), 26 Jul 2013 @ 1:22pm

    Not surprised..

    When everything out of your mouth is obfuscation, misdirection or just out-and-out lies, its gotta really hard to keep your story straight.. The truth doesn't require a great memory to keep your story straight.. Oh the filth and corruption runs deep in this government....

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2013 @ 1:40pm

    It's not the crown jewels, Snowden hit the NSA right in the family jewels.
    As any middle schooler will tell you, such an offence must be dealt with with extreme prejudice.

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

  • identicon
    Disgusted, 26 Jul 2013 @ 1:54pm

    Dear Mr. Snowden

    The time has come, the walrus said, to tell us all you know!
    To drop the hammer on these guys and get on with the show.

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

  • identicon
    Lurker Keith, 26 Jul 2013 @ 3:11pm


    How can the NSA spying on Americans be the one of the deepest secrets of the Government when the phrase "Big Brother" is known around the world to mean just that (& I've been aware of the phrase pretty much my entire life)?

    Also, we also have shows like Person of Interest & games like Watch_Dogs* that wouldn't exist if the concept of the US government spying on their own citizens wasn't already a main stream concept, if still considered a myth or conspiracy before the recent leaks.

    All Snowden did was admit, yes, the NSA is indeed doing what you all have suspected for decades. Here's the proof.

    & I JUST saw a local NBC broadcast mention the House voted to allow the spying to continue, & that it is now up to the Senate to attempt to defund the spy programs (they actually used the word "spy" a few times).

    *In an interview at E3 for Watch_Dogs (skip to 13:57 for the NSA mention), one of the Ubisoft guys was asked if the NSA stuff was a marketing ploy, & he talks about how the terminology being used w/ the NSA is the same as the game, & how reality has surpassed the game.

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

  • icon
    toyotabedzrock (profile), 29 Jul 2013 @ 1:27am

    Crown swag

    The crown jewel would be something an enemy wanted. We just want the bs inside the us to stop.

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

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