Suggestion To NSA Employees Who Actually Respect Civil Liberties: Do A 'Quarter Snowden With A Twist'

from the good-ideas dept

Conor Friedersdorf, over at the Atlantic, has a good suggestion for employees of the NSA who agree with Ed Snowden that their organization has gone too far and should be reined in... but who don't want to go as far as he did in releasing classified documents, and having to leave the US forever (and facing the potential of life in prison). Because even though it appears that lots of people could access the documents Snowden has leaked, very few are willing to assume the "costs" associated with being a whistleblower like that. Instead, Friedersdorf points out, there are ways to make a very strong statement, without risking a life on the run, in jail or worse. Quit and speak out.
It doesn't require leaking classified information. Nor does it violate the law. To pull off the quarter-Snowden with a twist, which requires even less than a quarter of Snowden's courage, an NSA employee need only resign their position, seek out a trustworthy journalist of their choice, and announce that while they aren't at liberty to reveal any state secrets, they believe that Congress ought to rein in the NSA immediately. "If Senators Dianne Feinstein and Ron Wyden, who are permitted to see classified information, are listening," the staffer could say, "I'd like to brief them on my concerns." At least one of those Senate Intelligence Committee members will take the plea seriously.
Yes, this would involve serious personal sacrifice. Giving up a lucrative job (and one with access to many of the world's secrets) probably isn't easy. But it's not nearly the sacrifice that Snowden made, and yet it would still have quite an impact. Oh, and if you're a sys admin like Snowden, there's a damn good chance you're losing your job anyway, so rather than wait for the pink slip, why not make a statement that doesn't involve breaking any laws, but could make a real difference?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 9:05am

    Good idea but...

    Maybe don't include Feinstein in such an open letter/offer, as I cannot see that ending well for the ex-NSA employee trying to make a difference at all.

     

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

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 9:05am

    Respecting the constitution and working for the NSA is an oxymoron. So I doubt even one more will come forward.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 9:13am

    Re: Good idea but...

    Agreed. Only a fool would think Feinstein (or Rogers for that matter) could be trusted to protect the American people at this point.

     

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

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 9:19am

    How did the USA make it?

    How did the USA even survive for 200 years before the NSA?

    The government is running around acting like 1 well place suicide bomber would shut down the USA for good.

    We have done far more damage to ourselves in response to terrorism than terrorism will now ever be able to do to us!

     

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  5.  
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    Jerrymiah, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re: Good idea but...

    Totally agree. The Alexander, Clapper, Hayden, Obama, Holder, Rogers, Pelosi and others of both political parties have signed a pledge to abolish the US constitution. They should therefore not be trusted by anybody.

     

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  6.  
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    sammy bin ladle, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 9:50am

    Re: How did the USA make it?

    Muah ha ha, it worked!

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 10:06am

    Suggestion to people who want others to fix things for them:

    Get up off your own Atlantic-sized asses and start a donationary X-Prize for Career Compensation for NSA whistleblowers.

    You want it? You pay for it. Buy it yourselves, instead of whining like spoiled brat feminists for the Big Bad Mans to buy it for you.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 10:23am

    Re: Good idea but...

    Not when every word out of her mouth defends them rather than at any point holding them accountable and actually 'overseeing' their actions.

     

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  9.  
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    Really Now, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 10:30am

    Anyone actually considering this...

    Read the Intelligence Community's Whistleblower Protection Act. Direct disclosure to Congress by an IC member is quite limited. I believe the Act requires informing the AG that the whistle is about to be blown first. Otherwise, you are violating the law, contrary to the suggestion made by the writer in The Atlantic. Not my area of expertise, but worth a very careful look if anyone takes this suggestion seriously.

     

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  10.  
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    reality based paranoia, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 10:50am

    Re: Anyone actually considering this...

    And that's why they won't. Do you really think Holder and crew are going to work in the interest of we the people?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 11:12am

    To pull off the quarter-Snowden with a twist, which requires even less than a quarter of Snowden's courage, an NSA employee need only resign their position, seek out a trustworthy journalist of their choice, and announce that while they aren't at liberty to reveal any state secrets, they believe that Congress ought to rein in the NSA immediately.

    You know, I'd LIKE to believe this would work...but if Snowden releasing what they are ACTUALLY doing doesn't get anything to change, then why would this?

    I'm sorry to be a pessimist, but this agency isn't going to go away quietly...

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 11:33am

    Repeated misinformation

    I don't know why this misinformation keeps getting brought up unless it is meant to ridicule the NSA: if you're a sys admin like Snowden, there's a damn good chance you're losing your job anyway. Anyone with a tech-background obviously knows that when they say they are getting rid of 90% of their admins, it just means that they are reducing the number of people who have admin privileges. And it's not just the NSA who is doing this. Every large organization is striving to do the same.

     

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  13.  
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    Jake, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 12:28pm

    Re:

    He's an arsehole, but he's probably got a good idea. In fact, fuck it. Why don't we start offering crowdsourced bounties for the first NSA employee to reveal embarrassing secrets about any Congressperson who's made excuses for this Big Brother bullshit?

     

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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 2:51pm

    Print a target on my back...

    Honestly Mike, are you serious!? Really, Snowden was a one-off job. Anyone else would be dead within a week... Just my humble opinion, as one who has dealt with these asshats in the past. I had contacts in the 1960's who could get me in contact with Fidel Castro in Cuba, and the CIA wanted me to "deal" with him. I had to spend the next 40 years under cover as a result of NOT bowing to their wishes!

     

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  15.  
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    SpaceLifeForm, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 3:58pm

    Indoctrination

    Nothing like this is likely to happen. These people
    that work for NSA or the contractors have been heavily
    indoctrinated into military thought processes, they
    are brainwashed into thinking that they are so important
    that they have stopped thinking outside the box about
    what is really important to humanity.

    It takes a very intelligent person such as ES, to realize
    that one is being indoctrinated and to question their
    purpose in life.

     

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

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 4:35pm

    Re: Re:

    *Back*. I'm an arsehole *back*. Friedderdroffds arsed first.

     

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  17.  
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    FM Hilton, Jan 3rd, 2014 @ 1:49am

    All the king's horses

    In an ideal world where nobility of purpose actually exists, there would be tons of people who would willingly give up a lucrative and well paying job to tell the truth.

    However, in this world, where one must survive in any way they can, one does not. Mostly because it ain't worth the shit for that stuff.

    Lose your job, lose your friends, any chance of ever making a better life for yourself by 'ratting out' your former boss?

    Yeah, sure. Nice idea, but no cigar. Having a target on your back isn't nearly as nice as retiring on a full pension.

    That's why there's not more of the Edward Snowdens out there, and not many are that willing to take on the role even without going full bore rogue.

    It takes huge sacrifices to make the leap from ordinary working stiff to public whistleblower.

    As for the contention that there are people willing to listen to your revelations, I highly doubt that you can get an appointment to see a Senator without a lot of pull. Those people live in a whole 'nother world you know. The peons don't get access to them.

    It would be nice if cynicism wasn't the order of the day, but that's what keeps the NSA smiling at us. They know they have all the cards in their hands.

    Besides, having the government on your trail for the rest of your life isn't exactly what I'd call a very inviting prospect for a long life as a free person. Funny that there are laws that can be crafted to put your butt in prison so fast it will make your head spin.

     

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


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