Snowden: NSA Revealed Only One Email, Shows NSA Lied Before... Also: None Of This Matters
from the battle-continues dept
Oh yeah, also that the NSA lied before when it claimed no such thing existed.
The NSA’s new discovery of written contact between me and its lawyers - after more than a year of denying any such contact existed - raises serious concerns. It reveals as false the NSA’s claim to Barton Gellman of the Washington Post in December of last year, that “after extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden’s contention that he brought these matters to anyone’s attention.”More importantly, though, Snowden points out that none of this really matters:
Today’s release is incomplete, and does not include my correspondence with the Signals Intelligence Directorate’s Office of Compliance, which believed that a classified executive order could take precedence over an act of Congress, contradicting what was just published. It also did not include concerns about how indefensible collection activities - such as breaking into the back-haul communications of major US internet companies - are sometimes concealed under E.O. 12333 to avoid Congressional reporting requirements and regulations.
Ultimately, whether my disclosures were justified does not depend on whether I raised these concerns previously. That’s because the system is designed to ensure that even the most valid concerns are suppressed and ignored, not acted upon. The fact that two powerful Democratic Senators - Ron Wyden and Mark Udall - knew of mass surveillance that they believed was abusive and felt constrained to do anything about it underscores how futile such internal action is -- and will remain -- until these processes are reformed.Separately, after ODNI published the email, Tim Lee wrote a great piece over at Vox.com highlighting why it really doesn't matter at all if he did, or did not, raise the matter internally:
Still, the fact is that I did raise such concerns both verbally and in writing, and on multiple, continuing occasions - as I have always said, and as NSA has always denied. Just as when the NSA claimed it followed German laws in Germany just weeks before it was revealed that they did not, or when NSA said they did not engage in economic espionage a few short months before it was revealed they actually did so on a regular and recurring basis, or even when they claimed they had “no domestic spying program” before we learned they collected the phone records of every American they could, so too are today’s claims that “this is only evidence we have of him reporting concerns” false.
But the NSA's response to Snowden also has a deeper problem: it wouldn't have made a difference if Snowden had raised his concerns more forcefully through internal channels.And, of course, other whistleblowers had their lives completely destroyed. Still, this story is one worth paying attention to, because it demonstrates a serious problem with how the intelligence community handles anyone concerned about its programs. The idea that there are internal controls to handle such a thing is pretty clearly misleading, whether or not Snowden made full use of those channels.
Remember, the NSA's position is that it hasn't done anything wrong. The agency claims that its domestic surveillance programs comply with the law, and that it gets plenty of oversight from both the courts and Congress. The NSA has stuck to this position despite a year of pressure from Congress and the public. Why would it have been any more receptive to the concerns of a lowly contractor?
Maybe Snowden should have brought his concerns to sympathetic members of Congress? That wouldn't have done any good either, because key members of Congress already knew about the program. And some of them were outraged about it!