Experts say Edward Snowden’s public questioning of Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested the former National Security Agency contractor is firmly in the Kremlin’s grasp.
They said it is hard to imagine that Snowden was not prompted and coached to pose his question about domestic surveillance in Russia to the country’s leader.
And the answer he got in return, they said — that none of Russia’s programs reached the size and scope of anything at the National Security Agency (NSA) — was most likely a lie.
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“They’ve got him by the shorthairs,” said James Lewis, director of the strategic technologies program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“He knows from his NSA days that their surveillance system — their domestic surveillance system — puts ours to shame, and the fact that he’s calling in with these questions, he’s [got to be] sitting in the room with a guy with a gun.”
Back in September, I described Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times, in which he lectured Barack Obama over Syria, as an example of Putin’s trollpolitik. He is an exceptional practitioner of concern trolling, and he has taken particular delight in criticizing Obama over his supposed military adventurism. Edward Snowden’s eastward defection with damaging American intelligence secrets was a boon to Putin’s trollpolitik.
Snowden’s defenders preferred to pretend he was a public servant; his leaks did, after all, win his correspondents the public service Pulitzer. But their arguments began to fall apart when Snowden made them look like fools by leaking all sorts of information that had nothing to do with Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights and everything to do with providing strategic advantages to the American adversaries who took turns hosting Snowden before Putin’s Russia gave him a more permanent home.
The Surveillance State has created an apparatus whose implications are staggering. It’s a different world now. And sometimes it takes a writer of fiction to flesh out the larger landscape.
Brad Thor’s novel, Black List, posits the existence of a monster corporation, ATS, that stands along side the NSA in collecting information on every move we make. ATS’ intelligence-gathering capability is unmatched anywhere in the world.
On pages 117-118 of Black List, Thor makes a stunning inference that, on reflection, is as obvious as the fingers on your hand:
“For years ATS had been using its technological superiority to conduct massive insider trading. Since the early 1980s, the company had spied on anyone and everyone in the financial world. They listened in on phone calls, intercepted faxes, and evolved right along with the technology, hacking internal…
(Reuters) – Security industry pioneer RSA adopted not just one but two encryption tools developed by the U.S. National Security Agency, greatly increasing the spy agency’s ability to eavesdrop on some Internet communications, according to a team of academic researchers.
Reuters reported in December that the NSA had paid RSA $10 million to make a now-discredited cryptography system the default in software used by a wide range of Internet and computer security programs. The system, called Dual Elliptic Curve, was a random number generator, but it had a deliberate flaw – or “back door” – that allowed the NSA to crack the encryption.
A group of professors from Johns Hopkins, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Illinois and elsewhere now say they have discovered that a second NSA tool exacerbated the RSA software’s vulnerability.
The professors found that the tool, known as the “Extended Random” extension for secure websites, could help crack a version of RSA’s Dual Elliptic Curve software tens of thousands of times faster, according to an advance copy of their research shared with Reuters.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The CIA’s director and its top lawyer told White House attorneys in advance about their plans to file an official criminal complaint accusing Senate Intelligence Committee aides of improperly obtaining secret agency documents, the White House confirmed Wednesday.
Lawyers in the White House counsel’s office did not approve the CIA’s move to refer its complaint to the Justice Department or provide any advice to the agency, presidential spokesman Jay Carney said.
“There was no comment, there was no weighing in, there was no judgment,” Carney said, citing protocol not to interfere in the ongoing inquiries into the matter by the FBI and the CIA’s inspector general.
Carney did not say whether President Barack Obama was directly aware of the decision. “The president has been aware in general about the protocols and the discussions and occasional disputes involved,” he said.
Obama avoided commenting on his involvement in the dispute at the end of a meeting Wednesday with female Democratic lawmakers on women’s economic issues. He added that “with respect to the issues that are going back and forth between the Senate committee and the CIA, (CIA Director) John Brennan has referred them to the appropriate authorities. And they are looking into it. And that’s not something that is an appropriate role for me and the White House to weigh into at this point.”
Imagine a prominent foe of Vladimir Putin—someone who had been forced to flee Russia for fear of a jail sentence—appearing via video hookup from abroad to address a large audience in St. Petersburg to deliver withering criticisms of Putin’s attacks on civil liberties. Imagine, moreover, this personage receiving raucous applause from the Russian audience.
Hard to imagine, no? Precisely because there are no civil liberties in Russia, such a spectacle would be unlikely to occur, and if it did, everyone involved would face the danger of jail time.
Yet Edward Snowden has no problem speaking from an undisclosed location in Russian to address the South by Southwest Festival in Austin—and receiving a standing ovation from the audience and softball questions from his ACLU questioners on stage. What’s wrong with this picture?
No one apparently asked Snowden about the obvious hypocrisy involved of defending Internet freedom—with a copy of the Constitution superimposed behind him—even as he enjoys the hospitality of a despot who tramples on every freedom the Founding Fathers held dear. Instead the audience seemed to treat Snowden as if he were just another libertarian professor or writer—rather than one of the most damaging traitors in our country’s long history.