#1 By: Cory Doctorow, January 24th, 2014 07:28
#2 By: Carsten Agger, January 24th, 2014 07:38
Hopefully this will give the US government time to get their shit together and find it in themselves to pardon him. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/23/edward-snowden-nsa-plea-bargain-russia
#3 By: Phillip Hallam Baker, January 24th, 2014 08:10
I don't think there is any sign of that right now. They only just got finished prosecuting Thomas Drake for going through channels like DiFi and co claim Snowden should have done.
Obama owes the NSA and CIA for getting him out of Iraq without a major embarrassment or loss of face and he needs them to get out of Afghanistan. His successor is not going to be beholden to them in the same way.
The key reform needed is to remove the military from the NSA. It should become a civilian-run agency like the CIA is. If the NSA was being competently run, there would have been no need to create half the powerpoints in the first place. Most show signs of being written by officers chasing promotion.
A major has to make colonel and a colonel general by a particular age. So there is a constant pressure to deliver the goods. Which means helping their senior officer get their promotion on schedule. So they boast about capabilities that quite possibly don't exist.
The bigger problem is that the generals panic when they are out of their comfort zone. Which is usually when we are talking about my stuff which is cyber. I don't hold a security clearance but I get invited to events run by MIT and Harvard from time to time, usually about two years after the previous time which is how long it takes them to get over what I said last time. It does not take the military types much provocation to have them calling for martial law if they are pushed out of their comfort zone.
Military people have to be trained to kill people on order. Which means they go through life with a damaged moral compass. I don't think we can or should trust such people with the power of the NSA. In particular, I think the US military still has too many generals and colonels of the type whose understanding of protecting the constitution would lead them to stage a coup to prevent takeover by progressives. They did it in Latin America during the 1970s, why not at home?
#4 By: Alice Weir, January 24th, 2014 08:38
The hell? You actually believe civilian contractors would not abuse the very same powers?
Look, it doesn't matter whether the military is involved or not. They do it for promotions, contractors do it for profits - but they both do it. Civilians are not so nice...
Russia will take care of Mr Snowden just fine. He's a living, breathing, in-yo-face to this government and so will be there until or unless. I'm almost surprised Angela Merkel hasn't offered him a room in her house, lol. (A friend reports a very strange dream of sharing some cookies with Merkel. I think I love it. Maybe next time, they can invite Snowden and have some tea, too.)
#5 By: Phillip Hallam Baker, January 24th, 2014 08:48
A civilian contractor is very unlikely to see a military coup as any sort of solution. Which is what I suspect Hayden and Alexander might do if panicked.
And yes, I have met both of them.
The corruption issue is secondary but still important. I get the feeling that when the generals are talking about 'cyber' as a domain like land, sea and air they are looking to increase their budgets. I am sure that the Russian and Chinese generals have a similar mutual interest in establishing a cyber arms race so that the global military can increase the rate at which they impoverish the rest of humanity by a third.
The civilian staff rather obviously did abuse their powers during the Bush administration. It is hard to see how Josh Marshall came across all the information on those CIA scandals otherwise. But those tend to be what we consider 'good' leaks.
#6 By: toyg, January 24th, 2014 09:02
That's a very, very optimistic statement. If it's not Afghanistan, it will be something else... GWB started two wars. Clinton intervened in Europe and Africa. GHB invaded Panama. Reagan fought more secret wars than a Marvel character.
The only reason the US military has been occasionally reigned in, is budget constraints. Compared to military projects, the NSA is dirt cheap. The NSA will continue to do whatever the hell they want, as long as they keep bringing the goods to whoever is paying for it.
#7 By: Mister44, January 24th, 2014 09:23
o_0 I know some people who would vehemently disagree with this.
#8 By: bbarnezz, January 24th, 2014 09:48
My guess, (emphasize guess), is that the powers that be would love to find a face saving method to get Snowden back to the US in a way that would allow them to end his canonization by the rest of the world.
In spite of their continued claims of his law breaking, the response by the government, although still weak, is at least an acknowledgement that what he brought to light is in need of redress. As is usual, the government is lagging behind both the US and world sentiment, that the NSA got way ahead of itself, through a combination of ginned up fears and the desire to throw money at the problems, and the need to seem to be keeping ahead of the so-called bad guys.
I would like to see a deal worked out that would allow Snowden to return, given some minor punishment that puts his legal issues to an end, and allowed to continue to speak against the national security state with an acknowledgement that he spoke the truth.
#9 By: Mark Becker, January 24th, 2014 10:38
Thanks for the article.
I mean, what choice does Snowden have? As he said in the Q&A from Thursday, he is aware that he can't go back to the US, not with the current laws, and that includes the Whistleblower Protection Act. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistleblower_Protection_Act.
#10 By: IMB, January 24th, 2014 10:52
At a University of Virginia forum, where Holder was asked about Snowden, he elaborated on his position, saying, “If Mr. Snowden wanted to come back to the United States and enter a plea, we would engage with his lawyers. We would do the same with any defendant who wanted to enter a plea of guilty, so that is the context to what I said.”
But he stressed that the NSA leaker would not walk. “We've always indicated that the notion of clemency isn't something that we were willing to consider."
Sorry for this link: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/eric-holder-deal-nsa-leaker-edward-snowden-article-1.1589346#ixzz2rKc8PRvs
#11 By: Phillip Hallam Baker, January 24th, 2014 13:33
GWB wanted to start wars. It was his thing. At least when he wasn't required to do the actual fighting personally. Clinton did not want to get involved in the Yugoslav crisis, it was only when the massacres piled up that they finally acted. And even then it was a threat of overwhelming conventional force that brought the Serbians to the table.
I don't think we are going to see a complete dismantling of the NSA under the next President but any real reform is going to have to wait till they take office. And before that there will be an election with the Tea Party making a lot of noise about NSA black helicopters and such. So I think there is a good chance we can get some advance commitment to some reforms.
The only lasting solution is strong cryptography. The NSA can't read stuff that is properly encrypted.
#12 By: Wrecksdart, January 24th, 2014 15:58
I don't buy that for one second. To think that someone in the highest echelons of the NSA is telling Obama that he owes them anything, or that Obama had a list of changes he would've made if only those NSA guys hadn't been so durned helpful down at the grocery store is ridiculous. You know, because the CIA and NSA have been so great at keeping the embarrassment down to a minimum.
This one time on a road trip I took a dump off of a bridge, so there's that.
I have typed "fuck you" so many times in the past that muscle memory can easily handle that phrase to the point that it's typed before I've thought about it. I was able to consider it this time and I'll skip it in light of your knowing Generals Grant, Lee, and Cleburne. Also, you were making a point by throwing around some rhetoric, and I get that. But that's one dumbass statement. Maybe better to advance the thought that military leadership sees the world in a different light because of how they have been trained, and therefore their leadership might place stability ahead of civil rights. But to suggest that military leadership was on the brink of attempting a coup at the election of Obama (considering his being painted as a progressive liberal by whoever), or that because it was done under some shadowy, CIA-run endeavor outside the US and therefore it makes sense to do it here, is absurd.
#13 By: Alice Weir, January 24th, 2014 20:38
Awww, honey, you'll see. One of these old days, you'll exit the ivory tower, perhaps even obtain a real job where you...you know, have to do stuff to get food. Don't be askeered, little feller. Most places, the boss doesn't wear the shiny brass. But you should ask if they did, in case they might have had their moral compass de-calibrated at some point in the past. and you can then select other employment opportunities if necessary. I do not recommend anything directly involving agriculture or food services, though. It involves many, many things that used to be alive but aren't now. The existential crisis might be a little rough for a newb. Surprisingly, I will also not suggest federal employment, because even though the production quotas tend to be lower and time for various seminars and presentations high - and you would certainly be afforded the opportunity to learn all about contractors, veterans get certain hiring preferences. So, you know. Again, not ideal. I know the philosopher's quill might seem a strong draw, but it tends not to pay very well, and you would end up chewing on your thoughts more than actual sustenance.
I'm thinking ...retail. Or perhaps a live customer service desk. I know, I know! All those unwashed masses! And they....want you to do things for them! But look at it this way - it'll be great training for that Great American Novel lurking in the back of your head. The exchange of symbolic food for stuff, and stuff they want to return for symbolic food. Really, a great opportunity to watch human motivations in action, day after day after day and year upon year. No politicians, not an ivory tower within viewing distance as a rule. You'll learn not to tell them about your irrelevant degrees pretty quickly. Trust your co-workers. They will guide you. Just...get out there and go for it, baby! The world is your....(aw, dayam. You probably hate oysters. Some morally depraved soul has murdered them, too.)
Well. Just do your best. But don't stay in the tower! It's not good to never let your feet touch the ground.
#14 By: Phillip Hallam Baker, January 24th, 2014 20:45
Try Googling the names of people before you start that sort of thing. Lets revisit this after you also have a million hits.
#15 By: Alice Weir, January 24th, 2014 21:57
You're a meme? Which one? Because...Annoying Orange. Whoa! Yeah. I would be duly impressed.
#16 By: Cory Doctorow, January 29th, 2014 07:28
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