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Paul Hair is a national security expert and an author. He writes under his own name and as a ghostwriter. Connect with him at http://www.liberateliberty.com/. Contact him at paul@liberateliberty.com.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

NSA: Recent Snowden News

National Security Agency Headquarters in Maryland.
Photograph Courtesy of the Department of Defense.
Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and others recently revealed more information that shows how they have been deceitful and/or careless with their so-called whistleblowing on the National Security Agency.

Snowden had an interview with NBC and made his standard claims of NSA wrongdoing along with his claims that he raised objections by email on multiple occasions. The NSA responded by releasing one email that Snowden sent to the NSA General Counsel. Observers picked up on the fact that the NSA said Snowden only sent one email while he said he sent many. These observers often claimed that this disproved Snowden’s claims and they asked why Snowden wouldn’t have copies of his claimed multiple email exchanges. After all, he absconded with a lot of other NSA data. Yet Snowden maintains that he sent multiple emails and time will tell if either he or the NSA will produce those emails. So he might be hinting that there is more to come.

Instead The Volokh Conspiracy blog of The Washington Post recognized the most interesting part of the NBC interview and Snowden’s email claims:
This time, remarkably, NSA was not caught flat-footed. Showing an impressive grasp of the news cycle, the agency quickly released the only email that Snowden sent to the NSA GC. It was clearly the message Snowden described, but it was nothing like a blown whistle. 
Instead, it asked a question straight out of high school civics. Pointing to training materials about the agency’s sources of legal authority, starting with the Constitution, Snowden noted that the materials listed “Federal Statutes/Presidential Executive Orders” on a single line. . . . 
Only the delusional would view that exchange as “raising concerns” about NSA’s programs. But Snowden isn’t delusional. He’s deliberately misleading us. Because when we parse his answer, it turns out not to say what we thought it said. What he actually said was that NSA had emails “from me raising concerns about NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities.” (Emphasis added.) 
And sure enough, that’s exactly what his email did. What it didn’t do was raise concerns about the lawfulness or wisdom of NSA’s programs – which was of course the impression he meant to leave. . . . 
Snowden’s second line of defense was to accuse the NSA of having lied earlier, when it said it found no record of his past objections. Wrong again. What NSA said at the time was, “we have not found any evidence to support Mr Snowden’s contention that he brought these matters to anyone’s attention.” That’s still true, since the much-touted email doesn’t bring anything (other than Snowden’s skill as sea lawyer and proofreader) to anyone’s attention, nor does it raise any objection to any program.
In other Snowden news, Business Insider noticed that someone who wasn’t supposed to have access to the information that Snowden stole somehow obtained access to it. “There’s A Huge new Snowden Leak – And No One Knows Where It Came From” noted the following:
On Tuesday, news site The Register published a story containing explosive “above top secret” information about Britain’s surveillance programs, including details of a “clandestine British base tapping undersea cables in the Middle East.” Reporter Duncan Campbell, who wrote the story, said it was based on documents “leaked by fugitive NSA sysadmin Edward Snowden” that other news outlets had declined to publish. 
However, it’s not necessarily clear how Campbell got his hands on Snowden’s document stash. 
Glenn Greenwald, who published the first stories based on Snowden’s documents in The Guardian, told Business Insider on Tuesday that Snowden has “no source relationship” with Campbell. . . . 
“Journalists in the UK — just as in the US — do not reveal their sources, or respond to questions as to confidential sources. We protect them. That is our obligation and our duty,” Campbell wrote in an email to Business Insider
This isn’t the first story Campbell has published allegedly based on Snowden documents. Last August, Campbell wrote a piece for The Independent about the secret British surveillance base. In that article, Campbell suggested The Guardian “agreed to the Government’s request not to publish any material contained in the Snowden documents that could damage national security,” including the existence of the surveillance base. 
Greenwald responded with a column that included a statement from Snowden saying he had not worked with Campbell and speculating the documents were actually by the British government as part of an attempt to make the case his leaks were “harmful.”
There’s a lot to get out of that. First, Snowden and Greenwald obviously have not been as careful with the stolen information as they have claimed. Second, it’s a bit funny for Campbell to say that journalists don’t disclose their sources when he and his cohorts think that others don’t have a right to confidentiality. Third, we see how Snowden and Greenwald can potentially publish material they said they won’t publish (stuff they admit would hurt the U.S. or others) by way of publishing it through proxies such as Campbell who “accidentally” get access to it. Finally, we see how sleazy Greenwald and Snowden are when they refuse any responsibility for Campbell getting access to the intelligence and instead suggest that the government leaked it to Campbell in order to discredit them. (Later in the Business Insider post, Campbell says he got the information while in the United Kingdom and saw the information Snowden provided to The Guardian.)

In a third piece of Snowden news, The New York Times published a story written in part by Laura Poitras, a known leftist activist. This story talked about NSA facial-recognition technology. The takeaway line from Poitras’s story is this:
It is not clear how many people around the world, and how many Americans, might have been caught up in the effort. Neither federal privacy laws nor the nation’s surveillance laws provide specific protections for facial images. Given the N.S.A.’s foreign intelligence mission, much of the imagery would involve people overseas whose data was scooped up through cable taps, Internet hubs and satellite transmissions.
So once more, the media publishes another story generated from the NSA theft that has nothing to do with protecting Americans’ privacy—something Snowden and cohorts have claimed in order to justify their crime. [Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA) Michael Rogers confirmed that the NSA is working within existing laws regarding this story.]

The new director of the National Security Agency says he believes whistleblower Edward Snowden was “probably not” working for a foreign intelligence agency, despite frequent speculation and assertion by the NSA’s allies to the contrary. 
In one of his first public remarks since becoming NSA director in April, Admiral Michael Rogers, who also leads the military’s cybersecurity and cyberattack command, distanced himself on Tuesday from contentions that Snowden is or has been a spy for Russia or another intelligence service. 
“Could he have? Possibly. Do I believe that’s the case? Probably not,” Rogers said during a cybersecurity forum hosted by Bloomberg Government.
If Ackerman’s reporting of DIRNSA’s words are correct, it does reflect that Rogers doesn’t believe that the Russians directed Snowden to steal from the NSA but his statements don’t have anything to say on whether her believes the Russians are controlling him now. And in fact, those theorizing that the Russians might have directed Snowden readily acknowledge that it’s mere speculation at this point and there are many intelligence gaps.

Expect more self-serving revelations about the NSA to come from Snowden, Greenwald and their collaborators.

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