Was the privacy concern just a Snowden job?
How did Edward Snowden so carefully thread the needle to download a massive trove of highly secret documents from across the NSA and intelligence networks without detection?
How did he know exactly which job to go after in Hawaii to give him that access, and how was his escape so neatly orchestrated that he ends up first in Chinese controlled Hong Kong with its difficult extradition rules, and then on to Vladimir Putin’s arms?
Those are questions which have troubled me since the start of this drama, when I asked whether this all was just a Snowden job?
Was exposing issues about our privacy the goal, or the cover story for foreign espionage? How better to cause havoc in our intelligence services than to steal the crown jewels and create political turmoil because the U.S. does what every other major nation does — only better.
I still have my doubts as to what this all is really about:
As events have unfolded, I’ve been hesitant to focus on motivations and agenda, because undoubtedly there is some good coming out.
We’re more conscious of the totality of information gathered by government, the weak oversight, and the potential for abuse. As a small government type, these disclosures are useful as to the threat posed by unaccountable big government. Among other things, the Snowden affair is a stark warning as to the danger the gathering of private medical information under Obamacare poses not just from the government itself, but from leakers. Imagine some HHS employee pulling a Snowden with your medical information.
Nonetheless, I’ve been uncomfortable how this has gone down. We shouldn’t be kowtowed into silence just because some of the consequences of this espionage and theft are good from a privacy perspective….
As to Snowden, it still all seems too easy and too convenient. He just happened to know exactly which job and in what manner to scoop up so much sensitive information that the NSA apparently can’t even figure out what he took. He didn’t just take advantage of a position he held, he maneuvered himself into the position he needed to be in. That’s not the usual whistleblower scenario.
In that context, here is Congressman Mike Rogers today on Meet the Press, via PJ Tatler (h/t Instapundit):
In a jaw-dropping revelation on NBC’s Meet the Press, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) has stated that he believes the fugitive Edward Snowden had assistance from Russian spies when he stole vast amounts of sensitive U.S. security data and fled to Russia.
Rogers told MTP host David Gregory: “Let me just say this: I believe there’s a reason he [Snowden] ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB [successor to the KGB] agent in Moscow. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.” Rogers added that some of the methods Snowden used in lifting National Security Agency secrets were “beyond his technical capabilities.”
[Gospodin is the transliteration of the Russian for “Mister“)
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Why do you think Obama has been so cooperative with Putin? Putin is using the info and Snowden to do a “Chicago Way” on Obama in a big way. Snowden himself is no longer important, Putin made that clear in his statement that he’s free to go where he wants to, but where? Obama wants him back to make an example of and Putin doesn’t care if he goes because he has the info. If you notice nothing released so far has or can be linked to actual names in the US government. You can bet on it Putin has some that does and that scares the administration to death.
One thing is certain is that there is no way that girlfriend was a professional dancer. Paid escort at best but by whom?
“the methods Snowden used in lifting National Security Agency secrets were beyond his technical capabilities”
That doesn’t sound good. Are there another dozen sleepers still on the inside? Maybe organized crime is going international, and the Chicago Machine is hooked up? Would it really be that surprising?
Holder gives guns to drug cartels and lies about it to Congress, then opens the doors for illegals to come through. Billions slide through Solyndra style scams, directly rewarding Obama donors, and not one of them is touched. And unions have always been a thug element, making sure overpriced government jobs are their monopoly.
Meanwhile Obama/Hillary don’t trust our military, and seem intent on decimating it. The thing they seem most capable of is spying on citizens, threatening tea party groups, Barrycading veterans, and trying to disarm the public.
They boldly lie to America on almost everything. “God damn America” as Obama’s mentor preached. And Barry’s earlier mentor Frank Marshal Davis, was a full blown communist.
No wonder bullets are hard to come by. Wal-Mart is always sold out of simple 22L rounds. Guess I’ll listen to Biden and “buy a shotgun”.
Beyond his technical abilities? This sounds like more of the same character assassination that Mike Rogers has made part of his routine in regards to Edward Snowden. He makes no secret of his dislike for Snowden and now we’re supposed to believe his baseless speculation about receiving help from foreign agents?
Just let me have a slot on Meet the Press and I could speculate a LOT about Mike Rogers..
And I think perhaps your speculations might not hold the same weight as that of the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, but you are correct that Rogers needs to flesh out the reasons for his speculations.
There are no negative consequences for an average citizen to make baseless speculations. For Rogers there are, if only to be exposed on inquiry if he cannot substantiate.
Mike Rogers is the NSA’s whore. His job is to distract you from consideration of what Big Government and the NSA have done to freedom in America.
As long as you dance with Mike Rogers in discussing theoretical details about how Snowden got his information, you will not be discussing Snowden’s information. And Mike Rogers will get his atta-boy, job-well-done from the Government that is dedicated to holding the American people in bondage.
Wake the F’ up.
I’ll “wake the f* up” when you learn to read posts.
I asserted that Rogers, as House Intel Cmte chairman, holds more weight on the topic of intel than does the average citizen. If it’s this you disagree with, explain why, and recall I’m speaking of weight, not veracity.
You assert Rogers is not truthful on his speculation. Dying to see your evidence here. If he’s right, it will come out. If he isn’t, that’ll be revealed. Yes, I said the exact same thing above, but you don’t comprehend, so I repeat myself.
You imply I “dance with Mike Rogers in discussing theoretical details”, when in fact I said he’d pay a price if he cannot substantiate his speculation. Does that sound like I believe him?
The funny thing is, I believe pretty much everything you believe, and given my age, have likely done so for far longer.
Your knee-jerk reactions to what you think you’ve read come off as arrogant and condescending, and your caustic regard for other commenters likely costs you five converts for every one you may win.
A good salesman for the conservative cause you definitely are not.
What price will he pay if he can’t substantiate his speculation?
Has anyone who supported the administration been held accountable for anything?
Further, I’m not sure it really matters whether he had help or not. The administration is putting together the tools to make this into a police state, and has, as yet, shown no compunction about using other levers of power to crush those that oppose it. Isn’t that a more pressing concern right now?
….but computer nerds and hackers are “infamous” for pushing their skills way beyond their “technical” abilities.
Besides lazy human nature means there are security features left undone all over the place, making it easy for insiders to take advantage of the breaches in security – due to the employees being lazy.
@Voyager: The price Rogers -or any other politician- pays for making serious speculations he can’t substantiate differs person to person. As we’ve seen, there are people who would reject Rogers’ substantiation no matter how reliable it was, as well as people who blindly accept Rogers at his word no matter what. These folks are at the polar fringes, riders on the train of pure subjectivity.
If Rogers doesn’t substantiate this speculation, the price he’ll pay with *me* is another step down in his credibility and reputation. This is likely the more common reaction, that it ought to take some level of evidence before one declares another a liar pushing an agenda.
Obama and most of the liberal media talking heads are examples of people who’ve been proved to have lied so often for so long that it becomes reasonable to assume everything they say is a lie, that their record of lying has drawn the burden of proof to themselves. Same with a Lance Armstrong, etc., etc. Mike Rogers is currently no where near this place, though he could certainly get there.
The point being there is no single quantitative price for lying by a politician. Depends on who hears it, nature and scope of the lie, etc.
To declare Rogers a liar based on a pre-held dislike for the man -whether warranted or not- is an ad hominem argument, a common pathway to error.
I want him queried on this, pushed to substantiate it, not out of concern over Rogers’ ongoing trustworthiness, but because of the implications if what he speculated were true.
Now that Russia has him they can dispose of him or send him out to the lions.
In other news Umarov has highly likely been dispatched. This all serves Russia well. The Gays On Ice Show is cover for a no holds campaign the likes of which would make America’s perfumed generals faint & Britain heave seeing their agents blown apart.
I’ll have more flexibility on my second term.
soon after the election all this stuff is in russian hands.
hell of a lot of flexibility.
did snowden have good motives? possibly.
did he handle it wrong? well the russians have him and the data so yeah he did.
was snowden duped into all this? I don’t know.
what has he told us that we didn’t already know? anyone who had been paying attn knows what nsa had been doing.
Snowden is a bona fide American hero. And the continued discussion about the details around the Snowden story are a distraction and a deliberate diversion from a focus on what the government has done to American culture and American freedom.
And you, professor, have been sucked in. Completely. You are now doing the dirty work for the likes of Mike Rogers, David Gregory, the MSM and the NSA. Shame on you.
Shame on you, sir. Shame on you.
It’s becoming more and more clear that Mr. Snowden is a traitor. I’m capable of connecting the publicly-known dots.
Mr. Snowden has a job for which it wasn’t clear he was qualified.
He has some shady moving around in his past.
He just happens to access lots and lots of information for which he wasn’t cleared.
He downloaded it all without being detected.
He bounced away to Hawaii and then to Russia. Where he’s “allowed” to stay.
The girlfriend is shady.
His money is shady.
He just happens to give information away to people who want to hurt this country (including Glenn Greenwald, who has a visceral hatred of the U.S.).
We have a saying in medicine: if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, has webbed feet and an orange bill like a duck, then it’s likely a duck.
So I’m guessing that Mr. Snowden is a traitor. But anyone he wants to come clean and provide a full explanation, he can do so.
A traitor to what? A limited government constitutional republic? or a centralized police state?
For those of us who see the current regime as the latter, then he is not traitor. He is a hero.
To those of you who do not see the Washington regime as the new evil empire, he is a traitor.
I think you are good intentioned and patriotic–but also naive.
The enemy is not abroad; it is here on our shores. Snowden revealed them and I don’t care if it was with the Devils help that it was done. I am glad that it was done. They do not like that, but tough. We are awake now.
You? not so much.
Mr. Snowden is not a hero, and opposition to a centralized police state at home (which we do not have, at least yet) does not make him automatically a hero.
The man did not reveal secrets to empower US.
He revealed secrets to harm us.
He gave these secrets to people who mean us harm. The Russians, the Iranians, and anyone else who can get to and peruse those documents.
That makes him a traitor. Simple.
For those for whom the state is not a friend, he is a hero.
Your use of the word ‘us’ is the rub. I am not one of you. I am a free man and intend to stay that way. Your government is not my ally in my endeavor. You trust your government; I do not. You believe their lies; I do not. Whatever his motivations, Mr. Snowden has revealed the extent of latent tyranny in this land. For that I thank him.
You, would have me ignorant in the name of national security. No thank you.
@gettimothy – I don’t have to choose between being a cheerleader for the NSA or cheerleading for Edward Snowden. Snowden is a traitor. The fact that he exposed some information about NSA practices that should be alarming to all Americans doesn’t justify his having indiscriminately stolen highly classified intelligence information.
As far as this “holier-than-thou” attitude about you being a free man, it isn’t appreciated. Free men don’t believe that our nation’s most entrusted employees should betray our nation’s secrets to our enemies. Free men strike a balance between personal freedom and the need for a civil society, because free men believe that all men should be free, not just those who can secure freedom for themselves. Only fate can protect a man, no matter how powerful, from the predations of the violent, in the absense of an organized defensive force. No one man can secure the safety of his family against the ravening horde.
To celebrate the positive things that Snowden has done whilst ignoring the damage he’s caused to legitimate government function is anarchist, and anarchists are as willfully ignorant as communists.
@Immolate pre-Snowden, I would agree with you .
Where we disagree is on the nature of our current government, the extent of its corruption and whether it can be salvaged.
In my lifetime it has changed from securing our liberties to being a threat to them. Nothing I see from them leads me to believe the trend will reverse itself. Rather, I expect it to accelerate.
What Snowden did was rip the blinders from our eyes as to depths of its evil–to my surprise and horror–to be frank.
I do hope, but doubt, that this evil can be reversed and our Constitutional Republic restored. I do hope that someday I could learn to trust the government as I once did.
As for ‘balance’ get back to me when governemt consumes < 5% of GDP as it did for most of our history. Get back to me when I can live my days without having to think about government. Then we can talk about balance.
Finally, I am not "holier-than-thou" I am your equal under God. It pains me to see good intentioned, once free men choose to wear the chains of their masters.
Sorry boys and girls… this is textbook “look at the other bad guy and stop looking at us” garbage from the intelligence community and elected officials. It used to be that classified information was compartmentalized and the higher the classification and caveats, the fewer people who would have access. You had to have a “need to know” before you were given access. It also used to be strictly prohibited to bring any device capable of recording data into any workspace that contained classified materials. If the government and intelligence communities had done their job, Snowden would never have been able to gain access to the wide variety of information he lifted. If they had respected the law, they wouldn’t have been caught with their pants down when it became apparent they were collecting data on everyone within our borders. Snowden is just a minor player when it comes to the malfeasance of our own government.
BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO!
I’ve been a Mike Rogers fan from the word go. Local boy, and doesn’t lie.
However, in the past few years, his LEO background has clouded his judgment as far as Constitutional protections are concerned, in my opinion.
In my view, he has evolved into a “police state” kinda guy.
Not liking it–not one bit.
I think Snowden had Russian help. period.
Putin was KGB chief in East Berlin in 89. DDR spy master Marcus Wolfe managed to infiltrate the very top of technologically superior West Germany via some intriguing techniques.
If this Is as so – not enough evidence in yet – then this has got to go down as top 10 all time hits.
An interesting side story is that it involves 3/4 BRIC members. Plus the US has managed to wheel a transvestite looking ice skater onto the team. Hey hey we can see what you are try into do ! Nice underhand techniques yourselves.
I wonder why you think he had Russian help–when it’s well known the Chinese have been hacking our intelligence since Bill Clinton gave them the technology?
Is it because Russian=bad?
Seems to me the Chinese would know more about Snowden’s activities than the Russians
BRIC .’s aim is to replace the US $ as world reserve .
Greenwald in Brazil . Snowden lin Russia . Indian nationals / ethnics In high level US tech industry. China as decoy.
Note: 10 Russian sleeper agents were arrested in 2010
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told PBS’ “NewsHour” that although the 10 agents didn’t plead guilty to being spies, they “were clearly caught in the business of spying.”
I don’t like all of this talk about it’s just meta data they’re collecting. That’s almost like saying if you haven’t done anything wrong then you shouldn’t mind the police just showing up to search your house.
We’ve seen the government, and the worst offender Obama, repeatedly lie to us about what the govt is doing. If the IRS can be used against political enemies, what makes you think the govt wouldn’t used the meta data collected to spy on political enemies?
Did all that meta data stop the Boston Marathon bombers? All that data and the govt didn’t know or do a damn thing.
I am also disappointed in Mr Jacobson. Call me overly paranoid but if I know my history, the Constitution was written to jealously guard our Liberty, not let government decide how much Liberty they should allow us.
Mr Rogers and his ilk seem to be more interested in a terrorist attack not happening on his/their watch then a genuine concern for the safety of citizens. If they REALLY cared about our safety they would be screaming from the top of every mountain that politically correct surveillence programs have no place in national security. Govt doesn’t want to offend any one group by targeting the few so the target all and offend everyone.
OK, if Snowden got the information about where and how to look from the Russians, where’d the Russians get it from? That implies pretty extensive penetration of the NSA by them beforehand – and presumably that penetration is continuing, absent any evidence to the contrary.
The simple solution is that Snowden is a very bright guy and skilled in finding things out on the Internet. A House member may need a secretary to book him through to Hong Kong, but Snowden probably managed it all by himself.
I have never believed anything that floats up out of either the House or Senate intelligence committee unless it is independently verified. They have been caught lying way too many times over the years.
You Said It OldNuc!
Never believe Liars.
You can’t tell a little lie mixed in it.
That’s like being a little bit pregnant!
I do agree with the view that Edward Snowden did not act alone.
But this then begs the question: who collaborated with Snowden?
It had to be someone or some group who had the necessary access and could somehow point Snowden in the right direction. And it likely were people higher up in the NSA hierarchy who knew the bigger picture.
The Russian Intelligence theory is interesting, but I can think of several reasons why this may not be the truth. (But if true, Russian Intelligence has thoroughly infiltrated the NSA at a high level, so much so that we would probably know about it from our own counter-intelligence.)
I personally believe the alternative theory that there were higher-ups helping Snowden, and they did so not as spies for some adversary, but for the same reasons Snowden has cited for himself — a concern for the future of our republican democracy. (Btw, I take the ‘Snowden as hero’ position, but we can still carry on a rational/objective conversation about the who, what, when, where, why, and how it all happened, and leave out the emotionalism.)
It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out.
I agree. In total….as far as speculation is concerned.
It is believable that the “assistance to Snowden”
came from criminal Holder and Obama……..
Obama looking deep into Putin’s eyes: “I’ll have more flexibility in my second term.”
Obama looked deep in Putin’s eyes and thought it was “LUV!”
But he was just putin!
Remember Eric Holder was giving military machine guns to the Mexican mobster drug cartels………….
A computer magazine interviewed the IT personnel that worked with Snowden. They said that the only reprimand that he received was sticking up for a fellow worker who was being disciplined by the boss (BTW – most spies don’t do that). In addition, Snowden kept a copy of the Constitution on his desk. He would keep reciting it to his bosses when they were doing something that would bother his conscience.
The NSA is not tech savy. They have difficulty with their websites, and many security holes. They have been cracked a number of times by mere adolescents who were able to purchase professional tools on underground sites. As bad as the NSA is, the Russian Government (they have some decent independent contractors) is worse.
The NSA workers said that Snowden was given all the keys to the inner security by his bosses because he was a major resource in Hawaii. His bosses broke the rules to allow themselves to take credit for Snowden’s work.
I have heard that Snowden is a high school dropout. If that is true, the Russians intelligence agencies wouldn’t give him the time of day. They still believe in public education LOL.
Note that the author was contacted independently by this anonymous source who makes the claims about Snowden that are so over the top as to be ludicrous but there is no attempt to authenticate his claims.
Note . Just saw on Brietbart ( I look but don’t post there ) the new book on the financial cyber attacks ongoing & coming to the US.
The Target & Marcus Niemanns villain is reported to be a teenager from St Petersburg. Whether true or false it has been put out there. Interesting nyet?
Clearly, Snowden informed us that every cell phone call is wide open.
That disqualifies a couple statements.
And if the Defense Network is half as good as the PPACA site, we have some serious problems.
As a technical person who manages large platforms, I don’t have these questions. It’s entirely believable that he was to access this data and the means to download it. Heading to Hk makes perfect sense, it’s the nearest jurisdiction that will not kowtow to the USA. He ended up in Russia because we blocked all his transit routes. It’s pretty straight forward and the revelations are more than minor, they are HUGE.
Excellent analysis and I agree. How did Snowden end up so quickly in the arms of the enemy?
Whether or not Snowden had Russian or Chinese help is besides the point, and that point is that the NSA has gone WAY OVERBOARD in trampling our constitutional protections.
Regardless of what you think about Snowden’s motives, that doesn’t absolve the NSA or this government from the fact that they are liars, criminals and thugs themselves in regard to the constitutional they “Swore” to protect.
“Here’s just a partial list of Snowden’s leaks that have little or nothing to do with domestic surveillance of Americans:
The classified portions of the U.S. intelligence budget, detailing how much we spend and where on efforts to spy on terror groups and foreign states, doesn’t deal with Americans’ privacy. This leak revealed the intelligence community’s self-assessment in 50 major areas of counterterrorism, and that “blank spots include questions about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear components when they are being transported, the capabilities of China’s next-generation fighter aircraft, and how Russia’s government leaders are likely to respond to ‘potentially destabilizing events in Moscow, such as large protests and terrorist attacks.’” The Pakistani, Chinese, and Russian intelligence agencies surely appreciate the status report.
Our cyber-warfare capabilities and targets don’t deal with Americans’ privacy. The revelation that the U.S. launched 231 cyber-attacks against “top-priority targets, which former officials say includes adversaries such as Iran, Russia, China and North Korea and activities such as nuclear proliferation” in 2011 has nothing to do with Americans’ privacy.
The extent and methods of our spying on China have nothing to do with Americans’ privacy.
British surveillance of South African and Turkish diplomats has nothing to do with Americans’ privacy.
The NSA’s successful interceptions of communications of Russian President Dimitri Medvedev has nothing to do with Americans’ privacy. This is not a scandal; it is literally the NSA’s job, and now the Russians have a better idea of what messages were intercepted and when.
Revealing NSA intercepts and CIA stations in Latin America — again, nothing to do with U.S. citizens.
Revealing a U.K. secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East — nothing to do with U.S. citizens.
The extent and range of NSA communications monitoring in India. . . .
The fact that the United States has “ramped up its surveillance of Pakistan’s nuclear arms,” has “previously undisclosed concerns about biological and chemical sites there,” and details of “efforts to assess the loyalties of counterterrorism sources recruited by the CIA” . . .
The U.S.’s spying on Al-Jazeera’s internal communication system. . . .
What we know about al-Qaeda efforts to hack our drones. . . .
The NSA’s ability to intercept the e-mail of al-Qaeda operative Hassan Ghul. . . .
The NSA’s ability to read the e-mail of the Mexican president. . . .
The U.S.’s electronic intercepts of communications to French consulates and embassies in New York and Washington. . . .
The existence of NSA surveillance teams in 80 U.S. embassies around the globe . . .
NSA’s spying on OPEC . . .
NSA’s collecting data on the porn habits of Muslim extremist leaders in order to discredit them.”
And learning the fact that it has been spying on me makes the loss of all that you site worth it.
To draw an analogy, once I have found out that my wife has been bopping the pastor, I does not help matters when you point out all the charitable works she has been doing at the church.
The marriage is over.
When I learned that Snowden is one of about two million people with a top secret security clearance, I figured the government really does not have any secrets. I mean, the bar for granting access to “secret” data must be pretty low if they’re going to give access to a guy who failed to graduate from high school, who has floated around from job to job, and who is not a government employee. How many of the two million people with top secret clearances have already sold data but it has not leaked to the press either because the government hasn’t figured it out yet or more likely they have figured it out but have prevented it from leaking to the press? There’s a reason why the Obama administration has prosecuted more leakers than all other administrations combined. I just thought it was obvious from the beginning that even if Snowden is not part of a larger espionage ring, there can be no secrets when you give access to 2 million people.
How did he know exactly which job to go after in Hawaii to give him that access
Apparently the NSA used contractors to be system administrators. I was shocked and horrified at that revelation. I have many functions in my job, but the primary one is system administrator.
And as the cartoon says god, root, what is difference? as a SA (aka root) you have access to everything. Even if the data is encrypted, it is quite likely that you have access to the encryption keys.
As for figuring out which job you want, well you want the NSA job advertising for system administrator. After that, you just have to figure the logistics of siphoning off the data.
root is someone you need to trust, and they need to be trustworthy and beyond reproach. The thought that they hired contractors for that position still makes me want to beat my head against the wall.
“In a jaw-dropping revelation on NBC’s Meet the Press…”
Nothing was revealed that’s jaw-dropping. A dude shared a hunch. Nothing more.