Let’s be clear: Everything journalists do in the digital world is open to scrutiny by suspicious minds because that’s the way intelligence agencies work. If state eavesdroppers didn’t make use of this amazing opportunity they wouldn’t be very good at their job.
Edward Snowden’s revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency‘s global monitoring should not come as a big surprise. U.S. agencies have the technology, the will, and some very loosely written laws that allow them to snoop with impunity. It was just a matter of time before someone stood up and blew the whistle.
What Snowden has told us should serve as a wake-up call for everybody in the news business because a journalist who cannot offer confidentiality is compromised, and fewer sources will trust us in the future. But the Internet has come a long way in recent years. The development of security tools, almost all of which are built by activist volunteers, can make the digital world a far safer place for journalists to operate. In this regard, journalists can learn from others who–for different reasons–have learned how to evade electronic surveillance, as I explain in my new guide, “Deep Web for Journalists,” a project supported by the International Federation of Journalists.
Here’s why you should care. Start researching sensitive subjects or visiting extremist websites, and a tracking device could be planted to follow your computer’s activities around the Internet. The tracking technology may involve an algorithm that could misconstrue your browsing activities and set off alarms inside intelligence agencies. And if these agencies become interested in you, they have the ability to monitor your online activities and read your emails. They can see who your contacts are and they can monitor them, too. Once they sink their claws in they may never let go.
All journalists are potential targets. We have contact with politicians and activists, we have our finger on the pulse and we are capable of causing all kinds of trouble, both to governments and to corporations. The key is to not draw attention in the first place, to understand how agencies operate and then figure out multiple ways to circumvent them because you cannot rely on any single security application or piece of technology.
In the final scene of the Hollywood film, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the Ark of the Covenant is hidden inside one crate placed among a humongous warehouse full of identical crates. The scene helps illustrate an operating principle for journalist. Simply put, if intelligence agencies do not know where to look for information they are less likely to ever find yours.
It may surprise some people to learn that there is in fact another Internet, a parallel and vast digital universe much like the one we know but that is populated by very different users. The Deep Web, as it is also known, involves hidden networks allowing people to secretly connect with each other within the broader Internet.
One way to find the Deep Web is through the Hidden Wiki. Its hidden networks are accessed via specifically configured web browsers that route users through different servers, often in different nations, to make it all but impossible for anyone to track the original location or Internet Service Provider address where someone is physically accessing the Internet including the Deep Web.
The most widely used such network is Tor, a respectable tool built by Internet freedom volunteers that is open to use by human rights activists, and also to abuse by criminal syndicates, predators, terrorists and others.
To enter Tor, you must first install the Tor/Firefox web browser to divert your traffic through a worldwide volunteer network of servers. This conceals your location and your activities, effectively hiding you among all the other users. Tor works by encrypting and re-encrypting data multiple times as it passes through successive relays. This way the data cannot be unscrambled in transit. (Tor is so effective, in fact, that many intelligence agencies now use it for their own secure communications.)
Now add to this a range of security tools and you can use Tor to access the conventional Internet without ever drawing attention. Rather like spies in a James Bond movie, journalists have an array of digital weapons to call upon to ensure that their research, correspondence, notes and contacts are secure. Learning the concepts and tools can take time, but you can access banned websites. You can continue tweeting when the authorities take down Twitter locally. You can scramble calls or send emails and messages that cannot be intercepted or read. You can pass on and store documents away from prying eyes. You might even hide news footage of a massacre inside a Beatles track on your iPod or smartphone while you slip across the border.
The Internet has evolved and so has its counter-surveillance tools. Now we must get smart and learn how to use them. We must safeguard our devices from intruders; we should take care that our smartphones are not used as tracking and listening devices. We need to learn how to stay beneath the radar.
Alan Pearce is a journalist who has reported for outlets including Time, The Sunday Times, Sky News, and the BBC. He is the author of the ebook “Deep Web for Journalists: Comms, Counter-surveillance, Search,” supported by the International Federal of Journalists.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 14, 2013. Greenwald, The Guardian journalist who first reported Edward Snowden’s disclosures of U.S. surveillance programs says the former National Security Agency analyst has “very specific blueprints of how the NSA do what they do.”(AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
RIO DE JANEIRO — Edward Snowden has very sensitive “blueprints” detailing how the National Security Agency operates that would allow someone who read them to evade or even duplicate NSA surveillance, a journalist close to the intelligence leaker said Sunday.
Glenn Greenwald, a columnist with The Guardian newspaper who closely communicates with Snowden and first reported on his intelligence leaks, told The Associated Press that the former NSA systems analyst has “literally thousands of documents” that constitute “basically the instruction manual for how the NSA is built.”
“In order to take documents with him that proved that what he was saying was true he had to take ones that included very sensitive, detailed blueprints of how the NSA does what they do,” Greenwald said in the interview in Brazil, where he lives. He said the interview took place about four hours after his last interaction with Snowden, with whom he said he’s in almost daily contact.
Snowden emerged from weeks of hiding in a Moscow airport Friday, and said he was willing to stop leaking secrets about U.S. surveillance programs if Russia would give him asylum until he can move on to Latin America.
Greenwald told The AP that Snowden has insisted the information from those documents not be made public. The journalist said it “would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it.”
Despite their sensitivity, the journalist said he didn’t think that disclosure of the documents would prove harmful to Americans or their national security.
“I think it would be harmful to the U.S. government, as they perceive their own interests, if the details of those programs were revealed,” said the 46-year-old former constitutional and civil rights lawyer who has written three books contending the government has violated personal rights in the name of protecting national security.
He has previously said the documents have been encrypted to help ensure their safekeeping.
Greenwald, who has also co-authored a series of articles in Rio de Janeiro’s O Globo newspaper focusing on NSA actions in Latin America, said he expected to continue publishing further stories based on other of Snowden’s documents for the next four months.
Upcoming stories would likely include details on “other domestic spying programs that have yet to be revealed” which are similar in scope to those he has been reporting on. He did not provide any further details on the nature of those programs.
Greenwald said he deliberately avoids talking to Snowden about issues related to where the former analyst might seek asylum to avoid possible legal problems himself.
Snowden is believed to be stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s main international airport, where he arrived from Hong Kong on June 23. He’s had offers of asylum from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, but because his U.S. passport has been revoked, the logistics of reaching whichever country he chooses are complicated.
Still, Greenwald said that Snowden remains “calm and tranquil,” despite his predicament.
“I haven’t sensed an iota of remorse or regret or anxiety over the situation that he’s in,” said Greenwald, speaking at a hotel in Rio de Janeiro, where he’s lived for the past eight years. “He’s of course tense and focused on his security and his short-term well-being to the best extent that he can, but he’s very resigned to the fact that things might go terribly wrong and he’s at peace with that.”
Edward Snowden – NSA Whistleblower Comes Forward: Daily Whistleblower News – Government Accountability Project
Another groundbreaking story from The Guardian over the weekend revealed the identity of the whistleblower behind the recent NSA surveillance disclosures to be a young, former technical assistant for the CIA and current defense contractor employee who – until very recently – lived a comfortable life with his girlfriend in Hawaii. Years of working on the technical side of surveillance for the world’s most pervasive spy organizations led to increasing disillusionment for 29 year-old Edward Snowden. Witnessing the unethical practices employed by CIA operatives while stationed in Geneva and playing his own role in the NSA’s vast stockpiling of American and foreign citizens’ information, collected through the PRISM program, drove Snowden toward his decision. Already having fled the country to Hong Kong where he is currently pent up in a hotel room, Snowden is fully aware of the Obama administration’s ferocious stance on whistleblowers and is prepared for full pursuit and prosecution.
In this video interview with The Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, who has reported the series of disclosures from the NSA/PRISM whistleblower, Snowden describes exactly what compelled him to bring knowledge of the NSA surveillance program into the public realm. He illustrates the extremely invasive authority that the agency can and does use to spy on everyone. A transcript of Greenwald’s interview can be found here. Snowden emphasizes the non-democratic and secret practices of the NSA that go far beyond public consciousness saying, “The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”
Daniel Ellsberg, the father of modern whistleblowing responsible for the Pentagon Papers disclosure, has called Snowden’s leak the most important in American history – even more so than Ellsberg’s own disclosure 40 years ago. Snowden’s actions come at an incredibly precarious time for American privacy and the upholding of the constitution. Ellsberg makes clear that since 9/11, American citizens have experienced a revocation of their rights and a neglect of their societal roles in the democracy, and this move by Snowden serves to bring some of the democratic power back to the public to which it originally belonged.
Key Quote (Washington Post): The Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit that advances “corporate and government accountability by protecting whistleblowers,” has a broader, “composite” definition drawn from “state, federal and international cases”:
An employee who discloses information that s/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation. These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few.
Jesselyn Radack, director of the national security and human rights program at the Government Accountability Project, says that “source” is the “most neutral term” and doesn’t much like “leaker.” “There’s a derogatory implication to it,” says Radack, who says she’s represented hundreds of whistleblowers.
“I see [Snowden] as a classic whistleblower,” she says. “He is revealing massive abuse and illegality by … the biggest spy agency in the nation and in the world, for that matter.” In some quarters, Radack might encounter some pushback on that last point.
(Reuters): Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department lawyer who represents whistleblowers, said she expected prosecutors would “try to indict him as soon as possible” with “voluminous” Espionage Act charges followed by Interpol warrants for his arrest. But she said Snowden fit the profile and legal definition of a whistleblower and should be entitled to protection under a federal law passed to protect people who reveal waste and abuse.
“He said very clearly in statements that he’s given that he was doing this to serve a public purpose,” Radack said
(The Guardian): But Snowden drew support from civil liberty activists and organisations. Jesselyn Radack, a former justice department attorney who represents whistleblowers, told Reuters: “As a whistleblower myself, this is one of the most significant leakers in my lifetime and in US history.”
Radack said she hoped the case could become “a watershed moment that could change the war on whistleblowers and the broader war on information in our country”.
After writing intensely, even obsessively, for years about government surveillance and the prosecution of journalists, Glenn Greenwald has suddenly put himself directly at the intersection of those two issues, and perhaps in the cross hairs of federal prosecutors.
Late Wednesday, Mr. Greenwald, a lawyer and longtime blogger, published an article in the British newspaper The Guardian about the existence of a top-secret court order allowing the National Security Agency to monitor millions of telephone logs. The article, which included a link to the order, is expected to attract an investigation from the Justice Department, which has aggressively pursued leakers.
On Thursday night, he followed up with an article written with a Guardian reporter, Ewen MacAskill, that exposed an N.S.A. program, Prism, that has gathered information from the nation’s largest Internet companies going back nearly six years.
“The N.S.A. is kind of the crown jewel in government secrecy. I expect them to react even more extremely,” Mr. Greenwald said in a telephone interview. He said that he had been advised by lawyer friends that “he should be worried,” but he had decided that “what I am doing is exactly what the Constitution is about and I am not worried about it.”
Being at the center of a debate is a comfortable place for Mr. Greenwald, 46, who came to mainstream journalism through his own blog, which he started in 2005. Before that he was a lawyer, including working 18 months at the high-powered New York firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he represented large corporate clients.
“I approach my journalism as a litigator,” he said. “People say things, you assume they are lying, and dig for documents to prove it.”
Mr. Greenwald’s writings at The Guardian — and before that, for Salon and on his own blog — can resemble a legal brief, with a list of points, extended arguments and detailed references and links. As Andrew Sullivan, a frequent sparring partner and sometime ally, put it, “once you get into a debate with him, it can be hard to get the last word.”
While Mr. Greenwald notes that he often conducts interviews and breaks news in his columns, he describes himself as an activist and an advocate. But with this leak about the extremely confidential legal apparatus supporting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, he has lifted the veil on some of the government’s most closely held secrets.
The leak, he said, came from “a reader of mine” who was comfortable working with him. The source, Mr. Greenwald said, “knew the views that I had and had an expectation of how I would display them.”
Mr. Greenwald’s experience as a journalist is unusual, not because of his clear opinions but because he has rarely had to report to an editor. He began his blog Unclaimed Territory in 2005 after the news of warrantless surveillance under the Bush administration. When his blog was picked up by Salon, said Kerry Lauerman, the magazine’s departing editor in chief, Salon agreed that Mr. Greenwald would have direct access to their computer system so that he could publish his blog posts himself without an editor seeing them first if he so chose.
“It basically is unheard of, but I never lost a moment of sleep over it,” Mr. Lauerman said. “He is incredibly scrupulous in the way a lawyer would be — really, really careful.”
The same independence has carried over at The Guardian, though Mr. Greenwald said that for an article like the one about the N.S.A. letter he agreed that the paper should be able to edit it. Because he has often argued in defense of Bradley Manning, the army private who was charged as the WikiLeaks source, he said he considered publishing the story on his own, and not for The Guardian, to assert that the protections owed a journalist should not require the imprimatur of an established publisher.
Mr. Greenwald said he has had to get up to speed in the security precautions that are expected from a reporter covering national security matters, including installing encrypted instant chat and e-mail programs.
“I am borderline illiterate on these matters, but I had somebody who is really well-regarded actually come and physically do my whole computer,” he said.
That computer is in Brazil, where Mr. Greenwald spends most of his time and lives with his partner, who cannot emigrate to the United States because the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages as a basis for residency applications.
Mr. Greenwald grew up in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., feeling like an odd figure. “I do think political posture is driven by your personality, your relationship with authority, how comfortable are you in your life,” he said. “When you grow up gay, you are not part of the system, it forces you to evaluate: ‘Is it me, or is the system bad?’ ”
By the time Mr. Greenwald was studying law at New York University, “he was always passionate about constitutional issues and issues of equal justice and equal treatment,” said Jennifer Bailey, now an immigration lawyer with a nonprofit organization in Maine, who shared a tiny apartment with Mr. Greenwald in the early 1990s.
She emphasized that his passion did not translate into partisanship. “He is not a categorizeable guy,” Ms. Bailey said. “He was not someone who played party politics. He was very deep into the issues and how it must come out. He was tireless and relentless about pursuing this. Nobody worked longer hours.”
As Mr. Greenwald tells it, the last decade has been a slow political awakening. “When 9/11 happened, I thought Bush was doing a good job,” he said. “I was sucking up uncritically what was in the air.”
His writing has made him a frequent target from ideological foes who accuse him of excusing terrorism or making false comparisons between, for example, Western governments’ drone strikes, and terrorist attacks like the one in Boston.
Gabriel Schoenfeld, a national security expert and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who is often on the opposite ends of issues from Mr. Greenwald, called him, “a highly professional apologist for any kind of anti-Americanism no matter how extreme.”
Mr. Sullivan wrote in an e-mail: “I think he has little grip on what it actually means to govern a country or run a war. He’s a purist in a way that, in my view, constrains the sophistication of his work.”
Ms. Bailey has a slightly different take. Because of his passions, she said, “he is just as willing to make enemies of anybody.”
Of all the charges against Bradley Manning, the most pernicious — and revealing — is “aiding the enemy.”
A blogger at The New Yorker, Amy Davidson, raised a pair of big questions that now loom over the courtroom at Fort Meade and over the entire country:
“In that case, who is aiding the enemy — the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?”
When the deceptive operation of the warfare state can’t stand the light of day, truth-tellers are a constant hazard. And culpability must stay turned on its head.
That’s why accountability was upside-down when the U.S. Army prosecutor laid out the government’s case against Bradley Manning in an opening statement: “This is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of classified documents and dumped them onto the Internet, into the hands of the enemy — material he knew, based on his training, would put the lives of fellow soldiers at risk.”
If so, those fellow soldiers have all been notably lucky; the Pentagon has admitted that none died as a result of Manning’s leaks in 2010. But many of his fellow soldiers lost their limbs or their lives in U.S. warfare made possible by the kind of lies that the U.S. government is now prosecuting Bradley Manning for exposing.
In the real world, as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, prosecution for leaks is extremely slanted. ” Let’s apply the government’s theory in the Manning case to one of the most revered journalists in Washington: Bob Woodward, who has become one of America’s richest reporters, if not the richest, by obtaining and publishing classified information far more sensitive than anything WikiLeaks has ever published,” Greenwald wrote in January.
He noted that “one of Woodward’s most enthusiastic readers was Osama bin Laden,” as a 2011 video from al-Qaeda made clear. And Greenwald added that “the same Bob Woodward book [Obama’s Wars] that Osama bin Laden obviously read and urged everyone else to read disclosed numerous vital national security secrets far more sensitive than anything Bradley Manning is accused of leaking. Doesn’t that necessarily mean that top-level government officials who served as Woodward’s sources, and the author himself, aided and abetted al-Qaida?”
But the prosecution of Manning is about carefully limiting the information that reaches the governed. Officials who run U.S. foreign policy choose exactly what classified info to dole out to the public. They leak like self-serving sieves to mainline journalists such as Woodward, who has divulged plenty of “Top Secret” information — a category of classification higher than anything Bradley Manning is accused of leaking.
While pick-and-choose secrecy is serving Washington’s top war-makers, the treatment of U.S. citizens is akin to the classic description of how to propagate mushrooms: keeping them in the dark and feeding them bullshit.
In effect, for top managers of the warfare state, “the enemy” is democracy.
Let’s pursue the inquiry put forward by columnist Amy Davidson early this year. If it is aiding the enemy “to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American government,” then in reality “who is aiding the enemy — the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?”
Candid answers to such questions are not only inadmissible in the military courtroom where Bradley Manning is on trial. Candor is also excluded from the national venues where the warfare state preens itself as virtue’s paragon.
Yet ongoing actions of the U.S. government have hugely boosted the propaganda impact and recruiting momentum of forces that Washington publicly describes as “the enemy.” Policies under the Bush and Obama administrations — in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and beyond, with hovering drones, missile strikes and night raids, at prisons such as Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo and secret rendition torture sites — have “aided the enemy” on a scale so enormous that it makes the alleged (and fictitious) aid to named enemies from Manning’s leaks infinitesimal in comparison.
Blaming the humanist PFC messenger for “aiding the enemy” is an exercise in self-exculpation by an administration that cannot face up to its own vast war crimes.
While prosecuting Bradley Manning, the prosecution may name al-Qaeda, indigenous Iraqi forces, the Taliban or whoever. But the unnamed “enemy” — the real adversary that the Pentagon and the Obama White House are so eager to quash — is the incessant striving for democracy that requires informed consent of the governed.
The forces that top U.S. officials routinely denounce as “the enemy” will never threaten the power of the USA‘s dominant corporate-military elites. But the unnamed “enemy” aided by Bradley Manning’s courageous actions — the people at the grassroots who can bring democracy to life beyond rhetoric — are a real potential threat to that power.
Accusations of aid and comfort to the enemy were profuse after Martin Luther King Jr. moved forward to expose the Johnson administration’s deceptions and the U.S. military’s atrocities. Most profoundly, with his courageous stand against the war in Vietnam, King earned his Nobel Peace Prize during the years after he won it in 1964.
Bradley Manning may never win the Nobel Peace Prize, but he surely deserves it. Close to 60,000 people have already signed a petition urging the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the prize to Manning. To become a signer, click here.
Also, you can preview a kindred project on the “I Am Bradley Manning” site, where a just-released short video — the first stage of a longer film due out soon — features Daniel Ellsberg, Oliver Stone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Phil Donahue, Alice Walker, Peter Sarsgaard, Wallace Shawn, Russell Brand, Moby, Tom Morello, Michael Ratner, Molly Crabapple, Davey D, Tim DeChristopher, Josh Stieber, Lt. Dan Choi, Hakim Green, Matt Taibbi, Chris Hedges, Allan Nairn, Leslie Cagan, Ahdaf Soueif and Jeff Madrick.
From many walks of life, our messages will become louder and clearer as Bradley Manning’s trial continues. He is guilty of “aiding the enemy” only if the enemy is democracy.
On June 3, the highly anticipated court-martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was arrested in July 2010, will take place. A previous PolicyMic article delivered specific details on the over 700,000 government documents and pieces of classified military information Manning allegedly leaked. According to the article, “Manning is charged with leaking hundreds-of-thousands of classified documents to the website WikiLeaks.”
Manning is an American hero who made the decision to leak these classified documents as a service to the general public. He testified, “I believe that if the general public had access to the information, this could spark a domestic debate as to the role of the military and foreign policy in general.” He added, “I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”
In a January 2013 ruling, Military Judge Colonel Denise Lind awarded Manning a 112-day reduction in any eventual sentence due to being subjected to excessively harsh treatment while in military detention. A month later, Judge Lind accepted Bradley Manning’s guilty pleas of 10 lesser charges that he misused classified information, though he denied “aiding the enemy.” A guilty sentence to “aiding the enemy” could languish him military prison for the remainder of his life.
Bradley Manning released the video, “Collateral Murder,” to WikiLeaks and he explained, “The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.” He went on, “They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote ‘dead bastards’ unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers.”
A similar whistleblower was arrested 40 years ago in the Vietnam era, named Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg was a military analyst who worked in the Pentagon under Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. He was an ex-Marine officer who was allowed to walk with combat troops in Vietnam and see the war up close. Ellsberg reported on what he considered a costly and immoral war through publishing a secret study known as “The Pentagon Papers” in The New York Times.
Since Manning’s arrest, Ellsberg has been a vocal protester of President Obama’s use of the Espionage Act against whistleblowers since it had questionable constitutionality unless used in situations of actual espionage. He has also urged anyone who cares about the future of our country to learn about Bradley Manning’s trial because he believes transparency and accountability are at stake.
Bradley Manning has pled guilty to lesser crimes after he endured a considerable amount of personal sacrifice to bring forward classified military documents which highlighted some of the immoral undertakings in Iraq and Afghanistan. The information Manning leaked was valuable for providing Americans with the knowledge needed to further assess their support for seemingly unending military presence in wars with already questionable motives.
As Bradley Manning’s June 3 trial draws near, be grateful for the sacrifices he has made to educate Americans on the military actions abroad and consider the impassioned conclusion Glenn Greenwald wrote in his article earlier this month about the permanency of the war on terror. “The Obama administration already claims the power to wage endless and boundless war, in virtually total secrecy, and without a single meaningful check or constraint,” Greenwald wrote. “No institution with any power disputes this. To the contrary, the only ones which exert real influence — Congress, the courts, the establishment media, the plutocratic class — clearly favor its continuation and only think about how further to enable it. That will continue unless and until Americans begin to realize just what a mammoth price they’re paying for this ongoing splurge of war spending and endless aggression.”