Protesters, responding to calls by a loose network calling itself #stopwatchingus, braved searing summer temperatures Saturday to demonstrate in Hamburg, Munich, Berlin and up to 35 other German cities and towns.
Some wore tinfoil hats to shield themselves from the sun—and make a political statement about warding off unwanted eavesdroppers.
Others held placards showing support for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the issue of the NSA’s alleged interception of Web traffic when U.S. President Barack Obama visited Berlin last month. But German opposition parties remain skeptical of the government’s claim that it had known nothing about the surveillance.
When former National Security Agency contractor Ed Snowden exposed the inner workings of the country’s biggest intelligence organization, he said he did so to roll back a spying apparatus that put the United States on the path to “turnkey tyranny.”
But his revelations could end up having the opposite effect. Instead of declawing a single surveillance state, Snowden’s leaks could ironically wind up enhancing government spying around the globe.
According to experts who are advising U.S. email, cloud data storage, and social media companies, executives are concerned that foreign governments — particularly ones with fewer protections for personal privacy and free speech — are already beginning to demand that U.S. tech companies relocate their servers and databases within their borders. Under normal circumstances, companies would rarely comply with those migration demands, especially if those countries have reputations for heavy-handed internal policing. But now that the United States is being seen as a global spying power, they may have little choice.
Other governments can make their relocation demands in the name of protecting citizens from the intrusive powers of the NSA. Then those regimes can use U.S. tech to make their own law enforcement and intelligence agencies more NSA-like.
“Despite Snowden’s sensational revelations, data will not be better protected outside the U.S. in countries where privacy is aspirational at best,” said Al Gidari, a lawyer with the firm Perkins Coie who represents companies on surveillance and communications law. “Data stored locally will be the fuel for corruption, abuse and repression in most of those countries, especially in those countries that are complaining the loudest about U.S. surveillance activities.”
This week, Brazil’s communications minister said that Internet service providers may now be required to store information locally following reports that NSA has spied on communications in Brazil and across Latin America.
“The ideal thing would be for these companies to keep their data in the country so it can be available should Brazil’s justice system request it,” Paulo Bernardo Silva said in an interview with a Brazilian newspaper. Silva described local control of data as a matter of national sovereignty.
Companies that provide cloud computing services are facing particular scrutiny abroad. Their business is to store large amounts of sensitive information about foreign individuals and companies on servers that are located in United States. And there is a growing perception that this infrastructure is firmly within the grip of the U.S. intelligence agencies, several experts said. That impression is not diminished when U.S. officials, attempting to mollify domestic critics, argue that the NSA is only interested in monitoring foreigners.
Over the past few years, overseas governments have increased pressure on marquee technology companies to hand over more data about their customers and to comply with official orders that would be deemed unconstitutional in the United States.
In 2011, Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, gave the government of India access to its consumer and messaging services, in response to authorities’ concerns that they would not be able to monitor criminals and other threats communicating over the company’s networks. Officials had threatened to cut off access to the company’s services inside their country if RIM didn’t comply. The company ultimately agreed to allow India’s security agencies to intercept emails and other messages.
Last year, the Google executive in charge of the company’s business operations in Brazil was arrested after the company failed to comply with a government order to remove YouTube videos critical of a local mayoral candidate. Google, which owns YouTube, said it wasn’t responsible for the content that users post to the video sharing network.
It wasn’t the first time the company had run up against aggressive policing of information that would be protected under the First Amendment in the United States. In 2011, Google removed profiles from its Orkut social-networking system after a court order deemed them politically offensive. And another order told the company to take down thousands of photos from one of its sharing sites.
U.S. companies are required to abide by the surveillance laws in whatever country they operate. But under legal assistance treaties, foreign governments usually funnel their requests through official channels, and U.S. authorities deliver the requests to the American companies. That slows down the surveillance machine in those countries, and they’ve been looking for ways to speed up that process.
Brazil may prove an early test case for the Snowden blowback effect. According to a report in the Brazilian newspaper Folha, the government will present a “formal condemnation of U.S. data collection techniques” to the United Nations Human Rights Council at its next meeting on September 9, in Geneva. Brazil has apparently had little luck attracting supporters to its attempt to politically embarrass the U.S. government — only seven other countries on the 47-member commission have signed on.
But new information about NSA spying, disclosed by the director of the agency himself, may add some momentum to Brazil’s efforts. At the Aspen Security Conference, Gen. Keith Alexander tipped his hand and revealed that the NSA is obtaining a huge amount of communications traffic from cables that come ashore in Brazil.
Brazil is in the espionage business, too, of course, as are most countries. But the NSA revelations have tended to obscure the obvious hypocrisy in one nation feigning outrage that another country is spying on it. In an interview with Folha, Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim acknowledged that his fellow countrymen could be spied on via their connections to foreign social networks. (The implication was those in the United States.) But he said there was no evidence that the Brazilian government was using such a scheme to monitor its own citizens.
“What is known is more about the U.S. agencies,” Celso said. “To my knowledge, nothing has come out about the Brazilian agencies. But Brazilians can be [monitored], yes. It is speculation.”
Celso added that on two occasions, he believed his communications had been monitored by the United States, including while he lived in the country as Brazil’s ambassador to the United Nations. “I was responsible for three committees on the issue of Iraq. My phone started making a very strange noise, and when the commission on Iraq ended, the noise did too. There was an obvious focus then.”
U.S. technology companies’ reputations are also taking hits in Europe. Vivane Reding, the European Union’s Justice Minister, is reviewing the Safe Harbor Framework, which is intended to support transatlantic trade while also protecting European citizens’ privacy. Redding has said the agreement could be used as a “loophole” to allow the transfer of personal data to the United States from European countries where privacy rules are stronger.
Companies based in Europe also believe that the NSA scandal could be a financial boon for them. Customers may start moving their data to facilities located in countries with stricter privacy regulations — and away from American-based firms. “There’s a perception, even if unfounded, that U.S. privacy protections are insufficient to protect the data which is stored either on U.S. soil or with U.S. companies,” Justin Freeman, the corporate counsel for cloud computing provider Rackspace, told a House committee last year.
Snowden’s revelations have cracked whatever veneer of deniability U.S. companies had that they weren’t providing foreigners’ personal data to American intelligence agencies. And considering that Congress this week put its stamp of approval on a key element of the NSA’s surveillance architecture, companies may find it harder to persuade their foreign customers that the U.S. is still a safe place to keep their information.
But there may be a way, however unlikely, for U.S. companies to repair their international standing and keep their customers’ information away from the NSA: They could move their own infrastructure overseas or become acquired by majority foreign owners.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the wireless division of Verizon and T-Mobile have not been part of the spy agency’s data collection regime because they’re tied to foreign owners. Deutsche Telekom, of Germany, owns 74 percent of T-Mobile, and Vodafone Group, of the United Kingdom, owns 45 percent of Verizon Wireless in a joint-venture with its parent company.
Germany and England may seem a long way to go to relocate a business. But it could keep companies further from the long arm of the NSA.
Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has become the winner of this year’s Whistleblower Award established by German human rights organizations, the German branch of Transparency International said in a statement.
“This year’s winner of the Whistleblower Award is Edward Snowden,” the statement posted on TI Germany website on Monday said.
The award, established in 1999, is sponsored by the Association of German Scientists (VDW) and the German branch of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA).
A VDW spokesperson told RIA Novosti on Monday that the award money, amounting to 3,000 euros, would be passed to Snowden through his representatives – either a lawyer or a “friendly” organization.
Snowden, who faces prosecution in the United States for leaking highly sensitive classified data about the US National Security Agency’s surveillance activities, submitted a request for temporary asylum in Russia last week, having been holed up in the transit zone of a Moscow airport since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23.
He is still waiting for a decision by the Russian migration authorities.
Washington has repeatedly called on Moscow to reject Snowden’s request for asylum and send him back to the United States to stand trial on charges of espionage and theft.
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.
As a Truth Teller, I have witnessed people who have totally had their lives destroyed by being a “Whistle Blower.” What do you think of when you hear the term “Whistle Blower?” I have had students answer that question with snitch, traitor, trouble maker, narcissist, media hound, ego maniac and many other negative terms.
I even witnessed some obscure news program that I will not give credit to say “traitor” then quickly retract to Whistleblower.
The people who are labeled with this term at the very least saved a ton of money, your money, in exposing waste in areas such as Government and Banking. In more severe cases they have given up everything and saved others lives from law enforcement to the food you eat. In either event, we may call some of them a hero, we call some the other names mentioned above, but they are labeled with “Whistleblower” on their forehead and will likely never have their life back again. A VERY small group of Truth Tellers have been fortunate enough to sell a book, or start a career in the legal field, and I applaud them for it, but remember this is an extremely small percentage of people.
So back to the original question, why can we not get the term Truth Teller used instead?
The evening news would not have a “sexy” lead story with “Truth Teller exposes” but has a great headline with “Whistleblower exposes” forever giving them a label that will turn their lives upside down. After all, if “Honest Person” or Ethical” were tattooed on someone’s forehead an employer might have a hard time explaining why they do not want to hire them, Government entities included. I came to realize this when I was at a job interview, at a place I had interviewed with before, and was told that I was not hired because I was a Whistleblower, at least they were honest about it. How would it sound if they had said, “we did not hire you because you are a Truth Teller, or a person of conscious?” It is a little harder to justify that decision. I even had the pleasure of being on the local news, telling the story of retaliation and not one single caller called the news station for an inquiry on hiring a Whistleblower. (This ran on the six and ten o’clock news as the lead story on two stations reaching well over 300,000 people. Would the results have been different if another term had been used? I recently got word a student told his professor that I took the glamour out of Whistle blowing. I am glad the student got the message, try not to be sucked into that situation in the 1st place, but be ready to be a Truth Teller when the time comes, not for glory, money, or fame, but because it is the right thing to do.
I am proud to be a Whistleblower, but understand that society uses that term with a horribly negative connotation. I hope that the media and society in general, will come to call us Truth Tellers, People of Conscious, or an Ethical Persons, as sadly right now Whistleblower is getting as negative as some racial slurs.
The NSA spying scandal shows that America’s pursuit of terrorists has turned into a mania. Spying on citizens is as monstrous and unlawful as Guantanamo Bay and drone warfare. The German government‘s response has been woefully weak.
America is sick. September 11 left it wounded and unsettled — that’s been obvious for nearly 12 years — but we are only now finding out just how grave the illness really is. The actions of the NSA exposed more than just the telephone conversations and digital lives of many millions of people. The global spying scandal shows that the US has become manic, that it is behaving pathologically, invasively. Its actions are entirely out of proportion to the danger.
Since 2005, an average of 23 Americans per year have been killed through terrorism, mostly outside of the US. “More Americans die of falling televisions and other appliances than from terrorism,” writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, and “15 times as many die by falling off ladders.” The US has spent $8 trillion on the military and homeland security since 2001.
America has other threats. The true short-term danger is homegrown: More than 30,000 Americans are killed by firearms every year. An American child is 13 times more likely to be shot than a child in another industrialized country. When it comes to combating the problem, President Barack Obama and Congress are doing very little — or, to be fair, nothing at all. They talk about it every now and then, after every killing spree. The gun lobby, incurably ill, counters that the weapons are necessary for self-defense.
And when it comes to real long-term dangers, such as climate change, America, its prime perpetrator, does nothing — or, to be fair, too little too late.
As Monstrous as Guantanamo
Eleven and a half years later, Guantanamo Bay detention camp is still up and running.
All of this is not to say that terrorism doesn’t exist: 9/11 happened, and al Qaida is real. But spying on citizens and embassies, on businesses and allies, violates international law. It is as monstrous and as unlawful as Guantanamo Bay, where for 11 and a half years, men have been detained and force-fed, often without evidence against them, many of whom are still there to this day. It is as unlawful as the drones that are killing people, launched with a mere signature from Obama.
There has been virtually no political discussion about all of this. Attacks have been prevented through the spying program — Obama says it, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it, and we have to believe them. Voters and citizens are akin to children, whose parents — the government — know what is best for them. But does the free America that should be defended even still exist, or has it abolished itself through its own defense?
An American government that gives its blessing to a program like Prism respects nothing and no one. It acts out its omnipotence, considers itself above international law — certainly on its own territory and even on foreign ground. The fact that it’s Obama behaving in such a way is bleak. If this were happening during the administration of George W. Bush, we could at least think, “It’s just Bush. He’s predictable. There is a better America.” Now we know: There is only one America. Did Obama, the Harvard Law student, even believe what he was saying in his speeches about the return of civil liberties? Can someone be so cynical that they promise to heal the world, then act in such a way all the while giving the xenophobic explanation that only foreigners would be monitored? Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are Obama’s role models. What would they say?
The Stasi Comparison Stands
The German government has shown devastating weakness. Merkel should say, “You are manic, and what you are doing is sick.” That’s what friends do. Instead she weighs every word to avoid annoying the Americans. She said that a comparison between the NSA and the Stasi is inappropriate, but she’s wrong. A comparison doesn’t require that two things be identical. The Stasi destroyed families, the NSA probably not. But the use of technology, the careful nurturing of the image of the enemy, the obsessive collection of data, the belief of being on the right side, the good side: Is there really no resemblance?
Angela Merkel promised to defend the German people from harm. To have your phone wiretapped and accept the fact that every one of your emails could be monitored — the violation of the private sphere — that qualifies as harm.
Every voter knows that realpolitik can be ugly, because politics require the balancing of many considerations. The decisive question is: What greater good justifies this breach of law by the US and the cooperation of German agencies? It is time for answers.
photo by WilliamBanzaix
WASHINGTON—Republican and Democrat lawmakers expressed renewed skepticism Wednesday about the scope of the government’s surveillance operations and threatened to revoke authority for one of the programs recently disclosed by a former National Security Agency contractor that collects telephone records on tens of millions of Americans.
“This is unsustainable, outrageous and must be stopped immediately.”
Noting mounting concerns since details about the telephone records program and a separate operation that collects the communications of non-U.S. citizens abroad were disclosed last month, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said there “are not enough votes to renew” the authority, at least for the vast phone records collection effort.
“This program has gone off the tracks,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said, “and it needs to be reined in.”
But Justice Department and NSA officials asserted that the programs were the subject of strict oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Congress and agency officials.
“This is not done in some rogue manner,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole told the panel. “We know of no one who has abused this in a way that would have caused discipline.”
Though former NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed the existence of the operations without authorization prompting criminal charges related to espionage, Deputy NSA Director Chris Inglis said the government has no evidence that he “abused the data.”
The strong questioning from lawmakers comes more than a month after Snowden’s disclosures triggered a heated debate over the intersection of the government’s surveillance authority and personal privacy rights.
Snowden has taken refuge in the transit area of a Moscow airport since fleeing Hong Kong last month to avoid extradition to the U.S.
Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., said that while he was “satisfied” that government officials overseeing the programs were acting in good faith, he said there was “concern that this could evolve into something quite different.”
“How do we keep this from evolving into an unchecked weapon that can be used against people’s rights?”
Cole said the phone record collection program contained multiple safeguards against inappropriate breaches of privacy. Echoing defenses offered by other administration officials, he said collection did not involve the content of phone calls, nor did it include the names of the parties to the calls.
“You can’t just wander through these records,” he said.
Responding to repeated questions about the vast nature of the collection effort, Cole said at one point: “If you are looking for the needle in a haystack, you have to have the haystack.”
The fallout from the recent disclosures of the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programs continues to spread.
On Monday, the European Parliament Civil Liberties Commission voted overwhelmingly to investigate the privacy and civil rights implications of the NSA’s PRISM and other spy programs on European citizens, and demanded more information on the programs from U.S. authorities.
In a resolution, the Parliament called on member nations to also consider suspending any counter-terrorism related data transfer arrangements — such as airline passenger records — they might have with the U.S. until better protections become available for the data.
EPIC asks Supreme Court to stop NSA surveillance
Meanwhile, in a separate development, the Washington-based rights group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the legal basis that the NSA is using to collect the phone records of tens of millions of Americans.
EPIC’s petition asked the Supreme Court to immediately halt the NSA’s domestic surveillance activities saying the agency has no reasonable basis for conducting such surveillance.
The developments are the latest in a string of events that began when NSA contract worker Edward Snowden leaked documents describing secret U.S. surveillance programs to the media. The documents describe various NSA data collection around the world, and have caused widespread concern about dragnet NSA surveillance activities not just within the United States but outside the country as well.
The EU resolution, which was passed by a margin of 483 votes to 98 (with 65 abstentions), is one measure of the concern stoked by Snowden’s revelations. It strongly condemned the NSA’s alleged activities and urged U.S. authorities to provide the EU with full information on the secret surveillance disclosed by Snowden.
“Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee will conduct an ‘in-depth inquiry’ into the US surveillance programs, including the bugging of EU premises and other spying allegations, and present its results by the end of this year,” a statement from the Parliament noted. “It will assess the impact of the alleged surveillance activities on EU citizens’ right to privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, the presumption of innocence and the right to an effective remedy.”
The Snowden affair has strained Washington’s relationships with other countries as well. Over the weekend, Brazil for instance, expressed “deep concern” over a report in The Guardian newspaper about U.S. intelligence agencies tapping electronic and phone communications of Brazilian citizens.
In a press statement, the country’s Minister of External Relations, Antonio Patriota, said Brazil’s government has sought clarifications from Washington on the nature of the NSA surveillance activities in that country.
Several other Latin American countries have also expressed displeasure at Washington after a recent incident in which the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced into making an unscheduled stop in Austria on the suspicion that Snowden was on board.
U.S. relations with Russia and China too have taken a hit over the Snowden affair. The U.S. government has accused both countries of not doing enough to extradite Snowden when they have had the ability to do it. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, has flatly said his country will not deport Snowden back to the United States.
Snowden is currently believed to be in the transit lounge at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where he is evading U.S. authorities. He flew into Moscow from Hong Kong more than two weeks ago.
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.”
A protester in Hanover, Germany, holds up a sign on Saturday reading: “The United Stasi of America,” a reference to the feared secret police in totalitarian East Germany. A second sign states: “Those with nothing to hide should not fear whistleblowers.” Photo: Der Spiegel/DPA
In an important news report, ‘How the NSA Targets Germany and Europe’, Der Spiegel has reviewed a series of documents which prove that Germany played a central role in the NSA’s global surveillance network – and how the Germans have also become targets of US attacks. Each month, the US intelligence service saves data from around half a billion communications connections from Germany.
According to the listing, Germany is among the countries that are the focus of surveillance. Thus, the documents confirm that the US intelligence service, with approval from the White House, is spying on the Germans, said Der Spiegel, and possibly right up to the level of the chancellor.
Britain has been revealed as the junior partner in this Orwellian scheme. But the European Commission has reacted swiftly and strongly. In a letter to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, the Commission vice-president Viviane Reding requested detailed clarifications about the scope of the UK’s spying practices and even hinted at legal action.
The new aspect of the revelations isn’t that countries are trying to spy on each other, eavesdropping on ministers and conducting economic espionage. What is most important about the documents is that they reveal the possibility of the absolute surveillance of a country’s people and foreign citizens without any kind of effective controls or supervision.
The Global Network of Undersea Cables. Graphic: Der Spiegel
Many high-ranking European officials have issued statements of outrage and protest against America’s spying. These representatives of the European ruling class pretend surprise at the revelations but have no doubt acquiesced to, authorised or supported similar surveillance of their own populations and of their American counterparts.
Nevertheless, the unanimity of the response is an indication that European governments have been goaded into voicing the concerns of their citizens. The US dragnet of telecommunications and the internet over Europe has never been so visible, as are now, thanks to Edward Snowden, US efforts to persecute those who have brought the spying to public notice.
The NSA’s ‘Boundless Informant’ Programme. Graphic: Der Spiegel
In the USA, the slavish corporate media has condemned Snowden’s actions. Witness a representative reaction in theNew York Times, for whom Snowden is the product of an “atomised society” and lacking “respect for institutions and deference to common procedures”! This daily newspaper, like others in its pettyfogging class and like the American national television channels, bloodthirsty and war-mongering now for a decade, has ignored the point made bluntly by the American Civil Liberties Unionthat these “institutions and procedures” long ago lost their claim to respectability.
Britain has been cast even further into Europe’s data protection wilderness after revelations that its formerly glorious signals intelligence agency GCHQ has been monitoring web and telecommunications on an even greater scale than the NSA. Germany’s justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, has demanded explanations from her British counterpart, asking whether the 30-day retention of signals data is based on concrete suspicion or is warrantless (guess which?).
Yet, as Der Spiegel has commented, among the intelligence agencies in the Western world there appears to be a division of duties and at times extensive cooperation. And it appears that the principle that foreign intelligence agencies do not monitor the citizens of their own country, or that they only do so on the basis of individual court decisions, is obsolete in this world of globalised communication and surveillance. Hence Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency, the American NSA and Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency create a matrix is created of boundless surveillance in which each partner aids in a division of roles.
In a desperate bid to evade the international reach of US authorities Snowden has applies for asylum to Wall Street. “Where else can I go?”, says Snowden. Pointing out that Wall Street ripped off 10 trillion dollars in 2008 and no one went to jail Snowden thinks this is the only place on Earth that is beyond the reach of the Justice Department. “If they can get away with that,” says Snowden, this must be the best place in the world to hide!”
via Dvorak News Blog.
By Mark A. Goldman
Even those who are deeply incensed at the thought that the NSA and others are snooping on every American do not necessarily understand what the implications are; how this program has already destroyed most of what we thought it meant to live in America.
Most Americans do not realize that the country that exists in their minds has already been dismantled. In some sense this ignorance is now our only hope… but only because our illusions are really our cherished memory of what we think we have and what we really want. Only now what we think we have no longer exists and if that’s what we still want, it will have to be reclaimed… it will have to be won all over again for we now live under a tyranny that we don’t all yet recognize or experience because up until now the dismantling of the Constitution has been a secret or at best a taboo topic for public discussion.
No branch of government now operates as it was originally intended or visualized by the Framers. Those who are in control have corrupted every important aspect of what it means to live in freedom and in a democracy. We have to deeply lie to ourselves in order not to see what we have become as a nation, as a people.
Those who hold high office are being blackmailed. They live in fear of losing face, status, reputation, position, money, or whatever is important to them. They follow orders and no longer think for themselves. Many don’t even know that what they believe has been programmed into them, defining the limits of what they are allowed to think if they wish to hold onto their position in life. You don’t have to be an elected official for this to happen to you.
To be elected to public office requires that you gain favor from certain individuals who possess wealth and power. And yet you can’t get elected unless you get enough votes. So to get elected and to stay in office you have to tell voters what they want to hear but later, behind closed doors, do just the opposite of what you told them. You have to ignore injustices you discover and sign legislation that contributes to injustice in ways you may not even understand. And those injustices can include some of the most horrific crimes that human beings can contemplate and carry out against other human beings.
You have to spend your time dialing for dollars rather than doing the people’s business. You have to pass legislation that funnels money into the hands of the already privileged and undeserving few at the expense of ordinary citizens. You have to support war and war crimes. You have to tow the party line, fall into place, and follow the lead of people you fear. If you don’t fall into line you can be destroyed by someone who has the goods on you and knows how to use that illegally gathered information to get what they want. There are exceptions, of course, but you live and operate within the confines and in an atmosphere of systemic corruption. And this is true whether you are a judge, an elected official, or an appointee to a position of power.
The specifics that prove what I am saying is true, are what whistleblowers have been trying to tell us and what those in power don’t want us to know; for if too many of us did know and understand, and if we believed in ourselves, we might actually try to do something about it and succeed.
Of course if we never try and don’t succeed, we will continue to lose more of our freedoms, our wealth, our dignity, and our happiness.