risking his life to tell you about NSA surveillance [ot]


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Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jun 25, 2013 - 11:27pm PT
i don't have a security clearance and never wanted one

i don't like being boxed into a compartment... professionally i work as a broad area innovator, coordinator and concept catalyst

that's partly why i left BAH after many years rather than move into that arena

one of my friends and colleagues who doesn't feel constrained that way, was able to leverage my model-based systems concepts to become a senior VP at BAH...he is welcome

i could have accepted the invitation...but wouldn't be chatting with you

i have also avoided signing non-disclosure documents...at several major corporations and government agencies, including DoD, DOE, DOJ, DOI, etc

if someone wants to entrust me with information, it should be because they trust me, not because i signed some document

if i don't want to talk about something, it is because of my judgement that the information would be harmful, and i am trying to not be harmful to people or the hopes for civilization

i like to be able to speak openly on an open forum like this, according to my own best judgement, not constrained by some legal document

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jun 26, 2013 - 12:01am PT

Reactions to Snowden's disclosures among members of Congress were varied.

Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) said: "Whether or not this program was authorized by Congress, it seems to me that this is an unconstitutional activity ... Which would make it illegal, and he should have some kind of immunity.”[84] Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said: "If it is the case that the federal government is seizing millions of personal records about law-abiding citizens, and if it is the case that there are minimal restrictions on accessing or reviewing those records, then I think Mr. Snowden has done a considerable public service by bringing it to light."[85]

Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner called Snowden "a 'traitor' who has put Americans at risk."[86] Many in Congress joined Boehner[87] in calling for Snowden's arrest, such as Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Senator;[88] Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA);[89] Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), chair of the House Intelligence Committee;[90] and Representative Peter King, former chair of the House Homeland Security Committee;[91] among others.[84][92][93][94][95][96]

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jun 26, 2013 - 12:16am PT
Whistleblower community

Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower and leaker of the top-secret Pentagon Papers in 1971, stated in an interview with CNN that he thought Snowden had done an "incalculable" service to his country and that his leaks might prevent America from becoming a surveillance state. He said Snowden had acted with the same sort of courage and patriotism as a soldier in battle.[146] In an op-ed the following morning, Ellsberg added that "there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that includes the Pentagon Papers, for which I was responsible 40 years ago."[147] Ray McGovern, a retired CIA officer who presented White House intelligence briefs for multiple presidents, said he agreed with Ellsberg in an interview where he also said "this time today I'm feeling much more hopeful for our democracy that I was feeling this time yesterday."[148]

William Binney, a whistleblower who, like Snowden, disclosed details of the NSA's mass surveillance activities, said that Snowden had "performed a really great public service to begin with by exposing these programs and making the government in a sense publicly accountable for what they're doing." However, after Snowden began leaking allegations that the US was "hacking into China," Binney felt, "he is transitioning from whistle-blower to a traitor."[149]

Thomas Drake, former senior executive of NSA and whistle blower as well, said that he feels "extraordinary kinship" with Snowden. "I actually salute him, given my experience over many, many years both inside and outside the system. Remember, I saw what he saw. I want to re-emphasize that. What he did was a magnificent act of civil disobedience. He's exposing the inner workings of the surveillance state. And it's in the public interest. It truly is."[150]

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange praised Snowden, calling him a "hero" who has exposed "one of the most serious events of the decade – the creeping formulation of a mass surveillance state."[151] After charges against Snowden were revealed, Assange released a statement that asked people to "step forward and stand with" Snowden.[152]
See also

Gold Canyon, AZ
Jun 26, 2013 - 01:05am PT
Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) said: "Whether or not this program was authorized by Congress, it seems to me that this is an unconstitutional activity..."

Consider for a moment that this idiot was actually voted into office.


Gym climber
Jun 26, 2013 - 01:18am PT
If you think the NSA is collecting all the communications for security of US citizens, boy do they have you snowed.

Mountain climber
Jun 26, 2013 - 01:22am PT
Only really dumb terrorists would use Facebook, Skype and Gmail.

Jun 26, 2013 - 01:37am PT
You know, I work with law enforcement agencies, and it is surprising how much stuff criminals post on Facebook and the like. Astonishing, actually (then again, think about how much stupid sh#t is posted here). Sure, brainy terrorists with a modicum of impulse control will avoid it, but think about how many terrorists are kids . Wouldn't surprise me at all to learn they are openly boasting about their activities online.

Mountain climber
Jun 26, 2013 - 02:26am PT
Riley, don't buy that "kill the messenger" crap.

If Snowden can steal that level of information, there really IS something wrong with US "intelligence". We need whistle blowers like that.


Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jun 26, 2013 - 02:56am PT
there are some very basic issues here as to how a society is managed and how a viable and sustainable civilization can be created

a civilization is based upon trust

i have long maintained that the truth eventually comes out, in spite of any efforts to conceal it, and often because of such efforts

most important classical international intelligence has come from commonly available sources, newspapers, magazines, street rumors etc.

most high security material eventually leaks into those sources

not James Bond type activities

major secrets always leak at the fringes, and analysis of the fringes points to the core of the secret

you just need to read a lot

the internet just expedites that process

the standard handling of leaks has been to spread vast amounts of similar, but patently false information through controlled media

you might know that something important has leaked, but which of the many false stories hides the truth

any society based upon deceit, lies, disinformation, violent acts upon citizens and neighbors...can not long persist...

there is no need for a revolution, as a dishonest society will collapse under the weight of bad actions

on the contrary, the collapse of a society is disastrous for everyone: good or bad or just nearby

the greater the differential between the rich and the poor, the less stable is the society

it is actually very important to try and hold the collapsing society together long enough to grow a more viable replacement...

based upon mutual respect and support, kindness, shunning greed and power mongering...

money is just a scam...we don't really need it any more...

there is no real scarcity, just a system that generates false scarcity and false wants in order to create and maintain monopolized control

3D printing of anything you need will soon change society as much or more than the internet

and even if we maintain a medium of trusted exchange, there is no need for banks, as anyone can already do trusted transactions over the internet...just like the banks already do under monopoly control...

and we most certainly don't need the current fractional reserve banking system trapping everyone in credit default swaps and unavoidable inflation

this archaic society based upon fear and lies and cheating is obsolete

let's move on...

Trad climber
Sh#t Hole, Brooklyn, NY
Jun 26, 2013 - 04:19am PT
Snowden put his finger in the dike holding back the sea of totalitarianism, itself not an inaccurate designation any longer, i.e., if one believes that civil liberties is the linchpin of its polar opposite, a social democracy based on the respect for and equal treatment of the individual under the rule of law, because what the US government has done is destroy the American constitutional-social fabric, in the process making a mockery of the law through trampling on traditional safeguards to freedom of thought and rights of association, protection from unwarranted searches and seizures, and down a slippery slope to everything from use of informers, planted evidence, “dirty tricks,” to encouragement of mutual suspicion, the breakup of radical organizations, whatever government deems central to its interests, safety, and continued lawlessness.

Thank you Tom Cochrane for this and your other posts.

Empire is what our nation has become. Institutional torture, now massive multi-administrational internal spying programs... what's next in the degradation of freedom? Secret courts? Oh right, already have those too.


'What's next' is what entrains when the 'American constitutional-social fabric' is progressively destroyed. Civil society as a consequence will be eviscerated and destroyed. When everyone is being surveilled, then everyone is vulnerable. At what point in a society's transformation to a total surveillance state do families and friends not dare talk about anything more controversial than the weather?
For a fully developed modeling of this, look for example to the social repercussions of Stalinism.


Trad climber
Sh#t Hole, Brooklyn, NY
Jun 26, 2013 - 04:26am PT
Plenty of Nazis were recruited into the US government. Amongst other roles, Nazis were recruited for the inception of the CIA.
Not only were Nazis recruited, but the USA also embraced negative selection, scraping the bottom of the Nazi barrel and recruiting Nazi war criminals, Nazi SS, sadists, and murderers.

U.S. Recruited Nazis More Than Thought, Declassified Papers Show


From The National Security Archive

"The documentation unearthed by the IWG reveals extensive relationships between former Nazi war criminals and American intelligence organizations, including the CIA. For example, current records show that at least five associates of the notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann worked for the CIA, 23 other Nazis were approached by the CIA for recruitment, and at least 100 officers within the Gehlen organization were former SD or Gestapo officers. (Note 2)"

"The Gehlen organization profiled in the newly posted CIA history represents one of the most telling examples of these pitfalls. Timothy Naftali, a University of Virginia professor and consulting historian to the IWG who focused heavily on the declassified CIA material, highlighted the problems posed by our relationship with Gehlen: "Reinhard Gehlen was able to use U.S. funds to create a large intelligence bureaucracy that not only undermined the Western critique of the Soviet Union by protecting and promoting war criminals but also was arguably the least effective and secure in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As many in U.S. intelligence in the late 1940s had feared would happen, the Gehlen Organization proved to be the back door by which the Soviets penetrated the Western alliance." (Note 4)"


"Handling Nazi spies, however, was not the same as employing rocket technicians. One could always tell whether Werner von Braun and his bunch were accomplishing their assignments for NASA and other U.S. agencies. If the rockets didn't fire properly, then the scientists would be judged accordingly. But how does one determine if a Nazi spy with a dubious past is doing a reliable job?
Third Reich veterans often proved adept at peddling data – much of it false – in return for cash and safety, the IWG panel concluded. Many Nazis played a double game, feeding scuttlebutt to both sides of the East-West conflict and preying upon the mutual suspicions that emerged from the rubble of Hitler's Germany.
General Gehlen frequently exaggerated the Soviet threat in order to exacerbate tensions between the superpowers. At one point he succeeded in convincing General Lucius Clay, military governor of the U.S. zone of occupation in Germany, that a major Soviet war mobilization had begun in Eastern Europe. This prompted Clay to dash off a frantic, top-secret telegram to Washington in March 1948, warning that war "may come with dramatic suddenness."
Gehlen's disinformation strategy was based on a simple premise: the colder the Cold War got, the more political space for Hitler's heirs to maneuver. The Org could only flourish under Cold War conditions; as an institution it was therefore committed to perpetuating the Soviet-American conflict.
"The agency loved Gehlen because he fed us what we wanted to hear. We used his stuff constantly, and we fed it to everyone else – the Pentagon, the White House, the newspapers. They loved it, too. But it was hyped-up Russian bogeyman junk, and it did a lot of damage to this country," a retired CIA official told author Christopher Simpson, who also serves on the IGW review panel and was author of Blowback: America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War."


Mark Weitzman Remarks before the Nazi War Criminals Interagency Working Group (IWG) June 24, 1999

"For over 50 years we have lived in a society that operated on a "need to know" basis. Our bodyguards have indeed guarded the truth; or, more accurately, the truth has been guarded from us. In the name of unspecified "national security concerns," or in the name of protecting individual rights and reputations, the files have been kept sealed.

What secrets are hidden in these files – obviously we do not know that yet. But, we can perhaps get an idea if we just consider some possibilities. A recent report in a London newspaper described the story of Erhard Dabringhaus. Dabringhaus was an U.S. Army (CIC) intelligence officer in post-war Germany. During the years between 1946 and 1952 he helped recruit agents that served as a backbone of what would become the CIA. One prime area of recruitment was involved Nazis – even more specifically, SS men. Perhaps the most infamous of these men was Klaus Barbie, also known as "The Butcher of Lyon." He was responsible for the deportation of 7,500 people, participated in 4,342 murders and was involved in the arrest and torture of 14,311 resistance fighters. Barbie was finally tracked down in the early 1980s and died in a French prison, but not before the exposure of his past also forced the exposure of U.S. involvement in the recruitment and protection of Nazis."

"Dabringhaus, Barbie’s control, published a little noticed book about his experience, and the matter seemed to end with the assumption that a relatively small number of Nazis had been recruited by the U.S.

However, the story published last month (May 22) in the Times of London detailed a different picture, one with serious implications. According to this article, Dabringhaus, who died last year, left a legacy of files that contained dramatic revelations. These revelations indicate that:

1. Dabringhaus alone recruited hundreds of Nazis, specifically SS men (The Times story estimated that a third of SS officers were ultimately protected by the U.S.)
2. These Nazis operated into the 1960s (at least);
3. Some of these Nazis recruited for U.S. intelligence "continued to kill or persecute Jews" as participants in Stalin’s antisemitic purges;
4. Dabringhaus was once ordered to kill British agents in order to protect Barbie;
5. SS men continued to work for the CIA in Latin America, teaching and using the techniques of torture developed under Hitler.

The implications are staggering. Did the U.S. protect Nazi murderers, even as they continued their murderous activities, while our government denied any knowledge of these people? Did we rely upon information and evaluations by these murderers to help formulate our foreign policy during the height of the Cold War? Did we cover up their activities in repressive regimes in Latin America? What connections, if any, exist between the original Nazis and their current heirs?


"And, it is not only the questions listed above that need answering. We know that our space program was aided in its development by Nazi scientists, recruited in Operation Paperclip, scientists who utilized slave labor in their work on the v-rockets and other programs. We know that Nazi murderers and Nazi collaborators were used and protected, and even sheltered here in the United States. But, we do not know how many, or what impact they had on U.S. policy. We do not know how many of these people evaded justice, or continued on their path of prejudice and persecution, protected by agents of our government, and sheltered under a cloak of secrecy. "


One thing is certain: the USA has inherited Nazi Germany's violence and faith of the sword.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jun 26, 2013 - 05:06am PT
i don't know the extent of what Snowdon has released, so can't quite judge the wisdom of his actions...

but the trade-off between intrusive intelligence and false security is very dangerous and begging for abuse by senior management

i know there are lots of people out there who would love to harm us the minute there is any opportunity, even in our own country... apparently especially in our own country...whether from desperation or revenge or greed or lust for power

to walk around thinking otherwise is just naive

there is tremendous temptation to run around dropping bombs on people and expecting that to solve problems

that may be fun for a while and gives a false sense of accomplishment

but the negative consequences of tearing up a society extend for generations into the future and benefit no one

so that just exacerbates problems, increasing the already too many people that hate us

our managers have to find alternatives to violent solutions

perhaps it is too late to save ourselves, but i don't want to encourage that line of thought...fear is like a prayer for what you don't want to happen

our society is cheating its citizens with artificially contrived monopolies on all the means of survival, making it very a hard to justify any holier-than-thou attitude relative to other countries

i think our central managers realize they have gone too far, but the momentum of old habits is hard to change

these monopolies are sitting on solutions that could completely change the nature of the game...but these are not solutions that can be monopolized

secrecy seems to be more often used to hide discreditable acts than to protect justifiable sources and methods

the elite seem to desperately fantasize that controlling all the money and power will save them during social collapse

i do not think that will work out well for them...

bringing social pressure requiring our bosses forgo their greed and face up to fair and equitable solutions might be the only thing that can save us at this point

it is not clear that the public has either the wisdom or the will to so

now would be a good time to wake up

Jun 26, 2013 - 09:20am PT
Well spoken Tom.

I don't know what the solution is. Some will say that at the root, voters can choose differently. However, the last 20 years has seen this idea that we need everyone inside the tent voting no matter how ill informed and ignorant they are, and it's against the law to try and weed out the dumbasses.

I was listening yesterday to a guy who was talking to a group of 20 somethings...Obama voters, who did not know who Hillary Clinton was. These people vote. (not categorizing 20 somethings as all dumbasses or all Obama voters either) I guess we get what we get.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jun 26, 2013 - 09:42am PT
Were they being asked to vote for Hillary?

How many 20-somethings don't know who the current Sec. of State is?

How many 20-something of your generation didn't know the same?

Most of them, is my guess.

Hillary is not, at present, relevant in politics, anyway.


Jun 26, 2013 - 10:16am PT
Best post in the whole thread Tom.

I'm so sick of hearing all the bullsh!t garbage about this.

Jun 26, 2013 - 12:23pm PT
I guess we get what we get.

We probably get what we deserve.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Jun 26, 2013 - 12:33pm PT
Snowden has indeed altered U.S.-China relations, by giving China new strength on an issue of which it was struggling to gain any leverage at all. And that—more than any single secret—may be the greatest legacy of Snowden’s visit to Hong Kong.

I doubt the Chinese government has really learned anything new. He named one of the Chinese universities hacked by the NSA, big deal. What he did do was create a political scandal, landing there like a hot potato and causing the Hong Kong government extreme anxiety. The Chinese read the extradition request and ask the US to clarify some details. Whatever that was about we do not know. While the ball is in the State Dept's court (they will resist admitting this to the death), Snowden escapes. I don't see any evidence of him working with the Chinese government, and now he left there because he finallly realized they would extradite him once the Americans addressed their concerns. Did someone tip him off? Who knows, but that's not espionage. It should not be a crime to create a political scandal. Many former CIA agents have come out against the Agency although they are limited in what they can talk about. For example, Ralph McGeHee, a former CIA agent who wrote a book about war crimes in the Vietnam war, but apparently stayed within the lines of what he could disclose and did not get into trouble. If you look at the actual info that Snowden disclosed, it's not a lot, particularly about hacking in China, which is the only thing that's even related to any foreign country. Everything else he disclosed was about illegal spying on Americans. Yet most Americans probably want to crucify him for it.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jun 26, 2013 - 12:36pm PT
the elite seem to desperately fantasize that controlling all the money and power will save them during social collapse

That happened a long time ago.

Gold Canyon, AZ
Jun 26, 2013 - 12:42pm PT
...secrecy seems to be more often used to hide discreditable acts than to protect justifiable sources and methods...

Well, that's a generalization that can never be proven one way or the other. Either way, this is certainly nothing new--as Winston Churchill said:

"The truth is to be protected by a bodyguard of lies."


Jun 26, 2013 - 12:45pm PT
How do secrets work? Don't they seem to work through manipulation and creating advantages over others?

As a teacher of business and corporate strategy, I've worked in / for various organizations that believed that their strategies, their capabilities, their assets should be kept secret. That never made sense to me. How does one get people in organizations aligned and working for the same objectives? How do stakeholders know who they're dealing with, and what's really going on? How do competitors come to know what they should be doing and how? It's my observation that too often competitors come head-to-head against one another, leading to zero-sum games. In those situations, there must be a winner and losers.

Experimental research has shown repeatedly that the best strategy in all instances is what is known as tit-for-tat. Do what the other guy does (no more, but no less), and in the long run, tit-for-tat leads to trust, credibility, and mutually beneficial interdependent actions. In time, people learn that deception, guile, and opportunism leads to dysfunctional and negative outcomes.

Transparency: be honest, up-front; put your cards on the table.

I might think that the extent that "competitors" know what our strategies are, the more they will avoid being direct competitors and finally seek out better ecological (eco-system-like) positions. Knowing that the U.S. has close tabs on worldwide internet communication will either encourage less communication or different means of communication--the latter which could then be focused on. Once an enemy has few places to go (or it gets too hard), they might be encouraged to negotiate to mutually beneficial positions.

On the other hand, if you want to stick it to your enemies, if you must be a winner at all costs, then by all means, keep secrets. Make the other guy suffer. Of course, this tends to encourage never-ending escalations and conflicts. It emphasizes pain and suffering of the other guy over learning to live with one another.
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