Friday, August 23, 2013

I'm So Old -- UPDATE

That I remember waaaaay back when some people promised us that we could take a leap of faith with Edward Snowden and his magic bag of leaks because his one and only goal (on which he was focused with singular, laserlike intensity) was initiating a debate among the good citizens of these United States about NSA domestic surveillance and our (either pathetically weak or somewhat effective but too shrouded in mystery, depending on your reading list) FISA courts.

Which is why this story has me all confused.

First, knowing how jealously journalists usually guard their sources -- especially from poaching by their competitors -- I was surprised to learn that the Most Dangerous Trove of Intelligence Secrets in the History of Anywhere is apparently being passed around between media corporations like groupies at a Mötley Crüe concert.

Second, and even more confusing, I have no idea how Mr. Snowden spilling the beans about a secret Middle-East internet listening post being operated by the UK has fuck all to do with his goal of initiating a public debate in the United States over NSA domestic surveillance.:

Exclusive: Edward Snowden leaks reveal UK’s secret Middle-East internet surveillance base

Data-gathering operation is part of a £1bn web project still being assembled by GCHQ

Britain runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, The Independent has learnt.
See what I mean?
The station is able to tap into and extract data from the underwater fibre-optic cables passing through the region.

The information is then processed for intelligence and passed to GCHQ in Cheltenham and shared with the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States. The Government claims the station is a key element in the West’s “war on terror” and provides a vital “early warning” system for potential attacks around the world.

The Independent is not revealing the precise location of the station but information on its activities was contained in the leaked documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden. The Guardian newspaper’s reporting on these documents in recent months has sparked a dispute with the Government, with GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives containing the data.

The Middle East installation is regarded as particularly valuable by the British and Americans because it can access submarine cables passing through the region. All of the messages and data passed back and forth on the cables is copied into giant computer storage “buffers” and then sifted for data of special interest.

Information about the project was contained in 50,000 GCHQ documents that Mr Snowden downloaded during 2012. Many of them came from an internal Wikipedia-style information site called GC-Wiki. Unlike the public Wikipedia, GCHQ’s wiki was generally classified Top Secret  or above.
Again, not a clue what any of this has to do with the debate we were all promised about NSA domestic surveillance, but I'm sure some very clever person will explain to to me, loudly, using lots of shoutycracker non sequiturs about Gitmo and supermax prisons and jackbooted Liberal tools of The Imperium.

UPDATE:  That was all last night...

And because what this story needed more than anything was one more dime-store novel subplot, today we rise to find Glennward Snowwald denying any involvement in any of this (which might very well be the case) after which comes the spirited flinging of unsupported speculations (surprise!) 

First come the denials, which might very well be true

From Mr. Greenwald:

This is the first time the Independent has published any revelations purportedly from the NSA documents, and it's the type of disclosure which journalists working directly with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have thus far avoided.
From Mr, Snowden:
I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent. The journalists I have worked with have, at my request, been judicious and careful in ensuring that the only things disclosed are what the public should know but that does not place any person in danger.
Then comes the fact-free flinging...

From Mr. Greenwald:

In other words: right as there is a major scandal over the UK's abusive and lawless exploitation of its Terrorism Act - with public opinion against the use of the Terrorism law to detain David Miranda - and right as the UK government is trying to tell a court that there are serious dangers to the public safety from these documents, there suddenly appears exactly the type of disclosure the UK government wants but that has never happened before. That is why Snowden is making clear: despite the Independent's attempt to make it appears that it is so, he is not their source for that disclosure. Who, then, is? 
The US government itself has constantly used this tactic: aggressively targeting those who disclose embarrassing or incriminating information about the government in the name of protecting the sanctity of classified information, while simultaneously leaking classified information prolifically when doing so advances their political interests.
From Mr. Snowden:
It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post's disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others. The UK government should explain the reasoning behind this decision to disclose information that, were it released by a private citizen, they would argue is a criminal act.
Yes, it is indeed possible that the UK government -- which has shown itself to be a creature of remarkably tin ears and heavy hands -- leaked top secret information about it's own top-secret listening post to the Independent...and then suborned the owners, editors and reporters of that newspaper into falsely attributing it.

Of course, the editor of the Independent denies it,
but as every real conspiracy aficionado knows, once a conspiracy theory has set up camp in your head every denial simply confirm the depth of the conspiracy!

On the other hand...

It is also possible that Mr. Snowden's purloined files -- The Most Dangerous Trove of Intelligence Secrets in the History of Anywhere -- are in the wind.  That they (or one of their many cloned brethren which, we have been told, are stashed here and there around the internet as insurance policies)  have been (to borrow from Tennessee Williams) passed around like a dirty postcard and at some point in their amazing journey though many airports and many foreign lands and the many hands of many people at the Guardian, some enterprising individual made a decrypted copy of some or all of it and sent it or sold it to one of the Guardian's competitors.  

Because since now we're playing the unsupported, free-wheeling speculation game, I don't see why Messers Greenwald and Snowden should be allowed to hog all the fun. 


Anonymous said...

Well old blinded man.

Maybe you should sit back and reconsider your point of view and, accept how the lyings, the misleadings and the terror your Government and it's allies are sandsprinkling your brains.
Turn your focus a little outside the US to find out what realy happens in our beloved country.

Greetings from Europe

blackdaug said...

Yes, who could have foreseen the unstable computer tech and the hack careerist "journalist" would eventually allow the treasure trove of stolen secrets to just end up spread out all over the place like an open briefcase of bills left on the top of a car?
This is becoming the worst movie ever. All the plot twists telegraph themselves from a mile up the river.......

P.S. Great catch on the cartoon.

Anonymous said...

As long as we are infringing on the privacy rights of rag heads, camel jockeys, and sand niggahs in far away lands purely for the sake of our freedom, safety and the American Way
It's all good...

Stay on top of this one. Thanks again, bro!

Demian said...

Impressive that Snowden can organize retribution like this from his faraway dacha.

Lit3Bolt said...

DRONEGLASS, will you never tire of bathing in the blood of innocent Muslim children(tm) and saluting your wall sized poster of Obama inside your own personal NSA pentagram?

It's because of you we can't talk about the evil things the United States has done. You have prevented every conversation personally, with your mild disapproval of Glenn's unrepentant asshole behavior.

BlindRobin said...

I believe this all has more to do with bolstering The Guardian's revenues and any damage or benefit resulting is purely a consequence of business.

kfreed said...

I've been saying that the NSA "scandal" (involving Libertarian Glenn Greenwald of Cato Intitute and Paulbot Snowden) is another RW fake scandal. It's not about privacy. It's about undermining government, specifically the democrat in the White House, for political purposes.

"Assange's Emerging Politics: Rand Paul And Libertarian Wing of GOP Represent 'Only Hope'"

Forbes (Page 2): UPDATE: Wikileaks Party under fire in Australia for what some are describing its “lurch to the right,” revealing in filings that “they want the fascist Australia First Party, the pro-shooting-in-National-Parks Shooters and Fishers Party , and the “mens rights activist” Non-Custodial Parents Party to win a seat instead of the Australian Greens. Maybe this really is an international conservative movement."

NOTE THIS: "What’s fascinating is that Paul (the father, less so the son, who still has aspirations to actual head up the vast government he says he despises) largely rejects a modern view of democracy, claiming that “pure democracy is dangerous” and that the founders never intended actual democratic rule. “Democracy is majority rule at the expense of the minority,” wrote Paul last year. “Our system has certain democratic elements, but the founders never mentioned democracy in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Declaration of Independence.”


Finally, somebody had the balls to say it.

Hef said...

OK, that's it. I can remain silent no longer. When you start spreading the British past participle usage of the word "learnt" on an American Blog, you have crossed the Red Line. Damn you...damn you to hell! (just wanted to join the hissy party, it's not as fun as I thought it would be)

gratuitous said...

Hmmm. Seems like the most responsible handlers of The Most Dangerous Trove of Intelligence Secrets in the History of Anywhere has been Glennwald Snowgreen. The government can't seem to keep a lid of any of its secrets.

But, of course, because Ed-den Snow-wald is involved, it's useless to go into this issue because someone said something once at the beginning of all this hurly-burly, and now this thing has spun out into something completely different. And that's confusing! Driftglass mad! Smash! Grrrrrr!

blader said...

This should go down as the longest amateur hour in history.

I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the part where a patriot motivated only by a profound commitment to human liberty ends up a Russian permanent resident.

[link> insert fav urdoingitwronglolcat pic</link]

Anonymous said...

Everybody's a fucking detective. "Erm, arrr, uhh, hmmm...these must be dots I can connect." Of course, "it's possible that" something something something. Then again, something.

Meanwhile, some of us less intellectually active folks really don't give a flying fuck. It's clear to us that the United States government -- recall, that'd be we the people -- is funneling shit into our ears. Maybe we have a good reason to do so, but there's no good reason forthcoming, and we're obviously too stupid to infer it. So thanks for all the careful, nuanced analysis. I'd never have considered that angle.