Who leaked the Snowden documents about Britain’s secret Middle Eastern base to a British paper?

posted at 6:51 pm on August 23, 2013 by Allahpundit

There are, supposedly, only two newspapers Snowden is working with: The Guardian and the Washington Post. (The NYT, wanting in on some of this Snowden action, announced today that it’s launched a partnership with the Guardian to that effect.) He’s been interviewed by others, but it’s only Greenwald and WaPo’s Bart Gellman, I believe, who have copies of what Snowden lifted from the NSA. Lo and behold, the Independent revealed last night that the UK is operating a base in the Middle East that it uses to intercept local communications. Money quote: “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.”

Wasn’t me, says Snowden, in a statement posted by Greenwald:

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. People at all levels of society up to and including the President of the United States have recognized the contribution of these careful disclosures to a necessary public debate, and we are proud of this record.

“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.”

Note that Snowden doesn’t deny that the info on the base could have come from his documents. It might be in there, he seems to be suggesting, but he deliberately hasn’t leaked “harmful” information because this is about civil liberties, not about damaging western governments willy nilly. Which is nonsense: He’s leaked information before that has nothing to do with U.S./UK citizens being spied on and everything to do with routine espionage against foreign governments. But whatever. His theory, and Greenwald’s, is that this is a false flag op against him by the British government itself, leaking something which they knew the public would disapprove of in order to hurt Snowden’s and Greenwald’s credibility:

Ludicrous, says Joshua Foust. He has another suspect:

Greenwald, naturally, has a theory. He writes that Snowden claims the UK government itself leaked the documents. Greenwald then goes on to concoct some preposterous theory amplifying this idea, as if Whitehall would deliberately undermine its own nascent intelligence operations just to score some minor point against Edward Snowden. Contrary to Greenwald’s claims, exposing a compartmented program located in a sensitive country does not, actually, help them — in fact, by exposing sensitive operations in a sensitive location it does the very harm that necessitated classifying the program to begin with…

After his partner was detained, Glenn Greenwald threatened to release more documents exposing UK spying activities. He tried to walk it back — a courtesy he denies other journalists all the time — but the meaning was clear. Greenwald was mad, and he was going to punish the UK as a result.

Now, suddenly, a new tranche of documents exposing foreign espionage facilities — for which there is no legitimate public interest defense, since this station does not infringe on the civil liberties of British or American citizens — appears in the media, mysteriously without any of the bylines normally associated with such leaks.

Foust’s theory of the leak is conjecture, but then so is Greenwald’s. And Foust is right that the idea that the UK itself would sacrifice the secrecy of a sensitive base just to make Snowden look bad seems absurd. If the base is of so little use to them that they’d out it themselves, why’d they keep it secret in the first place? Beyond that, there’s no firm reason to believe that either the U.S. or British government knew that Snowden’s files contained material on the British base. To this day, the NSA still isn’t entirely sure what he took. Could be that the Brits discovered the material in the Snowden-related stuff they seized recently from Greenwald’s partner David Miranda, but that was all likely encrypted. Could they decrypt it that quickly? Could they decrypt it at all? Also, to think that Independent would pass on a bombshell story about UK authorities passing around their own copies of Snowden’s files to out their own intelligence hubs in order to write a mundane piece about a British spy center in the Middle East that surprises no one is hard to believe.

An exit question, then, for those who’ve been following Snowdengate day by day: To the best of your knowledge, who has access to Snowden’s treasure trove? Greenwald and Gellman, obviously, as well as Laura Poitras and Miranda. Wikileaks might have some access. Who else? Russian and Chinese intelligence could have lifted some or all of it, but who knows if they’ve decrypted it (did they even get it in encrypted form?) and there’s no reason why they’d feed it to the Independent. The NSA and British intel probably have some idea of what he took but evidently not the complete picture. Who else? A final nerve-wracking possibility raised by Foust is that someone in Snowden’s inner circle somehow lost control of part or all of the archive and now Mister X is leaking it against Snowden’s wishes. That’s the worst-case scenario for everyone, including Snowden (assuming he’s semi-serious about not trying to harm U.S./UK interests), since if this is a set up by the British they can at least be trusted not to leak stuff that’s too damaging to their own security. No such guarantee with Mister X. Maybe the genie’s out of the bottle.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

I do not care. I know who is spying on my emails, phone calls and credit card statements and it’s not Snowden.

Either the NSA dies or America does.

“In the end, there can be only one”.

The NSA is an anti-American abomination and is as incompatible with America as is Islam and for many of the same reasons.

VorDaj on August 23, 2013 at 6:58 PM

the Independent revealed last night that the UK is operating a base in the Middle East that it uses to intercept local communications.

Countries try to spy on each other? What’s next, a revelation that water is wet?

rbj on August 23, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Beyond that, there’s no firm reason to believe that either the U.S. or British government knew that Snowden’s files contained material on the British base.

Didn’t they just seize exactly that sort of information from Greenwald’s partner?

sharrukin on August 23, 2013 at 6:59 PM

O’Bama?

Starlink on August 23, 2013 at 6:53 PM

…he doesn’t like the Brits…

KOOLAID2 on August 23, 2013 at 7:04 PM

If I might add…we lived in the UK back around 2000. It was in the papers then that all e-mails and phone conversations were “monitored”. They of course had those pesky IRA people and also offshoots from some of their former colonies. For this to be “news” makes me laugh.

teejk on August 23, 2013 at 7:10 PM

The Brits have what they took from Miranda.

Schadenfreude on August 23, 2013 at 7:16 PM

Nice to know state secrets are guarded so well. ///

Bitter Clinger on August 23, 2013 at 7:20 PM

To the best of your knowledge, who has access to Snowden’s treasure trove?

The NSA, obviously. It’s almost as if they’ve recently had some bad publicity after Obama went on Leno. Not saying they leaked, but it’s possible.

Christien on August 23, 2013 at 7:21 PM

I do not care. I know who is spying on my emails, phone calls and credit card statements and it’s not Snowden.
Either the NSA dies or America does.
“In the end, there can be only one”.
The NSA is an anti-American abomination and is as incompatible with America as is Islam and for many of the same reasons.
VorDaj on August 23, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Actually, to be accurate, Snowden WAS one of the people spying on your emails!

I know, I know, divine comedy that you’d just happen to use that sentence, right?!

But seriously, then he decided it was a bad idea.

If the government didn’t do it though, and something happened, you’d then be trying to crucify them for what they knew and when they knew it and asking, “Why didn’t you do anything?!”

You know, kinda like you guys do now. Maybe it’s just when a democrat is in office though. When all these security organizations were created by Republican’s all the conservative news sources from Fox on down to El Rushbo called anyone who questioned or protested them “Anti-American’s”.

If you remember…

Amazing how things change, huh VorDaj?

Genuine on August 23, 2013 at 7:22 PM

He’s been interviewed by others, but it’s only Greenwald and WaPo’s Bart Gellman, I believe, who have copies of what Snowden lifted from the NSA.

Nonsense. In the time he was in Chinese and Soviet hands, they made complete copies of all hard drives and other media that Snowden had. They would be fools to have not done so.

slickwillie2001 on August 23, 2013 at 7:37 PM

An exit question, then, for those who’ve been following Snowdengate day by day: To the best of your knowledge, who has access to Snowden’s treasure trove?

I know this will sound ODS-like, but why did you leave out the Obama administration? Doesn’t hurt us too much. And maybe the Brit’s didn’t get much from the dudette, which pissed off Bammy. Maybe the Daywalker made a side trip while she was on the British Isles instead of the UN.

I don’t know. I just trust the guy as far as I can throw him. Maybe it is ODS.

BKeyser on August 23, 2013 at 8:05 PM

Snowdens docs have been copied. He may not be the only person with NSA data. Think about it.

There are a lot of people working there a heck of a lot smarter and cleverer (?) than Snowden.

There could be numerous people with that info. That’s the problem with something like that. It’s like water. Eventually it leaks out.

dogsoldier on August 23, 2013 at 8:05 PM

The location of the base is no “secret,” it just is not routinely mentioned…but it is mentioned, once in a while.

Simply put, where is the sole location in the region where the Brits have sovereignty? And little to no threat of hostile acts directed against it?

coldwarrior on August 23, 2013 at 8:05 PM

Nonsense. In the time he was in Chinese and Soviet hands, they made complete copies of all hard drives and other media that Snowden had. They would be fools to have not done so.

slickwillie2001 on August 23, 2013 at 7:37 PM

And if he were smart he would have made a lot of backups too.

dogsoldier on August 23, 2013 at 8:06 PM

If the secret base doesn’t in fact exist, then the argument that the UK government wouldn’t find it worthwhile to slander Snowden by ‘disclosing’ its existence falls apart.

PersonFromPorlock on August 23, 2013 at 8:09 PM

Simply put, where is the sole location in the region where the Brits have sovereignty? And little to no threat of hostile acts directed against it?

coldwarrior on August 23, 2013 at 8:05 PM

If they mean Cyprus that listening post hasn’t been a secret since the early 80′s or even earlier.

sharrukin on August 23, 2013 at 8:18 PM

If they mean Cyprus that listening post hasn’t been a secret since the early 80′s or even earlier.

sharrukin on August 23, 2013 at 8:18 PM

Exactly.

They left Kamaran decades ago. As well as Socotra.

Can’t recall any other “sovereign” areas in the region anymore. Not likely that a whole lot of local governments would be down with UK setting up any sort of bases in the region.

coldwarrior on August 23, 2013 at 8:26 PM

Can’t recall any other “sovereign” areas in the region anymore. Not likely that a whole lot of local governments would be down with UK setting up any sort of bases in the region.

coldwarrior on August 23, 2013 at 8:26 PM

Maybe the UAE, Oman, or Qatar? Even so any British facility in those regions would be a target.

I agree that it is most likely Cyprus.

sharrukin on August 23, 2013 at 8:36 PM

And Foust is right that the idea that the UK itself would sacrifice the secrecy of a sensitive base just to make Snowden look bad seems absurd.

As Absurd as releasing information to make oneself look good, like, I don’t know, Obambi and Stuxnet?

Just a thought….

deadite on August 23, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Hm-mm,…Sock puppetry, anyone?

http://tinyurl.com/yqec89

Wouldn’t be the first time, would it?

cinnabar on August 23, 2013 at 9:00 PM

“To this day, the NSA still isn’t entirely sure what he took.”

“A final nerve-wracking possibility raised by Foust is that someone in Snowden’s inner circle somehow lost control of part or all of the archive and now Mister X is leaking it against Snowden’s wishes. That’s the worst-case scenario for everyone, including Snowden (assuming he’s semi-serious about not trying to harm U.S./UK interests), since if this is a set up by the British they can at least be trusted not to leak stuff that’s too damaging to their own security. No such guarantee with Mister X. Maybe the genie’s out of the bottle.”

Yep, I am inclined to believe this option at present.

…. and it will be nerve-wracking for the 4th Amendment Rights TRAMPLERS …… real uncontrollable sphincter-pinging stuff here for the people who have MUCH TO HIDE

Let the SWORD of DAMOCLES fall … right over the necks of all the Corruptocrats (both sides of the aisle)involved in unconstitutional activity

exodus2011 on August 23, 2013 at 9:09 PM

Hm-mm,…Sock puppetry, anyone?

http://tinyurl.com/yqec89

Wouldn’t be the first time, would it?

cinnabar on August 23, 2013 at 9:00 PM

This leak about the base comes just days after Greenwald warned about retaliation. Combine that with your reminder of how this guy operates…anyone who’d fall for his attempts at misdirection is a sucker!

Anti-Control on August 23, 2013 at 9:14 PM

He’s leaked information before that has nothing to do with U.S./UK citizens being spied on and everything to do with routine espionage against foreign governments. But whatever.

Which is when he lost a bunch of popular support. Not surprising that he wants to pretend it didn’t happen.

besser tot als rot on August 23, 2013 at 11:32 PM

POTUS tells russians he will have more flexibility during second term.
snowden takes off with bunch of nsa data.
snowden in russia.

may be pure coincidence but it bugs me.

dmacleo on August 24, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Russian and Chinese intelligence could have lifted some or all of it,

Huh? Any intelligence service worth the name is certainly capable of lifting the contents of a laptop hard drive — while it’s still in the laptop. And if it isn’t in the laptop, it’s even easier — you temporarily substitute a drive, with totally encrypted blocks, that looks like the one with the data, forensically image the purloined drive, and then (if you are “honest”), replace the substitute with the real. If you would rather Snowden not have further access to the content of the drive, you leave your encrypted dummy there for him — when he tries the drive in a new laptop, it doesn’t work — but whom can he blame?

And I doubt Snowden had the brains to use a strong password (where strong nowadays is 16 characters or more, with no dictionary words, and characters from all four special groups (alpha lower, alpha upper, special, digits)

Now, I’m betting the Russians have copies of the drives on all of Snowden’s laptops — especially the ones that the Guardian guys brought back. If I were Russian customs, I’d not let those laptops leave the country without getting a copy of every byte of data on them — including their BIOS.

unclesmrgol on August 24, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Has anyone brought up the fact that most of these “leakers” “spies” “traitors” “journalists” whatever you want to call them are GAY HOMOSEXUAL GENDER CONFUSED?

Is it my imagination or does it seem that there are a disproportionate number of gay/tranny/lesbian/??? involved in many of the national attacks on our traditional society? whether national security or justice or immigration or politics.

PhilipJames on August 24, 2013 at 2:47 PM

who believes word this little twerp traitor says? Not me.

Bullhead on August 24, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Gotta love how hotair is more skeptical of Snowden and Greenwald than the lying liars known as the NSA.

iwasbornwithit on August 24, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Gotta love how hotair is more skeptical of Snowden and Greenwald than the lying liars known as the NSA.

iwasbornwithit on August 24, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Gotta love how some at HA construe criticism & distrust of Snowden and Greenwald as proof of blind adoration of the NSA…

Anti-Control on August 25, 2013 at 7:35 AM

Anti-Control on August 25, 2013 at 7:35 AM

Fair enough. Just seems HA has gone out of its way to publish articles that question the motivations of Snowden, Greenwald, et al. I wish they would spend a lot more time questioning the motivations of the NSA rather than smearing the messenger. It is very disproportionate, IMO.

iwasbornwithit on August 25, 2013 at 1:13 PM

I hope people remember Snowden very early on when he was in Hong Kong said he knew of every NSA intercept site in the world, who/what their targets were, and threatened to reveal that information; NSA and GCHQ are partners in developing intelligence gathering programs and in sharing communications intelligence. He also revealed who some of our targets were in China. He also revealed information that was both inaccurate about 3rd party intelligence agreements and threatened them. He was not a gatherer of communications intelligence, except in his role as an agent of Wikileaks gathering our own intelligence capabilities. He was a systems analyst charged with maintaining the computer systems. A systems analyst is not supposed to focus their concerns with content. If you have read recent information about his gathering of NSA information, then you would know he has been doing it for a long time while working for Dell. If you read past the breathless headlines of all the articles revealing problems with the NSA, they has been few and far between, some accidental (which happened all the time in old-fashioned law enforcement “wiretapping”) and some by people likely very similar to Snowden in psychological makeup. In my opinion, Snowden has a lot of characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder, and has set this all up so he can have others reveal information and he can claim “it wasn’t me” when it turns out to be about foreign intelligence gathering. As for Wikileaks and its professed goal of protecting American and global privacy, has anyone ever asked why it is only Western intelligence gathering they go after? Do people think the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, and other countries without the interests of the United States, UK, et al in mind not have huge communications intelligence programs? I will consider him as simply a traitor who violated his oath made when he accepted a job requiring a high security clearance not to retain and/or divulge classified information. I am tired of holier-than-thou excuses for being a traitor.

rlwo2008 on August 25, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Now today: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/08/25/german-magazine-nsa-spied-on-united-nations/

Of course, Snowden can claim innocence in his passive-aggressive way of “it wasn’t me.”

rlwo2008 on August 25, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Now today: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/08/25/german-magazine-nsa-spied-on-united-nations/
Of course, Snowden can claim innocence in his passive-aggressive way of “it wasn’t me.”
rlwo2008 on August 25, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Never seen this poster before and now you show up with a fairly comprehensive defense of the NSA and attack Snowden. At least you don’t bother with the typical pretense of “I don’t agree with what the NSA did but…” You just go full-bore boot-licking statist from the get go. No way a non-governmental person puts this sort of effort into defending the NSA.

iwasbornwithit on August 25, 2013 at 6:16 PM

You just go full-bore boot-licking statist from the get go. No way a non-governmental person puts this sort of effort into defending the NSA.

You must be great at intelligence gathering. Too bad you are wrong…about both parts. Of course, anyone who uses “boot-licking statist” as an ad hominem logical fallacy certainly might fall for any old traitor who comes down the block as long as he pretends to have your interests in mind. Good luck with that approach. You know nothing about me.

rlwo2008 on August 25, 2013 at 11:14 PM