Snowden may have outwaited his usefulness for a deal

posted at 2:41 pm on July 28, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

There was talk, not that long ago, about a deal still being in the works for Edward Snowden (something I’ve never agreed with), assuming he would come back to the US and spill whatever information he might have for us. But as of this week, the NSA seems to be changing their tune. The more time goes by, the quicker such a deal seems to be approaching its Best Sold By date.

A top National Security Agency offficial says there’s less need now for the U.S. Government to cut a deal with leaker Edward Snowden than there was after his wave of surveillance disclosures began more than a year ago.

“As time goes on, the utility for us of having that conversation becomes less,” NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett said during an appearance Saturday at the Aspen Security Forum. “It’s been over a year since he had access to our networks and our information so the need for us to understand that greater level of detail is lesser and lesser.”…

Ledgett’s remarks signal that lawyers for Snowden might have a weaker bargaining position over time. However, the NSA official also suggested that the damage Snowden did to NSA operations will also diminish with time because terrorist groups and foreign militaries change their communication methods from time to time anyway.

This makes sense on a couple of levels. First, whatever damage Snowden did – and it was probably considerable – has already been done. In general, it’s pretty hard to close the barn door after the horse gets out to begin with, but even more so once the horse has been gone for a couple of seasons. Whoever got hold of the data and decided to act on it would need to do so while it was still fresh.

That leads to the second half of the equation, specifically that both sides have had time to adjust. As Ledgett points out later in the interview, once the enemy learns some of your tricks to keep tabs on them, they will change tactics to avoid detection. The flow of information in the opposite direction is likely subject to the same issues. The NSA may not know exactly what Snowden gave away, but they knew he dumped a bunch of information. They’ve had plenty of time to react by now, changing up operational strategies and shifting resources around wherever possible to cover ourselves.

If anything, this should provide even greater incentive to find a way to grab Snowden and bring him back. If he doesn’t want to talk… fine. We can at least put him on trial, toss him in a cell and throw away the key. The longer he’s running loose as the guest of our enemies, the more of a positive role model and incentive he provides for others to sell out their country.


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If he wants to live he’ll stay there.

Schadenfreude on July 28, 2014 at 2:43 PM

If anything, this should provide even greater incentive to find a way to grab Snowden and bring him back. If he doesn’t want to talk… fine. We can at least put him on trial, toss him in a cell and throw away the key. The longer he’s running loose as the guest of our enemies, the more of a positive role model and incentive he provides for others to sell out their country.

Last I heard, the government was extra constitutional and Edward Snowden was the guy willing to let us in on that secret. He might have sold out the Federal Government but he does not seem to have sold out the American people.

Jazz Shaw is part of the problem with this nation it seems.

astonerii on July 28, 2014 at 2:46 PM

The NSA may not know exactly what Snowden gave away, but they knew he dumped a bunch of information.

He dumped almost everything within the first few months. When Snowden makes announcements, they are regurgitated bits that we’ve heard before.

It’s his attempt to stay relevant, and it’ll only work on the fly-attention-span electorate.

nobar on July 28, 2014 at 2:53 PM

If anything, this should provide even greater incentive to find a way to grab Snowden and bring him back.

Why would we want him back? When the Russians tire of him, there will be plenty of time to “deal” with Snowden wherever he lands. And by deal, I don’t mean bringing him back for a trial that would disclose further means and capabilities.

Happy Nomad on July 28, 2014 at 2:54 PM

astonerii on July 28, 2014 at 2:46 PM

You’re off the path on this one. No way do we get away with kidnapping a Russian citizen or amnesty recipient without serious hell breaking loose.

He isn’t worth it. As long as he dribs and drabs info, he gives cover to the bad guys for their future intelligence failures and f’ups. It benefits them to maintain the status quo.

platypus on July 28, 2014 at 2:55 PM

He’s extremely passive aggressive. He sends out feelers and when they are rejected, he tries blackmail/extortion. If I were him, I’d find myself a wife and immerse myself in the Russian language and try to build a new life with the mistakes I’ve made.

Blake on July 28, 2014 at 2:56 PM

This doesn’t sound reassuring.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-07-28/shocking-reason-putin-isnt-worried-about-50-billion-yukos-ruling

One person close to Mr Putin said the Yukos ruling was insignificant in light of the bigger geopolitical stand-off over Ukraine.

“There is a war coming in Europe,” he said. “Do you really think this matters?

sharrukin on July 28, 2014 at 2:57 PM

You’re off the path on this one. No way do we get away with kidnapping a Russian citizen or amnesty recipient without serious hell breaking loose.

platypus on July 28, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Have we run out of poison-tipped umbrellas?

Happy Nomad on July 28, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Have we run out of poison-tipped umbrellas?

Happy Nomad on July 28, 2014 at 2:58 PM

LoL. But most likely the Pentagon lawyers have written it out of the RoE governing the CIA/NSA.

platypus on July 28, 2014 at 3:01 PM

If he wants to live he’ll stay there.

Schadenfreude on July 28, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Absolutely correct. As was always the case. The second they get a clear path at him he’s Breitbarted.

Judge_Dredd on July 28, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Regarding Snowden: On one hand, not fond of his high tailing it to Russia. On the other, look at how whistle blowers (who are supposed to be protected) are treated – VA, IRS, Benghazi, etc. So there should be a designated place a person could go (not DOJ,or any other alphabet soup gov agency) to report information without fear of being penalized, labeled, financially broken, and disgraced, so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

31giddyup on July 28, 2014 at 3:02 PM

If he wants to live he’ll stay there.

Schadenfreude on July 28, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Agreed. I will have no sympathies if he comes back and is killed. Stupidity is not to be celebrated.

nobar on July 28, 2014 at 3:03 PM

The main problem was(is) the multitude of copies of his database out there.

Any decriminalization of what he did would be dependent on that database not becoming public. That is, the copies the Russians, Chinese, Academics, and Anarchists have not being decoded and released.

Fat chance. Everyone with a copy has been doing brute force and more sophisticated decryption efforts ever since the cluster of encrypted ones and zeros fell into their hands. Nobody has stopped unless they have decoded the whole database.

If a “deal” is reached, there is no reason for the presumed “other” people who have the keys to not release those keys.

As the information ages, as Jazz says there is ever less reason to offer any deal (not that anyone sane believes Snowden would not have the keys released seconds after getting his deal, through deniable channels, naturally)

jhnone on July 28, 2014 at 3:04 PM

He’s not coming back, and we certainly wouldn’t let him do so as a free man if he wished to. He’s smart enough to know that, and so he’ll remain in Russia for the rest of his days.

Stoic Patriot on July 28, 2014 at 3:07 PM

he’ll remain in Russia for the rest of his days.

Stoic Patriot on July 28, 2014 at 3:07 PM

That’s a horrible prospect. A cold and dreary country. Eating borscht and blintzes and drinking rusty water. I’d rather be exiled to Argentina.

Judge_Dredd on July 28, 2014 at 3:11 PM

That’s a horrible prospect. A cold and dreary country. Eating borscht and blintzes and drinking rusty water. I’d rather be exiled to Argentina.

Judge_Dredd on July 28, 2014 at 3:11 PM

I don’t know. Might depend upon whether or not Putin truly wants to be seen as “Defender of Christianity”, because if he does, then there is chance that Istanbul goes back to it’s Roman empire namesake.

nobar on July 28, 2014 at 3:13 PM

You’re off the path on this one. No way do we get away with kidnapping a Russian citizen or amnesty recipient without serious hell breaking loose.

He isn’t worth it. As long as he dribs and drabs info, he gives cover to the bad guys for their future intelligence failures and f’ups. It benefits them to maintain the status quo.

platypus on July 28, 2014 at 2:55 PM

You are replying to me?
I never said anything that we should kidnap or kill him. I think he has done the American people a SERVICE while harming the United States of America Federal Outside the Constitution Government. I do not care about the part of government outside the constitutional limits. They are my enemy and should be everyone’s, but apparently Jazz Shaw thinks that government outside the Constitution is awesome. I can see why HotAir threw their weight behind Romney the moment Newt Gingrich started breaking away.

astonerii on July 28, 2014 at 3:17 PM

if you are an American who is aware of wrong doing by your government and want to expose such wrong doing, word of caution. DON’T. There is upside for you.

America has changed since the days of Watergate. People now really assume that their government is already up to no good and they don’t care. So save yourself the trouble.

Snowden learned the hard way of Americans lack of interest in their own government. Don’t make the same mistake.

coolrepublica on July 28, 2014 at 3:22 PM

Snowden did the deed after Obama gave him the full pardon in advance.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on July 28, 2014 at 3:33 PM

I am still amazed that low level pieces of excrement like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning were allowed to have so much access to sensitive material. I think our intelligence agencies need to go back to spy school. As for Snowden, may he rot in Russia. He has served his purpose and has been tossed out of the car by Vlad Putin like a cheap Moscow whore.

Krupnikas on July 28, 2014 at 3:34 PM

If your idea of exposing government wrongdoing is to steal all the classified information you can find and then jet off to Russia or China, then I would suggest that you are a traitor to the US and worthy of the firing squad you would receive in a rational world.

Immolate on July 28, 2014 at 3:45 PM

If anything, this should provide even greater incentive to find a way to grab Snowden and bring him back. If he doesn’t want to talk… fine. We can at least put him on trial, toss him in a cell and throw away the key. The longer he’s running loose as the guest of our enemies, the more of a positive role model and incentive he provides for others to sell out their country

Why do we need worry about Snowden as an example for others to sell out their country when we have the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as the example uber alles to the entire world?

BKennedy on July 28, 2014 at 3:49 PM

I am still amazed that low level pieces of excrement like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning were allowed to have so much access to sensitive material. I think our intelligence agencies need to go back to spy school. As for Snowden, may he rot in Russia. He has served his purpose and has been tossed out of the car by Vlad Putin like a cheap Moscow whore.

Krupnikas on July 28, 2014 at 3:34 PM

It’s fun to try to make those who support Snowden square the circle of supporting him but rejecting Manning. Manning and Snowden are but “foot soiders” for Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill and then ulitmately Julian Assange

thebrokenrattle on July 28, 2014 at 3:57 PM

“foot solders”

thebrokenrattle on July 28, 2014 at 3:57 PM

“There is a war coming in Europe…”

The Shocking Reason Putin Isn’t Worried About The $50 Billion Yukos Ruling

Having $50 billion of assets under potential seizure is enough to make anyone whince. However, despite a quickly worded statement on the Yukos award, Vladimir Putin seems less than anxious to find a resolution. We think we know why, and it’s very concerning.

As The FT reports confirming our earlier comments:

The award is a landmark not just for its size – 20 times the previous record for an arbitration ruling. The tribunal also found definitively that Russia’s pursuit of Yukos and its independently-minded main shareholder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a decade ago was politically motivated.

Though Russia cannot appeal against the award, Moscow said it would pursue all legal avenues for trying to get it “set aside”.

Even if the ruling stands, shareholders face a tortuous battle trying to enforce it. If Moscow refuses to pay, they must pursue Russian sovereign commercial assets in the 150 countries that are party to the so-called 1958 New York Convention on enforcing arbitration awards.

But perhaps this explains why Putin is not coming out swinging, as The FT concludes,

One person close to Mr Putin said the Yukos ruling was insignificant in light of the bigger geopolitical stand-off over Ukraine.

“There is a war coming in Europe,” he said. “Do you really think this matters?”

Resist We Much on July 28, 2014 at 3:58 PM

“foot soldiers” geez

thebrokenrattle on July 28, 2014 at 4:06 PM

No one should be elected Pres. of the U.S.A. from now forward unless they swear in advance that if required to defend the U.S.A. from Russian or China or An Islamic Caliphate ,, that they could/would use our nukes to defend our way of life and our freedoms.

All of them must fear U.S. or they will attack U.S. and all others who are free.

Fight or die time comes closer and closer to U.S..

APACHEWHOKNOWS on July 28, 2014 at 4:10 PM

This is silly. He never wanted a “deal”. Why would he? Whatever else Snowden may be, he’s not stupid. He’s seen up close the blatant abuses that intelligence agencies engage in all the time against random US citizens, just because they feel like it. Why on earth would Snowden trust any of them to keep their word when dealing with someone like himself, who represents an actual threat?

Of course, no one else out there trusts us either. Which puts the US at a serious disadvantage when recruiting intelligence assets or making deals with our allies. Doing business with enemies like China or Russia or allies like France and Israel is likely be much more profitable. And, thanks to the catastrophically dishonest and stupid people running the NSA, it’s now no more dangerous than dealing with the US: “We’re not only cheap, we’re also treacherous enough to sell your out and and sloppy enough to get you and your family killed by accident! Welcome aboard!”

Which is yet another reason to require our government remain constrained by our laws. As if we needed more reasons.

GalosGann on July 28, 2014 at 4:24 PM

what surprises me is how many people claim what he said was new to them.
bet these people often liked to dismiss the tinfoilers who have been saying the exact same stuff for years.
suddenly its real and edward f-**king snowden is a hero to some.
he, by proxy through his agents, gave other countries more info on our actions against them then he gave you people info about what was being done to you.
hes a self serving traitor.
the good he did by waking the hypocrites up was FAR offset by the damage he did to our legitimate operations.

dmacleo on July 28, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Snowden outlived his usefulness the first time he soiled a diaper.

Why doesn’t someone kill him? I don’t care if it’s Russia, the U.S. or anyone else.

Just shut that narcissistic moron up, once and for all.

All the Anarcho-Libertarians who even believe that this low IQ clown is even capable of 1/10 the stuff he claims are even more pathetic.

ZeusGoose on July 28, 2014 at 4:50 PM

I think we should offer Snowden a deal, all right.

A cigarette before he hangs. Full flavor.

If we can ever lay hands on that sniveling leftist puke Greenwald, he can have Snowden’s butt.

I mean the cigarette butt.

Adjoran on July 28, 2014 at 5:00 PM

It’s fun to try to make those who support Snowden square the circle of supporting him but rejecting Manning.

its called the 4th amendment

burserker on July 28, 2014 at 5:18 PM

First, whatever damage Snowden did – and it was probably considerable – has already been done.

If anything, this should provide even greater incentive to find a way to grab Snowden and bring him back. If he doesn’t want to talk… fine.

We can at least put him on trial, toss him in a cell and throw away the key.


Baring the fascist underbelly of the GOPe-media, eh Jazz?

The first statement is the absolutist “If the STATE says he did damage …PROOF is not required” mindset.

Or as the idiot in Congress said the other day to the OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE chairperson, “YOU don’t have aright to know everything the government does!”

You must have been lapping her crap up.

The second statement is an even STRONGER indictment that you, Jazz, should not even be allowed to vote, since, absent any independent objective of proof of what harm did to anything or anyone but the Surveillance StateYOUR highest priority is to make the whistleblower into an example to make sure EVERYONE else KNOW they have no right to act on a dissenting opinion.

Reminder: I have posted more details regarding Edward Snowden on HA than pretty much anyone. Every verified FACT to date leads to one inescapable conclusion, Snowden did NOT have access to everything “they” are claiming he took. Example A – the Verizon FISA Court warrant – which is completely isolated in ALL respects from the NSA. Snowden is the front man for someone HIGHLY placed in the Obama Administration who had ALL the clearances to ALL the sources and wanted to put the information in the public domain.

So save all your denunciations of traitor and “lock him up and throw away the key”. WE really need to know WHO sourced Snowden and to WHOMSOEVER else they have provided our most sensitive information. Snowden was/is a diversion to provide cover for the MOLE.

PolAgnostic on July 28, 2014 at 6:10 PM

its called the 4th amendment

burserker on July 28, 2014 at 5:18 PM

Even if you believe in the pure motives of Snowden to protect the 4th, which becomes harder and harder to believe with every move he makes, it’s still akin to admiration for the Black Panthers, because, hey, they ran daycares for children.

thebrokenrattle on July 28, 2014 at 6:36 PM

He blew the whistle on a government spying on its own citizens, often for just their own amusement, often for more sinister purposes.

I will not consider him a traitor, no matter how many “conservatives” insist that I must.

Rusty Nail on July 28, 2014 at 7:07 PM

So Jazz is a fascist…good to know.

Can Jazz provide any evidence of all of this alleged “damage” that Snowden caused? Besides the NSA simply stating that he caused damage? So the government makes an allegation and it’s apparently the Gospel truth according to Jazz? Helluva lawyer he must be.

iwasbornwithit on July 28, 2014 at 7:40 PM

The point is, it’s still not about Snowden.

PersonFromPorlock on July 28, 2014 at 7:51 PM

“… there’s less need now …”

How much less ? 1%, 2% ?

J_Crater on July 29, 2014 at 12:44 AM

Snowden should never agree to a deal unless it includes full amnesty. He never committed a crime and is a hero. The federal government is continuing to commit the same crimes against every citizen of the US that Snowden revealed. The NSA is a rats nest of traitors as is most of the rest of the federal government. They should all be executed.

earlgrey on July 29, 2014 at 11:01 AM

…Snowden was the guy willing to let us in on that secret. He might have sold out the Federal Government but he does not seem to have sold out the American people…

astonerii on July 28, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Snowden sold out the American people and has done no less damage to the American people than Alger Hiss or I. F. Stone, Soviet agents of a bygone era.

You realize don’t you that Snowden is the front man for a well packaged FSB (KSB) aggi-prop operation that way to many conservatives and libratarian have allowed themselves to be conned by. The FSB hasn’t been media pimping Snowden for the benefit of any liberal democracy you know …

Mike OMalley on July 29, 2014 at 1:34 PM