Quotes of the day

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has offered to collaborate with a Brazilian investigation into the NSA surveillance program he revealed earlier this year, according to a letter published in a local newspaper on Tuesday.

In “An Open Letter to the Brazilian People,” published by newspaper Folha De S. Paulo, Snowden said he would like to assist in a congressional probe into the NSA’s spying program, which monitored the personal communications of President Dilma Rousseff and other Brazilians.

“I have expressed my willingness to assist wherever appropriate and lawful, but unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so,” the letter said…

“Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the U.S. government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak,” Snowden said.


Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden stole vastly more information than previously speculated, and is holding it at ransom for his own protection.

“What’s floating is so dangerous, we’d be behind for twenty years in terms of access (if it were to be leaked),” a ranking Department of Defense official told the Daily Caller.

“He stole everything — literally everything,” the official said…

“Everything you don’t want the enemy to know, he has,” the official said. “Who we’re listening to, what we’re after — they’d shut us down.”



“It is an astounding day when a federal judge says a government surveillance practice would leave James Madison aghast,” Wyden told reporters. “The idea of collecting all these phone records is not inoffensive data collection as some of the proponents have said. It is digital surveillance.”

[T]hough Wyden’s colleagues don’t yet have the numbers to pass an NSA crackdown bill in the Senate, his coalition is growing.

It includes Republicans like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) as well as Democrats like Heinrich, who joined the Intelligence Committee this year and promptly sided against Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) on the issue of digital government surveillance.

“The judge got it right. I think that we have strayed from what the framers had in mind when they wrote the Fourth Amendment and were dealing directly with government overreach,” Heinrich said in an interview.


Reflecting on the dramatic changes that have taken place since the first newspaper stories based on Snowden’s leaked materials began appearing back in June, one U.S. official noted that the NSA’s once-solid support inside the White House and on Capitol Hill has waned since the panel was created in August, and that the once cordial relationship between the White House and NSA has become distinctly “chilly” over the past two months.

NSA officials became concerned this fall when their memos were increasingly ignored and their phone calls to key officials in Washington, especially at the State Department, were not returned. And more ominously, rumors began to reach NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, that the review panel had been given new marching orders to be robust and searching in its report.

“We got the distinct impression that we were now lepers in Washington,” a senior NSA official recalled, adding, “Putting as much distance as possible between the White House and us was the order of the day.”


The NSA’s biggest strategic communications problem, however, is that they’ve been so walled off from the American body politic that they have no idea when they’re saying things that sound tone-deaf. Like expats returning from a long overseas tour, NSA staffers don’t quite comprehend how much perceptions of the agency have changed. The NSA stresses in its mission statement and corporate culture that it “protects privacy rights.” Indeed, there were faded banners proclaiming that goal in our briefing room. Of course, NSAers see this as protecting Americans from foreign cyber-intrusions. In a post-Snowden era, however, it’s impossible to read that statement without suppressing a laugh.

It might be an occupational hazard, but NSA officials continue to talk about the threat environment as if they’ve been frozen in amber since 2002. To them, the world looks increasingly unsafe. Syria is the next Pakistan, China is augmenting its capabilities to launch a financial war on the United States, and the next terrorist attack on American soil is right around the corner. They could very well be correct — except that the American public has become inured to such warnings over the past decade, and their response has been to tell politicians to focus on things at home and leave the rest of the world alone. A strategy of “trust us, the world is an unsafe place” won’t resonate now the way it did in the immediate wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The NSA’s attitude toward the press is, well, disturbing. There were repeated complaints about the ways in which recent reportage of the NSA was warped or lacking context. To be fair, this kind of griping is a staple of officials across the entire federal government. Some of the NSA folks went further, however. One official accused some media outlets of “intentionally misleading the American people,” which is a pretty serious accusation. This official also hoped that the Obama administration would crack down on these reporters, saying, “I have some reforms for the First Amendment.” I honestly do not know whether that last statement was a joke or not. Either way, it’s not funny.


Voters aren’t enthusiastic about granting NSA leaker Edward Snowden amnesty to halt his release of U.S. intelligence secrets, even though most agree the continued disclosures are hurting national security.

Just 21% of Likely U.S. Voters think the federal government should grant Snowden full amnesty from prosecution in exchange for his return of all classified information that he still possesses. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that twice as many (41%) oppose full amnesty for Snowden, although nearly as many (39%) are undecided.

Sixty-two percent (62%) still think it’s at least somewhat likely that the continuing disclosure of National Security Agency phone and e-mail surveillance programs is hurting U.S. national security.


The letter affirms for me, for whatever it’s worth, my own sense that Snowden and his actions are probably not well captured by either the “hero” or “traitor” archetypes. Those archetypes, after all, almost never satisfactorily explain the actions of actual human beings, who tend to be just too complicated. And Snowden certainly seems to be that. Some of his actions, like the initial decision to release the leaks despite facing a life in exile, certainly appear motivated by an earnest desire to make the world a better place, or at least better conform to certain ideals of liberty as he sees them. Other actions, though, have been much tougher to explain without allowing for the real possibility that he may have other motivations as well.

Snowden’s quid-pro-quo offer to Brazil seems to serve his ideals and his self-interest so interchangeably that we just can’t answer which is primarily driving him, nor we can fully dismiss either. The young leaker and his headline-grabbing actions continue to be, in many ways, mirrors for our own American process of thinking through the larger issues he’s helped to raise.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a lead supporter of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance, said on Tuesday the Supreme Court should weigh in the constitutionality of the programs

“Only the Supreme Court can resolve the question on the constitutionality of the NSA’s program. I welcome a Supreme Court review since it has been more than 30 years since the court’s original decision of constitutionality, and I believe it is crucial to settling the issue once and for all. In the meantime, the call records program remains in effect,” Feinstein said in a statement. “Those of us who support the call records program do so with a sincere belief that it, along with other programs, is constitutional and helps keep the country safe from attack. I believe the program can benefit from additional transparency and privacy protections.”///

Majority Leader Harry Reid said it was necessary to have a “good public debate” on the NSA programs but that other judges had disagreed with Leon’s ruling.

“We know that senators, both Democrats and Republicans, would like to change the law as it relates to some of the collection activities and I think that’s good,” he said.


Six months ago, I revealed that the NSA wanted to listen to the whole world. Now, the whole world is listening back, and speaking out, too

My act of conscience began with a statement: “I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. That’s not something I’m willing to support, it’s not something I’m willing to build, and it’s not something I’m willing to live under.”

Days later, I was told my government had made me stateless and wanted to imprison me. The price for my speech was my passport, but I would pay it again: I will not be the one to ignore criminality for the sake of political comfort. I would rather be without a state than without a voice.

If Brazil hears only one thing from me, let it be this: when all of us band together against injustices and in defense of privacy and basic human rights, we can defend ourselves from even the most powerful systems.




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