Edward Snowden

Does Edward Snowden Have a "Doomsday" Cache of Super-Secret Documents? Let's Hope So.

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Edward Snowden
The Guardian

American and British intelligence officials are reportedly in a tizzy about a supposedly vast "doomsday" cache of extremely sensitive and potentially damaging intelligence files Edward Snowden has hidden away as an insurance policy. If you're one of those people wondering why the internationally famous whistleblower hasn't been snatched or snuffed for revealing the extent of National Security Agency-led surveillance on the American people and the wider world, this is likely the reason. If he goes down, the thinking goes, he'll take his tormenters with him. Very powerful, very amoral tormenters who now lay awake at night wondering what he'll do.

According to Mark Hosenball of Reuters:

British and U.S. intelligence officials say they are worried about a "doomsday" cache of highly classified, heavily encrypted material they believe former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has stored on a data cloud.

The cache contains documents generated by the NSA and other agencies and includes names of U.S. and allied intelligence personnel, seven current and former U.S. officials and other sources briefed on the matter said.

The data is protected with sophisticated encryption, and multiple passwords are needed to open it, said two of the sources, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

The passwords are in the possession of at least three different people and are valid for only a brief time window each day, they said. The identities of persons who might have the passwords are unknown.

This cache supposedly contains documents separate from the extensive information Snowden supplied to journalists around the world. That data detailed surveillance operations that he (and many of us) found morally reprehensible. The "doomsday" data is believed to contain names and persona details of intelligence officials.

Whether or not Snowden actually has secreted such sensitive information, to be released if anybody moves against him, it's the sort of precaution that makes enormous sense for a man in his position. It makes enough sense that officials probably have to assume that he has created such a safeguard, even in the absence of strong evidence. He obviously has sensitive documents and a serious bone to pick with the intelligence community. Their security was breached. Why wouldn't he hold something in reserve?

It is, after all, almost certainly what the likes of James Clapper and General Keith Alexander would do, to protect their own backs.

There is a wonderful irony in an intelligence community whistleblower using the threatened release of information to shield himself from retribution by government spooks who make their living by digging up everybody else's secrets. Hoist by their own petards, they have to gamble that he'll release just enough sensitive data to hurt them and force policy changes they oppose, or else risk the complete unveiling of exactly the sort of compromising intel they've dedicated themselves to unearthing about others.

Just for the record, the drinks are on me, Mr. Snowden, if we ever meet.

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  1. Bet it has information on the Roswell and the JFK assasination.
    I think I read about it in a spy novel.
    Found it. “Shibumi”
    http://www.amazon.com/Shibumi-…..ds=shibumi

  2. Or…Drone Strike. After all, it’s what our President is good at, or so he says.

    1. I doubt he’s had any training or experience piloting a drone, and he didn’t kill Osama with his own hands. He IS good at issuing orders to kill people.

  3. The brilliance in this threat is that the people he is threatening hands are so dirty, they are probably laying awake at night reflecting on all their sins, hoping this is all a bluff. Enjoy it Mr. Snowden, making those who believed they were above the law tremble.

    1. Why would the top people in the NSA be worried? Nothing is going to happen to them. All this threat is doing is threatening to ruin the lives of a bunch of people who have worked with the US. Those are not the people who are violating your rights. Fuck Snowden. If this is true and he ever releases that information, he is worst than even the biggest NSA defender says he is.

      1. You seem to be making some big assumptions about the type of info Snowden has in his doomsday cache.

        And if “working with” the U.S. means doing things that are amoral, illegal, and unjustifiable (a big assumption on my part, for sure), what is worse? To hide it or reconcile the world with the truth?

        1. What is “immoral and illegal”? Spying against your own country is that isn’t it? That may be what those people were doing. But since they were doing it for this country’s benefit, I really am not offended by it and don’t want to see them suffer. Further, intelligence is a good thing. We want governments to know what other governments are doing. It keeps them from miscalculating and getting into wars.

          Beyond that, if Snowden has evidence of real misconduct on the part of the NSA, versus them doing their actual job spying on other countries, he owes it to the country to come forward with that information. If he has evidence like that and is willing to let it remain secret as some leverage to save his own ass, then I don’t want to hear anymore about how this guy is a patriot. He is clearly not any such thing if he knows of wrong doing but won’t bring the information forward.

          Either way, fuck him.

          1. Beyond that, if Snowden has evidence of real misconduct on the part of the NSA, versus them doing their actual job spying on other countries, he owes it to the country to come forward with that information.

            Hasn’t he already? We know the details of domestic data collection (PRISM and whatnot) thanks to Snowden, no?

            Personally, I would prefer if he restricted himself to only revealing the unconstitutional domestic surveillance, but since Merkel and the gang most certainly already knew they were being spied on, I give that revelation a big meh.

          2. But since they were doing it for this country’s benefit, I really am not offended by it and don’t want to see them suffer.

            Oh, their intentions were good so all is forgiven? Red Tony’s gonna Tony.

            1. So only the US is not permitted to conduct espionage? Good to know.

              1. On its own citizens? Go back and reread the comment.

                1. My understanding is that he’s talking about foreign nationals spying on their countries for the US. Not US domestic surveillance.

                  1. What is “immoral and illegal”? Spying against your own country is that isn’t it? That may be what those people were doing. But since they were doing it for this country’s benefit, I really am not offended by it and don’t want to see them suffer.

          3. “Beyond that, if Snowden has evidence of real misconduct on the part of the NSA, versus them doing their actual job spying on other countries, he owes it to the country to come forward with that information.”

            Really John? Is there no end to your contradictions?

          4. The NSA doesn’t have foreign intelligence agents. it only does signal intelligence.

      2. He’s only going to release it if something happens to him — he is killed or disappeared.

      3. Anyway my understanding is that the info in the cache isn’t a list of US foreign agents. The NSA doesn’t have foreign agents anyway, it does signal intelligence.

        It’s supposedly information on the “how” of hor PRISM and the other programs work.
        Such as source code, or something. Algorithms.

        My guess is that he’s got the code-breaking algorithms or something that let’s the NSA crack various types of encryption and if those are released, all sorts of people will immediately know what we can and can’t crack.

        1. Who is “we”, HazelMeade?

          Oh

          Headquarters for the National Security Agency is located at 39?6?32?N 76?46?17?W in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, …

    2. “they are probably laying awake at night reflecting on all their sins”

      That would imply that they had any sense of morality at all beyond FYTW.

  4. If Snowden has further evidence that the US government is violating the Constitution, he should have released it long before now. If his plan is just to release the names of a bunch of people in other countries who have worked with the US in hopes of getting them killed or imprisoned, he deserves to be locked in a cage the rest of his life. Getting people killed is not whistle blowing. It is being an asshole.

    1. It is quite probably the case that this cache contains a large mix of data and Snowden has no intent of releasing the information UNLESS they attack him first.

    2. The dead drop can’t possibly be a list of foreign intelligence agents – because the NSA doesn’t have anyway.

      Besides that, Snowden has already discussed what is in it, and it has to do with the internal technical workings of the various surveillance programs. It’s source code or something.

      1. Not necessarily because he supposedly got information on both CIA and NSA operations. While it might not have any data on NSA agents, it might on CIA agents or even FBI informants in drug cartels

        1. Theoretically, except I’m pretty sure he has said himself that the cache contains technical information about NSA’s eavesdropping technologies that they wouldn’t want released. I don’t know where people are getting this idea it has lists of agents identities.

  5. The very fact that powerful, dangerous people are afraid of a hypothetical Snowden cache of horrendous revelations should tell us all something about the likelihood that these people have done horrendous and amoral things, and done them in our names as agents of our government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

    1. That is not what I read in this article. If he has evidence of misconduct, he owes it to the country to release it now so we can know about it. But it doesn’t look like he has that. Instead, he has a bunch of names of people who have spied for the US. Those people never violated my rights.

      1. Maybe not, but they may have done horrible thing in your name as a U.S. taxpayer.

        I used to believe in the old quote about sleeping in our beds because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf, but it’s wearing really, really thin.

        1. but they may have done horrible thing in your name as a U.S. taxpayer.

          Like what? Again, if he has evidence of wrong doing, I want to know about it. I don’t want him keeping it secret forever.

      2. You are overlooking another possibility.

        He has information which implicates the US government or it’s agency in violating some combination of the Constitution/treaties/international law but that information also contains names of individuals who are us spies that would be killed if the info is ever released.

        So does he release the info putting those peoples lives at risk or not?

        1. It depends on what the wrong doing is. If it is violating “international law”, then no. Every country does that. If it is violating the rights of Americans, then yes. Sorry for the people who worked with the NSA, but if the NSA is violating US law or victimizing US citizens, said citizens have a right to know that is happening.

          The question is what is the “wrong doing”. Is it something that the American people would be shocked and angry about if they new or is it what pretty much every government does and no one but the pearl clutchers at places like Reason would be angry about?

          1. “We were just following orders.” I don’t particularly care what the wrong doing is. For perspective, the US legal system will fuck you up for nicking a candy bar. If the useful jackboots are fucking up international relations, then?

            If you can’t do the time, don’t the crime.

  6. In the beginning, people were tripping over themselves to say how this guy was a fraud, hack, etc. because he was ‘just a contractor’ and couldn’t have had access to everything he had, that access to information was compartmentalized, etc.

    I love the silence from those same people now that government officials are calling Snowden a traitor, talking about how much damage he’s done to national security, etc.

    1. I wouldn’t be at all surprised in Snowden hasn’t revealed a slice of his doomsday cache via secure channels to the Top Men, just to reassure them of its content.

  7. If they are actually scared that he has such information, then they must know said information exists somewhere. It’s a tell that they have skeletons in their closets, no?

  8. What I find immeasurably satisfying is the fact that the revelations about the NSA are going to eclipse all other aspects of Obama’s “legacy”. When they finally make “NSA: The Movie”, Snowden is going to be the hero and Obama will be the villain (or at least one of them) and there’s not a goddamn fuckin’ thing he can do about it.

    DISCLAIMER: Criticism of Obama should not be construed to be an endorsement of republicans or any of their equally power-hungry, egotistical, self serving, asshole politicians.

    1. That movie will never be made. And to the extent the truth is ever known, it will come out in some Church commission like format that will ensure that the problem is written off as the actions of a few bad apples.

      1. Either way, fuck him, right?

      2. few bad apples

        It strikes me that the nature of the IC is that it will almost necessarily attract bad apples. After all, the whole point is to subvert security measures and gain unauthorized access to information. When used to spy on other governments, this is presumably an effective strategy, and also presumably involves associating with unsavory people (though I’m by no means an expert here). I have little issue with that. But this is exactly why we have to prevent the machinations of the IC from being turned on us–there’s no way to maintain an effective intelligence service while “following all the rules.” That’s something of a fairy tale, as far as I can tell.

        I recognize that this is a bit tangential to your point, but the quoted phrase made me think of this.

    2. When they finally make “NSA: The Movie”, Snowden is going to be the hero and Obama will be the villain (or at least one of them)

      You mean made by the same Hollywood types who donate to Obama? And the ones who refuse to make movies making FDR and LBJ the bad guys?

  9. a supposedly vast “doomsday” cache of extremely sensitive and potentially damaging intelligence files Edward Snowden has hidden away as an insurance policy.

    Wait, I’ve seen that movie, starring Captain Picard and Jim’s SIL.

    1. THANK YOU! I was talking to a friend about that very movie, but couldn’t remember it.

  10. The passwords are in the possession of at least three different people and are valid for only a brief time window each day, they said. The identities of persons who might have the passwords are unknown.

    I call BS on this.
    “Brief time window each day”

    Maybe the files can only be copied off in a brief window. Or maybe their system enforces time. If you have the files, they’re just data. The data isn’t a program and doesn’t get run when you decrypt it. Even if it did, clocks can be faked.

    It’s got to be that the *system* allows access with one-time-passwords, and so he had that or side-band access to copy the files off.

  11. Just for the record, the drinks are on me, Mr. Snowden, if we ever meet.

    I dream of the day when reason can host this guy for (cosmotarian) cocktails. I’d pony up for a round or two myself.

  12. This has to be about the second or third article I’ve read on this, yet none have shown conclusively that Snowden himself actually made the claim of possessing any such “doomsday cache”. I’m far more inclined to believe that this idea is nothing more than the fever dream of a surveillance apparatus suffocating under it’s own paranoia.

    1. He has said it, what I don’t get is where they get the idea that it contains names and personae of intelligence officials. I’m sure I recalled reading Snowden’s initial interview where he explicitly says that the information is about the TECHNICAL nature of the programs involved.
      I don’t recall him ever saying that it contained a list of foreign agents.

  13. “Just for the record, the drinks are on me, Mr. Snowden, if we ever meet.”

    Hear, hear.

  14. Repeating my comment from yesterday. The NSA seems to have cultivated this mystique about itself, that it is special and above the law. Indeed, it’s very existence was kept secret for a very long time. It’s got this whole aura of being involved in super-dark stuff – so black it’s beyond the regular regulations. So black that how dare anyone leak information about it. It’s cultivated this mystique so strongly that people in government have a reflexive horror at the knowledge that someone could leak information from the NSA!. That’s the blackest of the black!

    But, well, no. The NSA isn’t a tiny group of elite code-breakers. They have grown into a massive government agency that everyone knows about and that monitors 2/3 of the internet traffic of the world. The are almost as big as the CIA. So, the reactions are a little bit bizarre. (A) The NSA isn’t this super-secret black agency that you think it is, and (B) the idea that they are special and above the law and get to do stuff nobody else is allowed to needs to be gotten rid of. They should be treated the same as the CIA or the FBI, and have the same level of oversight, and must conform to the laws like everyone else.

  15. It’s the launch codes, he’s got the launch codes! You need Microsoft Internet Explorer version 6.7 with ActiveX plugin version 5.2.21 running of Window 2000 Server patch 6.132 to get them accepted by the server running IIS version 9.3.1.5021.

    Ready, set, go!

    1. Thread winner!

  16. Except he doesn’t have anything in his possession. Right?

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