Glenn Greenwald's New NSA Book: Agency Wants to 'Know it All'

Book details how he met Snowden and reveals more NSA documents


Glenn Greenwald's book, No Place to Hide, officially hit the stands (or the ebook purveyor of your choice) today, documenting his introduction to National Security Agency NSA's whistleblower/leaker Edward Snowden and the many revelations of the vast reach of the NSA.

Greenwald has been making the media rounds (he will appear on The Independents, co-hosted by our own Matt Welch, this evening) and reviews have begun to appear. Over at Slate, reviewer Emily Bazelon observes that Greenwald isn't afraid to name names when he's noting journalists he believes have decided to toe the establishment line and criticize Greenwald for his scoops:

Greenwald skewers the media outlets and individual journalists who he believes proved his point about how "subservient to the government's interests" the press can be. He thinks the New York Times has become a "mouthpiece for those in power." And he singles out Bob Schieffer of Face the Nation, Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times, and Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker for wrong-footedly denouncing Snowden, Greenwald, or both as narcissists, plotters, or traitors. Some (genius) members of the press justified the idea of prosecuting Greenwald along with Snowden by insisting that he wasn't a journalist at all. Beginning with the Times, in a profile that appeared soon after the first Snowden-driven stories, reporters and columnists labeled Greenwald a "blogger," a "polemicist," or an "activist" to more easily dismiss him. Never mind that Greenwald was publishing article after investigative article in the Guardian based on the biggest scoop in half a century. (He's now working on a Pierre Omidyar-funded investigative journalism startup, and he promises in GQ this month that the biggest Snowden shoe is yet to drop.)

The Christian Science Monitor describes what Snowden saw and what attracted him to Greenwald:

Snowden, it turns out, was a fan of Greenwald's reporting. He liked Greenwald's criticism of America's post-9/11 security policies, including the warrantless wiretapping during George W. Bush's tenure. Snowden invited Greenwald and another journalist to be the first to report on what he knew and the documents he had stolen. As shocking as anything else in this book is the fact that these three individuals – months after documents had been downloaded – appeared to be the only ones who were aware that America's secrets had been compromised.

By 2010, having left the CIA, Snowden was working on NSA projects as a Dell Corporation employee. He had become disillusioned: "The stuff I saw really began to disturb me. I could watch drones in real time as they surveilled the people they might kill. You could watch entire villages and see what everyone was doing. I watched NSA tracking people's Internet activity as they typed. I became aware of how invasive US surveillance capabilities had become.… And almost nobody knew it was happening."

The book contains pages of slides and documents Snowden provided Greenwald that served as the basis of much of the bombshell reporting. Some have not been seen before. All of them have actually been posted online already. Despite the constant insistence by the NSA that the data collection is all about fighting terrorism, plenty of the slides show the data gathering being used for surveillance and snooping that is more about world economic issues, diplomatic relations, and suggests the data will be of interest to other agencies, one of the big fears of those concerned about domestic civil liberties. Take note of one slide below:

Looking for more libertarian responses to government surveillance? Check out our October 2013 edition online, which explored the Obama Administration's overreaches in monitoring.

NEXT: Government is Just All of Us Together, Preventing Each Other From Feeding the Hungry

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  1. I. Love. Edward. Snowden.

    The drama of illegal and abusive government programs waiting fearfully for the next damning documents to come out, and putting flipping the dynamic of terror, makes me giddy. Giddy, I say.

    This whole episode has been executed artfully by Greenwald/Snowden.

    1. I couldn’t agree more! Just bought the book, can’t wait to read it.

      I guess in about another month or two Glenn will be addressing the question of who exactly is being spied on and why. He is telegraphing that it will be the most explosive revelation yet.

      1. I think you’re right. I heard Greenwald recently talking about releasing names of individuals who were spied on to make the impact of the spying more real and to shown no one is immune.

      1. Your “source” repeats the canard that Russia and China have unencrypted the Snowden trove:

        “Meanwhile, Snowden seeking refuge in first China and then Russia nearly guarantees that the governments in these countries have gained a treasure trove of valuable information on NSA operations against their countries.”

        Completely without citation, or explanation as to how this could have occurred. Contrary to everything we know about encryption, and sheer utter nonsense.

        1. You are sadly naive if you think that either Russia or China allowed Snowden into their countries, knowing the diplomatic and economic repercussions, without demanding access to everything.

          1. Couple of points:

            1) Since when did either China or Russia give half a fuck about diplomatic or economic repercussions of anything they did? Seriously? That one’s barely even coherent. You do realize that Putin just annexed Crimea, right? And China is in the process of exerting control over the East China Sea, right?

            2) Demand how? Ask him to give them his encryption keys? Why would even know them at that point if he had turned the documents over to Greenwald? What he would have likely done is walked Greenwald through the process of creating his own keys, unbeknownst to Snowden. After all Greenwald will be the one to access the documents going forward, right?

            Anon, this is precisely why I am accusing you of being a low-informaton shill. You repeat canards which you could have quickly discarded had you just devoted to them five minutes of critical scrutiny.

          2. Why would they need to do this?

            I’m not naive at all, and don’t, like almost everyone that comments on this site, trust a single political figure, anywhere.

            Fact is, they can damage the U.S. surveillance state simply by giving him asylum and allowing him a place to continue to comment freely as the freedom-inspiring news trickles out. I bet they’re happy just the way things are, without “demanding” a thing.

          3. Except for the fact that Snowden did not carry any of these documents into any of these countries because he was fully aware that these sorts of charges would be leveled against him. He even stated in his recent interview with Brian Williams that he was fully aware, given his intellegence background, that agents in these other countries would be looking to grab that information.
            He never even expected to end up in Russia. It just so happened that his passport was revoked before he could leave. You are naive to think that there aren’t other reasons why Russia would be perfectly willing to snub the US. For instance, the US has had a history of taking Russian political defectors and Putin wanted to make the US look bad by giving asylum to an individual that made the US government look bad by exposing their domestic spying programs.

  2. Reading through those documents from the book is simultaneously infuriating and depressing.

    The fact that we have a government that engages in this activity should surprise no one, and anger everyone.

  3. To quote Ron Paul, “Our Founding Fathers would be ashamed of us, for what we’re putting up with!”

    When Snowden brought things and men to light that might have otherwise been left covered, I was astonished that Obama didn’t call for an immediate investigation of the NSA for violating our Constitutional rights. The President of The United States takes an oath when inaugurated to uphold & protect The Constitution – and Obama didn’t. I don’t know about the rest of you, but it rubs me the wrong way to know my taxes are funding a man who isn’t doing the job.

    We should present the Declaration of Independence to the current “Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, and is unfit to be the ruler of a free people” – just like they did to the King of England. Go back and read it – you’ll find so many similarities between then and now, that it ain’t funny.

    Without question, Edward Snowden is our real-life current-day Hero. He put his life on the line for all of us – that’s you, that’s me – because he is a gentleman of principle who believes in the founding principles upon which our country was created. And because he believed it was worth risking his life to tell all of us the truth about how we were/are being duped and betrayed by our own government. We should rally around him and pull out from under our current ruler like they did a couple hundred years ago, so Edward can be what all Americans are supposed to be: free and independent.

    1. “Hero”? Hardly. It seems like the less knowledgeable people are, the more they want to blow Snowden.

      Here’s something for you to ponder: Ed Snowden was a network administrator. His job was to set up and manage user accounts. As such, he didn’t know jack-shit about SIGINT or existing SIGINT programs, until AFTER he socially engineered his way into the user accounts of hundreds of NSA employees. Do the math. It was only AFTER he stole 1.7 MILLION classified documents, that he would he have any knowledge of specific NSA surveillance programs.

      Snowden could have easily distributed those 1.7 million documents to the media in such a way as to guarantee his own survival WITHOUT handing them over to the Chinese and Russians, but rather than remain anonymous, he had to be in the spotlight. Snowden could have also released only those specific documents pertaining to violations of US Person’s 4th Amendment rights. What he did instead was to render a 50 year, trillion dollar investment by the American people ineffective.

      BTW, I’m still waiting to see anything that says that the NSA is conducting mass surveillance on US Persons, or violating their rights. Collecting metadata and searching it for known terrorist’s selectors isn’t either one of those things.

      1. There’s so much horeshit in this I don’t know where to start! First off, this idea that the less knowledgeable people are the more they revere Snowden is the exact opposite of the truth. You want a correlation? How about this: the low-information idiots like you that actually believe the Russians and the Chinese have access to these documents are exactly the ones who criticize Snowden the most. Honestly, if you believe that either of those countries is in possession of Snowden’s trove, you must have absolutely no understanding of the stated facts comprising the Snowden timeline. First, he did not actually have any NSA documents at all on the laptops he took with him. Why the fuck would he? Those documents were already securely encrypted in the cloud. Bringing them with him would make them inherently less secure and would serve no recognizable purpose. So yeah, bullshit right off the bat with that idiotic canard.

        1. Fuck off. The Chinese have the largest, most pervasive intelligence apparatus the planet has ever known. Nothing is “securely encrypted in the cloud” to a Nation State with millions of people and billions of dollars to throw at a problem.

          I’m sure that they and the Russians can read what’s been published already without too much effort.

          1. And yet you claim he could have easily released the information to the public in a way that wouldn’t have involved giving it to the Chinese and Russians. So they’re “in the cloud” but can’t get American cable TV or a copy of the New York Times?

            1. Chinese and Russian citizens don’t have access to American cable TV or the NYT simply because their governments don’t allow access to those things. Their governments have access to whatever they are willing to spent the time and money to access.

              95% of what Snowden/Greenwald have publicly released have nothing to do with any violations of US citizens rights.

              What purpose did it serve to publicize information on foreign collection efforts? None, other than to demonize an intelligence agency that was operating within the law as defined and set forth by the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government. The sole purpose of releasing anything unrelated to specific known violations of US citizen’s rights, is to foment and feed this whole “burn it all down” narrative.

              70 years ago Germany initiated a conflict that eventually killed 60 million people. I would be surprised if we didn’t keep tabs on what their government is doing today, and it would be utterly irresponsible not to. What exactly did Snowden or Greenwald hope to accomplish by releasing information that asserts that we’re “spying” on Angela Merkel? Ask yourself why, out of 1.7 million documents, they would reveal that information when it has absolutely nothing to do with the rights of US citizens being violated.

              1. “Chinese and Russian citizens don’t have access to American cable TV or the NYT simply because their governments don’t allow access to those things. Their governments have access to whatever they are willing to spent the time and money to access.”

                Take a look at that last sentence:

                “Their governments have access to whatever they are willing to spent the time and money to access.”

                You do realize that you just made Bill Everman’s point, which concerned precisely the government’s and not the populace’s access to the information, right?

                It’s as though you’re not even aware of the sentences you’re typing. Amazing.

          2. “Nothing is “securely encrypted in the cloud” to a Nation State with millions of people and billions of dollars to throw at a problem.”

            Now you’re just compounding your idiocy.

            Surely the US is a nation state with billions of dollars to throw at unencrypting the Snowden trove, but they haven’t, else they’d be more in front of these revelations, instead of having to play catch up after the fact.

            Do you even read the stupid shit you write?

            1. What “revelations”; that we spy on people? What a surprise. I guess they should invest a few billion dollars and man-hours to keep that from getting out.

              1. Directly above I just showed why your assertion that China has the documents is patently false, and now you make a quip about the substance of the disclosures.

                I’m asking quite seriously here: Are you on some kind of experimental allergy medicine, or are you a paid shill, or both?

          3. With that logic, then there is nothing safe on NSA computers from Chinese spying either.

      2. You screw up the timeline once again when you assert that Snowden knew nothing about those SIGINT programs, and their possible constitutional violations prior to going after the source documents. He actually spoke with several of his colleagues, asking them point-blank if they believed that these programs could survive public scrutiny. I’m not sure that was such a good idea, considering what he was about to attempt, but it surely gives the lie to your assertion that he didn’t know jack-shit about the programs prior to going after the supporting documents. So more utter horseshit from someone who hasn’t even bothered to familiarize themselves with the timeline.

        1. Bullshit. His “colleagues” were other IT Admin geeks, not those actually involved in SIGINT programs. He couldn’t have known what questions to ask about what programs until after he stole the documents. Nobody sits around the cafeteria talking about classified shit over a cup of coffee. Sorry, but your “hero” is just another misguided traitor with an axe to grind.

          1. You know absolutely nothing about how an IT group interacts with the rest of the enterprise.

            You really are one sad sack of shit.

            1. I’ve been in “IT” since before you were born, junior.

              1. Not possible with the level of ignorance you display.

                1. Dude, I started working on computers when diagnostics were run by entering 32 bit machine language commands from the repertoire of instructions bit by bit in binary, after converting them from octal.

                  1. Yet you appear to have no idea how encryption works, still clinging to the canard that the Russians and Chinese somehow decrypted the trove of documents. This leads me to believe that I cannot trust anything else you say about your experience or IT in general.

                    1. I know exactly how encryption works. Apparently you don’t know how nations work. Neither Russia nor China allowed Snowden into their countries without getting something in return.

                    2. “I know exactly how encryption works.”

                      No you don’t.

                      Repeating from above, where you made this same ludicrous claim:

                      Couple of points:

                      1) Since when did either China or Russia give half a fuck about diplomatic or economic repercussions of anything they did? Seriously? That one’s barely even coherent. You do realize that Putin just annexed Crimea, right? And China is in the process of exerting control over the East China Sea, right?

                      2) Demand how? Ask him to give them his encryption keys? Why would even know them at that point if he had turned the documents over to Greenwald? What he would have likely done is walked Greenwald through the process of creating his own keys, unbeknownst to Snowden. After all Greenwald will be the one to access the documents going forward, right?

                      Anon, this is precisely why I am accusing you of being a low-informaton shill. You repeat canards which you could have quickly discarded had you just devoted to them five minutes of critical scrutiny.

          2. To elaborate:


            Snowden grants that NSA employees by and large believe in their mission and trust the agency to handle the secrets it takes from ordinary people ? deliberately, in the case of bulk records collection, and “incidentally,” when the content of American phone calls and e-mails are swept into NSA systems along with foreign targets.

            But Snowden also said acceptance of the agency’s operations was not universal. He began to test that proposition more than a year ago, he said, in periodic conversations with co-workers and superiors that foreshadowed his emerging plan.

          3. Beginning in October 2012, he said, he brought his misgivings to two superiors in the NSA’s Technology Directorate and two more in the NSA Threat Operations Center’s regional base in Hawaii. For each of them, and 15 other co-workers, Snowden said he opened a data query tool called BOUNDLESSINFORMANT, which used color-coded “heat maps” to depict the volume of data ingested by NSA taps.

            His colleagues were often “astonished to learn we are collecting more in the United States on Americans than we are on Russians in Russia,” he said. Many of them were troubled, he said, and several said they did not want to know any more.

            “I asked these people, ‘What do you think the public would do if this was on the front page?’?” he said.

            1. Total bullshit. The maps he refers to show WHERE data is collected, not who it is collected on. Since the backbone of the internet originates in the US, it should be no surprise to an “expert” like Snowden that that’s the most logical place to obtain the most traffic. Additionally, as an IT admin and NOT an analyst, Snowden wouldn’t have had an account to access that particular database. You’re being fed a line of bullshit, and you’re eating it hook, line, and sinker.

          4. So we know the employees he spoke with had clearance to BOUNDLESSINFORMANT, one of the most secretive programs at the NSA, or else he and each of these other 20 or so employees would have been committing a terminable offense. So yes, he and it appears most of the other employees at the Hawaii base had access at least operationally to these programs.

            So again, your knowledge of this issue, and in general the workings of a modern enterprise are crap, just crap.

            Again back to my original point, you are a low-information shill and nothing you say makes any sense at all.

            1. You know nothing, other than what Snowden wants you to believe.

              1. And the NSA could have easily proved him wrong, and yet….they don’t. And when they do decide to open their mouths, a new revelation shows that they were lying out their asses. Why don’t they just document Snowden’s lies, and expose him for the charlatan he is?

      3. “Snowden could have easily distributed those 1.7 million documents to the media in such a way as to guarantee his own survival WITHOUT handing them over to the Chinese and Russians, but rather than remain anonymous, he had to be in the spotlight.” Yes, becaues the Russians and Chinese don’t have access to American media. And it’s his identity as someone who had access to the informatoin that lends credibility to his claims.

        As to the last paragraph,the 1996 Telecommunications Act spells out that consumers have a privacy right in their “metadata”, which is essentially telephone billing records. The telecom companies are required to protect that privacy interest. Scooping up private data without probable cause violates the subject’s Fourth Amendment rights. “No warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause…particularly describing…the person or thing to be seized.” The FISA court’s warrants authorizing the collection of metadata are not based upon probable cause, nor are they specific as to what is to be seized (“all the phone billing metadata you have on all your customers” doesn’t cut it). And it should be clear by now that the collection of “US persons'”
        information within that net is far from incidental.

        1. When the 1996 Telecommunications Act was passed, today’s communications infrastructure was unforeseeable.

          Voice, data, and video are transported in packets of digitized bits over routes without regard to state or national boundaries. A phone call from a known terrorist in Yemen to a known terrorist in the Philippines could have packets routed through a dozen different countries, including the United States.

          Here’s the quandary: It is impossible to discern call originator and called party without first collecting the metadata of that call. It is impossible to determine whether or not metadata is from a US Person without first collecting that metadata. NOT monitoring electronic communications is simply not an option, and if you think it is, you’re too stupid to be involved in this conversation. Given that SIGINT is impossible without metadata, the current system of collecting metadata and only searching it for US Persons with a warrant, is the only solution with existing technology.

          1. Your last paragraph is nonsense. Of course they can discern where the call came from, based on the very first document they released: an order demanding the production of metadata on customers of Verizon Business. This isn’t NSA operatives in SCUBA gear at the bottom of the Atlantic tapping into telecommunications with alligator clips; this is billing records, from the telephone companies. Obviously that data is sorted by the origin of the call. Otherwise my phone bill would include calls from Yemen to Algeria, for no reason whatsoever. They’re not accidentally picking up stuff unrelated to their investigations. They’re vacuuming it all up, then looking for relevance.

            But above and beyond that, if the government doesn’t like the laws, then it’s in a good position to change it, which would include public scrutiny. But they don’t want that, so they “interpret” the law to let them do what they want it to do.

            1. Data is sorted by selector, and there’s no way to know who a selector belongs to unless the phone company releases that information, which requires a warrant.

              1. Argument by euphemism. “Selector” is to “name, phone number, e-mail address or other identifier” as “enhanced interrogation” is to “torture”.

                So the first issue is that all this information is collected without knowing who the subjects are, rather than under the specificity required by the Fourth Amendment. If one were more concerned with individual rights than collecting as much information as possible, one might use a criteria like, oh, the area code of the “selector” to eliminate “US persons”. Yeah, you might miss some terrorist, but since you haven’t stopped any using this program, it’s really not a big deal anyway.

                Secondly, of course you can figure out who the “selector” belongs to without a warrant. I do it regularly. There’s Google, for starters. Then there are reverse directories, and many databases which require a law enforcement or other permissible purpose to access, but certainly don’t need a warrant.

                1. You’re clueless. Selectors are things like IMSI’s, IMEI’s, IP addresses, MAC addresses, and PSTN’s. They tell you nothing about citizenship.

                  If one has an IMSI as a selector, it looks like this: 310410123456789

                  310 tells you it’s a US network, 410 tells you it’s ATT, and the rest tells you NOTHING unless you contact the provider and request the user information, which requires a warrant. ONLY AFTER the subscriber information is obtained is it possible to know the citizenship of the subscriber.

                  An IMEI merely gives you the manufacturer, model, and serial number of a specific device. It tells you nothing about who owns it, or what their citizenship is.

                  It’s the same for any selector: It does not tell you the citizenship of the caller or user. Bad guys are free to change their names, buy US cellular service, and use the internet in the US.

                  1. “Selectors may refer to people (by name, e-mail address, phone number or some other digital signature), organizations or subjects such as the sale of specialized parts for uranium enrichment.”
                    – inner-workings-of-a-top-secret-spy-program/282/

                    You are cherry-picking (from the “some other digital signature” category). I’m referring to the information demanded by the NSA from telecoms. Of course the telecoms have the identities of those “selectors” in the form of telephone numbers, IP addresses (yes, one can often search by IP and gather information without a warrant, if one knows where to look) and so forth: they’re the ones who assign those identifiers, and they generally use them to bill their customers.

                    The identifiers you’re referring to generally are not the ones linked directly to the information being demanded from the telecoms. There are other issues as to the legality of means by which they are obtained (hacking, Stingrays, and other means come to mind).

                    Further question for you: since the U.S. telecoms have been required by general warrants to hand over bulk metadata, why could they not be required to hand over the associations of these other “selectors” in bulk to the NSA by the same means, rather than by specific warrants? And how do we know they have not?

                    1. “The identifiers you’re referring to generally are not the ones linked directly to the information being demanded from the telecoms”

                      They are exactly what is being demanded from the telecoms, and nothing more. One might ask why they need metadata information from the telecoms. I’ll give you a clue: It’s ILLEGAL to collect, retain, and process any communication, metadata or content, in the US, without a warrant. If the law allows that warrant with insufficient cause or oversight, that’s a problem with the law, not the intent.

                      I want my government to know if Abu Fuckface the be-header calls Mohammad the airplane-hijacking-bomb-maker, in the US.

                    2. Everything I’ve seen indicates that telephone numbers are included with the metadata being taken from the telecoms. Agreed that there is a problem with the law. Enough people recognized the potential for this kind of abuse in the PATRIOT Act. But part of the law is also that it can be secretly interpreted and acted upon in the way it has been.

                      There’s a real shortage of airplane-hijacking-bomb-makers in the U.S. Not that I’m complaining! But that’s essentially a suicide mission and we have had exactly zero terrorist suicide attacks in the U.S. since 9/11, and I don’t believe there’s even been a claim of a foiled plot to complete a suicide attack. It may be that one of the protections of living in a free country is that once a would-be terrorist gets here, they find that there’s a lot more to live for here than where they came from.

                    3. Phone metadata would most likely be composed of IMSI, IMEI (ESN), PSTN, time of call, duration of call, and called number. These are the sort of data a phone company would require for billing purposes. It still doesn’t tell you who the customer, calling party, or called party is, nor is there any reason to request or provide that information unless one of the previously mentioned selectors was of enough interest to obtain a warrant. If one of your selectors is logged calling Mullah Omar in Pakistan, I have no problem with the government using every legal means to find out why.

                      The intelligence community isn’t in the habit of advertising their success stories. It reveals sources, methods, and capabilities.

                      19 of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Many were from well-to-do families, were college educated, and had lived in the “western world” for extended periods of time. A lifetime of ideological and religious programming is a strong motivator.

                    4. I would be stunned if the calling number is not also included in the phone metadata. Why wouldn’t it be, since it is connected with the billing info? And at that point, it’s hardly difficult to establish who the phone is identified with in most cases–reverse directories, proprietary databases, and even Google will often get you that without resorting to a warrant.

                      It’s funny how at the beginning, the intelligence community was eager to trumpet the dozens of successes it had with metadata, but then walked it back to basically zero. Well, they did stop a guy from sending, what, $8,000 to a terrorist organization somewhere? It sounds more like they’re willing, but don’t actually have much to show.

                    5. “It’s funny how at the beginning, the intelligence community was eager to trumpet the dozens of successes it had with metadata, but then walked it back to basically zero.”

                      This is the central point. They can’t even come clean about the efficacy of the programs, something one would assume would be front-and-center in any legitimate operation.

                      Then you’ve got the head of the agency lying his ass off to Congress to boot. That prick should be rotting in Leavenworth right now, but will suffer no consequences for his felonious behavior.

                      Then there are the fourteen amputees in Boston right now probably wondering how this omnipresent system could have failed so miserably in the exact type of instance where we supposedly would have needed it the most: a premeditated, poorly-executed plot which our own FBI had already been warned about.

                      What’s this program for again?

                    6. You’re still not getting it. The IC doesn’t advertise the efficacy of their programs, ever, because it tells the adversary exactly how effective they are, how much effort and capital to expend to counter them, what our budget is, sources, methods, and a whole host of other things about our capabilities. We’re talking about people who analyze shadows to estimate the range and payload of a rocket.

                      This “omnipresent system” “failed so miserably” because it’s not omnipresent, and they’re not listening to calls in the US without a warrant. Even if they were, I doubt those two ass-clowns called each other up and talked about how they were going to build bombs and blow up a public gathering.

                    7. Maybe they were too busy “analyzing shadows” to heed advance warning that the guys were coming and that they were terrorists hell-bent on destruction?

                      Did you miss the part where we had been warned in advance?

                    8. Did you miss the part about the NSA not being a law enforcement agency, and as such, lacks any capability or responsibility to act on that warning.

                    9. So the defense regarding the Boston bombing is that NSA isn’t the agency that does the arresting and–I would even add–isn’t who received the warning. Fine. But that misses the real point. If a warning comes from Russia, or the NSA, or an old lady across the street with binoculars, the same people–typically the FBI–will be tasked with investigating and responding to it. If they do not effectively respond to a credible warning about people receiving training at terrorist camps and returning to the U.S., it seems silly to have an agency dedicated to generating leads that for them that amount to “some guy named Abdul just talked to some guy named Billy Bob on the phone!”

                    10. The largest customer of the NSA isn’t the FBI, it’s the DoD, and they respond quite effectively to credible warnings.

                    11. And their mission is primarily abroad. Given the good intentions of our troops, I’m glad if NSA intelligence is keeping them from getting blown up. But much of what we’ve been doing abroad (Iraq, in particular) has done nothing to make us safer, and has in fact served as a recruiting tool for our enemies. For domestic threats, FBI is likely to be the lead agency, and they were also the ones who received the tips about the Tsarnaev brothers. But maybe they were too busy following “leads” generated by metadata analysis to follow up on that.

                      The claim is that NSA’s metadata gathering effort is protecting Americans in America. While technically your claim that the IC doesn’t advertise its successes is correct, the fact is that they have made “advertising” claims about their successes, and those claims have been proven to be lies.

                    12. Just to review, it was initially claimed that the metadata program had helped to foil fifty-four plots. Details of three were released and those details revealed that the metadata didn’t really “foil” anything. Upon review by the President’s own chosen panel, the number of cases where the program was useful went to zero. So yes, the IC does “advertise the efficacy of their programs”, it’s just that the claims are lies.

                    13. The enemy already assumes that they are “effective”, and that is why they go to great lengths to disguise their communications.

                      And this is why the government hasn’t been able to show that a single terrorist plan was thwarted by any of these programs. That would be very easy to document. And alas, the one investigation on this subject came up with a number: 0.

                    14. Great, then they can get a warrant for “Mohamad the airplane-hijacking-bomb-maker”…..not complicated. Or difficult. If that’s all they are looking for, no problem. Unfortunately, as the dozens of the documents already revealed show, it’s much more involved than that.

      4. Given the recent revelations, turns out the media reporting he was merely a network admin is false.

  4. Glenn Greenwald’s New NSA Book: Agency Wants to ‘Know it All’

    This tells me that when the NSA gets around to writing their tell-all book, it’s going to be EPIC.

  5. Further, this idea you have that he should have remained anonymous is profoundly naive. Are you actaully that stupid, to believe that if he had remained anonymous that the NSA wouldn’t have found him and just deep-sixed his ass without anyone ever knowing? Him being in the public eye makes that exponentially harder, both operationally and politically, and was most likely the smartest thing he did, besides selecting Greenwald as his source.

    1. One final point: If you believe it’s just metadata they’re collecting on US persons, you must have stopped following the story right about June 6th of last year, when the Prism program, a direct feed of unfiltered user data from Facebook, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft was revealed. Your lack of knowledge on this topic is simply astounding.

      BTW, that 50-year trillion-dollar investment needs to be burned to the ground, and each and every conniving insider who helped set it up, exposed as the slavers they are. Useful idiots like yourself need to be called out at every opportunity, and shown to be the low-information shills that they are.

      1. Facebook, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft aren’t used exclusively by American citizens. As a matter of fact, the majority of users for all of these are NOT US citizens.

        In a world where 99.9% of all communications are electronic, the idea that we NOT have a SIGINT capability is, simply put, fucking stupid.

        1. The goalposts have reached terminal velocity here. Once busted on the metadata issue, you shove the goalposts over to the global nature of Facebook!

          God you are one miserable, evasive shill.

          1. Is it your contention that our government shouldn’t collect communications from foreign nations?

            1. Is it your contention that the U.S. should spy on its allies? You’ve already advocated spying on Germany, because World War II. Is there anyone we shouldn’t be spying on?

              1. Yes, the US should spy on our allies, and every other nation on the planet. I WANT my government and my Nation to have every economic, diplomatic, and military advantage possible.

                1. “every economic[]advantage”

                  There you go. A little bit of honesty at last. This has always been about securing economic advantage through industrial espionage, and the centralization of corporate control for well-connected cronies.

                  Indeed one of NSA’s primary customers is Department of Commerce.

                  Anon, you have to ask yourself how our nation can peacefully coexist with other nations, signing trade agreements, forging partnerships, when we’re tapping directly into their corporate servers and stealing their trade secrets.

                  Do you have some reason you can put forth as to why the non-Five-Eyes countries wouldn’t just want to shut all American companies out of any future contracts, given that our dealings are manifestly duplicitous?

                  1. Ah, the dreamy naivety of the young rears its ugly head. Here’s a news flash for you junior: EVERY NATION spies on every other nation to the maximum extent possible, as determined by budget, access, and technological ability.

                    This isn’t about peaceful coexistence; it’s about competition. We’re either number one, or we’re not. Someone will be and hopefully it’s a benevolent nation like our own, because with economic superiority comes military superiority.

                    1. “We’re either number one, or we’re not.”

                      We’re soon to be not. See below.

                    2. You’re right, but it’s not because we spied on other countries; it’s because other countries spied on us. China has the most robust industrial espionage program in existence. They have and will steal the design for anything from a kids toy, to the F22. Russia is a distant second. Us…hell, we barely even try because frankly, there’s not much we really need to steal. Unlike most Nations, we’re quite capable of designing complex things ourselves.

                    3. This would seem to be an excellent reason to focus NSA on its other mission of protecting the U.S. from cyber attacks, rather than building a bigger haystack and sneaking backdoors into U.S. made systems.

                    4. I’m not exactly young, and I am also no fan of this model. The results of our “competition” and “military superiority” is a pattern of creating new enemies. Businesses competing against businesses is a great model. Bringing the government into it means picking winners and losers–not just abroad, but at home, as well.

                      I’m really not sure why you’re here. Kudos to your willingness to engage people whose principles are so opposed to yours, but you must know that Reason is a libertarian publication, and the positions you are advancing cannot be reconciled with that philosophy. I mean, I welcome you, but I think we need to recognize that despite your knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the implementation of these values, you’re going to have a hard time getting people to agree with you because most Reason readers have very different core values.

                    5. You may be surprised to learn that I’m actually what one might call an Objectivist Libertarian. I firmly believe in individual rights, liberty, and minimal, fiscally conservative government. With that, comes the understanding that there are other Nations, groups, and individuals that don’t give a fuck what my political or philosophical beliefs are, and they will gladly crush my skull, rape my dog, and take what is mine. In that vein, I understand the need for a strong military and intelligence community, and the need for situational awareness of ones surroundings. That situational awareness includes economic, military, and political aspects. “Core values” are meaningless if you don’t have the freedom to practice them.

                    6. “You may be surprised to learn that I’m actually what one might call an Objectivist Libertarian. I firmly believe in individual rights, liberty, and minimal, fiscally conservative government.”

                      I’d be more than surprised, I’d call “Bullshit!” right off the bat.

                      Oh, and you might want to be a little less worried about dog rapers, and a little more worried about James “least untruthful answer” Clapper eviscerating the rule of law as he lies through his teeth with impunity to the legislative body charged with protecting those values you profess to hold dear.

                    7. “I’d be more than surprised, I’d call “Bullshit!” right off the bat.”

                      Sigh…and I’m thinking that you’re the kind of Libertarian that thinks the only function of government is to send you your monthly welfare check.

                    8. And you’re actually a Straussian disguised as a Libertarian, since you appear to have no problem with Clapper issuing the “noble lie.”

                      Figure out who you are before you cast aspersions at actual Libertarians.

                    9. Oh, I have a serious problem with Clapper lying, but I have a more serious problem with a legislator asking a member of the IC to disclose classified information in a public venue just so he could score brownie points.

                    10. Let’s see how much of a problem you actually have with it.

                      Would you be in favor of indicting Clapper on charges of perjury?

                      …crickets chirping…

                      Of course you wouldn’t, and that is what most clearly demonstrates that you are in fact not a Libertarian but a Straussian.

                      And honestly, you have more of a problem with Wyden asking the question than Clapper actually perjuring himself?

                      Did Wyden break the law when he asked the question?

                      Did Clapper break the law when he lied under oath?

                      Have you actually even thought through any of this?

                    11. “Let’s see how much of a problem you actually have with it.
                      Would you be in favor of indicting Clapper on charges of perjury?”

                      Absolutely. Ideally, Clapper would be charged with perjury, and he’d have the balls to fall on his sword and plead guilty.

                      Wyden is guilty of nothing more than stupidity and grandstanding.

                      Clapper broke the law when he lied under oath.

                      Don’t assume to know what I think about anything.

                    12. I stand corrected and apologize for assuming your response.

                    13. I’ll accept your apology, and simply ask that you stop with the personal attack bullshit. Just because I disagree with you on this matter doesn’t make me “stupid, , a “miserable, evasive shill”, or a “low information shill”. I’ve studied the actual facts behind Snowden, his theft of classified government documents, his revelations, his timeline, and his story, and in my opinion, it doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. If his actual concern was with the liberties of US citizens, he could have addressed that with a hundred documents, and not 1.7 million documents dumped on the doorstep of foreign media that undermined legitimate collection efforts against US adversaries. Leaking these documents were not the actions of a patriotic whistleblower; they were the acts of a traitor. The Snowden documents have been published in a manner that seemingly seeks to do as much harm to U.S. alliances across the world as possible.

                    14. Fair enough. I think the source of my initial anger was your use of the canard that the Russians and the Chinese somehow got access to his trove. If you are as knowledgeable as you say, you would have to realize that there are levels of encryption most likely being used in this case which are beyond the reach of anything short of an advanced quantum computer, and that there is no way anyone will be able to decrypt them without the keys, so no, there is absolutely no way I can see that they have those documents in the clear. Your assertion in that regard is puzzling, and somewhat infuriating, given your self-description as an IT person. I think if there is one thing we can agree on then that is that Snowden is extremely capable, and since his life depends on those documents not getting decrypted, we can be almost certain that they remain secure.

                    15. If Snowden is anything, he’s extremely lucky. It’s only because he worked in an environment where trust carries weight, that he wasn’t rolled up as soon as he started his little plot.

                      I don’t think you fully understand the true nature, scope, or importance of the information that Snowden stole.

                      Do you even know why the general consensus is that the Chinese and Russians already have the information? It’s because if they didn’t, Snowden would be strapped to a chair blindfolded, with electrical wires attached to his genitals right now. We’re talking about two governments that have and do torture and execute tens-of-thousands of their own citizens, with absolutely no electorate to answer to. They didn’t need to decrypt the information; Snowden gave them the key in exchange for asylum.

                    16. “he worked in an environment where trust carries weight”

                      This may be the funnies thing you’ve asserted so far.

                      As to the debunked canard that China and Russia have the info, I’ll just keep repeating the obvious, until you quit making this nonsensical claim. From above:

                      2) Demand how? Ask him to give them his encryption keys? Why would even know them at that point if he had turned the documents over to Greenwald? What he would have likely done is walked Greenwald through the process of creating his own keys, unbeknownst to Snowden. After all Greenwald will be the one to access the documents going forward, right?

                      Anon, this is precisely why I am accusing you of being a low-informaton shill. You repeat canards which you could have quickly discarded had you just devoted to them five minutes of critical scrutiny.

                    17. Why do you keep insisting that neither China nor Russia have the documents, and simply gave Snowden asylum out of a sense of goodwill? Are you really that naive?

                      Why don’t you answer my questions for once? Why did Snowden steal 1.7 million documents, when a few dozen, or a few hundred would have presumably supported his assertion that the rights of US citizens were being violated?

                      Why did Snowden steal documents related to legitimate foreign collection programs?

                      Why do the vast majority of documents released by Snowden/Greenwald have nothing to do with violating the rights of US citizens, and everything to do with legitimate foreign collection programs?

                      Why does it appear that the Snowden/Greenwald document releases are specifically intended to destroy US foreign relations?

                      Lastly, why the fuck would anyone think this traitor is a “hero”, and feel the need to polish his ball-sack by supporting what he did? The bottom line is that he committed treason, he defected to the enemy, and he released information that harmed the US.

                    18. And seriously dude, take your mouth off Snowden’s cock for a second, and try to think coherently. If you stole 1.7 million classified documents, and you thought that your life depended on maintaining control of them, would you give the only copy to a stranger?

                    19. Whether or not the NSA is grabbing the everyday communication of Americans is not “classified”. So you should not have had a problem with the question.

                    20. But core values are also useless if we abandon them when they are challenged; otherwise they’re merely preferences. Apologies to G.W. Bush (not really), but the Constitution actually is a suicide pact.

                      I believe that people are pretty similar all around the world. It’s not that Chinese or Muslims or Russians are inherently bad guys; it’s that there are systems in place that encourage and allow the worst to rise to power. If we continue to eviscerate our rights in pursuit of “security”, then that’s exactly what will happen here.

                      I’m glad for your libertarian tendencies, but in this thread, you seem to be saying that you don’t mind the boot on your neck as long as the boot is made in the U.S.A.

                    21. There is no boot on my neck, and there never will be. I’ve traveled to over 40 countries, lived in the middle of Soviet-occupied East Germany, Japan, and Afghanistan, and over the last 10 years, I’ve spent almost as much time outside the US as I have in it. I’ve seen what a “boot on the neck” actually looks like, and this ain’t it.

                      There’s a balance between security and liberty. Right now, thanks to 9/11 and the knee-jerk reactions of our legislators, the pendulum has swung too far toward the security side. It’ll swing back eventually, as people grow weary of having their balls groped by the TSA, and having their doors kicked in by SWAT teams with the wrong address. It’ll either swing back on its own, or the people will swing it back by force. What we can’t do however, is not have any security, or laws, or police, or intelligence apparatus, because anarchy, and trust, and “peaceful coexistence” historically, simply doesn’t work as a domestic or foreign policy.

                    22. Well, look at that, we can almost agree on your last paragraph! You’re right that we can’t have no “security, or laws, or police, or intelligence apparatus”, of course, but perhaps you can see my concern that the programs we are discussing here could potentially be tools that will prevent the pendulum from swinging back toward liberty, and could even ratchet further away toward “security”–in quotes because at that point it will only be security for the privileged. Clearly, the tools that can stop terrorists are also readily deployed against anyone who would “swing it back by force”–which is to say that, to the effect that they could be effective against terrorists, they would also be effective against “freedom fighters”. A rose, by any other name…

                    23. I’m going to venture a guess and predict that avoiding those tools is as easy as throwing your cellphone away, or turning off the electricity to those tools.

                    24. Yes. If you don’t communicate with anyone, no one can intercept your communications. Victory!…um..victory?

                      Of course, the “by any other name” factor raises its head again. If avoiding those tools is easy, then our enemies can easliy do it, too, and there goes that trillion dollar investment down the drain.

                    25. The TSA groping my balls and SWAT team’s incompetence, as egregious as it is, is less of a problem than a massive group of government thugs secretly tapping into the private communication of individuals they have absolutely zero reason to suspect are involved in any way with terrorists.

                2. And of course it’s not even hypothetical any more:

                  Microsoft has lost customers, including the government of Brazil.

                  IBM is spending more than a billion dollars to build data centers overseas to reassure foreign customers that their information is safe from prying eyes in the United States government.

                  And tech companies abroad, from Europe to South America, say they are gaining customers that are shunning United States providers, suspicious because of the revelations by Edward J. Snowden that tied these providers to the National Security Agency’s vast surveillance program.


                  Can you feel that “every economic advantage” slipping away Anon?

                  1. And that doesn’t even cover what will inevitably happen to Cisco’s business model, now that we know its routers are routinely intercepted en route to customers and secretly implanted with spyware by NSA.

                    Tip of the iceberg Anon.

                    1. You might want to look up where Cisco routers are manufactured.

                    2. Then again I might not, since I and almost everyone else on the planet knows they’re mostly manufactured in China, with a Russian factory presence emerging in the near future.

                      But Cisco is headquartered in San Jose, and any economic effect from lost sales will be felt broadly in that area, California, and nationally.

                      Do you have a point here?

                    3. If you don’t get the point, maybe you should go comment on a less complex subject, like gay marriage or something.

                    4. You haven’t made a point, Anon, just asked me to look up something that I and almost everyone else already knows, which has nothing to do whatsoever with the economic impact of Cisco losing sales.

                      The reality is that all of this economic espionage couldn’t have remained secret for very long, given the NSA’s apparent lack of any kind of safeguards on their “secrets.”

                      And since you stated previously that:

                      “Us…hell, we barely even try because frankly, there’s not much we really need to steal.”

                      is there any way you can justify the impending economic backlash in terms of what you’ve admitted is a practically worthless endeavor, since, again according to you:

                      “Unlike most Nations, we’re quite capable of designing complex things ourselves.”

                      So to recap, we got bupkas, and now our tech sector is screwed.

                      Worth it do you think?

                    5. I’ve made my point perfectly; you’re just too blind to see it.

                      As far as the NSA not having any safeguards or oversight, you might want to ask yourself why out of hundreds-of-thousands of contractors and employees over a period of decades, only a handful have either committed outright espionage, or had some issue with the Constitutionality of their programs? These are people with the highest ethical standards that have sworn an oath to the Constitution, have passed rigorous background checks and polygraphs, are financially responsible, and have no criminal, drug, or alcohol problems. On top of that, it’s probably one of the most educated work forces in existence for it’s size. Like them or not, those are the facts.

                      Neither you nor I know what they got for their effort, but to assume that they got “bupkas” would probably be a mistake. Our tech sector was screwed the day they started outsourcing their code-writing and manufacturing to competing economies.

                    6. “These are people with the highest ethical standards that have sworn an oath to the Constitution,”

                      Riiiight. Like the titular head of the organization, James “least untruthful answer” Clapper who committed consequence-free perjury under oath before Congress?

                      Yeah, they can swear to uphold the Constitution, but when it comes to actually upholding those principles, not so much.

                      Highest ethical standards my ass.

                      But at least your dog’s not getting raped by Abu Fuckface, right?

                    7. I’m willing to bet that you wouldn’t meet the standards.

                    8. Of course. I would never lie under oath.

                3. Good luck with your Imperial America. Given the resentment that such policies have generated, the economic and diplomatic damage that have resulted, and our demonstrated talent for creating ten enemies for every one that we stop through this kind of approach, it doesn’t seem to be working out very well so far.

                  1. Would you be more comfortable with an Imperial China?

                    1. It will be the inevitable result of our bungling.

                    2. I’m not Chinese, so it’s really not my business. I have faith that a free country will outcompete a less free country, all things being equal. If China wants to be an empire, let it be an empire. We can engage with it in trade and diplomacy. As long as they’re not attacking us, I don’t think we need to concern ourselves with their ambitions.

                    3. I’d ask you to think seriously about that for a few minutes. Do you really think that a free economy that has to pay competitive wages and spend billions of dollars on R&D to develop and improve products can compete indefinitely with an economy composed of slave laborers, or nearly so, that simply steals the designs of it’s competitors?

                      Do you think it’s a good idea to wait until a foreign power is actually attacking us before we take note, or do you think it might be a better idea to know their intentions and capabilities in advance?

                    4. I think that a slave economy has its own hidden costs. The people keeping the slaves enslaved aren’t working for free, either. Remember the juggernaut that was the Soviet Union before it collapsed under its own weight?

                      Protecting our R&D would be a better use of the NSA than building a bigger haystack of metadata. Yes, there will always be some reverse engineering of design, but there will also always be those who prefer to pay for the hopefully superior product.

                      And when I asked you if we should be spying on our allies, that didn’t mean I don’t believe that we shouldn’t be looking at other nations’ intentions and capabilities. But I do believe that we can treat Great Britain and Germany differently than Russia and China.

                    5. The Soviets didn’t really go away, they just converted their government to a Kleptocracy. The threat hasn’t changed.

                      Protecting our R&D would be a better use of the NSA, but that too requires monitoring foreign communications. It simply switches the focus from “terrorists” to “corporations”.

                      I too believe that we can, and do treat Great Britain and Germany differently than we do Russia and China. Great Britain and Germany are not currently existential threats; Russia and China are.

                    6. “But I do believe that we can treat Great Britain and Germany differently than Russia and China.”

                      But wait:

                      “70 years ago Germany initiated a conflict that eventually killed 60 million people…”

                      Which is it Anon?

                      Do we need a tap on Angela Merkel’s phone or not? You can’t have it both ways, either they have to put the tap on or leave it off.

                    7. Dude, when do we get to watch you polish Snowden’s ball-sack? Look, this isn’t binary. It’s not a one or zero, on or off deal. I can have it infinite ways, ranging from no collection at all, to collecting on key leaders, to collecting on every single electronic communications device in a nation.

                      BTW, the fact that you use the term “they have to put the tap on or leave it off” tells me you don’t know shit about SIGINT.

                    8. I object to your bullshit.

                      “Absolutely. Ideally, Clapper would be charged with perjury, and he’d have the balls to fall on his sword and plead guilty.”

                      Get a little slap on the wrist like Libby and go back to the largest welfare recipient of the NSA.

                      “or had some issue with the Constitutionality of their programs?”

                      Do you really think the NSA/CIA/Congress/whoever is going to issue a press release when someone objects to its policies and have some open round table debate on CSPAN about a program that no one is suppose to know exists?

                      “I firmly believe in individual rights, liberty, and minimal, fiscally conservative government.”

                      Fiscally conservative… a 1 TRILLION dollar program that didn’t stop 9/11 but wait – that’s because they didn’t have the metadata (or whatever bullshit he claimed). With the metadata and an alleged tip from the Russians didn’t stop Tsarnaev. Mr. underpants on the plane? Didn’t stop him.

                      In fact – they can’t point to a single case of anything this has stopped. We are apparently using this metadata, which even you admit don’t know who it is for drone targets. Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t our military see a surge in recruits after 9/11? When each one of these bombs misses we are creating a greater security risk.

                      “Since the backbone of the internet originates in the US”

                      As an IT pro you should know this is factually incorrect.

                    9. “As an IT pro you should know this is factually incorrect.”

                      You might want to look at this:


                      or this:


                      and reconsider that statement.

                    10. Why don’t you go read this:


                      and this:


                      and correct your original statement. First of all the traffic originates from where the user is who is making the request. Secondly when dealing with the Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft’s of the world it is quite likely your request wouldn’t even touch the US.

                    11. I’m talking about Layer 1; you’re talking about Layer 3. Layer 3 doesn’t work without Layer 1, and most Layer 1 Tier 1 links pass through the US.

  6. Wow. I can only hope that you are a paid flack for some government agency, since posting this without compensation would be even more embarrassing.

    Who cares whether he happened to encounter this information while working, or went in with the intent of finding and disclosing it, or stumbled across some of it, and kept digging. If he went in looking for it, then to my mind that’s actually more heroic, and makes the NSA look even worse, since that means he was an outsider who was able to penetrate their agency, rather than someone who was already on the inside.

  7. Greenwald is the premiere reporter with conscience, wisdom and hunger. His revelations boldly printed, with grave danger to himself even now, is a testament of how other reporters should be! Most are now so rooted in bias it’s become sickening. Greenwald would have reported this regardless of party or political belief. He is truly a beacon to the lesser people who claim to be peers. This isn’t gotcha! Its about out survival as a nation under our Constitutional requirements.
    Our Government under Republican and Democrat Presidents violated and continue to violate the 4th Amendment of our Constitution. There has been no legitimate Constitution session called by the Senate and the House to amend the Constitution which is the only Constitutional way to Amend,change or by-pass! The 4th Amendment clearly states No General Warrants may be used. Madison made it quite clear. “A Warrant is for one single individual and there must be some suspicion of wrong doing!” And Yet the American people let themselves be subjected to government raping of our privacy using General Warrants! It’s disgusting!

  8. my friend’s mother makes $61 every hour on the internet . She has been laid off for 8 months but last month her income was $17227 just working on the internet for a few hours. visit site………..

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