Edward Snowden is seen on a screen as he speaks via video conference with members of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe during an hearing on "mass surveillance" in Strasbourg, April 8, 2014.
"United States of Secrets," a new PBS Frontline airing tonight, explores 'the dramatic inside story of the U.S. government’s massive and controversial secret surveillance program—and the lengths they went to trying to keep it hidden from the public.'
Part of that story is highlighted on PRI's 'The World' radio show today. After 9/11, the National Security Agency wanted new ways to spy on electronic interactions in the US. "The Program, as it was called, spied on telephones, Internet connections, metadata from emails and almost every form of electronic communication."
But when The Program began, there were people in the NSA and others who questioned its legality, including Department of Justice attorney Thomas Tamm. His father and uncle worked at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There’s even a photo of 8-year-old Tamm with J. Edgar Hoover. Tamm worked at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and authorized warrants. And he saw items coming across his desk of investigations and snooping that lacked probable cause. He started to wonder how the NSA was getting the information.
He asked around, but many don’t want to talk about it. His colleagues felt like something illegal was going on. “He sees this and says, ‘There is something not very kosher here, I don’t know what exactly is going on,’ and begins to worry about it,” Kirk recounts.
Tamm claims he tried to blow the whistle on the subject, working with New York Times reporter James Risen to make the story public. But Risen’s editors decided to run the story by the government. They wanted to get the government’s take, before the Times revealed “The Program.” Kirk says top White House officials made three arguments to Times editors, in trying to convince them not to run the story.
1. It’s completely legal.
2. It’s a vulnerable secret. If you reveal it, hundreds of thousands of Americans may die in a future attack.
3. It’s working. You wouldn’t believe the threats we’re stopping.
Former Editor Bill Keller spiked the story, outraging Risen.
This gadget does exactly as promised: it looks like a thumbdrive (sort of) and fries the circuitry of any computer it’s plugged into. It’s made from camera flash parts, is charged with a standard AA battery, and delivers a 300V zap of DC destruction to the port for all your USB-murdering needs. Note that this […]
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web’s top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with. Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it’s interesting how far the blue “cluster” is from the […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]
The ARMOR-X Mini Flexible Phone Tripod is a smartphone tripod that is designed with flexible legs to rest on virtually any type of surface. Other tripods have proved useless unless I conveniently have a flat surface in front of me, which is why this particular tripod was appealing enough to try out. The ARMOR-X is compact and easy […]
You don’t need to get an advanced degree and take out massive loans to become a coder. This bundle of 10 courses was designed to teach anyone to code at home for less than it costs to go out for dinner. I was particularly impressed with this new 2017 bundle because it includes courses on […]