Boing Boing 

New Zealand police raided home of reporter working on Snowden documents. Here's how you can support his defense.

Photo via The Intercept


Photo via The Intercept

On October 6th, New Zealand police raided the house of one of the country’s best independent investigative journalists, Nicky Hager, seizing many of his family’s belongings and his reporting equipment—all in the search for one of his sources. This is a flagrant violation of basic press freedom rights, and today we are announcing a campaign to assist Hager in raising money for his legal defense.

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The Laura Poitras film on Snowden shows that only government transparency will stop leaks

Edward Snowden. Photo: Guardian.


Edward Snowden. Photo: Guardian.

As we've mentioned, filmmaker Laura Poitras has an important new documentary out about Edward Snowden, and the impact of his leaks on NSA surveillance.

In a review of the “Citizenfour” for The Guardian, Trevor Timm, Executive Director of Freedom of the Press Foundation (Laura Poitras is a board member, so am I) writes:

[W]hat the government has failed to grasp is that Chelsea Manning and Snowden’s leaks are not isolated incidents – or, at least they won’t be when we look back on this era 10 years from now. There are 5 million people with security clearances in this country, and many of them are part of a new generation that is far more critical of the blanket secrecy permeating government agencies than the old guard.

It’s only now that we are finally starting to see the reverberations of Manning’s and Snowden’s whistleblowing. But one thing is for sure: there are many more potential whistleblowers out there, and if government officials do not move to make their actions more transparent of their own volition, then their employees may well do it for them.

Previously: "Laura Poitras's Citizenfour: the real story of Edward Snowden"

Twitter sues U.S. Justice Department for right to reveal government surveillance requests

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In a blog post titled “Taking the fight for #transparency to court,” Twitter today announced it is suing the Department of Justice for the right to report “the actual scope of surveillance of Twitter users by the U.S. government.”

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Germany is NSA's largest listening post, according to new report based on Snowden leaks

A general view of the large former monitoring base of the U.S. intelligence organization National Security Agency (NSA) during break of dawn in Bad Aibling south of Munich, July 11, 2013. Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended Germany's cooperation with U.S. intelligence, dismissing comparisons of its techniques to those used in communist East Germany in an attempt to ease tensions a day before talks on the thorny issue in Washington.   REUTERS/Michael Dalder


A general view of the large former monitoring base of the U.S. intelligence organization National Security Agency (NSA) during break of dawn in Bad Aibling south of Munich, July 11, 2013. Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended Germany's cooperation with U.S. intelligence, dismissing comparisons of its techniques to those used in communist East Germany in an attempt to ease tensions a day before talks on the thorny issue in Washington. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Using documents leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel reports that the NSA has turned Germany into its most important base of operations in Europe. "NSA is more active in Germany than anywhere else in Europe," reports the paper, "And data collected here may have helped kill suspected terrorists."

The German archive provides the basis for a critical discussion on the necessity and limits of secret service work as well as on the protection of privacy in the age of digital communication. The documents complement the debate over a trans-Atlantic relationship that has been severely damaged by the NSA affair.

They paint a picture of an all-powerful American intelligence agency that has developed an increasingly intimate relationship with Germany over the past 13 years while massively expanding its presence. No other country in Europe plays host to a secret NSA surveillance architecture comparable to the one in Germany. It is a web of sites defined as much by a thirst for total control as by the desire for security. In 2007, the NSA claimed to have at least a dozen active collection sites in Germany.

The documents indicate that the NSA uses its German sites to search for a potential target by analyzing a "Pattern of Life," in the words of one Snowden file. And one classified report suggests that information collected in Germany is used for the "capture or kill" of alleged terrorists.

"New NSA Revelations: Inside Snowden's Germany File" [Der Spiegel]

Related:

'NSA vs. USA,' anti-spying dance music video

An anti-mass-surveillance music video by Shahid Buttar, director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.

Download the extended dance floor mix. Read the lyrics (annotated with hyperlinks to help you learn more). [HT: Rainey Reitman]

Watch the full-length NBC News interview with Edward Snowden

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NBC News has released an online version of its featured interview with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, a first for US TV.

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Mysterious announcement from Truecrypt declares the project insecure and dead

The abrupt announcement that the widely used, anonymously authored disk-encryption tool Truecrypt is insecure and will no longer be maintained shocked the crypto world--after all, this was the tool Edward Snowden himself lectured on at a Cryptoparty in Hawai'i. Cory Doctorow tries to make sense of it all. Read the rest

NBC airs Edward Snowden's first US TV interview

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NBC released a preview clip from a widely-promoted Brian Williams interview with whistleblower Edward Snowden, which airs tonight, Wednesday May 28, at 10pm EDT. The hour-long interview is the former NSA contractor’s first US television interview since leaking NSA documents to reporters.

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New NYT editor spiked NSA spying story

Dean Baquet.


Dean Baquet.

Mostly lost in the past week's media gossip around NYT executive editor Jill Abramson's ouster, and Dean Baquet's promotion to her role: Baquet is the former LA Times editor who killed the biggest NSA leak pre-Edward Snowden.

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Wikileaks says NSA recording all calls in Afghanistan

Glenn Greenwald. [Reuters]


Glenn Greenwald, of The Intercept. [Reuters]

The National Security Agency records the entire content of every phone call in Afghanistan, claims WikiLeaks.

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US indictment of Chinese hackers is kinda awkward

A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. Picture taken January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su.


A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. Picture taken January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su.

The Justice Department this week indicted five hackers linked to China’s People’s Liberation Army. The hackers are accused of stealing data from six US companies, and represent a "cyberwar" escalation with China: what was a diplomatic discomfort is now a criminal matter. "But cybersecurity policy-watchers say that the arrival of the indictments in the wake of Snowden’s serial revelations could both lessen the charges’ impact and leave American officials open to parallel criminal allegations from Chinese authorities," writes Wired's Andy Greenberg.

The lie about Edward Snowden that just won't die

Edward Snowden

We’ve fact-checked statements in the media about Edward Snowden and the NSA before, but by far the biggest falsehood being spread by government advocates is the alleged fact that he took 1.7 million documents from the NSA.

All the parties involved—Snowden, the journalists, and even the government—either deny it or have said they have no reason to believe it is true, yet it has become the go-to number when discussing Snowden's case. It's time news organizations start issuing corrections.

Glenn Greenwald wrote about this last week, showing that news outlets have taken the statement by an NSA official on 60 Minutes that Snowden—at one point or another in his career—“accessed” or “touched” millions of documents and warped it into a claim that he’d stolen that many:

Ever since then, that Snowden “stole” 1.7 or 1.8 million documents from the NSA has been repeated over and over again by US media outlets as verified fact. The Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus, citing an anonymous official source, purported to tell readers that “among the roughly 1.7 million documents he walked away with — the vast majority of which have not been made public — are highly sensitive, specific intelligence reports”. Reuters frequently includes in its reports the unchallenged assertion that “Snowden was believed to have taken 1.7 million computerized documents.” Just this week, the global news agency told its readers that “Snowden was believed to have taken 1.7 million computerized documents.”

As Greenwald pointed out, in an interview given to the Australian Financial Review, former NSA chief Keith Alexander was asked point blank if the NSA can really say how many documents Snowden took. Here's what he said:

Well, I don’t think anybody really knows what he actually took with him, because the way he did it, we don’t have an accurate way of counting. What we do have an accurate way of counting is what he touched, what he may have downloaded, and that was more than a million documents.

Read that again. They do not know how many documents he took. But this actually isn’t anything new, we’ve known this for months. After the New York Times reported Snowden “accessed” 1.7 million files in February, they also wrote, albeit a dozen paragraphs later, that DIA head General Michael Flynn admitted in Congressional testimony they still had “a great deal of uncertainty about what Mr. Snowden possessed. ‘Everything that he touched, we assume that he took,’ said General Flynn.” In other words, they have no idea.

Despite these known facts, even this week, the Wall Street Journal has published an incredibly irresponsible piece by Edward Jay Epstein, who based an entire op-ed around the false 1.7 million statement as a way to claim that Snowden is working for a foreign goverment. And look what happens when you Google the phrase “Snowden 1.7 million”: He either “took,” “has,” or “stole” nearly 2 million documents is all over the entire front page.

So to sum up, Edward Snowden has said the number is made up, the journalists involved deny they have 1.7 million documents, and the government has stated multiple times they do not know how many documents he took. Literally no party in the NSA story believes the 1.7 million number is true, yet most media organizations claim it’s a fact.

We look forward to Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, and others who have been peddling this fictitious number issuing corrections.

Fact-checking Hillary Clinton's comments on Edward Snowden and the NSA

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to a group of supporters and students at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Gaston De Cardenas


Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to a group of supporters and students at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Gaston De Cardenas

Hillary Clinton made her first extended public remarks about Edward Snowden late last week, and unfortunately she misstated some basic facts about the NSA whistleblower and how events have played out in the last year. Here’s a breakdown of what she said and where she went wrong:

Clinton: "If he were concerned and wanted to be part of the American debate, he could have been… I don't understand why he couldn't have been part of the debate at home."

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about Snowden that even NSA reform advocates have furthered. Edward Snowden could not be part of this debate at home, period.

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Edward Snowden: "Vladimir Putin must be called to account on surveillance just like Obama"


Vladimir Putin during the nationwide phone-in in Moscow. Photograph: RIA Novosti/Reuters

Today's question-and-answer session on Russian TV between NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not go as Snowden had hoped. "I questioned the Russian president live on TV to get his answer on the record, not to whitewash him," Snowden says in an op-blog in the Guardian:

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Snowden asks Putin about surveillance in Russia on televised call-in show (video)

So, this happened.

“I’d like to ask you,” NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden asked Russian leader Vladimir Putin on a televised call-in show, “does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?” Putin, a former KGB agent and head of Russia's intelligence service, spoke about what they had in common: spycraft.

“Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent,” the president replied. “I used to work for an intelligence service. Let’s speak professionally.”

“Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law,” Mr. Putin said. “You have to get a court’s permission first.” He noted that terrorists use electronic communications and that Russia had to respond to that threat.

“Of course we do this,” Mr. Putin said. “But we don’t use this on such a massive scale and I hope that we won’t.”

“But what is most important,” Mr. Putin concluded, “is that the special services, thank God, are under a strict control of the government and the society, and their activities are regulated by law.”

More in this New York Times report.

US to Angela Merkel: no, you can't see your NSA file but we promise we aren't spying on you anymore


Photo: Reuters

The US is refusing to allow German chancellor Angela Merkel to see her NSA file, or obtain any answers to questions from Germany about US surveillance activities involving the European leader's communications. She is due to visit Washington and meet Barack Obama in three weeks. It will be her first visit to the American capital since documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden showed the NSA had been spying on her phone. theguardian.com.

Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras enter the US for first time since Snowden leaks

A first since they began reporting on the material leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, landing in the United States. There have been concerns that the US might detain them if they entered the country.

(Disclosure: I'm on the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation with all three)

Edward Snowden interviewed at TED

Here's Edward Snowden controlling a telepresence robot on the stage of TED, being interviewed by Chris Anderson. Watch the full video, recorded today at TED 2104.

NSA and GHCQ targeted WikiLeaks and supporters with surveillance, international pressure, LOLcats


A slide from the NSA document on psychology tactics to be used against Wikileaks and supporters suggests the extent to which LOLcats have entered the zeitgeist: they're even used by America's top spies. Also note that on this slide, the word "psychology" is misspelled.

The Intercept today published documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden which show that the NSA and Britain's GCHQ targeted WikiLeaks with an array of surveillance tactics and spied on supporters.

From the report by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher:

The efforts – detailed in documents provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – included a broad campaign of international pressure aimed not only at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but at what the U.S. government calls “the human network that supports WikiLeaks.” The documents also contain internal discussions about targeting the file-sharing site Pirate Bay and hacktivist collectives such as Anonymous.

ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer, responding to the report:

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London Heathrow customs agent interrogates Edward Snowden's attorney Jesselyn Radack

Jesselyn Radack, an attorney who represents NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was detained and interrogated while transiting customs at Heathrow airport in London. Kevin Gosztola reports:

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Navy cyberwar expert is Obama's choice for new NSA director

"In nominating Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers as the new director of the National Security Agency on Thursday, President Obama chose a recognized expert in the new art of designing cyberweapons, but someone with no public track record in addressing the kinds of privacy concerns that have put the agency under a harsh spotlight." Read the full New York Times article here.

Angry hackers target Angry Birds website after news of NSA spying hijinks


A screengrab of the defaced website.

"Angry Birds creator Rovio Entertainment Ltd. says the popular game's website was defaced by hackers Wednesday, two days after reports that the personal data of its customers might have been accessed by U.S. and British spy agencies." NSA documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden indicated the NSA and Britain's GCHQ spy agency have the ability to get mobile users' data through various apps, including Google Maps and the Angry Birds games. [AP]

Related: Veracode audited exactly what personal data the Angry Birds app gathers about you.

Edward Snowden nominated for Nobel Peace Prize


Edward Snowden. Photo: Barton Gellman for Washington Post.

Two politicians in Norway nominated NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for a Nobel Peace Prize. Brian Fung for the Washington Post:

In their nomination letter, Baard Vegar Solhjell and Snorre Valen, who hail from the Socialist Left party, said Snowden's revelations "contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order." Nominations — which are generally secret but sometimes announced by those submitting the paperwork — must be filed by Feb. 1. Snowden likely has dozens of competitors, so there's no guarantee he'll get anywhere. Still, it'd be ironic if Snowden and Obama each wound up winning the same honor just a handful of years apart.

US intel chief James Clapper: journalists reporting on leaked Snowden NSA docs “accomplices” to crime


U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

In a Senate Judiciary Hearing on NSA surveillance today, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper insinuated dozens of journalists reporting on documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden were “accomplices” to a crime. His spokesman further suggested Clapper was referring to journalists after the hearing had concluded.

If this is the official stance of the US government, it is downright chilling.

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NSA and GHCQ are spying on your mobile apps, grabbing your data


NSA slide from May 2010 meeting, via New York Times.

From a New York Times report today, based on the contents of NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden:

The N.S.A. and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters were working together on how to collect and store data from dozens of smartphone apps by 2007, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. Since then, the agencies have traded recipes for grabbing location and planning data when a target uses Google Maps, and for vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services.

"Spy Agencies Scour Phone Apps for Personal Data" [nytimes.com]

Snowden responds to US politicians' spy claims: 'Spies get treated better than that'

Speaking with the New Yorker via encrypted email, Edward Snowden denies allegations made by members of Congress that his leaks of NSA documents were to aid a foreign power.

“This ‘Russian spy’ push is absurd,” said Snowden. “Spies get treated better than that” by the likes of Russia and China, which US politicians have implied Snowden is snooping for.

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Highlights of Daniel Ellsberg’s Reddit AMA on Edward Snowden and NSA surveillance


Daniel Ellsberg. Photo: Xeni Jardin.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower (and our co-founder) Daniel Ellsberg held an expansive, seven-hour long Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session yesterday to explain why NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will join our board of directors. He also discussed many other subjects—including NSA surveillance, President Obama’s flip-flop on whistleblowers, Nixon’s dirty tricks, and the dangers of excessive government secrecy.

Below are some of our favorite questions and answers. But make sure to read the last remarkable exchange, in which Mr. Ellsberg finds out—for the first time—that the Nixon administration had surveillance of him from before the Pentagon Papers were leaked.

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Reddit AMA: "I am Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg. Edward Snowden is my hero."

Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg is doing a Reddit AMA right now. The topic sparked from news that Edward Snowden is joining the board of Freedom of the Press Foundation (I'm also a member).

If Snowden returned to US for trial, could court admit any NSA leak evidence?


Image: Reuters

There seems to be a new talking point from government officials since a federal judge ruled NSA surveillance is likely unconstitutional last week: if Edward Snowden thinks he's a whistleblower, he should come back and stand trial.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice said on 60 Minutes Sunday, “We believe he should come back, he should be sent back, and he should have his day in court.” Former CIA deputy director Mike Morell made similar statements this weekend, as did Rep. Mike Rogers (while also making outright false claims about Snowden at the same time). Even NSA reform advocate Sen. Mark Udall said, "He ought to stand on his own two feet. He ought to make his case. Come home, make the case that somehow there was a higher purpose here.”

These statements belie a fundamental misunderstanding about how Espionage Act prosecutions work.

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In final 2013 press conference, Obama promises NSA spying changes, says Snowden "under indictment"


President Barack Obama holds his year-end news conference in the White House briefing room in Washington, December 20, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

In the last press conference of the year, President Obama today indicated he may order changes to the National Security Agency’s programs that gather and store the phone communications records of millions of Americans, and instead "require phone companies to hold the data." He promised a “pretty definitive statement” on NSA reforms in January, after he returns from an annual holiday vacation in Hawaii -- coincidentally, where it all started with Edward Snowden about a year ago.

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