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:
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.”More in this New York Times report.
“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.”
(Disclosure: I'm on the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation with all three)
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.
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.
I'm fine. Heathrow's Border Force was just trying to intimidate me. "Who is Edward Snowden?" "Do you know him?" "Where is Bradley Manning?"— Jesselyn Radack (@JesselynRadack) February 16, 2014
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:
"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.
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
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.
From a New York Times report today, based on the contents of NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden:
"Spy Agencies Scour Phone Apps for Personal Data" [nytimes.com]
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.
“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.
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.
Read the rest
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.
Read the rest
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. Read the rest
Read the rest