Germany wants Snowden to testify on US spying--but in Moscow, not Berlin


A general view of the large former monitoring base of the U.S. intelligence organization National Security Agency (NSA) in Bad Aibling south of Munich, June 18, 2013. Reuters/Michaela Rehle

Lawmakers in Germany want former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to give evidence on previously-secret U.S. surveillance of Angela Merkel's mobile phone. Snowden has communicated a desire to travel to Germany or France, but Wednesday they said they would instead try to take his testimony from Moscow without compromising his asylum there. More at Reuters.

Snowden's status in Russia is not without conditions, however: Putin said early on that the most important of those is that Snowden not take further actions to "harm" the United States. Speaking to Germany about covert ops conducted by the US could be interpreted as doing just that.

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Jacob Appelbaum explains surveillance to the EuroParl

Jacob Appelbaum of the Tor Project and Wikileaks addressed the European Parliament on the issue of surveillance and freedom. It was a remarkable speech, even by Appelbaum's high standards. An amateur transcript gives you a sense of what's going on, but the video is even better: "Is it used for coercion? Is data passed to autocratic regimes? Is it used to study groups? Is it used to disrupt? Yes, yes, and yes. Might they force or forge data? Absolutely."

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US border laptop searches: the other warrantless surveillance


Documents released today as a result of the House v. Napolitano settlement document the systematic use of laptop searches at the US border to evade the need to get a warrant to read Americans' email. They way it worked: Homeland Security Investigations has someone they want the goods on, but don't think a judge would grant them a warrant. They put their victim on a travel advisory list, and the next time she crosses the border, the CBP seizes her laptop and phone and whatever other devices she's carrying and they get a copy of all of her data: no warrant required. They used this trick to seize the documents of David House, who worked to raise money and public support for Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning), and eventually had to settle a lawsuit brought by House and the ACLU, a condition of which was the release of these documents.

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Amid NSA spying scandal, Yahoo releases transparency report on gov data requests

The Internet company Yahoo! has released a Transparency Report today, detailing the requests it receives for user information from government agencies. Yahoo said today it received 12,444 requests for data from the U.S. government so far this year, covering the accounts of a total 40,322 users. Some good analysis at WaPo.

Wikileaks' Assange asks Swedish police to investigate FBI, US intel activity

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks publisher and Australian Senate candidate currently sheltered in Ecuador's London Embassy, "has lodged a formal complaint asking Swedish police to open a criminal investigation into alleged illegal United States intelligence activity in Europe directed against WikiLeaks and himself." [the Age]

Manning’s gender hell: Shades of gray in a black-and-white world

We asked writer, film director, Boing Boing contributor, and transgender educator and activist Andrea James what she thought about the media confusion following Private Manning‘s gender transition revelation. Below, Andrea’s thoughts.

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CNN and NPR can't be bothered to address Manning as female (UPDATED)

[UPDATE BELOW]. A reader who works at CNN shares "the guidance the news folks are following" on how to refer to Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning--the transgender soldier who announced to the world she wished to be publicly seen as female one day after receiving a 35 year prison sentence for leaking secret US government documents to Wikileaks.

"Manning hasn't taken any steps yet toward gender transition so use masculine pronouns ('he' and 'him')," the internal guidance reads.

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Chelsea Manning's statement on sentencing

manning.jpgAfter Army judge Colonel Denise Lind announced the 35-year sentence for Bradley Manning on Wednesday, defense attorney David Coombs read a statement from the soldier that will be part of a pardon request to be submitted to President Barack Obama. That statement follows, below.

Speaking at a press conference after the sentencing Wednesday, Coombs also described Pfc. Manning's reaction as the sentence was announced. Coombs spoke about how he and his colleagues on the defense team were crying. Manning turned to them and said, “It’s okay. It’s alright. I know you did your best. I’m going to be okay. I’m going to get through this.”

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NSA and DNI respond to damning news articles on overreach of spying programs

The Wall Street Journal published an article on Wednesday revealing new details that prove the NSA's surveillance reach is greater than previously believed:

The system has the capacity to reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic in the hunt for foreign intelligence, including a wide array of communications by foreigners and Americans. In some cases, it retains the written content of emails sent between citizens within the U.S. and also filters domestic phone calls made with Internet technology, these people say.
And the NSA responded with this statement:

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Opinion: History will pardon Manning, even if Obama doesn't

Was the "draconian sentence" delivered in Pfc. Manning's case simply a matter of deterrence, asks John Cassidy at the New Yorker? "From the beginning, the Pentagon has treated Manning extremely harshly, holding him in solitary confinement for almost a year and then accusing him of aiding the enemy—a charge that carries the death penalty...It certainly looked like an instance of powerful institutions and powerful people punishing a lowly private for revealing things that they would rather have kept hidden."

What is the point of Manning's 35-year sentence?

A deterrent, writes Amy Davidson. "A frightening, crippling sentence was the only way to make sure that no one leaked again, ever. What it seems likely to do is chill necessary whistle-blowing and push leakers to extremes. The lesson that Edward Snowden, the N.S.A. leaker, seems to have drawn from the prosecutions of Manning and others is that, if you have something you think people should know, take as many files as you can and leave the country." [The New Yorker]

Pfc. Manning transitions gender: 'I am Chelsea.'


A self-portrait snapshot Bradley Manning took, and emailed to his supervisor in the Army in April, 2010, prior to leaking government documents to Wikileaks.

One day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking secret government files to Wikileaks, Pfc. Bradley Manning today announced via NBC TODAY the decision to live life as a woman.

We first wrote about this aspect of Manning's story in 2010, after realizing that a series of chat logs circulating on the internet--which we'd published without understanding the subtle references within--spoke to Manning's desire to transition.

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Facing life in prison, Manning apologizes for "hurting" U.S., supporters say leaks benefited America


Photo: "Free Bradley Manning" flyer on a pole, seen on 3rd Ave in Seattle, photo by Bryan W. Jones in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool.

Yesterday at Fort Meade, Maryland, Pfc. Bradley Manning spoke in his defense in the sentencing phase of his court-martial. Col. Denise Lind, the judge in this trial, may determine that Manning must be sentenced to up to 90 years in prison for leaking government documents to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. In his statement before the court, Manning apologized for the "hurt" he inflicted on the United States, and referenced the gender identity issues that triggered a personal crisis in Iraq. Snip from his unsworn testimony:

First your Honor. I want to start off with an apology. I am sorry. I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I am sorry that it hurt the United States. At the time of my decisions, as you know, I was dealing with a lot of issues-- issues that are ongoing and they are continuing to affect me.

Although they have caused me considerable difficulty in my life, these issues are not an excuse for my actions. I understood what I was doing and the decisions I made. However, I did not truly appreciate the broader effects of my actions. Those effects are clearer to me now through both self-reflection during my confinement in its various forms and through the merits and sentencing testimony that I have seen here.

Manning's defense is doing what any competent legal team would: trying to convince the judge to reduce the sentence as much as possible.

But Rainey Reitman at Freedom of the Press Foundation argues that while this strategy is understandable, the world should know that the 25 year old former Army intelligence analyst has nothing to apologize for because "The public has benefited tremendously as a result of Manning’s disclosures."

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Bradley Manning expected to speak at trial today; email with female selfie released


A self-portrait snapshot Bradley Manning took, and emailed to his supervisor in the Army in April, 2010, prior to leaking government documents to Wikileaks.

We've been following the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning here at Boing Boing, and I have visited the trial periodically to live-blog the proceedings in person. Today is expected to be a significant day at Fort Meade: the 25-year-old former Army intel analyst is expected to make a statement to the court, as Judge Col. Denise Lind weighs the sentence he will receive. Kevin Gosztola, Nathan Fuller, and Alexa O'Brien are among the few reporters/bloggers who have been there daily, for months. Alexa says:

Kevin is liveblogging here, at Firedoglake. I've gathered some of their tweets from the Fort Meade media operations center below, summarizing witnesses' statements and the vibe around the press center (in a word, tense). Look for today's transcripts at the Freedom of the Press Foundation website later today (the court isn't releasing official transcripts, but we've sent stenographers, crowd-funded and permitted by the judge with your help). Here are yesterday's transcripts: morning, afternoon.

One of the big reveals over the last few days of the trial: "My Problem" [PDF] an email Manning sent on Saturday, April 24, 2010 to his then-supervisor, former Master Sgt. Paul Adkins. The message amounted to a confession that Manning was transgender, and felt unable to transition within the military environment in Iraq.

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When Poitras met Snowden


People hold masks with the face of Edward J. Snowden at a hearing in Brazil on the N.S.A.'s surveillance programs. Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters.

Peter Maass in the New York Times has a fascinating tick-tock/profile on how filmmaker Laura Poitras (who has produced online op-doc films for the NYT) connected with NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Seconds after she decrypted and read the e-mail, Poitras disconnected from the Internet and removed the message from her computer. “I thought, O.K., if this is true, my life just changed,” she told me last month. “It was staggering, what he claimed to know and be able to provide. I just knew that I had to change everything.”
She was right: her life would never be the same. And, not to bury the lede here: Maass has a Q&A with Snowden himself today.

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