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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Paul David Adkins, drawn by Clark Stoeckley.
U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning departs Fort Meade courtroom July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Today at the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the former intelligence analyst who provided Wikileaks with hundreds of thousands of classified government documents, Former Master Sergeant Paul David Adkins testified. He explained to the court his "deficient response" to several incidents involving Manning which now, in retrospect, are understood to have deserved more attention.
Manning's attorney David Coombs says the defendant will "take the stand" tomorrow, Wednesday August 14. Whether he will do so as a witness or an unsworn statement is not clear.
A few months before the leaks to Julian Assange, Manning sent Adkins an email titled “My Problem,” with an attached photo of Manning dressed in a wig and makeup, presenting as female. Snip from that email written by Bradley Manning to his superior officer, which was presented in court today:
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Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, writing in Politico
: "Even as [US President Barack Obama] grudgingly admitted that the timing, at least, of his suggestions was a consequence of Snowden’s actions, the president declared, 'I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot.' When you look at what has changed over the past two months, though, it’s hard not to wonder, 'What could be more patriotic than what Snowden did?'”
The NSA is going to cut 90% of its 1,000 sysadmins in a bid to reduce the risk of leaks. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was a network administrator, charged with keeping the machines running on the network of vast data-centers used by the NSA to harvest, store and analyze unimaginably large quantities of data.
So, after this change, the NSA -- which now has nearly every compromising communication about every human alive -- will no longer have to worry about its sysadmins leaking its secrets. But it will have downsized its operational staff (and thus its capability to repel hackers and attackers) by 90 percent. I feel better already.
This is like a plutonium storehouse reducing the risk of guards selling fissiles on the black market by firing all of them and leaving a couple of dudes at the door with walkie-talkies.
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The State Department treated Pfc. Bradley Manning's leaks to WikiLeaks as a "very, very serious crisis," an ambassador testified at Ft. Meade Monday, denying reports that he told Congress otherwise two years ago. The words attributed to him then: the cables were "embarrassing but not damaging." Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News reports from Manning's ongoing court-martial
. The defense hopes to reduce prison time with the argument that the leaks caused less damage than the "hacker hysteria" they sparked would suggest.
David E. Sanger at the New York Times
: "When far too much information gets classified, nothing is really classified. Respect for the system erodes when information readily available in open sources is ostensibly guarded with high-level classification."
Dan Froomkin at Columbia Journalism review
: "It’s hardly been a secret among national security reporters
and civil libertarians
that the sort of intelligence activity we’re hearing about via the leaks was long part of the Bush-Cheney surveillance regime, and that the Obama administration picked up the ball and ran with it. The Washington press corps just no longer considered such activities newsworthy."
On the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert nails it on the Bradley Manning verdict: we have met the enemy, and he is us
EFF has retracted this post
The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Trevor Timm explains a disturbing and overlooked fact about the trial of Bradley Manning; the charge-sheet against him included two separate felonies under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, an ancient anti-hacking statute that has been used as a club to threaten security researchers and activists like Aaron Swartz. The CFAA makes it a separate offense to leak classified information using a computer, such that anyone caught doing so can be charged twice: first under the Espionage Act and again under the CFAA.
This gives tremendous and terrible leverage to prosecutors, who come to the negotiating table with double the ammo: "We'll drop the CFAA charges if you plead guilty to the Espionage Act charges" (or vice-versa). The reality is that there's nothing special about using a computer to leak documents -- indeed, these days you'd be hard pressed not to use a computer -- now that photocopiers, fax machines, phones, cameras and even the daily paper are all built out of computers.
Several Congresses have failed to modernize the CFAA, because the DoJ has forcefully argued that the ability to threaten people with decades in jail for simply using computers has given them the leverage to force "bad guys" to plead guilty, rather than getting a day in court.
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My copy of Bradley Manning's charge sheet, handed to me by an Army public affairs officer as I was escorted into Judge Lind's courtroom to hear the verdict on July 30, 2013. I scribbled "guilty/not guilty" next to each charge as she read her verdict. [XJ].
The sentencing phase in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning is ongoing at Fort Meade, Maryland. On Tuesday, judge Col. Denise R. Lind found the 25-year-old former Army intelligence analyst guilty of 20 of the 22 charges the government brought against him. Manning was convicted on six counts of violating the 1917 Espionage Act. He was found not guilty of the most serious charge, "aiding the enemy," which carried a possible life sentence--but the guilty charges add up to a potential 136 years in prison. The actual sentence he receives is likely to be shorter, according to military law experts.
I've created a Twitter list of reporters who are at Fort Meade in the media operations center, about a quarter-mile away from the closed courtroom where the proceedings are taking place. Absolutely no laptops, phones, or other communication devices allowed inside court, but back at the media center, press can use laptops to transmit updates when court is not in session (more on restrictions ">in this previous post). On the Twitter list, I included other central figures in the trial like Manning's attorney, David Coombs, and reporters who aren't there every day but are producing notably reliable reporting on the trial.
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On Tuesday, Col. Denise Lind, the military judge in Bradley Manning's court-martial, found the former Army intelligence officer guilty of 20 of 22 charges brought by the government against him.
The 25-year-old Oklahoma native was accused of leaking classified information while stationed in Iraq to Julian Assange, who published it at Wikileaks.org and provided news organizations with access. Manning was found not guilty of "aiding the enemy," the most serious charge which carried a possible life sentence, but was found guilty of 6 Espionage Act charges and other offenses that could add up to 136 years of prison time.
Today, at 930am Eastern time, Judge Lind reconvened court at Fort Meade to begin the sentencing phase of the trial.
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Thanks to Jessica Wu of nma.com.tw
for pointing us to this (inevitable) video explainer
of yesterday's news in the Bradley Manning trial. I was there, right in the courtroom as the verdict was read, and I can tell you it looked exactly like this.
Here is a transcript of today's verdict in the Bradley Manning case, provided by Freedom of the Press Foundation court stenographers: PDF link.
FotPF's Trevor Timm writes that the military court's "decision is a terrible blow to both investigative journalists and the sources they rely on to inform the public."
Our Boing Boing coverage of the verdict is here, and my notes from this morning at Ft. Meade are here.
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Electronic Frontier Foundation legal director Cindy Cohn
has published an original take on the Bradley Manning prosecution at the EFF's blog. In it, she recounts how government prosecutors portrayed the 25 year old former Army intelligence specialist as uniquely menacing because of his knowledge of computers and digital tools. In other words, exploiting the judge's lack of familiarity with technology. Cohn describes this as "Hacker madness."
[T]he decision today continues a trend of government prosecutions that use familiarity with digital tools and knowledge of computers as a scare tactic and a basis for obtaining grossly disproportionate and unfair punishments, strategies enabled by broad, vague laws like the CFAA and the Espionage Act. Let's call this the “hacker madness” strategy. Using it, the prosecution portrays actions taken by someone using a computer as more dangerous or scary than they actually are by highlighting the digital tools used to a nontechnical or even technophobic judge.
Bradley Manning Verdict and the Dangerous “Hacker Madness” Prosecution Strategy
[eff.org, via Trevor Timm]
Link: Boing Boing's Bradley Manning trial coverage archives.