The majority of security agents are for "America and Freedom", despite maintaining complete loyalty to the mechanism of a police-state, and utilize the information gained by the National Security Agency to target "leftists", Community Liberation builders, Justice Campaign organizers, and investigative journalists.
"Report: 9 out 10 Caught in NSA Dragnet Are 'Ordinary People'; Washington Post reveals unprecedented look at how 'voyeuristic' spy agency manages private communications it collects" (2014-07-06) [link]
"Revealed: 'Collect It All' NSA Targets Those Seeking Web Privacy; 'Merely visiting privacy-related websites is enough for a user's IP address to be logged into an NSA database,' says new report" (2014-07-03) [link]
"Getting Inside; 'No Place to Hide,' by Glenn Greenwald"
2014-05-17 book review by Joel Whitney from "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/books/article/No-Place-to-Hide-by-Glenn-Greenwald-5484817.php]:
Edward Snowden leaked his cache of secret NSA documents to journalist Glenn Greenwald last year thanks in part to a delayed New York Times story on surveillance. In mid-2004, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau had an exclusive on President George W. Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program, but the Times held it for 15 months, until after Bush's re-election. Executives at the Times were told if they ran it, they'd be helping terrorists. "Snowden had been clear from our first conversation about his rationale for distrusting" the Times and other mainstream outlets, writes Greenwald in his highly anticipated new book. " 'Hiding that story changed history,' (Snowden) said."
"No Place to Hide" is indeed a meditation on hiding. It takes its title from the late U.S. Sen. Frank Church, who investigated the intelligence community's reach in 1975. Greenwald sounds the same call to arms as Church, but against a technical capacity beyond anything imagined then, enabling the government to scoop up almost everything we say or do.
The book is a smart, impassioned indictment of what Greenwald calls "fear-driven, obsequious journalism" that uncritically amplifies whatever politicians say is needed to fight the war on terror. But the book is also an examination of the courage and savvy of a then-29-year-old cyberenthusiast who initially couldn't get Greenwald's attention.
On Dec. 1, 2012, Greenwald got a tip from "Cincinnatus," who requested a more secure connection with the journalist and former civil rights lawyer, working then at the Guardian. (Greenwald is now an editor at the news site the Intercept, published by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar's new-media venture, First Look Media.) Greenwald was interested, exchanging a few e-mails with the would-be source, but ultimately never downloaded the encryption software.
The next April, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras told Greenwald about a source who might have documents that would provide insights into government surveillance. Samples, including a very rare FISA Court document, got Greenwald's attention. On June 1, they met the source in Hong Kong, where he was camped out in a luxury hotel. When he turned up in a hotel conference room with an unsolved Rubik's Cube, both journalists were shocked at how young he looked, given his self-assurance in e-mails and chats. This, of course, was Snowden.
The cache, too, was astonishing for the breadth of surveillance it detailed in self-congratulatory PowerPoints and memos that Snowden had meticulously organized. Snowden later told Greenwald he was Cincinnatus, and because he wouldn't download simple privacy software, the largest leak in history had almost slipped through his hands.
Snowden taught Greenwald and Poitras other security techniques over the next few days: how to stash cell phones in the freezer (they can be made into bugs); placing pillows against cracks under a hotel door to block sound; Snowden even draped a towel over his head when typing passwords on his laptop to block ceiling cameras.
What felt like overkill proved warranted when the journalists explored the explosive cache they'd been handed on the most elusive of all American intelligence agencies. Days after he arrived, Greenwald's editors at the Guardian were filing his stories on unprecedented connivance between telecoms and the National Security Agency that gave the latter access to a vast (searchable) trove of e-mails, chats and other conversations and online habits of people the world over.
The United States government was apparently attempting something akin to omniscience; it was spying on everyone on the planet (or at least those who use technology to communicate) and trying to store it all in vast canyons of servers in Bluffdale, Utah. The NSA was grabbing and stashing so much across an astounding number of code-named programs that, according to one leaked slide, they even repeatedly slowed down the Internet.
As Snowden told Greenwald, "When the richest and most powerful telecommunications providers in the country knowingly commit tens of millions of felonies, Congress passes our nation's first law providing their elite friends with retroactive immunity ... for crimes that would have merited the longest sentences in ... history," he knew he had to act.
Some of those companies' executives, like Google's Eric Schmidt, infamously said the innocent have nothing to hide (then Schmidt boycotted the CNET site for publishing details about his own life, like his salary). Privacy is no longer a "social norm," announced Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. Across government and media, supporters of the surveillance exclaimed upon hearing the revelations that the NSA wasn't listening in to their conversations; it was overblown. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein argued there was no violation since metadata (information on whom you call, sites you visit, what time, how often) isn't the same as "content" (a transcription of that call or the e-mail itself).
But Greenwald makes the case that you can tell a very detailed story with metadata. (Indeed, former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden admitted last week to David Cole, "We kill people based on metadata.") Never mind that the NSA collects and saves content, too. In March, while Greenwald's book was going to press, Feinstein got a taste of snooping when she found that the CIA had spied on her.
Greenwald's eloquent defense of the core beliefs enshrined in the U.S. Constitution reads like a brief on the importance of gravity to architecture, or water to swimming; the right to privacy - and not to be searched without cause - are so fundamental it's hard to imagine they need to be defended at all, let alone against such vast encroachment.
The revelations have Americans concerned. Greenwald notes that one poll found Americans now fear their own government's surveillance more than terrorism. This is President Obama's legacy. Snowden told Greenwald that as he weighed his conscience on the view into surveillance afforded by his work for the NSA, CIA and management consulting firm Booz Allen - including watching drone attacks on distant Asian villages in real time - he "realized ... I couldn't wait for a leader to fix these things. Leadership is about acting first and serving as an example for others."
After Snowden was chased into hiding and threatened with arrest, his passport revoked, Greenwald recounts that they both have faced numerous attacks by journalists. Also, Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, was detained under Britain's terrorism laws, and there have been threats of arrest and even whispers, reported by well-meaning fellow journalists, recounting intelligence officials' overheard desire to have Snowden and Greenwald "disappear."
Obama famously entered office promising the most transparent administration in history. But in light of the Snowden disclosures, the war on whistle-blowers, the impunity in the face of vast crimes, he leaves with the opposite, the most spied-on constituency the world has ever known.
NSA event description from the "The Long Now Foundation" [http://longnow.org], Seminars & downloads [http://longnow.org/seminars]:
The NSA’s failures are public headlines. Its successes are secret.
These days America’s National Security Agency lives at the intersection of two paranoias—governmental fears of attack and citizen fears about loss of privacy. Both paranoias were exacerbated by a pair of devastating attacks—9/11 and Edward Snowden. The agency now has to evolve rapidly while managing its normal heavy traffic of threats and staying ahead of the ever-accelerating frontier of cyber capabilities.
In the emerging era of transparency, and in the thick of transition, what does the NSA look like from inside?
Threats are daily, but governance is long term. At the heart of handling that balance is Anne Neuberger, Special Assistant to NSA Director Michael Rogers and Director of the Commercial Solutions Center. (Before this assignment she was Special Advisor to the Secretary of Navy; before that, in 02007, a White House Fellow.) She is exceptionally smart, articulate, and outspoken.
"Inside the NSA," Anne Neuberger, SFJAZZ Center, Hayes Valley, San Francisco, 7pm, Wednesday August 6. The show starts promptly at 7:30pm.