Human rights groups have launched a major new legal challenge over mass surveillance programs revealed by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Ten organizations – including Privacy International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Amnesty International – are taking up the landmark case against the U.K. government in the European Court of Human Rights (pictured above). In a 115-page complaint released on Thursday, the groups allege that “blanket and indiscriminate” surveillance operations carried out by British spy agencies in collaboration with their U.S. counterparts violate privacy and freedom of expression rights. The case represents the first time Europe’s top human rights court has been asked to consider the legality of surveillance exposed in the Snowden documents. Its judgments are legally binding and could potentially have ramifications for how surveillance is conducted by U.K. agencies. “Through bulk surveillance programs, the U.S. and U.K. governments intercept the private communications and data of millions of people around the world,” said Ashley Gorski, staff attorney at the ACLU National Security Project. “Not only is bulk surveillance unlawful, but it has a deeply chilling and corrosive effect on political discourse and our personal communications. We are hopeful that the European Court of Human Rights will recognize that this mass surveillance violates fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech, and that the court’s ruling will help put an end to these practices on a global scale.” An appendix to the complaint names more than a dozen surveillance programs that it says violate rights and do not have adequate safeguards against abuse. Among them are programs operated by the British surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters – such as KARMA POLICE – which were exposed by The Intercept last year. KARMA POLICE was designed to allow the U.K. agency to build “a web browsing profile for every visible user on the internet.” The appendix also focuses on NSA-operated programs that have been shared with British spies, such as XKEYSCORE, a tool that can be used to sift through masses of emails, online chats, and virtually every other kind of internet data. The complaint argues that the scale of the surveillance “is unprecedented in terms of (a) the number of individuals whose communications are potentially affected; (b) the quantity of communications content and related communications data that is actually initially intercepted, extracted, filtered, stored, analysed and/or disseminated by the U.K. intelligence agencies.” It adds that the “the operation of sophisticated covert surveillance powers without adequate safeguards is ipso facto disproportionate.” The U.K. government’s Home Office had not responded to a request for comment at time of publication. Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.The post Europe’s Top Human Rights Court Will Consider Legality of Surveillance Exposed by Edward Snowden appeared first on The Intercept.
John Parkinson, an Iraq War veteran who led a special operations unit in FBI’s Sacramento field office, first filed whistleblower complaints almost a decade ago when he became concerned with his coworkers’ behavior. He identified a colleague as having “a career-long pattern of soliciting prostitutes,” who used an FBI’s surveillance plane to travel to Reno to pay for sex. He alleged another colleague had a porn habit, even viewing explicit material at work. At one point, Parkinson removed furniture from an FBI office to keep it from getting soiled by the colleague, according to court documents. After filing his complaint, Parkinson found himself the subject of what he says was a retaliatory investigation, and was eventually fired. He has been fighting that decision for the past four years through a Kafkaesque maze of courts and internal appeals. On Monday, his attorneys filed a brief to the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals arguing for his right to raise a whistleblower retaliation defense. Parkinson’s ordeal began eight years ago when he decided to lodge a whistleblower complaint about his colleagues’ alleged sexual misconduct. What followed was a little noticed whirlwind of professional reprisals, investigations, and legal battles. After his complaint was filed, Parkinson’s boss removed him from his leadership position and gave him poor performance reviews, sending him to a different field office—actions he interpreted as retaliation. He reported those concerns in a letter to Rep. Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., who forwarded it to the Department of Justice’s Inspector General. When the DOJ Inspector General interviewed Parkinson in 2009, he thought it was about his whistleblower complaint; instead they questioned him about his own conduct, without mentioning he was the target of an investigation. The colleagues he reported for abuse had, in turn, claimed Parkinson misused funds on a construction project during his time in Sacramento, according to his attorney. The FBI later claimed he obstructed the investigation into the alleged misuse of funds by communicating with witnesses, and that he “lacked candor” in his responses concerning those allegations. In 2012, he was fired for those offenses. FBI agents are typically required to make whistleblower complaints internally—a system Parkinson says he attempted to follow. But protections for FBI whistleblowers are notoriously slow and ineffective. As a military veteran, however, the defense argued and the court ultimately agreed, that Parkinson has special rights to raise his whistleblower defense outside the Department of Justice. Thanks to the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, military veterans who work for the FBI can challenge personnel decisions through the Merit System Protection Board—an independent panel. After he was fired, Parkinson turned to the the Merit System Protection Board, and when the panel didn’t reverse the FBI’s firing decision, he took his case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The court decided in March that Parkinson didn’t intentionally mislead investigators, but agreed the obstruction charge could stand. Because the remaining charges against him weren’t firing offenses, the court said the FBI was wrong when it terminated Parkinson. In fact, the court said the obstruction charge allowed for, at most, a 30-day suspension. The court also agreed that if Parkinson were to appeal the obstruction charge, he should be allowed to raise a whistleblower defense. After the federal appeals court ruled the FBI wrongly fired him, the Department of Justice fought back. Its attorneys filed legal briefs in June, writing that the court “erroneously held” that agents who served in the FBI “may raise whistleblower reprisal claims” outside internal channels because of the “sensitive” nature of such disclosures. While Parkinson’s case was winding its way through appeals, Sen. Grassley proposed a bill in December 2015 that would give FBI whistleblowers the same protections as other government employees. “It’s no secret that FBI whistleblowers often face harsh consequences for simply trying to address failures or misconduct at work,” he said in a statement announcing the bill. That legislation hasn’t passed, however. In the meantime, Parkinson’s case could set a precedent for military veterans in the FBI, while highlighting the general deficiencies of whistleblower protections for all FBI agents. “The Civil Service Reform Act unambiguously grants FBI preference eligible veterans appeal rights…including affirmative defenses,”—and that includes whistleblower defenses, said Kathleen McClellan, one of Parkinson’s attorneys at Expose Facts, a nonprofit dedicated to providing legal protection to whistleblowers. In the latest legal maneuver, the Department of Justice requested and received a special hearing to review the whistleblower defense. Depending on the court’s decision, the rights of military veterans in the FBI could be threatened. “This is going to impact all future veteran FBI whistleblowers,” McLellan said in an interview with The Intercept. Parkinson was unavailable for comment, according to his lawyer, as he is currently serving on active duty in the Marine Corps. The FBI declined to comment on the case. Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.The post Justice Department Is Fighting Fired FBI Agent’s Use of Whistleblower Defense appeared first on The Intercept.
U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been sentenced to 14 days in solitary confinement — punishment the U.N. recognizes as torture — for charges related to her suicide attempt in July, and for possession of an unmarked book in her cell. Half of her 14-day punishment was “suspended,” meaning it can be reinstated later, so Manning now faces seven days in isolation. It is unclear when Manning’s sentence will begin. According to a dictated statement from Manning, once she receives notification of her punishment in writing, she will have 15 days to appeal it. At a four-hour disciplinary hearing Thursday, at which Manning was not allowed a lawyer, Manning was found guilty of “conduct that threatens,” broadly defined as “any conduct which interferes with the orderly running, safety, good order and discipline, or security of the facility.” According to a column she wrote in The Guardian, Manning was not allowed to consult with a lawyer while reviewing nearly 100 pages of evidence against her, which she could only examine for an hour the week before. She was also found guilty of possessing “prohibited property” in her cell — an unmarked copy of “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy” — a book about the hacker group and activist movement Anonymous. Manning was acquitted of “resisting the force cell move team,” possibly because she was unconscious when the team arrived. After being informed of the charges in July, Manning learned that she was facing possible indefinite solitary confinement. Manning is a transgender woman, but the Army has repeatedly forced her to cut her hair and refused to allow her to receive gender-affirming surgery, despite her psychologist formally recommending it in April 2016. Earlier this month, after Manning mounted a hunger strike to demand the surgery, the Army relented after five days. She will be allowed to consult with a surgeon, but will still be forced to cut her hair. Since her arrival in prison, Manning has endured one form of mistreatment after another — including denial of recommended medical care, repeated threats of solitary confinement, and punishment for frivolous charges, like having an expired tube of toothpaste in her cell. In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in military prison for sending hundreds of thousands of documents about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks. The documents revealed a far higher number of civilian casualties than the Department of Defense admitted, and included a video of Apache attack helicopters gunning down two journalists in Baghdad. Chase Strangio, Manning’s lawyer with the ACLU, told The Intercept by email that he was afraid for his client’s well being. “I am deeply concerned about Chelsea’s well-being after being sentenced to serve time in solitary confinement,” said Strangio. “In July she reached a breaking point and felt that the only agency she had left was to take her life. Thankfully she survived, but the message is clear with yesterday’s decision that the government is invested in punishing her for surviving.” Strangio added: “I am also concerned about what it says about us as a society that we would tolerate our systems of incarceration punishing people with the cruelty of solitary confinement for attempting to end their life.” [Disclosure: First Look Media Works, Inc., publisher of The Intercept, made a $50,000 matching-fund donation to Chelsea Manning’s legal defense fund through its Press Freedom Litigation Fund, and Glenn Greenwald, a founding editor of The Intercept, donated $10,000.] Top photo: The main entrance to the U.S. Army’s Fort Leavenworth, where Chelsea Manning is held. Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.The post Chelsea Manning Sentenced to Solitary Confinement for Suicide Attempt appeared first on The Intercept.
The agency extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicaid and Medicare in New York through falsified and improper billing while shortchanging patients, the suit says.
Of course President Obama should pardon Edward Snowden — and Chelsea Manning, too. But this story is not about the excellent reasons for thanking rather than locking up the two most famous whistleblowers of the post-9/11 era. Plenty of people are already calling for that in powerful ways. A new petition on Snowden’s behalf has been signed by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey as well as Steve Wozniak, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aragorn (also known as Viggo Mortensen). Organizations coming out in support of a pardon for Snowden, who is currently a political refugee in Moscow, include the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. And Oliver Stone has just released “Snowden,” a movie that emphasizes his good and patriotic intentions. But the unfortunate truth of our times is that Obama is not going to pardon Snowden and Manning. His administration has invested too much capital in demonizing them to turn back now. However, there are other leakers and whistleblowers for whom the arguments in favor of pardons are not only compelling but politically palatable, too. Their names are Stephen Kim, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou and Thomas Drake. All of them were government officials who talked with journalists and were charged under the Espionage Act for disclosures of information that were far less consequential than the classified emails that Hillary Clinton stored on her server at home or the top secret war diaries that David Petraeus shared with his biographer and girlfriend. Petraeus, a former general and CIA director, got a fine for his transgressions. Clinton got a presidential nomination. Consider this: Kiriakou, a CIA agent who criticized the agency’s use of torture, was thrown into prison because he provided a journalist with the name of one covert officer, although the name was never published. Kim, a State Department official, pleaded guilty to talking to Fox News reporter James Rosen about a single classified report on North Korea that an official later described as a “nothing burger.” Sterling, a CIA officer, talked to New York Times reporter James Risen about a botched operation against Iran that went wrong because of bungling by the agency. Drake, who worked at the NSA, faced multiple felony charges after he talked to a Baltimore Sun reporter about fraud and abuse in a bloated surveillance program. All of them went to prison except Drake, who was able, in the end, to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, though he lost his job and security clearance and now works at an Apple store. There is an imperative to apologize to Kim, Sterling, Kiriakou and Drake that has nothing to do with justice (though justice should be sufficient incentive). It is possible that a crackpot grifter will be elected president of the United States in seven weeks time. Obama needs to start dramatically disavowing the excesses of his presidency, so that Donald Trump, if he wins in November, will not be able to use the continuity card to do even worse things with the excessive powers that Obama was able to arrogate for the Oval Office. (Trump would still do terrible things, of course, but he would at least have a harder time citing Obama as precedent.) One of the most insidious domestic legacies of Obama’s presidency is his unprecedented crackdown on officials who talked to journalists about embarrassing issues or policies the government wanted to keep secret — and this needs to be forsaken, now. It wouldn’t be that out of character. The Obama administration has been admirable in the use of its powers to reverse or stop wrongful actions by state and municipal authorities. Earlier this month, the administration suspended construction on the North Dakota Access Pipeline because it violated the rights of Native Americans. In recent years, the Department of Justice has conducted scathing investigations into civil rights abuses by a number of police departments, and has extracted meaningful changes from many of them. Fairness for all has been a hallmark of these laudable moves, and the same standard should be applied to leakers and whistleblowers. If Petraeus and Clinton are allowed to get away with unauthorized sharing of classified information, it should be okay for lesser officials too, especially when their actions involved the exposure of government wrongdoing. Instead of just correcting the errors of other branches of government, Obama should admit that his own administration made a terrible mistake by prosecuting good people who helped, rather than harmed, the cause of democracy. If pardoning Snowden and Manning requires more courage than the president possesses, he can at least show clemency for Kim, Kiriakou, Drake and Sterling, who have suffered catastrophically. Pardons would clear their names and release Sterling from prison (he remains behind bars to this day). The fact that Trump has the instincts of a dictator makes it all the more crucial that Obama not hand him the powers and policies of one. Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.The post Why Obama Should Pardon All Leakers and Whistleblowers — Not Just Edward Snowden appeared first on The Intercept.
Three of the four media outlets which received and published large numbers of secret NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden – The Guardian, The New York Times and The Intercept – have called for the U.S. Government to allow the NSA whistleblower to return to the U.S. with no charges. That’s the normal course for a newspaper, which owes its sources duties of protection, and which – by virtue of accepting the source’s materials and then publishing them – implicitly declares the source’s information to be in the public interest. But not The Washington Post. In the face of a growing ACLU-and-Amnesty-led campaign to secure a pardon for Snowden, timed to this weekend’s release of the Oliver Stone biopic “Snowden,” the Post Editorial Page not only argued today in opposition to a pardon, but explicitly demanded that Snowden – their paper’s own source – stand trial on espionage charges or, as a “second-best solution, “accept a measure of criminal responsibility for his excesses and the U.S. government offers a measure of leniency.” In doing so, The Washington Post has achieved an ignominious feat in U.S. media history: the first-ever paper to explicitly editorialize for the criminal prosecution of its own paper’s source – one on whose back the paper won and eagerly accepted a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. But even more staggering than this act of journalistic treachery against their paper’s own source are the claims made to justify it. The Post Editors concede that one – and only one – of the programs which Snowden enabled to be revealed was justifiably exposed – namely, the domestic metadata program, because it “was a stretch, if not an outright violation, of federal surveillance law, and posed risks to privacy.” Regarding the “corrective legislation” that followed its exposure, the Post acknowledges: “we owe these necessary reforms to Mr. Snowden.” But that metadata program wasn’t revealed by the Post, but rather by the Guardian. Other than that initial Snowden revelation, the Post suggests, there was no public interest whatsoever in revealing any of the other programs. In fact, they say, real harm was done from their exposure. That includes PRISM, about which the Post says this: The complication is that Mr. Snowden did more than that. He also pilfered, and leaked, information about a separate overseas NSA Internet-monitoring program, PRISM, that was both clearly legal and not clearly threatening to privacy. (It was also not permanent; the law authorizing it expires next year.) In arguing that no public interest was served by exposing PRISM, what did the Post editors forget to mention? That the newspaper which (simultaneous with The Guardian) made the choice to expose the PRISM program by spreading its operational details and top secret manual all over its front page is called . . . . The Washington Post. Then, once they made the choice to do so, they explicitly heralded their exposure of the PRISM program (along with other revelations) when they asked to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize. If the Post Editorial Page editors really believe that PRISM was a totally legitimate program and that no public interest was served by its exposure, shouldn’t they be attacking their own paper’s news editors for having chosen to make it public, apologizing to the public for harming their security, and agitating for a return of the Pulitzer? If the Post Editorial Page editors had any intellectual honesty at all, this is what they would be doing – accepting institutional responsibility for what they apparently regards as a grievous error that endangered the public – rather than pretending that it was all the doing of their source as a means of advocating for his criminal prosecution. Worse than the intellectual dishonesty of this Editorial is its towering cowardice. After denouncing their own paper’s PRISM revelation, they proclaim: “worse — far worse — he also leaked details of basically defensible international intelligence operations.” But what they inexcusably omit is that it was not Edward Snowden, but the top editors of The Washington Post, who decided to make these programs public. Again, just look at the stories for which the Post was cited when receiving a Pulitzer Prize: Almost every one of those stories entailed the exposure of what The Post Editors today call “details of international intelligence operations.” I personally think there wer very solid justifications for the Post‘s decision to reveal those. As Snowden explained in the first online interview with readers I conducted in July, 2013, he was not only concerned about privacy infringement of Americans but of all human beings, because – in his words – “suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it’s only victimizing 95% of the world instead of 100%. Our founders did not write that ‘We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all US Persons are created equal.’” So I support the decision of the Post back then to publish documents exposing “international intelligence operations.” That’s because I agree with what Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said in 2014, in an article in The Washington Post where they celebrated their own Pulitzer: Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said Monday that the reporting exposed a national policy “with profound implications for American citizens’ constitutional rights” and the rights of individuals around the world (emphasis added). “Disclosing the massive expansion of the NSA’s surveillance network absolutely was a public service,” Baron said. “In constructing a surveillance system of breathtaking scope and intrusiveness, our government also sharply eroded individual privacy. All of this was done in secret, without public debate, and with clear weaknesses in oversight.” The Editorial Page is separate from the news organization and does not speak for the latter; I seriously doubt the journalists or editors at the Post who worked on these news stories would agree with any of that editorial. But still, if the Post Editorial Page Editors now want to denounce these revelations, and even call for the imprisonment of their paper’s own source on this ground, then they should at least have the courage to acknowledge that it was The Washington Post – not Edward Snowden – who made the editorial and institutional choice to expose those programs to the public. They might want to denounce their own paper and even possibly call for its prosecution for revealing top secrets programs that they now are bizarrely claiming should never have been revealed to the public in the first place. But this highlights a chronic cowardice that often arises when establishment figures want to denounce Snowden. As has been amply documented, and as all newspapers involved in this reporting (including the Post) have made clear, Snowden himself played no role in deciding which of these programs would be exposed (beyond providing the materials to newspapers in the first place). He did not trust himself to make those journalistic determinations, and so he left it to the newspapers to decide which revelations would and would not serve the public interest. If a program ended up being revealed, one can argue that Snowden bears some responsibility (because he provided the documents in the first place), but the ultimate responsibility lies with the editors of the paper that made the choice to reveal it, presumably because they concluded that the public interest was served by doing so. Yet over and over, Snowden critics – such as Slate‘s Fred Kaplan, and today’s Post Editorial – omit this crucial fact, and are thus profoundly misleading. In attacking Snowden this week, for instance, Kaplan again makes the same point he has made over and over: that Snowden’s revelations extended beyond privacy infringements of Americans. Leave aside the narcissistic and jingoistic view that whistleblowers and media outlets should only care about privacy infringements of American citizens, but not the 95% of the rest of the planet called “non-Americans.” And let’s also set to the side the fact that many of the most celebrated news stories in U.S media history were devoted to revealing secret foreign operations that had nothing to do with infringing the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens (such as the Pentagon Papers, Abu Ghraib, and the Post‘s revelations of CIA black sites). What’s critical here is that Kaplan’s list of Bad Snowden Revelations (just like the Post‘s) invariably involve stories published not by Snowden (or even by The Intercept or The Guardian), but by The New York Times and The Washington Post. But like the Post Editorial Page Editors, Kaplan is too much of a coward to accuse the nation’s top editors at those two papers of treason, helping terrorists, or endangering national security, so he pretends that it was Snowden, and Snowden alone, who made the choice to reveal these programs to the public. If Kaplan and the Post editors truly believe that all of these stories ought to have remained secret and have endangered people’s safety, why are they not attacking the editors and newspapers which made the ultimate decision to expose them? Snowden himself never publicly disclosed a single document, so any programs that were revealed were the ultimate doing of news organizations. Whatever else is be true, one’s loyalty to U.S. government officials has to be slavish in the extreme in order to consider oneself a journalist while simultaneously advocating the criminalization of transparency, leaks, sources, and public debates. But that’s not new: there has long been in the U.S. a large group that ought to call itself U.S. Journalists Against Transparency: journalists whose loyalty lies far more with the U.S. Government than with the ostensible objectives of their own profession, and thus routinely take the side of those keeping official secrets rather than those who reveal them, even to the point of wanting to see sources imprisoned. But what makes today’s Washington Post Editorial so remarkable, such a tour de force, is that they are literally calling for the criminal prosecution of one of the most important sources in their own newspaper’s history. Having basked in the glory of awards and accolades, and benefitted from untold millions of clicks, the Editorial Page Editors of the Post now want to see the source who enabled all of that be put in an American cage and branded a felon. That is warped beyond anything that can be described. Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.The post WashPost Makes History: First Paper to Call for Prosecution of its own Source (After Accepting Pulitzer) appeared first on The Intercept.
Oliver Stone’s latest film, “Snowden,” bills itself as a dramatized version of the life of Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who revealed the global extent of U.S. surveillance capabilities. Stone’s rendering of Snowden’s life combines facts with Hollywood invention, covering Snowden being discharged from the military after an injury in basic training, meeting his girlfriend, and training in the CIA with fictitious mentors (including Nicolas Cage’s character, most likely a composite of whistleblowers like Thomas Drake and Bill Binney). Snowden then goes undercover, only to see an op turn ugly; becomes a contractor for the CIA and NSA; and finally chooses to leave the intelligence community and disclose its vast surveillance apparatus, some of which he helped develop. The movie hits key points in Snowden’s story, including his growing interest in constitutional law and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, some of the U.S. surveillance programs he eventually unmasked, and parts of his furtive meetings in Hong Kong with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras (co-founders of The Intercept), as well as The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill. There are doses of artistic license — for example, a Rubik’s Cube hiding the drive where he stored the documents, and Snowden’s CIA mentor spying on his girlfriend through her webcam. In hazier focus are the global questions his revelations raised, including the legal and moral implications of the U.S. government collecting data on foreigners and Americans with relative impunity, and the very real stories born of Snowden’s massive disclosures. So here’s a retrospective of sorts for moviegoers and others interested in the journalism Edward Snowden made possible through his decision to become a whistleblower: In all, over 150 articles from 23 news organizations worldwide have incorporated documents provided by Snowden, and The Intercept and other outlets continue to mine the archive for stories of social and political significance. In the hope that Stone’s movie will spark more widespread interest in the NSA programs Snowden helped bring to light, The Intercept has compiled its stories based on the archive of documents, which can be explored through the chart below. Published Article Code Names 2/14/14 The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program GILGAMESH, SHENANIGANS, VICTORYDANCE 2/18/14 Snowden Documents Reveal Covert Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Supporters ANTICRISIS GIRL, TEMPORA, XKEYSCORE 2/24/14 How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations 3/7/14 The NSA Has an Advice Columnist. Seriously. 3/12/14 How the NSA Plans to Infect “Millions” of Computers With Malware CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE, FOGGYBOTTOM, FOXACID, GROK, GUMFISH, HAMMERCHANT, HAMMERSTEIN, QUANTUM, QUANTUMCOPPER, QUANTUMHAND, QUANTUMSKY, SADDLEBACK, SECONDDATE, SOCIALIST, STELLARWIND, TURBINE, TURMOIL, UNITEDRAKE, VALIDATOR, WILLOWVIXEN 3/13/14 Foreign Officials in the Dark About Their Own Spy Agencies’ Cooperation With NSA PRISM, TEMPORA 3/15/14 Compare the NSA’s Facebook Malware Denial to Its Own Secret Documents QUANTUMHAND, QUANTUMTHEORY, TURBINE 3/20/14 Inside the NSA’s Secret Efforts to Hunt and Hack System Administrators QUANTUM 4/4/14 The “Cuban Twitter” Scam Is a Drop in the Internet Propaganda Bucket ROYAL CONCIERGE, SALAMANCA 4/30/14 British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged to Play in NSA’s Data Pools BLARNEY, GHOSTMACHINE, PRISM, STORMBREW, 5/19/14 Data Pirates of the Caribbean: The NSA Is Recording Every Cellphone Call in the Bahamas MYSTIC, SOMALGET 7/9/14 Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On 7/14/14 Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek to Control the Internet ANGRY PIRATE, CHANGELING, ELATE, GATEWAY, GESTATOR, IMPERIAL BARGE, PREDATORS FACE, ROLLING THUNDER, SLIPSTREAM, SPRING BISHOP, UNDERPASS 7/23/14 The NSA’s New Partner in Spying: Saudi Arabia’s Brutal State Police 8/3/14 Cash, Weapons, and Surveillance: The U.S. Is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack YESTERNIGHT 8/5/14 NPR Is Laundering CIA Talking Points to Make You Scared of NSA Reporting 8/25/14 ICREACH: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google CRISSCROSS, GLOBALREACH, ICREACH, PROTON, 9/14/14 The NSA and GCHQ Campaign Against German Satellite Companies TREASURE MAP 9/15/14 New Zealand Launched Mass Surveillance Project While Publicly Denying It SPEARGUN, XKEYSCORE 10/10/14 Core Secrets: NSA Saboteurs in China and Germany SENTRYCONDOR, SENTRYEAGLE, SENTRYHAWK, SENTRYOSPREY, SENTRYRAVEN 12/4/14 Operation AURORAGOLD: How the NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide AURORAGOLD, OPULANT PUP, WOLFRAMITE 12/13/14 Operation Socialist: How GCHQ Spies Hacked Belgium’s Largest Telco HACIENDA, HOPSCOTCH, LEGSPIN, NOCTURNAL SURGE, STELLARWIND, SOCIALIST 2/4/15 Western Spy Agencies Secretly Rely on Hackers for Intel and Expertise INTOLERANT, LOVELY HORSE 2/10/15 NSA Claims Iran Learned From Western Cyberattacks 2/19/15 The Great SIM Heist: How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle DAPINO GAMMA, HIGHLAND FLING, XKEYSCORE 3/10/15 iSpy: The CIA Campaign to Steal Apple’s Secrets DREAMY SMURF, NOSEY SMURF, PARANOID SMURF, TRACKER SMURF, WARRIORPRIDE 4/2/15 Britain Used Spy Team to Shape Latin American Public Opinion on Falklands QUITO 5/5/15 The Computers Are Listening: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text RHINEHART 5/11/15 The Computers Are Listening: Speech Recognition Is NSA’s Best-Kept Open Secret 6/8/15 The Computers Are Listening: NSA Won’t Say If It Automatically Transcribes American Phone Calls In Bulk PRISM, UPSTREAM 5/8/15 U.S. Government Labeled Al Jazeera Journalist as Al Qaeda SKYNET 5/18/15 Snowden Files Give New Details on Osama Bin Laden Raid 5/21/15 The NSA Plan to Find Bin Laden by Hiding Tracking Devices in Medical Supplies 5/28/15 Inside NSA, Officials Privately Criticize “Collect It All” Surveillance 6/22/15 Controversial GCHQ Unit Engaged in Domestic Law Enforcement, Online Propaganda, Psychology Research 6/22/15 Popular Security Software Came Under Relentless NSA and GCHQ Attacks CAMBERDADA, PRISM 6/22/15 Spies Hacked Computers Thanks to Sweeping Secret Warrants, Aggressively Stretching U.K. Law 6/26/15 How the NSA Started Investigating the New York Times’s Warrantless Wiretapping Story 7/1/15 XKEYSCORE: NSA’s Google for the World’s Private Communications BADASS, NUCLEON, XKEYSCORE 7/15/15 Israeli Special Forces Assassinated Senior Syrian Official 8/3/15 GCHQ and Me: My Life Unmasking British Eavesdroppers CARBOY, FROSTING, ECHELON, SHAMROCK, SOUNDER, TRANSIENT 8/11/15 The Philosopher of Surveillance: What Happens When a Failed Writer Becomes a Loyal Spy? 9/25/15 From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users’ Online Identities BLACKHOLE, INFINITE MONKEYS, KARMA POLICE, MARBLED GECKO, MEMORY HOLE, MUTANT BROTH, SAMUEL PEPYS, SOCIAL ANTHROPOID, TEMPORA, XKEYSCORE 9/28/15 Did a Rogue NSA Operation Cause the Death of a Greek Telecom Employee? SENTRYOWL 11/18/15 Overwhelmed NSA Surprised to Discover Its Own Surveillance “Goldmine” on Venezuela’s Oil Executives CADENCE, PINWALE 1/28/16 Israeli Drone Feeds Hacked by British and American Intelligence ANARCHIST 5/16/16 NSA Closely Involved in Guantánamo Interrogations, Documents Show 6/7/16 Facing Data Deluge, Secret U.K. Spying Report Warned of Intelligence Failure MILKWHITE, PRESTON 6/28/16 The Hunter: He Was a Hacker for the NSA and He Was Willing to Talk. I Was Willing to Listen 8/15/16 In Bungled Spying Operation, NSA Targeted Pro-Democracy Campaigner PRISM 8/19/16 The NSA Leak Is Real, Snowden Documents Confirm BADDECISION, BLINDDATE, ELIGIBLE BOMBSHELL, FOXACID, MAGICBEAN, MAGIC SQUIRREL, NIGHTSTAND, POLARSNEEZE, SECONDDATE, TURBINE 9/6/16 Inside Menwith Hill: The NSA’s British Base at the Heart of U.S. Targeted Killing GHOSTHUNTER, GHOSTWOLF Since the first revelations from Snowden were published in Glenn Greenwald’s June 6, 2013, Guardian article, “NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily,” nearly 1,200 documents from Snowden’s disclosures have been released to the public. These include fragments of the “black budget,” a secret document presented to Congress by intelligence agencies, images hacked from drone feeds, and PowerPoint presentations that painstakingly detail the technology behind the NSA’s surveillance efforts. The Intercept and other outlets have reported extensively on some of the major technical programs mentioned during the film — PRISM and Upstream, both authorized under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. PRISM vacuums up hundreds of millions of internet communications every day from the people it “targets,” and those they communicate with —as well as some irrelevant communications it picks up “incidentally” because of the way the technology works. It’s unclear how many of those communications belong to Americans. Upstream gathers communications while they’re traveling through the cables of the internet — voice, text, and more. In the movie, Snowden gets a glimpse at these programs while going undercover for the CIA. When Snowden shares a map with a few of his colleagues displaying data on surveillance conducted within different countries, the film is likely nodding toward a program called Boundless Informant — another one of the first Snowden stories reported by Greenwald and MacAskill. The NSA denied at the time that it could determine with absolute certainty “the identity or location” of all the communications it collected — but the program gave it a general sense of the volume of information it got from each country, appearing like a sort of heat map. The U.S. was not, like the movie suggests, the country where the NSA collected the most information; there were many more intercepts from Iran, at least during the time period reported on by The Guardian. The Intercept debuted its Snowden coverage with a February 10, 2014, article by Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald titled “The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program.” Since then, we have published at least 50 other pieces based on documents from the Snowden archive. In July 2015, The Intercept delved into one of the NSA’s central programs, also mentioned in the film, called XKeyscore. The program runs like a search engine that helps NSA detect, analyze, and extract information from the massive amounts of communications and online information it collects every day through various filters. Otherwise, the sheer volume of information would be overwhelming. The agency’s use of cellphone and computer hacking for surveillance has been a recurring theme in The Intercept’s reporting on the Snowden documents. In May 2015, Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley uncovered the CIA and NSA’s joint mission to crack the security of popular consumer products, including Apple’s notoriously secure iPhone. In the movie, Snowden covers his laptop’s webcam, which he knows the NSA is capable of exploiting through a program called QUANTUM. In reality, the NSA has developed malware implants potentially capable of infecting millions of targeted computers covertly, and automated some of the processes involved in the attacks, as Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald reported in March 2014. Many news stories from the Snowden archive involve foreign surveillance and the NSA’s partnerships with intelligence agencies from other countries, a subject the Snowden film barely touches — for example, never mentioning the NSA’s close relationship to the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ); its partnership with countries like Saudi Arabia; or foreign officials’ lack of understanding about their own spies’ connections to the NSA. The film’s only nod to foreign intelligence occurs when Snowden passes off a special microchip to MacAskill, suggesting it might help him learn more about British spying. The NSA is obviously more than its technical programs and tools. Stone conjures up Snowden’s friends and colleagues at the spy agencies, including T-shirt-wearing hackers, super genius engineers, and domineering bosses. The Intercept’s Peter Maass has written about the human side of the agency, including its resident advice columnist, who went by “Zelda” and answered questions about things like kitchen etiquette and gossip, as well as a columnist with literary ambitions who called himself “the SIGINT Philosopher.” Ultimately, the movie reflects Stone’s image of the life of an NSA contract employee. For a real window into the agency, there may be no better resource than the NSA’s own documents. In May 2016, The Intercept began the first concerted effort to make large portions of the Snowden archive available to the public with the release of a set of SIDtoday newsletters, the internal news organ of the Signals Intelligence Directorate at the NSA. The batch releases are ongoing and will likely constitute one of the largest single collections of NSA files. Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.The post New Film Tells the Story of Edward Snowden; Here Are the Surveillance Programs He Helped Expose appeared first on The Intercept.
Speaking from Russia to a session of the Athens Democracy Forum, the whistle-blower said he would maintain his focus on U.S. surveillance policies.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence urged President Barack Obama on Thursday not to pardon Edward Snowden, concluding in an unclassified summary of a two-year investigation that the former NSA contractor was “not a whistleblower”—echoing what White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during a press briefing earlier in the week. “Edward Snowden is no hero – he’s a traitor who willfully betrayed his colleagues and his country. He put our service members and the American people at risk after perceived slights by his superiors,” said Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., in a statement about the report on Snowden’s disclosure of documents on NSA worldwide surveillance programs. The entire panel — Democrats and Republicans alike — signed a letter sent directly to the president, asserting that Snowden is “not a patriot.” The unclassified summary of the report, disclosed alongside the letter, is just three pages long; the classified version is 36 pages with 230 footnotes. The summary was released one day before the premiere of Oliver Stone’s movie about the NSA whistleblower. The committee shared five conclusions, which it says were formed from speaking with “key individuals with knowledge of Snowden’s background and actions.” While the report ostensibly reveals some new information, several of its claims have been quickly challenged as misleading, dishonest, or opinion. Among what is likely to be the report’s more controversial claims is the assertion that Snowden took some 1.5 million documents. The committee determined that his disclosures led to the loss of intelligence “that had saved American lives” and cost the country billions of dollars, but it doesn’t cite evidence of specific damages in the unclassified summary. The majority of the documents, the authors also argue, “have nothing to do with programs impacting individual privacy interests.” Ben Wizner, Edward Snowden’s lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, argues the committee’s calculation of how many documents Snowden took is actually a vast overestimate, judging from how many documents they think he may have had access to. “The assertion that he took 1.5 million documents is nonsensical,” he told The Intercept during a phone interview. Moreover, to claim the documents he did disclose aren’t “mostly about surveillance is bad faith on top of bad faith,” he said. The committee also asserts that Snowden may not have been familiar with all the privacy protections baked into the intelligence collection programs, because he failed a test about Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—a program up for reauthorization in 2017. The report does not cite which parts of the test Snowden got wrong. The report also fails to acknowledge the substantial changes that have taken place as a result of Snowden’s disclosures, including a global debate about domestic and foreign surveillance, the death of Section 215 bulk collection, which was ruled illegal, and increased transparency requirements for the entire intelligence community. The report also attempts to attack Snowden’s personal credibility. According to the investigation, Snowden in mid-2012 had a “fiery email argument ” with a supervisor, for which he was reprimanded. Then, two weeks later—eight months before the director of national intelligence testified falsely that the NSA does not collect information on Americans—he started downloading documents. However, Snowden tweeted that the reason he downloaded documents was for a program called HEARTBEAT—which appears in Stone’s Snowden film, though hasn’t been reported on widely before. Snowden concluded that was where the figure of 1.5 million documents came from—though that program was authorized by management, he wrote in a tweet. The committee cites a member of the Russian parliament who claimed that Snowden shared intelligence with the Kremlin, although that official actually prefaced his statement with “I think”—something Snowden noted on Twitter following the report’s release. Snowden has maintained his assertion that he can no longer access any of the files he took. While cautioning that he wasn’t representing the official position of the government, Chris Inglis, former deputy director of the NSA, said that it “doesn’t seem to me that a destination of China or Russia would be preferred…I don’t think that he was in the employ of the Chinese or the Russians.” The committee also concluded that Snowden failed to raise his concerns internally before leaking the information, and thus could not claim whistleblower protections. The committee revealed that it regularly receives complaints from contractors to under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998. However, the intelligence community’s top lawyer, Bob Litt, said himself last November that those protections are “complicated”, and that “the government doesn’t straight out have the authority to say whether that person can be fired.” According to the investigation, Snowden exaggerated his experience and his level of access to classified files—and instead was able to access the information he took through his coworkers’ credentials and systems. The report appears designed to directly refute some plot points in Stone’s movie, such as Snowden leaving the army after breaking his legs. Snowden “washed out,” the authors wrote, due to shin splits. The committee notes he never obtained a high school degree, and claims he lied about being a “senior advisor” at CIA while actually working as a lower computer technician. The authors of the report accuse him of “stealing the answers” to a test employees take before entering the NSA. Snowden began to directly respond to the report’s personal characterizations of him as a “serial exaggerator and fabricator” on Twitter. Army held me for weeks in a special unit for convalescence before separation. I left on crutches. They don’t do that for "shin splints." — Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 15, 2016 It’s unclear whether every member of the committee agreed with all of the report’s conclusions. “I can’t comment on discussions that take place in a classified setting,” Jack Langer, Chairman Nunes’ press secretary, wrote in an email. The investigation’s conclusion, which coincided closely with the release of Oliver Stone’s new film, frustrated Snowden’s attorney, Wizner. In the movie, Snowden, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, is portrayed as a patriotic American who grew disillusioned from his years working within the intelligence community. “You wonder why Americans are cynical about the government,”Wizner said. “Who knew the [intelligence community] was so afraid of Joseph Gordon Levitt.” Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.The post House Intel Panel Blasts Snowden In New Report, One Day Before Movie Release appeared first on The Intercept.
Three human rights groups asked President Obama to pardon Mr. Snowden, who is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a new Oliver Stone movie.