Edward Snowden Wins EPIC "Champion of Freedom" Award

On Monday I had the honor of presenting Edward Snowden with a "Champion of Freedom" award at the EPIC dinner. Snowden couldn't be there in person -- his father and stepmother were there in his place -- but he recorded this message.

EPIC CoF photo.jpg
Left to right: Mark Rotenberg, Jesselyn Radack (Snowden's attorney), Lonnie Snowden, and Bruce Schneier


Posted on June 4, 2014 at 3:17 PM • 98 Comments

Comments

David MJune 4, 2014 3:41 PM

Hadn't thought of this before but I wonder how Edward Snowden's family has been affected by his notoriety?

harperJune 4, 2014 4:08 PM

They've probably had the same vicious nonsense from "patriots" that the Bergdahls are now going through.

AlexJune 4, 2014 4:11 PM

Not much to say but for sure Edward had balls. He already ensured his place in history, I just hope he will manage to find his way in life.

TheBrazilianJune 4, 2014 4:18 PM

GREAT shirt and jacket Bruce! Really Far-Out and Groovey :-)

Clive RobinsonJune 4, 2014 4:45 PM

It's nice to see Ed Snowden get some positive public recognition in the US.

For those of us outside the US all we usually get to hear comming from the US press is negativity. Much of which I suspect has come from "official" copy writers attached to either the administration or the NSA. Or editors to frightend of losing their inside off record contacts and cosy dinners etc so they would actually have to start doing some real work for a living...

Mind you we also have lame/mad editors in the UK the "Daily Mail" ran a piece a few days ago that is not only full of errors it suposadly quotes off the record comments or unnamed officials [1] from other newspapers (so to lazy to do anything other than copy other nonsense),

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2645347/Edward-Snowden-left-Britain-wide-open-attack-revealing-GCHQ-spies-Al-Qaeda.html

For those reading this gullable enough to give it creadence, just remember that little or no difference has been seen in AQ or other terrorist communications since before the Ed Snowden revelations. And the preceading changes made were time line wise more in keeping with the assasination of OBL and drone strikes.

[1] The "unnamed official" is often a compleat nonsense and as has been shown with the Daily Mail in the past actually means "What our journalist or editor would want to hear an official say to lend false gravitas to a compleat load of invented nonsense which will make readers blood preasure rise".

Anonymous CowardJune 4, 2014 5:56 PM

It's interesting to see he (poorly) edited out the background. Must have recorded this where he is currently situation.

I often wonder about his day-to-day operations. Did he record and edit on an air gaped computer and then drop this over email from an internet cafe?

flaphoundJune 4, 2014 7:42 PM

What Ed Snowden needs to be awarded is nothing less than a full pardon.

GaryJune 4, 2014 7:53 PM

Honor? Asshat. The only honor I'm waiting on is a bullet in his head.

DBJune 4, 2014 8:10 PM

It would be a great honor indeed to be given a bullet in my head for upholding the Constitution.

ThothJune 4, 2014 9:18 PM

@Gary

Killing does solve no problems at all. If a Government is clean, the people will not do that in the first place. Killing only increase hatred by the people. Many Governments' faults lies in the taking of the people for granted and thinking they own the people when in truth the people actually are the owners of the Government as they/the people elected them and some Governments sought by all means to establish it's ownership of the people and overwrite the people who voted them into power. You maybe able to kill 1 or 2 person who disagree with you but you can never kill everyone who disagree with you.

@Bruce

That's awesome dress. Always having an interesting sense of fashion :) .

Chris AbbottJune 4, 2014 10:13 PM

@Gary

The fact of the matter is, that Snowden did the public a great service and sacrificed a lot for it. The NSA was hurting our national security by doing things like subverting security products, making it easier for foreign agencies and criminals to get our information, as well as disrespecting people's privacy. Anyone with any technical expertise that goes through those documents will tell you he did the right thing at a great cost to himself: losing a beautiful home and beautiful girlfriend in Hawaii, giving up a six-figure income, and putting his life at risk.

Now as a result, we have the ability to protect ourselves with better security measures and people know the truth.

Violence and killing are primitive and barbaric ways to deal with things. It's certainly not patriotic either. I suggest you do more research about the whole thing and research into what those documents indicate that the NSA is doing and how it could affect you and your family, your privacy, and your security. Then, perhaps you will see things differently.

DBJune 4, 2014 10:25 PM

Also ruling with an iron fist and threatening to turn people into martyrs for doing what's right does not scare people into submission so much as it makes MORE people step up. Like throwing water on an oil fire. Study history, you will see this time and again.

Chris AbbottJune 4, 2014 10:39 PM

@DB

Exactly! Attempting to terrorize people never works to achieve your endgame, at least not for long. It just pisses people off more. 9/11, Syria, Ukraine, and so on make perfect examples among gazillions more. I'm surprised people still try to use this politically useless tactic.

ThothJune 4, 2014 11:17 PM

Somehow, politicans are not the best at calculating Cost-Benefit-Analysis. Bullets and terror cost less on the temporary scale (10 cents per 7.62mm AK-47 bullet ?) and millions of dollars to change infrastructure to ensure long term benefits by listening to people's thoughts. Which is the cheaper option for most people ? Of course the bullet is much cheaper. But the after-effects is simply disastrous.

The fact that USA have not deployed BlackOps sniper teams to pick off Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden and many more shows that if they were to simply sprayed bullets at them, they would have inevitably blackened their names in history and the US Government is aware of the consequences of pissing off the public.

JacobJune 5, 2014 12:19 AM

I don't understand why the US Gov is so furious with Snowden:
If the Gov has done nothing wrong, it has nothing to worry about.

FigureitoutJune 5, 2014 12:43 AM

Schneier Fact:

The coat is actually black. Bruce managed to encrypt the photons of light itself (or the file in the camera memory card, either is possible yet remains unconfirmed). R&D for this technical breakthru took place in his beard.

But seriously Bruce, a purple coat?! Haha, another curveball like the cameo for the transvestite rock music video...

DBJune 5, 2014 12:48 AM

At this point I think the US Government is less concerned with public opinion so much as it's more worried at the international backlash of declaring war on Russia by invading Moscow, or invading Ecuador at their London Embassy... at least, not without having a very clear and obvious so-called "high moral ground" for doing so... which they just don't have.

After all, the presidential election over here in the US amounts to picking between two pre-picked candidates: a totally amoral corrupt one, and a slightly worse one. What kind of choice is that? Congressional elections are slightly better, in that at least you can get 1 or 2 who have a conscience out of every 100 of them, plus a few more who can actually be strong-armed by public opinion through the fear of never being elected again.

DBJune 5, 2014 1:00 AM

To add: They clearly have no qualms at ordering all their puppet vassal states in Europe to invade Bolivia by grounding and searching their sovereign airplane... (Sorry European guys here, I mean no disrespect to you as individuals/cultures/peoples with such wording, kindly direct any anger at your own respective governments.)

Clive RobinsonJune 5, 2014 1:46 AM

@ Figureitout,

I admire Bruce's confidence in wearing what he did, there's not many of us who would break out of our "social safe armour" as can be seen modled by the other two gents in the photo.

I guess when you have to talk to suits as much as Bruce does there's a part of you that wants to be different, to stand out from the crowd.

Speaking of which is it me or does Bruce look like he's been photoshopped in, or is looking at a different camera?

Gerard van VoorenJune 5, 2014 2:03 AM

A full pardon for Snowden is a simple decision for POTUS. I don't think it has lots of consequences. The damage is done already (and btw has mostly been caused by the previous POTUS, not by Snowden).

However, even with a full pardon I don't think Snowden is safe in the US. There are lots of people who want Snowden to be dead because they hate traitors (forgetting that the real treason is, again, not done by Snowden). And just like there is only one Snowden, I think there is one Jack Ruby out there.

A couple of days before Dutch politician running for prime minister Pim Fortuyn got assassinated 12 years ago he said that the cause that he had to fear for his life was the tone and the demonization of himself by Dutch politicians and journalists.

Why do I bring this up? I see lots of resemblance with US politicians and journalism demonizing Snowden.

The problem is that the hate against (traitors / whoever / whatever) is easy to feed. But hate allows people to do irrational things. If Snowden is assassinated, the politicians and the journalists who feeds all the hate have blood on their hands too.

WaelJune 5, 2014 2:32 AM

Re Bruce's Suit...
Don't you guys see the connection? He likes Squids! He changes colors to blend in with the environment as a defense mechanism, or to hunt prey. He doesn't look like he blends in the background noise, so he's in predator mode ;) Or... he had some calamari for dinner.

If you look at his suit pocket closely, you'll notice it has a small device with some sort of connection coming down his suit. I think it's a wire reaching his hidden hands. It's a dead man's switch. And the smirk he's wearing is screaming: Do you feel lucky, punk? Problem is the transmitter won't work on his air-gapped computer.

JoboJune 5, 2014 2:51 AM

You know the world is fucked up when americans are afraid to tell what they think and discuss about suits...

AutolykosJune 5, 2014 3:06 AM

@DB: I agree. Getting a bullet in the head fighting for freedom is the second best thing after winning. Currently, I'm not willing to settle for second best. But I may change my mind when things get hopeless enough - or, like Professor Farnsworth put it, "I don't want to live on this planet anymore."

DBJune 5, 2014 3:30 AM

@ Autolykos

Getting a bullet in the head fighting for freedom is the second best thing after winning.

That sounds strangely similar to that famous saying by Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty or give me death" :)

DBJune 5, 2014 3:34 AM

@ df

awww.. Snowden "grew up" and learned... maybe there's hope for you too. :)

WaelJune 5, 2014 3:45 AM

A hero is a person who has done something wrong out of lack of knowledge -- but believed at the time what he was doing is the right thing -- then realized what he did was wrong, but it was too late fix, and payed a dear price. This is what I studied in literature, and can be validated when we look at the lives of heroes like Oedipus the King, or Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey, etc... Somehow it's usage has changed to mean something different. Not sure which meaning is being applied to Snowden in this context...

AlbertJune 5, 2014 4:09 AM

I know what the NSA had been doing and Snowden uncovered was despicable and the information he revealed led to investigations on serious foul play and breaches of personal freedom.

However, what he did next makes me not think of him as a hero at all. He grabbed every secret document he could and then used them to buy himself immunity from prosecution in no other place than Russia. Basically, he sold state secrets to the enemy, which is nothing short of treason. And, yes, Russia is the enemy, not just of the US, but also of the civilized world. And, most hypocritically, Russia has a long record of smothering freedom of speech and privacy. Just ask the Pussy Riot girls, or the relatives of people who have been shot or poisoned because they dared expose corruption in the Russian political world. Or just ask the Ukrainians who are now the victims of Russian aggression.

Maybe the perspective is different from that side of the Atlantic, but from here, literally a few kilometers away from Russian aggression, all this looks a lot more vivid.

WooJune 5, 2014 4:26 AM

@Albert: The only reason that Snowden is hiding in Russia, is that most other countries are so deep in the US' rear entrance that they would happily violate their own constitutions to extradite him to Washington. Russia may not be a good[tm] country, but it's one of the remaining safe harbors if you are on America's shitlist.

dfJune 5, 2014 4:29 AM

@DB Sure, or it was just a nice cover act. It's just mind boggling to see that everyone believes everything Snowden does is for the sole purpose of revealing NSA's activities. Maybe this is just power struggle inside NSA, maybe he was a russian spy all along, who knows what his intentions were or are. Everyone lies, just check the NBC interview, it was the most hilarious bullshit I've ever seen. And now, giving him an award... without knowing in every detail what his modus operandi is... just problematic.

DBJune 5, 2014 5:00 AM

@ df

Think about it... why would a genuine Russian spy do the American people such a service as to reveal how much our government has been ignoring our Constitution, so that we can fix our government and get it back on track? Do the Russians want to take credit for making us great in this 21st century? Shall we thank the Russians?

My point with that bit of ridiculous irony is that it DOES NOT MATTER what Snowden's motives are... what matters is what YOU AND I DO ABOUT IT! Are you for slavery of the American people and the world to the elite few? Or are you for liberty and freedom and justice for all? Choose.

And that's what this award is about.

Bob S. June 5, 2014 6:10 AM

I too would like to make a sly comment about Mr. Schneier's sport coat, but now I hesitate. Is the US government busily "collecting" my comments for future retribution based on as yet unwritten or already promulgated ultra secret law? Will I become, or am I already, yet another adversary, target, enemy of the government?

Thanks to Edward Snowden we got a peek behind the one way mirror.

What we saw is ugly disturbing. It has shown us the rule of law and the spirit of the US Constitution is in severe jeopardy. Will the Constitution stand? The Bill of Rights? Democracy? The USA?

We the People owe it to ourselves to make sure the answer is "yes".

Thanks Ed!


DBJune 5, 2014 6:39 AM

@ Bob S

I completely agree with your sentiment there at the end, it is absolutely up to us, the people... to make sure the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Democracy stand in the USA. We are in charge of our own destiny.

And in that spirit, I disagree with your sentiment there at the beginning... Being afraid to speak out, for fear of future retribution is giving in to every enemy of democracy and freedom. It is saying "you win, we surrender" to everyone that wants to tear up our great Constitution and burn our Bill of Rights.

No, to keep what makes us great, and have our freedom and liberty, we must STAND UP, and DON'T BE AFRAID. Speak out, let the world know what we think about this! If our reward for this is a bullet to the head like @Gary claims we should all have, then stand up straight, and tall, and look our executioners square in the eye, and take it like men. If we do this, then nothing can stop freedom and liberty. The blood of every martyr cries out from the ground. It springs forth, multiplies and grows, and causes an end to tyranny. This is why it is such a GREAT HONOR to be treated that way for such a just cause.

TreblaJune 5, 2014 7:13 AM

I just wanted to say that the Albert above is not the same Albert as me (who has written some comments on this blog now and then). This Albert supports what Snowden did, throwing away the rest of his life because he couldn't go along with the disproportionate use of surveillance anymore. I think some surveillance is necessary, but it has to be balanced against the intrusion on the privacy of civilians. Especially civilians that are not suspected of any crime. It is obvious that the current system has lost every sense of this balance, both in the US and here in Sweden.

Clive RobinsonJune 5, 2014 8:14 AM

@ section,

I'm not sure (nor are historians) but I think it was the Romans who first passed laws that only the Ceaser/Emporer could wear purple.

I wonder if Bruce --over our comments about his sartorial elegance-- is living out the scene from Carry on Cleo, where Kenneth Williams as Julius Ceaser says the immortal line "infamy infamy they've got it in for me"...

CallMeLateForSupperJune 5, 2014 8:56 AM

What a bunch of *guys* here. Only guys would describe that sport coat as "purple" and call a sport coat a "suit". :-) Yet... no comments on Ms Radack. I think she looks smashing.

Dirk PraetJune 5, 2014 9:44 AM

@ Albert

He grabbed every secret document he could and then used them to buy himself immunity from prosecution in no other place than Russia. Basically, he sold state secrets to the enemy, which is nothing short of treason.

Excuse me, but would you care to substantiate that accusation?

@ Bruce

From a fashion point of view, I think a bandana and Italian shoes would go quite well with that purple jacket.

SkepticalJune 5, 2014 10:03 AM


A colorful statement indeed on security through obscurity!

Though on a second look, I see now that there's an award involved. And that there are other people in the photograph. :)

@Gerard: A full pardon for Snowden is out of the question. I think he can probably win some years off his sentence and a better set of conditions in prison (a private laptop might be nice) if he:

(i) demonstrates awareness that major parts of his actions were deeply wrong, harmful to his country, and a betrayal of everyone who serves that country; and (ii) cooperates in a truly extraordinary manner.

Even then, there are three major components working against him. First, he did massive damage and he must have understood the likely extent of the damage when he embarked on this course. Second, one of the functions of criminal law is deterrence, and serving that function implies that Snowden's punishment should be significant. Third, he seems to have taken an almost entirely adversarial approach to the USG and the NSA. These three things can be somewhat mitigated by the two steps I described.

There is a positive aspect to what he's done of course, and although the positive aspect can weigh in his favor, the real problem is that much of what he did was not necessary to accomplish the positive aspect. If the attorney who leaked information about the so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program" had gone as far beyond whistle-blowing as Snowden has, that attorney would never have walked away without a criminal charge.

For reasons which I'm tempted to speculate on, but won't, I think Snowden chose an all-in strategy at the start: commit fully to achieving the optimal outcome for himself (lifetime asylum in a nice country) by winning public and legislative support and perhaps also by the leverage that comes with the information he took.

It's an all-in strategy because it requires actions which make second, third, etc., best outcomes for himself much more difficult to achieve if that first, optimal outcome cannot be reached. And life can be sometimes be uncompromising with those who do not compromise.

Guy JoeJune 5, 2014 10:22 AM


If Snowden can go out on a limb, so can I: Bruce looks great and Jesselyn Radack is kind of hot.

Camera GeekJune 5, 2014 11:14 AM

I'm guessing the photo was taken with a Leica M8, and the purple jacket is due to lack of IR filtration of a black suit jacket, a common issue with this camera.

stylistJune 5, 2014 11:28 AM

I like your style, Bruce.

Thanks for doing this! A well deserved award.

Gerard van VoorenJune 5, 2014 11:36 AM

@Skeptical

To me the fact that he himself can't take the "Champion of Freedom" award personally says enough what "The Land of the Free" has become.

He is a whistle blower, someone who reacted on the things that gone wrong. He is not a traitor to me. Should he have done it differently? Just look at Assange and Manning.

I am aware that POTUS doesn't give him pardon. He could and it is simple, but I don't think he will.

But that all was not what I talked about.

FluffytheObeseCatJune 5, 2014 12:15 PM

@skeptical

"(i) demonstrates awareness that major parts of his actions were deeply wrong, harmful to his country, and a betrayal of everyone who serves that country; and (ii) cooperates in a truly extraordinary manner."

Pretentious rot.


@Bruce

Your toile-print shirt is lovely.

Tony H.June 5, 2014 12:37 PM

That jacket and shirt are well into Don Cherry territory. (If you're not a hockey fan, just use your favorite anonymous search engine to look for "don cherry's suits".)

Nick PJune 5, 2014 12:43 PM

Bruce is the most well-dressed person there. He's making the most of the photo op. Mark looks the part. Jessilyn is beautiful and on front lines, as usual. And the look on Lonnie Snowden's face is priceless.

David in TorontoJune 5, 2014 1:33 PM

Bravo!

Yes, that jacket took me by surprise too. And not in a camo way. Mind you I almost missed the shirt.

@rioki - yes a pimp hat would be an excellent addition. And a big Cadillac too. With tinted windows.

@Tony H. - Just imagine if Don Cherry and Bruce's in his sport jacket somehow ended up in the same room ....

Now if we can only get Bruce wearing Edwardian collars. And spats. (Does Don still wear spats?)

David

SasparillaJune 5, 2014 1:34 PM

@ Albert "He grabbed every secret document he could and then used them to buy himself immunity from prosecution in no other place than Russia. Basically, he sold state secrets to the enemy, which is nothing short of treason."

Here's what we know. He was actually trapped in Russia by the Administration who canceled his passport on his flight that connected through Russia (which went on to South America - where he intended to go). Trapping him in Russia was a shortsighted political attempt to smear him (worked for some readers here)...and for someone with all that knowledge - such a stupid move by the Administration if they cared about national security, publicly trapping him in the KGB's backyard (what are the odds those guys are going to go after him at some point?).

To the second point (selling secrets), he didn't carry any documents with him at all - after turning them over to the 2 reporters he was done with them (and asked the reporters to vet them & their contents as responsibly as they could). No selling or giving them to Russia at all (the Russian's probably knew nearly everything in those documents anyways).

SkepticalJune 5, 2014 2:07 PM


@Gerard: Separate Snowden's actions into two parts.

Part A: Documents to substantiate claims of policies and programs that are arguably illegal and unethical;

Part B: Documents about policies and programs that are unarguably legal and ethical.

There's a viable argument that, with respect to Part A, Snowden is a whistle-blower. Personally, I have a lot of doubts even about this, but I can understand the other side.

But with respect to Part B, there's no defense and no question of whistle-blowing. At best Part B is about leverage.

Imagine for a moment that the DOJ attorney who leaked the TSP to the New York Times in 2005 didn't just leak that program.

Suppose he also grabbed documents detailing highly sensitive, legitimate, ongoing operations and investigations by the FBI. There are undercover operations, specific wiretaps, enough information to identify informants, etc. And then suppose he fled the country with all those things to Russia. Suppose that he gave a large portion of his trove to various journalists and organizations across the world. The journalists did their best to be responsible, some more than others, but there's enormous pressure on journalists to publish, and so a fair amount of information was released that, while certainly interesting, didn't reveal any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, what does the DOJ do about all the operations, personnel, assets, techniques, etc., that have at a minimum been compromised? They have some hard choices to make.

So although I think it's fine to just talk about Part A for various purposes, if we're going to talk about what Snowden himself deserves then we're going to need to talk about Part B as well.

And let's be clear on what Part B means, because it's often described clinically, in a detached way that may be useful to certain modes of thought but which doesn't convey the true cost of the compromise.

Let's say Part B includes assets deployed to facilitate access to protected systems in hostile parts of the world. In some cases putting the equipment in place to get that access - whether it's a sensor in the ground or a USB stick in a pocket - would have involved putting personnel in dangerous situations. When that access is compromised, you can look at in a narrow sense as a loss of intelligence capability. The true cost though is not just the loss of capability, but the undermining of the risks and sacrifices made by personnel to achieve that capability. And those risks and sacrifices won't appear in any of those powerpoint presentations. They'll describe the intelligence gathered from sensors 1 through 2048 in the desert and how to view it; they won't talk about the men who died getting them there (or just training to get them there).

Mr. Snowden is free to return to the United States to accept, in person, everything he is merited, awards and otherwise, for Part A and Part B of his actions.

Nick PJune 5, 2014 2:36 PM

@ Skeptical

Could you post some links to examples of Part B? I've seen a few things but not much. Most news is focusing on the pro's and con's of revealing Part A stuff, along with whether it's illegal. Do you have some links you can post from reputable sources detailing specific examples of what you're talking about? If you did before, I just forgot to check and bookmark them.

(Btw, best to do it in the Squid thread.)

DBJune 5, 2014 2:56 PM

@ Skeptical

You are totally and completely without morals. You have the conscience of a turnip. Ethics to you are like an algorithm, just a cost-benefit analysis, with no such thing as right and wrong.

You don't believe anything Snowden has released has shown ANY illegal or ethical problems with the US Government AT ALL. You admit that the US Government has done illegal things in the distant past, but you cannot name one recent one, no, in fact the US Government is currently perfect in your opinion.

You believe that all people should have no privacy whatsoever. In fact you believe everyone is "guilty until proven innocent," because you believe that it's right to suck up every thought that comes out of people's minds and is expressed to another person (i.e. communicated) and examine every word as part of a worldwide criminal investigation.

You believe the US Government should be able to invade privacy whenever it wants, on anyone it wants, all the time, yet no one else has this right. This effectively annexes the world by the US, and you believe this is good, true, and right. This is not just American exceptionalism, it's very much bordering on Nazism, yet you cannot see that.

You argue these points pretending on occasion to argue the other way, showing that you are a total and complete hypocrite on this. You do not stand for anything, you only look to confuse, and argue.

If you are not an NSA agent sent here and paid to sow dissension and doubt, then stop acting like one. Grow a brain, grow a heart, and believe in something. Otherwise, I will continue to call you out on it as long as the moderator lets me.

Mr. PragmaJune 5, 2014 3:05 PM

I'm somewhat on the speculation or even conspiracy side, I know, but ...

- I don't consider us-americans particularly smart, certainly not, but I'm having a hard time to believe that the nsa people are *that* utterly unprofessional and plain stupid. The impression of nsa's OpSec one gets when reading how (and how easy) Snowden got at at thousands of confidential documents suggests that getting at them wasn't that much harder than to get at my grandma's cookies. That smells.

- Snowden plays very much the card "I was trapped in Moscow". Looking again one has to ask, whether that was really so surprising. We are to believe that some young guy who was smart enough to heftily fu** the nsa was at the same time stupid enough to expect the usa to hold still? In other words: Snowden could be pretty sure that as soon as the word got out he would be fair game in the usa gov's eyes. And he *could* time that event; It seems *very* unlikely that the journalists visiting him in Hongkong would not have respected a request from Snowden to wait another, say 3 days, until he was secure in Brazil. Moreover one has to ask why Snowden who obviously considered Brazil secure enough to plan seeking refuge there did not simply meet the journalists in Brazil (or in Kuba if he didn't want it to be Brazil) in the first place. That smells.

- Of course, the us-americans make lots of noise but hey, didn't they actually win in a way? Sure, they are even less liked than before but then usa isn't aiming for being liked but for dominating the world.
If, so one might think, the usa had something like an operation "Panoptikon" Snowden would have been an invaluable tool to make the people all over the world get and understand the message ("Your data, your privacy, even your thoughts belong to us! We see your every sentence, listen in to your every call, and, if we want so, even hear you snarking while you sleep")

- On a very different side the usa gov, has done many extremely evil things during the past years. There *are*, I'm convinced, good us-americans who do strongly value the constitution; not few of them, I think, are even in the military. Many think bad of the military but from what I've seen in live there are many, particularly higher ranking officers who are actually neither stupid nor a**holes; I'm quite confident that this is also true for the usa.
Also I noted that quite a lot of high ranking mil. officers have been relieved of duty, put aside, or otherwise "castrated" during the past 2 or 3 years. At the same time more and more mil. officers are believed to be critical of usa gov's course or even speak out to that effect.

I might be completely wrong but frankly, a scenario where some high ranking officers (nsa is part of dod) were pissed off enough to think of a way to stop the regime or to at least make it harder for the gov. to start new "evil adventures" by unmasking some major part of it seems way more likely to me than some guy like Snowden fu**ing the nsa big time on his own. In that context I also note that while many officers wouldn't like the way (which many consider treason) they also don't like at all to when see the constant ignorance of this and the recent usa gov's for the usa constitution.

I also remember when the first allegations came up that Russian FSB had debriefed Snowden or that Snowden might actually be a FSB agent. The point that stroke me was *how* they denied that. It felt as if they wanted to say "That boy? Hey! We are professionals, we aren't fooled by some boy who was used as a tool". They also noted (and not only they) that there was very little new for them in Snowdens revelations.

May he enjoy that prize and may he live happily. But I don't buy his story.

MJune 5, 2014 3:14 PM

That jacket!

Trying to cause a buffer overflow in some NSA image software, eh?

Mr. PragmaJune 5, 2014 3:20 PM

You are totally and completely without morals. You have the conscience of a turnip. Ethics to you are like an algorithm, just a cost-benefit analysis, with no such thing as right and wrong.

Oh, oh ... I'm afraid the moderator will find this offensive or insulting. Because *formally* it could be seen as impolite what you say.

(Oh, and: Of course I fully agree with you! Unfortunately, to meet moderators formal politeness demands the rest of what I think will need to stay |-self censored-|)

Gerard van VoorenJune 5, 2014 3:24 PM

@Skeptical

You keep on talking about what Snowden did. I keep talking about everything but that...

It is hard to have a discussion with you. It usually ends up in lots of diversions and lawyer stuff. That is probably why you choose the nickname "Skeptical".

But still, that was not what I talked about in my original post.

Gerard van VoorenJune 5, 2014 3:37 PM

@Skeptical

Now that I read my post it sounds rather hard. It isn't meant like that.

ModeratorJune 5, 2014 3:58 PM

DB,

I am not going to stop you from saying what you think Skeptical's pattern of posts reveals, but could you please dial down your rhetoric? These attempts at "calling out" Skeptical are getting awfully repetitive and shouty. I am certainly more interested in the conversation Nick P. was trying to start, which sounds like it might actually contain something new.

Mr. Pragma,

I understand you think that obnoxious behavior should be okay here, and considering what your comment history is like, I can see why. Clearly this isn't the blog for you. You are banned.

DBJune 5, 2014 4:08 PM

@ Mr Pragma

I could go back and search previous posts by @Skeptical and quote his definition of what "ethics" means to him... the substantive difference with my wording being no vegetables. :)

If I'm told to calm down by a moderator, I do not intend to whine about it. It's Schneier's site, and he and his trusted moderator team runs it, not me. If it becomes less fun to come here as a result, I just won't as much, that's all, plenty of other things to do with my time.

P.S. after hitting preview, there it is... okey dokey.

AlanSJune 5, 2014 4:36 PM

On the one year anniversary of the publication of the first Snowden disclosures, one can observe that a lot of surveillance activities that were hiding in dark places were pulled into the glare of the sun, but the surveillance state carries on much as it did before.

With regards to key USG figures, to paraphrase Skeptical, there is (i) little demonstrated awareness that major parts of their actions were deeply wrong, harmful to their country, and a betrayal of the rights of every US citizen; and (ii) there is little or no cooperation on their part in addressing the harms done.

SkepticalJune 5, 2014 4:49 PM


@Gerard: That's very courteous of you, and I did not find your other comment to be hard.

I went back and read your original comment (because, like everyone, I'll often focus on parts that interest me and defocus parts that don't). When you refer to the parts I didn't talk about, are you referring to the danger Snowden would face in the US from a vigilante of some kind?

I'd agree with that assessment. If the scenario you posit actually happened (he receives a full pardon and returns to the US), he might need official protection for a period of time. That said, I'm not sure how much anger Snowden really sparks among the public (I've seen polls that tend to show a roughly divided public, but I haven't seen any polling that attempts to measure the intensity of opinions held).

Just to be clear, regardless of whether he were pardoned, I'd be outraged at any attempts on his life. We have a legitimate system of law, however ugly it often is, and Snowden would be as deserving of its protection as anyone else.

I haven't seen or heard rhetoric of the sort you're describing. That doesn't mean it's not out there and significant, but I try to avoid outlets selling that kind of garbage.

@DB: I think Nick raised a good suggestion with the Squid thread. I can say with high confidence that my beliefs don't border on "Nazism", though I know far less about a turnip's morals (good turnip intelligence is hard to come by) and wouldn't want to unfairly disparage them. If you want to discuss, let's do so over there.

@Nick: Fair enough, and I'd agree that your skepticism is warranted given how little we know about what has been withheld. But those who have seen some of it have indicated that it contains information at least of the type I imaginatively described. I'll see if I can grab a few references and reply over at the Squid thread.

Captain NedJune 5, 2014 5:04 PM

Sorry to be a stickler for law and all, but Mr. Snowden deserves nothing more than a blindfold and a stone wall.

Tim LJune 5, 2014 6:08 PM

@Captain Ned: "Sorry to be a stickler for law..."

The highest law is the Constitution, all other laws being subordinate to it.

Mr. Snowden upheld the Constitution in exposing NSA crimes.

Dirk PraetJune 5, 2014 7:26 PM

@Autolykos, @DB

@DB: I agree. Getting a bullet in the head fighting for freedom is the second best thing after winning.

At which point I would like to draw your attention to General George S. Patton's famous quote "You don't win wars by dying for your country!! You win wars by making the other silly son of a b*tch die for HIS country!!".

@Skeptical

Part B: Documents about policies and programs that are unarguably legal and ethical.

Just like @Nick P, I would like to see some references for those too, bearing in mind that what is legal is not necessarily ethical, and vice versa. We've been there before. There is no doubt that (most of) the framework put in place by Congress is entirely legal, but whether or not it is also constitutional - both to the letter and the spirit - is an entirely different question which is currently the object of several law suits brought forward by organisations such as EFF and ACLU. The same goes for certain interpretations of such laws by the executive branch.

Your mileage may vary, but in a democratic society, there is no place for secret programs approved by secret courts issuing secret orders based on secret interpretations of the law.

@Gerard, @DB, @Mr. Pragma

There is no point in name calling. @Skeptical and myself have been having some really interesting discussions in the past, and although we hardly ever agree on anything, he generally makes good arguments and is always polite. Which is more than can be said of some other comments I've read in this thread. Try to not get carried away by your emotions, but consider it an intellectual challenge to counter his opinions and phrase it in a way that lifts the level of the discussion.

AlanSJune 5, 2014 8:09 PM

@Dirk Praet

Part B Documents.

Agreed. As Nick P and Skeptical proposed continuing the thread over on the Squid thread I posted my comment there.

David C.June 5, 2014 8:38 PM

If Snowden had done this during wartime and then went over to the enemy he would have been guilty of treason and if he returned to the USA would probably have been executed for his treachery. I believe he is still a traitor of the highest order. The only positive thing he has done is to have brought to light the fact that NSA collects data on its own citizens which I think is wrong and should be banned completely. However foreign intelligence collection is open for both NSA and GCHQ to perform at will to protect the homeland and themselves during any potential current and future conflicts. Snowden has done enormous damage and is the opposite of being a hero. He is a straight out traitor. If he returns to the USA he should be executed for the damage he has done to the USA and its Allies.

Chris AbbottJune 5, 2014 9:04 PM

@David C.

Where is all this "enormous damage" people are talking about at? It's been a whole year now and there have been a total of 0 terrorist attacks on Americans. There was never any evidence of any of these programs stopping a single attack nor helping with anything else. This crazy notion that Snowden deserves death because thousands of Americans are going to die and the world will end has effectively been debunked.

@Skeptical

I have not seen anything in any of the documents that falls into your B category. Like I said previously, there is no evidence of enormous damage. The people that say such damage exists have revealed nothing to prove it. Nothing...

David C.June 5, 2014 9:12 PM

I believe the enormous damage cannot be measured in terms of the number of terrorist attacks that have been prevented. This an illusory measurement of success. It should be measured in the amount of intelligence that can no longer be collected because foreign countries are now aware of the kinds of network and other attacks they are open to and have started preventing such attacks from succeeding. Using a measurement of the total number of terrorist attacks that have been prevented is a ridiculous measure. Will the fact that countries are now preventing these kinds of attacks from happening prevent us from winning future conflicts? What about other intelligence gathering measures?

David in TorontoJune 5, 2014 9:29 PM

@M - Visual Buffer Overflow is brilliant! Perhaps it can be worked into the next Movie Plot contest. Although,there was SNOWCRASH which had a computer/neural virus in the plot. (And a super-sonic cyborged guard dog as I recall).

ThothJune 5, 2014 10:14 PM

@Moderator
For easier comments section maintenance, I would like to suggest the site to only allow posting with login credentials. A terms of posting comments should be drafted so that users registering for the rights to post comments would be binded by such terms for posting comments. Users who have violated the terms of posting comments would only be banned on the posting comment sections but otherwise they would be free to move around the site as they wish (of course please consult Bruce and seek his permissions and advises before creating the post comments section and terms of rights).

In regards to Snowden's case, it is a rather sticky issue. On one hand it exposes Governments' "secrets" on BlackOps operations tactics but on the other hand, he managed to expose the kind of world we are currently living in. We are always being watched and recorded and our privacy and trusts in technology and government are regularly being violated again and again where the Governments ' agenda is to "Know All" regardless if trust and privacy of their citizens would be violated with seemingly very little regards.

Do note that there is nothing new with these tactics that the Governments used. We all had a hunch that the Governments have a hand somewhere in the production line and codes and algorithms were being meddled with. Snowden's leaks were a kind of confirmation that our suspicions were correct most of the time. These tactics were not new if you realized from the dates of the documents.

By leaking these documents, it has a double-edge effect. On one hand, the general public are now more cautious and aware of IT Security and on the other hand, tactical information have been leaked to everyone in the world with a cable or wireless connection to the Internet.

Quoting from Bruce's speeches and papers, our technologies were inherently made to assume trust. Hoarding these attack vectors and keeping them quiet may help Governments in the short term goal but would it really make everyone safe ?

Maybe we should ask ourselves if we want to have backdoors in our system we know and we dont know living with us or would we rather have ssytems that are more secure.

Trying to definitively quantify whether the leaks brought more harm or brought more good is a very difficult thing. On one hand, there are more audit projects going around trying to fix bugs and make us more secure. On the other hand, traditional operational techniques that Governments rely on are now considered leaked but the Governments have a huge amount of resource on hand to dig out and create more modern operational techniques and the cycle of hunting for bugs and fixing bugs and problems continue endlessly.

Essentially, what the Snowden episode boils down to is simply, would you be willing to be compromised on your system so the Governments can have access or would you rather be secure as individuals and secured individuals builds up to a critical mass and now everyone is secured.

Personally, I feel that personal security is much more important than allowing my own system to be compromised because if I am secured, there would be one less emergency case to wrangle with on the Governments side. Everytime someone faces an electronic break-in, the Governments' agencies have to be put to the work so I would value personal security first on my end.

What about you ?

unimportantJune 5, 2014 11:12 PM

Those were only collected for private reasons -- as ugly as it is.
I had a rule not to pay for those or trade those, I also had the rule not to support this by exchanging these or P2P (to dry the market out). I used Bitcoins mostly for prepping, for playing with this new kind of crypto-currency and for some few items/transactions which were available for Bitcoins. I lent some money without interest to a friend who was in need. I learned about the ML law out of curiousity and the pseudonymous aspect of Bitcoins. By then, I also learned about its unique feature (secret back-reporting). MG wanted to ask naively a lawyer, and I just warned him about the possible surprises. I had also a change of personality to the worse (which is still improving) due to the medical incident.

ismarJune 6, 2014 1:46 AM

Is there any symbolism in wearing purple as done by all of the award givers in the photo (note two of them have purple ties)?

dfJune 6, 2014 3:14 AM

@DB Why... think about it, why?! For a thousand reasons. For example, to discredit the US. Or it could be a revenge act akin to the Anna Chapman et al revelations.

You are too naive to believe, that anything will change based on these relevations...

Dirk PraetJune 6, 2014 7:04 AM

@ David C.

However foreign intelligence collection is open for both NSA and GCHQ to perform at will to protect the homeland and themselves during any potential current and future conflicts.

Oh, please. So Americans are more equal than others ? We are not cattle, my man. Please read the July 2013 final version of International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. It's a fine piece of work rooted in a number of international declarations and treaties the US is also a signatory to (e.g. UDHR ; see bottom of document for more specific references).

What it proposes is that any and all communications surveillance adheres to the following: legality, legitimate aim, necessity, adequacy, proportionality, competent judicial authority, due process, user notification, transparency, public oversight, integrity of communications and systems, safeguards for international cooperation and safeguards against illegitimate access. Current NSA, GCHQ and undoubtedly also FSB and PLA "collect it all" practices couldn't be further from that and for all practical purposes are an aberration.

Using a measurement of the total number of terrorist attacks that have been prevented is a ridiculous measure.

DNI Clapper agrees with you. He even introduced the somewhat novel metric of "piece of mind" to measure the success of the NSA's programs. He also lied before Congress.

Snowden has done enormous damage

There's no denying that Snowden's revelations have had quite the impact, both politically and economically. Politically, the US has lost any and all moral highground on espionage issues, and in economic terms the US cloud computing industry is projected to lose between $25 and $180 billion in the next 3-5 years due to loss of trust. And for what ? Spending billions and losing even more in economic damages just to catch the odd incompetent terrorist while roads, bridges and other vital infrastructure eveywhere in the country are in their sorriest state in decades doesn't even make sense. It's absurd.

Then again, who's to blame ? Those secretly engaging in such activities, or the person revealing them ? Some people really seem to persist in the fallacy that a crime or other objectionable act isn't one as long as nobody finds out about it.

DBJune 6, 2014 9:36 AM

@Dirk Praet

No, you ARE cattle. Just ask the US Government. Foreigners and all who communicate with them have no basic human rights, regardless of what treaties the US has signed. And your country is a pet country of the US too[1]. If you don't like this, get a new government of your own country. Make your voice heard there.

[1] I realize that not quite EVERY country is a pet of the US, and I'm not certain which country you reside in, however since almost all countries are, I have a very very high chance of being correct by saying this.

DBJune 6, 2014 9:41 AM

@ df

Declaring that it's impossible to change anything is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You therefore become part of the problem when you do that. Let me rephrase: YOU ARE DOING THIS TO YOURSELF when you do this.

No, stand up, make yourself heard. Change is possible.... maybe not as much as we'd like, nor as fast as we'd like, but we must do what we can. Doing nothing you might as well just join Hitler, and pull the trigger yourself.

DBJune 6, 2014 9:55 AM

@David C

So the police are damaging stalker's ability to stalk women, when they put them in jail, right? I mean, the police are causing GREAT HARM to them... right?

The US Constitution declares that we should be free from suspicionless mass searches and seizures... yet our government is effectively raping us every day, by committing these crimes on all of us. And now that we know about this, and put up some sort of feeble resistance, we are CAUSING DAMAGE??? what the heck!

You MUST IMMEDIATELY put everyone who calls the police and reports crimes in prison man... so much damage to criminals' livelihoods... so completely ridiculous.

IncredulousJune 6, 2014 12:24 PM

It saddens me that this blog has gone from an open forum to a less than open one. I appreciate that Bruce didn't stick cookies on our machines, force javascript to be active or force us to register so we can be tracked. Isn't this what Bruce is fighting for? Freedom to be anonymous and untracked while speaking one's mind and trying to make change for the better?

Frankly, I preferred it when Bruce was moderator. For example, I think insisting on consistent "names" when posting when any human intelligence can easily follow the posts is simply a front for allowing automated dossiers to be created on posters. The complexity of following posts with mutating names is nothing compared to parsing some of the comments on this blog.

People get heated and say offensive things. Big deal. That's life. I don't think it is close to as offensive as assassinations, black sites, pervasive surveillance, or pervasive disingenuous misinformation, among other things. Civility already doesn't exist. It is not being created by posters on this blog.

Censorship puts a pall on everything. Self censorship is exactly what this surveillance is intended to create. We shouldn't abet it here. Not that my opinion matters a whit. This blog is clearly on a bad trajectory.

IncredulousJune 6, 2014 12:29 PM

Obviously I meant that incivility is not being created by posters on this blog.

LGWJune 6, 2014 1:23 PM

Before Snowden, I never saw such passionate arguing in these comments to keep the moderator so busy. That may seem trivial, but it shows how people have (finally!) become emotionally engaged about the spying - it's not just an abstraction any more. That's a huge win for all of us. Every action we do does some harm and some good, but the "good" side of the ledger for Snowden's revelations has a lot of weight to it, to be sure.

JJune 6, 2014 1:38 PM

@flaphound "What Ed Snowden needs to be awarded is nothing less than a full pardon."

...and the Presidential Medal of Freedom!

ModeratorJune 6, 2014 1:41 PM

I don't think it is close to as offensive as assassinations, black sites, pervasive surveillance, or pervasive disingenuous misinformation, among other things.

Look, I'm angry about those things too. I just think it's better to focus anger in a way that actually does some good, instead of just making me feel good for a few minutes. I think flinging insults at people on blogs is one of the things that might make you feel better, but is actively harmful if you hope to persuade people who don't already agree with you. If you disagree with that -- or if you don't care and just want to vent -- you can find a forum more to your liking, or start a new one. But this is Bruce's blog, and if you think he'd somehow be okay with unlimited nastiness here if he had time to do his own moderation, you could not be more wrong.

So no, this isn't something that is going to change. If you can't live with it, you simply are going to have to go somewhere else instead.

Dave C.June 6, 2014 2:36 PM

People ask where is the damage?

The damage that there has been, apart from the obvious, will remain Top Secret. Certainly NSA and GCHQ will have done damage assessments. Suppose we were to go to war with China or Russia now that these revelations have been made? Would it make a difference? In WWII Enigma gave the Allies a decisive edge. What if the Enigma secrets had been leaked by a Snowden? WWII may have been lost and the Nazis succeeded. So it may happen that now a future war will be lost because of the leaks. Perhaps in your quest for total freedom of the Internet you forget that there must be Intelligence Agencies in order to give ourselves a dominant edge over our enemies. Or dont you mind losing future wars and living under tyrants?

BuckJune 6, 2014 3:45 PM

@LGW

Sure, because pitting two emotionally engaged & polarized groups of people against each other almost always ends well... ;-)

GreatStuffJune 6, 2014 11:36 PM

Congratulations Edward. Thank you for presenting this award.

Anyone that questions the award and argues "the law". The Stasi was the official state security service of the GDR (or East Germany) and had 274,000 employees tasked with spying on the people of the GDR. I sugest researching the Stasi and considering if that is the kind of treatment you feel is just to live with every day. It's a very slippery slope when government agencies are handed such power and the public is left with little in the way of legal protection.

Mike the goatJune 7, 2014 6:56 AM

Congratulations are in order for Snowden, who (unlike Manning, who was likely groomed a bit by Assange into believing that his disclosures would be kept hush-hush) knew all too well what was going to happen should he go public and the damage that he and his family would likely endure.

Let's face it - he had a relatively comfortable job in Hawaii with an NSA contractor; he had clearance, and pretty much a guarantee of continuing government project related employment. And yet he made a sacrifice; and the aforementioned sacrifice has resulted in a shot sounding out across not just Congress but governments all around the world. Hopefully they read from that rumbling that they can't continue to oppress their people especially via technological surveillance. These are but the opening salvos in what will ultimately be a protracted civil e-war over privacy, digital rights, surveillance and the like. I sincerely hope that Snowden feels, and continues to feel that it is worth it. I just hope 'we' win.

BTW, and I hope the mod won't jump on me for this as I am being complimentary and am in no way attempting to be facetious - I have to comment on Schneier's fantastic piece of dinner attire. I do wish he'd come on the forum and let us admirers know where he got something in that wonderful retro shade - it seems that all the usual stores just stock boring black and navy.

mooJune 9, 2014 6:11 PM

@David C:
"Or dont you mind losing future wars and living under tyrants?"

Yes, "losing future wars and living under tyrants" would be a bad outcome.

Of course, "living under tyrants" now would also be a bad outcome. And the U.S. is moving closer and closer to that reality every day.

Blanket mass-surveillance of everybody is a totalitarian state's wet dream, and seems fundamentally incompatible with the freedom from tyranny that is supposedly one of the founding principles of the United States ("Land of the Free", indeed).

I think Eben Moglen made this point far more eloquently than I can, in this essay which I humbly suggest you should read:
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/27/-sp-privacy-under-attack-nsa-files-revealed-new-threats-democracy

A175_93-97June 10, 2014 12:08 PM

As a former member of Special Operations Command, thank you Edward Snowden. Domestic enemies are sometimes #IN# government.

Nick PJune 10, 2014 12:31 PM

@ A175_93-97

Were you 175th Infantry Regiment from 1993-1997? Or am I reading that wrong?

Leave a comment

Allowed HTML: <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre>

Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Resilient Systems, Inc.