US Intelligence "Second Leaker" Identified

There’s a report that the FBI has identified a second leaker:

The case in question involves an Aug. 5 story published by The Intercept, an investigative website co-founded by Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who first published sensitive NSA documents obtained from Snowden.

Headlined “Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers,” the story cited a classified government document showing that nearly half the people on the U.S. government’s master terrorist screening database had “no recognized terrorist affiliation.”

The story, co-authored by Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux, was accompanied by a document “obtained from a source in the intelligence community” providing details about the watch-listing system that were dated as late as August 2013, months after Snowden fled to Hong Kong and revealed himself as the leaker of thousands of top secret documents from the NSA.

I think this is “Leaker #3” on my list, even though it’s probably the “second leaker” discussed in the documentary Citizen Four.

Posted on October 27, 2014 at 4:08 PM46 Comments


tim October 27, 2014 4:32 PM

It should not take this long for the government to identify leakers. Maybe if it was legal to leak stuff the government would focus on securing its systems instead of catching people after the fact.

Douglas Knight October 27, 2014 5:03 PM

Why do you think that the three leaks you attribute to “leaker #2” are the same person? Because they were reported by the German press?

jahnitu October 27, 2014 5:06 PM

Or maybe they could focus on obeying and upholding the law – including the constitution and the declaration of human rights, so there is no incentive for leaks.

Bee October 27, 2014 5:56 PM

Really, there’s no way to secure a system against someone telling what they know, what they’ve seen, against screenshotting with a phone & etc.

Clive Robinson October 27, 2014 6:05 PM

Who ever it is “May God have mercy on them” because I doubt the FBI et al will (despite reports to the contrary).

Further they are likely to catch the “impotence blowback” caused by Ed Snowden being out of reach to the current administration. Thus the authorities will probably be “punishing as an example” to others, not “punishing for justice”.

Derin Devlet October 27, 2014 6:15 PM

All you junior Comeys and Alexanders and professional fraidy cats and death merchants, you’ve got a problem. Not everybody is a mediocre suckup like you. Sometimes the system slips up and lets in people with intellect, or worse, integrity. The beltway is shot through with them. We all know a few. What they have in common is disgust. Label them all you want, as insider threats or disenchanted idealists, and plan and plan, you can’t stop them. They’re smarter than you. They’re better educated than you. They’ve earned the esteem and support of capable counterparts abroad, unlike you. Unlike you, they have balls. They’re going to demolish your cheesy medicine show. They’re going to take your degenerate state apart. We’ll take it from there.

Nick P October 27, 2014 6:35 PM

@ Bee

You can’t prevent them from talking. You can prevent them from taking files, making photos, etc. That’s straightforward. Just highly invasive and more than most workers will tolerate. 😉

Skeptical October 27, 2014 6:40 PM

Leaks are nothing new of course. Insiders release them for various reasons, and can often rationalize the leak as justified to influence policy in some beneficial way (whether we’re talking about analysts leaking classified assessments of North Korean military programs, human intelligence collection against AQAP, or things like this).

In some cases, I think it worthwhile to either not prosecute or pursue a minimal plea on the basis of what, and how, the leaker leaked.

But where the conduct leaked is clearly not illegal and is clearly properly classified, then absent other mitigating factors, the individual deserves to be prosecuted and punished as someone who betrayed the trust and the responsibility he was given by a legitimate and elected government operating under a legitimate set of laws.

There’s a growing tendency to label every leaker of information about a government policy that is merely controversial as a whistleblower, and it’s completely mistaken. We enable, by law, governments to enact controversial policies, including some (perhaps especially some) that are classified. If you don’t like that, change the law. But if you break the law merely because you disagree with a legal policy that is not unacceptably unethical, then absent some mitigating circumstance you deserve to be caught, tried, and punished, because quite frankly you’re not only violating the law but in a sense subverting a democratic government.

To take a far worse leak as an example, while I favored significant mercy for Chelsea Manning due to the clear psychological distress she suffered at the time of her crimes (and out of some anger for aspects of her treatment), I would have otherwise favored imprisoning her for life.

The gravity of the leaked material, if limited to what Scahill published, in this case is much less, and so by that measure the punishment – if this is the guilty party – should be much less. But there are deterrence factors to consider as well.

At the same time, I’d also favor reforming the whistleblower process to better protect whistleblowers and to enable them to report matters within the government without fear of legal reprisal or damage to their career or standing. Conscientious reporting ought be encouraged and rewarded, as this is one of the best defenses against any incipient abuse, and I fear that we don’t do a good enough job yet on that front (though it’s improving).

Bardi October 27, 2014 7:15 PM


I would agree, except, if they had exhausted all bureaucratic means of correcting the record, then, perhaps, we need to examine how bureaucracies correct themselves and allow means for the employees to help the agencies.

IMHO, “top down management styles” never work in the way we intend, more often yield results perceived to be “efficient” and almost always becoming the long way around to the solution. Top management which does not listen to the “floor guy” is doomed to failure, always.

Derin Devlet October 27, 2014 7:20 PM

Speak of the devil! By now everybody knows whenever skeptical says the word law, he’s full of shit to the hairline. In this case he’s grunting out a greasy whopper about your right to seek and obtain information. Mention of that element of the supreme law of the land, with which domestic law at all levels must comport, will make him blink TILT Rain-Man style and pivot off somewhere on tangents, because he is unable to admit that it exists. All security-state tax parasites are trained to lie about the law. When they’re outside their cubicles in the wider world and they get their noses rubbed in it, then they roboticly repeat nonsense words. It’s fun to watch. You’ll see hours of it next month, government weasels lying to conceal their crimes.

Incidentally, here’s an example of grave damage for which skeptical wants to lock up Manning for life: exposing forgery by NBC proliferators with positions of trust in the US government. Reporting crimes and exercising his right to denunciation. There’s lots more government crime in that trove and skeptical’s afraid you’ll find it.

Nick P October 27, 2014 7:59 PM

@ Derin Devlet

The UN is not the supreme law of the land: empires like the U.S. are along with some powerful independents (eg Switzerland). The UN is something the U.S. co-funds, tolerates, complies with a bit, and ignores whenever advantageous. Such a relationship would mean that the U.N is a truly toothless organization.

In the U.S., our laws are the laws of the land except when those in power allow otherwise.

Nick P October 27, 2014 8:30 PM

@ Skeptical

I just went back and re-read the article. I agree that they went into treacherous territory here because they published details that might hurt our intelligence efforts. The number of people they’re watching in a specific city (Dearborn) comes to mind. On the whistleblower side, they showed a person can be harmed by this program for nothing other than the suspicions of an arbitrary person. Quite different than how they’ve presented it to the public. Had they just leaked that, I’d call it whistleblowing.

Leads me to my next point: leaking government deception of American people should automatically qualify as whistleblowing (unless its OPSEC related). The thing we keep seeing is that they’re saying one thing to the public, but doing another thing. They’re telling the public they’re using strong/secure methods, then they’re using weak ones. They’re telling the public they have evidence these people are terrorists, then they have some agent’s suspicion. These organizations largely have legal secrecy & criminal immunity that prevents normal accountability measures. Whistleblowing is a simple, effective countermeasure to corruption in such organizations and circumstances so long as only corruption or lies are exposed.

So, it was certainly whistleblowing to release the unacceptable circumstances that land people on the list and a number/percentage of people with no credible evidence backing harm they endure. That lets the public know there’s a problem and make an informed opinion on something that’s otherwise secret. It creates the potential for reform (or acceptance of status quo). Without it, the public continues believing the lies they’re told and harm to innocent people just accumulates.

Derin Devlet October 27, 2014 8:39 PM

@Nick P, Thanks for digesting the main points of US statist indoctrination. “tolerates, complies with a bit, and ignores whenever advantageous.” Right, just like the constitution. Criminals get away with stuff sometimes. So when OJ gets away with murder, does that mean homicide laws are bullshit? When Michael Jackson gets away with blowing boys, does that prove the law against that is bullshit? No – because statist propaganda restricts that line of argument to jus cogens.

Anyway, the usual government-issue attacks on the UN miss the point. The treaty bodies and charter bodies (don’t confuse them with the UN) are not police forces. They are charm schools for governments of shaved apes that can’t comply with the minimal standards of the civilized world. Like North Korea. Like Uzbekistan. Like the USA. Treaty bodies educate them and acculturate them, with all the painful, special-ed slowness you’d expect.

Coyne Tibbets October 27, 2014 8:59 PM

@Skeptical: “But where the conduct leaked is clearly not illegal and is clearly properly classified, then absent other mitigating factors, the individual deserves to be prosecuted and punished as someone who betrayed the trust and the responsibility he was given by a legitimate and elected government operating under a legitimate set of laws.”

This would be fine, if there were some recognized third party who could arbitrate “illegal”, “properly classified”, “other mitigating factors”, “betrayed the trust and responsibility” and “legitimate set of laws”.

FISC-the-rubber-stamp is not that party. DOJ is not that party. The judge is not that party, since DOJ will plant its National Security foot firmly on his neck to ensure he makes “impartial” decisions. The jury is not that party since the only words they will ever hear is “stinking spy”. So far, even the Supreme Court hasn’t dared to be that arbitrating party.

Which further means that the word “prosecuted”, in your statement, can be replaced by “kangaroo court sham”.

Of your original statement, that leaves: “The individual deserves to be punished.” So much for the justice you pretend.

Nick P October 27, 2014 9:01 PM

@ Derin Devlet

I’m far from indoctrination being a potential “enemy of the state” in their eyes. Strong fighter for the Constitution myself, which doesn’t mention foreign control of our activities. The thing I oppose is this constant quoting of international regulations, etc that has no effect on what powerful nations are actually doing. They don’t care about that stuff. It’s just for show.

Best to focus on what it takes to curb each country’s evils with that country’s laws, media, citizens, etc. Additionally, the country trying to prevent oppression, surveillance, corruption, etc. better not be guilty of it themselves. Many crying foul over the Snowden revelations have a stench of their own. Not all, but many if not most. And a large number are NSA SIGINT partners according to other leaks.

So, it’s back to what I always say: what individuals/companies/countries do is more important than what they preach. Most of the powerful countries are doing all kinds of sneaky, evil things to benefit themselves. Five Eye’s countries (esp U.S.) just got ahead of them in the game and sucked at internal controls. Hence, the U.S. is ahead of the game and has more leaks. I’d rather the game go away. Yet, I know it’s not going to happen by me citing reg’s by an organization with shitloads of human rights abusers & SIGINT players.

Nick P October 27, 2014 9:07 PM

@ Coyne Tibbets

Good points. I often tell people that the mere fact that one can be indefinitely detained, assets seized/frozen without charges, kidnapped/tortured/murdered, etc. without anything other than secret Executive Branch decisions shows this isn’t a republic. It’s a police state disguised as a republic.

What if Congress disagrees? That power can be used on them. What about Supreme Court? That power can be used on them. What about dissidents? They’ve used all kinds of power on them over the years. People building secure voting or communications systems? That power can be used on them.

Over and over. A dissident can be grabbed, tortured, or killed without due process or even awareness of what happened. And those doing it have criminal immunity. So, whistleblowing of the more evil stuff going on becomes even more necessary as any “legitimate” action can result in police state response without any recourse by the citizen. Scary place we live in.

Steve October 27, 2014 9:13 PM

Hm. A story by Michael Isikoff. That would be the Michael Isikoff who, while at the Washington Post, helped bury Gary Webb’s expose on the CIA connection to the crack cocaine “epidemic” in the 1980s.

As comedian/writer/radio personality Harry Shearer likes to put it, nice people doing nice things.

Justin October 27, 2014 9:15 PM


I agree with you that there is a tendency in the media to portray leakers as whistleblowers regardless of the motives and effects of the leak. Chelsea Manning (then called Bradley) leaked the names and addresses of confidential informants to the U.S. military in its war against the Taliban. As a result of those leaks, I understand at least some of those confidential informants were hunted down and killed by the Taliban. I cannot support or condone that.

On the other hand, some of these leaks are things that we the people needed to know. You say, “We enable, by law, governments to enact controversial policies, …” but the government’s interpretation of the law is really twisted to allow some of these things that are done in secret. Is it statutory law, administrative law, or case law that allows warrantless surveillance of telephone calls, snail mail, faxes, e-mails, web browsing, cell phone and car location data, credit card purchases, other bank account transactions, health records, and all other such information to be collected and maintained by the NSA et al. in the name of “big data” and “total information awareness”, not to mention drones spying on us? And how does that law abrogate the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

And then when it comes time to prosecute a crime, the government lies about how it obtained the information. They call it “parallel construction” when it is really just flat-out perjury in court. Just like the East German Stasi.

Before we claim all these government policies are lawful, let us read the entire U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, and recognize it as the supreme law of the land, to which we owe allegiance as U.S. citizens, in a plain reading, not twisted up in some bizarre legal interpretation.

What good is a Constitution if the government doesn’t follow it, or if they can twist the words to mean whatever they like?

Nick P October 27, 2014 9:28 PM

@ Steve

His Wikipedia page pushes the image that he’s written on plenty of government corruption and abuse. I’d appreciate you sharing your source on that if you have it. Especially as the recent movie is generating interesting on the topic.

Derin Devlet October 27, 2014 11:08 PM

@Nick P, one must admire your nostalgic loyalty to the constitution which got shit-canned long ago, and is gone for good. Funny how American defenders of the sacred constitution have all been induced to forget about Article VI.

Interesting, too, that laws signed on the dotted line and ratified by your elected representatives you attribute to [making a cross of your fingers] the UN, and not to the state that signed them. Odd that you see a commitment of your government, freely undertaken, as ‘foreign control,’ as if it were you resisting control, and not the state. They’ve duped you into fighting constraints on state coercion. It’s brilliant. A perfectly stereotyped reflex in Americans but nowhere else.

As for “They don’t care about that stuff,” tell that to the US government. Remember when the ICJ made them back down from that war in 1992? You don’t remember that? Don’t feel bad. No American does. That’s the kind of thing that is suppressed in US propaganda. Remember when the US government knuckled under and paid through the nose, paid arch-enemy IRAN, to avoid an ICJ judgment? Of course you don’t. That’s another thing that went down the memory hole – but only in the USA. Everybody else remembers.

The impressive thing about US government propaganda is how it induces the masses to say the exact same utterly predictable thing, and always think it’s their idea.

4g3gh38738hg October 27, 2014 11:57 PM

The US will likely make up for the underachieved example setting before with this one.

Thing is… If they already identified them and took action you’d be lucky to learn vague details half a century from now..

Sorry, but I don’t see the CIA and NSA as a bunch of half-literate tech entities like you guys.. Especially given their in-house talent and resources..

OldFish October 28, 2014 12:23 AM

“enable them to report matters within the government”

Government review of whistle blowers is about as useful as an internal affairs investigation of excessive force.

The abusers and the excusers believe their own propaganda about their heroism and patriotism. That positive feedback is the gateway to ever higher levels of vile behavior.

Andrew_K October 28, 2014 4:17 AM

@ vas pup, Clive Robinson

Regarding mental asylum and psychiatry at all.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that psychiatry is a needed science and psych affecting illness should be treated, when needed. And when I think of delusional persons, in my opinion treatment against their will in the moment of delusion may be in their interest.

One of the major discriminants whether a patient needs treatment is psychological strain. Being hunted by imaginary monster spiders under your skin might be considered as such.

The problem is a missing objective definition of “sanity” when it comes to psychology. Is it insane that I talk to the comrades I saw dying in Iraq (probably not)? Is it insane when I hear them answer (maybe) and let them guide me through my day? When I realize the voices are not real, it’s hallucination. When I take them for real, it’s delusion. It might also be an coping stragey my brain uses to handle my own PTBS. Treatment needed? Depends. As long as I pose no danger to others or myself and there is no psychological strain?

Regarding abuse of psychiatry: Psychology and Neurology is full of really dark history. That’s easy to explain, since there are only very few volunteers for experiments since everyone realizes that tampering with the brain can turn you into a vegetable when something goes wrong.
Aside, there is no neutral observation possible as other sciences use it. The subjects’ statements are the only way to assess what a treatment does to it. This would not pose a problem, if there wouldn’t be evil in this world: Let it be Psychopaths who fool the system to get out and rape/murder again. These are the cases, where it is wrong to leave them altough they say that everything is fine.

I think not only of 3rd Reich, but also East Germany and Bulgaria. Whilst Stasi was master of psychological torture without touching the suspect, bulgaria was known for their use of psych meds.

Left alone that we still profit from outcome of those dark experiments.

Andrew_K October 28, 2014 5:13 AM

Clive Robinson

Who ever it is “May God have mercy on them” because I doubt the FBI et al will (despite reports to the contrary).

Amen to that.
I think what i recently wrote on use of torture in and outside show trials on different individuals is applicable. That guy definitly drops in the “can be tortured”-category.

Sleep deprivation and stuff.

Clive Robinson October 28, 2014 5:39 AM

@ Nick P,

With regards your point,

Leaking government deception of American people should automatically qualify as whistleblowing (unless its OPSEC related).

The problem is the exception you give, as we know the agencies will twist such a meaning to cover just about anything they can, and where they cannot they will quite deliberatly include low grad OPSEC to ensure the exception applies.

So NO exceptions, which brings you back to two choices, either some supposed independent “whistle blowing oversight” that we know will turn into a nodding dog like FISC. Or the whistleblower has to redact the information themselves.

The problem with the latter is that as both Snowden and Manning knew, is that when whistleblowing via leaking you don’t have time to redact the stuff yourself. So both of them pushed the raw leak to third parties. For Manning it was the stupidity of a Guardian journalist who published the key to the encrypted trove that had been put up in various places on the Internet as a dead mans switch that released the entire trove. Snowden took a slightly different route, but as we have subsiquently found this gives the third party the ability to pick only those items they want to publish, which means most of the trove that is not realy OPSEC locked up.

This is particularly true of niche interests such as “technical measures”, which as we know are almost certainly based on information in the public domain and thus already known and exploited by other nations TLAs. Thus the release of technical information that is atleast four generations old is not realy an OPSEC issue, especialy when the US funding on supply chain analysis gives a big chunk of the information away for those of moderate intelligence who can “read between the lines”.

History shows us the harmfull effects of trying to keep basic knowledge secret, it always gets discovered by others who then have to be repressed and eventually the dam breaks. In the process society gets fractured, secret societies / terrorist groups form and many people get hurt.

Doctor No October 28, 2014 8:19 AM

Well, what of it? When your nuclear reactor blows up, you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again. Make your fortune on the Pearl River delta – go into business with the PLA, deliver a bit of malware now and then – What else is an imaginary Chinese villain to do? Making fools of patriotic US dimbulbs will always be my passion, but it doesn’t pay as well as it used to. There’s so much competition now. I’m afraid the rosukes will squeeze us right out of the business, they’re ruthless. Masters of ridicule.

Sancho_P October 28, 2014 8:42 AM

Day in day out we hear the same lipservice about law, internal control and oversight.
It’s not them, it’s us, the free and brave.

Politico had a heartbreaking and shocking essay regarding internal critics:
How our society (not anonymous organisations out of control, I’m talking about us,
you and me …) react to whistleblowers, really worth reading:

Basically it’s a shame that we need whistlblowers.
That’s why an open society should encourage whistlblowers at all costs and punish those shills that run organizations where it needs whistleblowers to correct wrongdoing.
We need freedom, not pressure.
Peace, not war.

So simple that is, history shows that regardless of our “intelligence” we couldn’t achieve that.

Dishonest behavior starts in secrecy (which is different from privacy).

There is no crime, no ruse, no trick, no fraud, no vice which does not live by secrecy. Bring this secrets to light, unveil and ridicule them to everybody. Sooner or later the public opinion will sweep them out.
Publication may not be enough – but it is the only means without which all other attempts will fail.

(Joseph Pulitzer 1847-1911)

[Apologize my attempt to translate, didn’t find that in English]

Dr. Yes October 28, 2014 10:06 AM

Bring up Snowden and the beltway wannabes will always drag in Manning, pulling dead secret agents out their ass like Justin did (Did Justin download the database, one wonders? Did he ever search it? Look at it? Unzip it? Show me the dead agents in that data, I’ve got it right here.)

They don’t bring up Sibel Edmonds… can’t imagine why. She’s blowing the whistle on Feith and Marc Grossman and their Israeli handlers selling RD like chocolope to all comers, or giving it away to buy UN vote; Jan Schakowsky’s lesbian honey trap sex tapes; paid Turkish/Israeli agents of influence in congress. Forensic evidence of widespread treason at the highest levels, Tail Gunner Joe’s fever dreams, sitting on the shelf. Nobody wants to pull that thread.

They don’t like Tice’s testimony of NSA surveillance of government figureheads, showing who’s in charge.

They really, really don’t like CIA’s foreign opposite numbers tattling. That’s only begun.

Believer October 28, 2014 10:54 AM

All this time I thought “second leaker” is just an open invitation. Has this story been confirmed yet?

albert October 28, 2014 12:54 PM

I’d like to clarify some points:
1. There is no ‘rule of law’, there is only whatever those in power (corporate elite, the President, and the folks who who really run things) feel like doing. Hence the need for extreme secrecy. Anyone who thinks the ‘rule of law’ is sacrosanct needs to move on; it’s over.
2. Leakers, whistle-blowers, etc. may have different motives, but the end result is the same; making secret information public. The degree of harm to individuals varies; certainly no innocents should be harmed, but evildoers need to take the hand they’re dealt.
3. The demonization of people like Snowden, Manning, etc. really has nothing to do with ‘law’, ‘national security’, or even morality. It has do do with revenge. This understanding is essential when dealing with the psychotics who run the world’s political systems. For examples, I give you US foreign policy, which, if analyzed as the thinking of an individual, is clearly insane.
4. There is no ‘privacy’. What the NSA (and its ilk) have sown, so they are now reaping. Those who live by the byte, die by the byte.
BTW, ‘secret agents’ live with the spectre of death; it’s part of the fun. It doesn’t really matter how they die, or why. Don’t bother mentioning ‘unnecessary’ or ‘avoidable’ deaths. I can give you a shipload of examples.
So that’s the way it is. God help us. Amen.
I gotta go…

Justin October 28, 2014 1:44 PM

@Dr. Yes

Like I said, some of these leaks were information that needed to see the light of day. In particular, the mass collection of “big data” on American citizens and its sharing with law enforcement without a warrant concerns me. But your naïveté and disregard for people’s lives put at risk by other leaks is shocking.

I don’t know if you meant to call me a “beltway wannabe,” but somehow I don’t think the Constitution has a whole lot of respect among “beltway wannabes.”

I just want my government to respect its Constitution, and unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be a popular position on either the left or the right.

Dr. Yes October 28, 2014 2:09 PM

You sound like a humane individual. But beware, there are lots of unkillable zombie lies about Manning’s purported body count. The actual database, on the other hand, is a priceless historical record of US government aggression and attendant serious crimes of concern to the international community, with a handy search utility embedded. It should be distributed to every kid in grade school.

HomerJ October 28, 2014 6:30 PM

Some of the leaked documents thus far have made mention of a policy of watching anyone who is two connections away from a known bad guy. I have to wonder how broadly that gets applied. Certainly direct emails texts or phone calls, but what about visiting the same website, visiting the same cafe, shopping at a liquor store owned by someone they are watching, or working at the same company. Just how scary two connections away is, depends a lot on what defines a connection.

45 October 28, 2014 6:52 PM

There’s something I always wondered about two-hops guilt by association. There’s the Franklin/Boys Town pedophile ring, and there’s the Penn State Nittany Pedophiles. Between the two there’s at least one single-hop connection, and that’s not counting CIA. Did NSA pick that up, I wonder? And how about the VIPs and diplomats the government blackmailed with Boys Town boys – did NSA catch any of them consorting with Jerry Sandusky’s favorite centers?

Nick P October 28, 2014 8:07 PM

@ Derin Devlet

Constitution, Law, and Treaties in that order. I forgot the article, but remembered its priorities now didn’t I? 😉

“Interesting, too, that laws signed on the dotted line and ratified by your elected representatives you attribute to [making a cross of your fingers] the UN, and not to the state that signed them. ”

I’m saying they don’t matter as much as other laws. You’re arguing technicalities (except for shit-canning Constitution) while I’m talking practicalities. America’s powerful groups… don’t… care. And since they don’t care, they do whatever they think they can get away with. I like how you cited “that war in 1992” while ignoring the dozens of overt military interventions, hundreds to thousands of clandestine activities in more countries, and billions of tapped communications. Your example is one of the few exceptions, not the rule. So why would I bring it up?

“Remember when the US government knuckled under and paid through the nose, paid arch-enemy IRAN, to avoid an ICJ judgment?”

I remember how the U.S. overthrew their government, oppressed their people while ripping off their oil for many years, paid support to their enemies in a long ass war, pushed/maintained sanctions that starved/killed them, and continue to do covert operations against them like Stuxnet. THe U.S. imperialists’ domination of Iran is an easy case to make, esp with confessions by CIA & no time in prison. Against this, I hope your counterexample isn’t the oil case where the ICJ rejected both countries’ claims and had no effect on the evil shit U.S. government is doing in Iran. That would be quite a weak counterexample to all I just cited.

(Good news is that Iran is still resisting their BS. Great for them!)

“The impressive thing about US government propaganda is how it induces the masses to say the exact same utterly predictable thing, and always think it’s their idea.”

U.S. government propaganda is impressive and has that effect on some people. Yet, it’s irrelevant to this conversation as most of America doesn’t share my views and I publicly opposed their modern wrongs at a cost to me. You’re once again projecting a strawman stereotype to knock down.

The Reality

So, back to reality. Despite some International treaty or Article VI, the U.S. government is involved in mass worldwide spying. The country has five major partners and who knows how many SIGINT partners. Most of Europe that I know from the leaks, including many condemning us. Our major competition are all involved in the same kind of mass spying and economic espionage. It’s also known that at least twenty countries spy on us specifically for I.P. and military secrets. So, this isn’t an “American” thing: it’s a trend in all the biggest and most powerful industrialized nations you mention. Them taking us to court over intelligence collection is mutually assured destruction as you bet our spies have dirt on them too.

International regulations and courts aren’t the solution. They don’t matter on this issue. The solution is for (a) some major countries to totally ban/quit this kind of spying, (b) differentiate on IT security/quality, and (c) lure businesses in spying countries to use their products. This massive economic loss combined with high profile abuse cases that would scare U.S. voters. So far, we just have the loss but not the other aspects. Unfortunately and predictably…

So, that leaves individuals and companies in strongly independent countries (eg Iceland, Switzerland) doing the same thing. We’re seeing more of that. They’re not good enough to stop TLA’s but the environment is starting to form at least. And a few strong solutions have appeared for niche domains. I’m hoping to see both trends increase in public and private sector.

Derin Devlet October 28, 2014 10:32 PM

No, I wasn’t referring to Case Concerning Oil Platforms, it was Aerial Incident, good guess, though.

True, there are plenty of examples where the US bad guy wins. On the other hand, there’s a discernible trend. The legal net is slowly drawing tighter, constraining the US more and more. Project it out and it could take generations, and maybe we don’t have generations. But the US government is chafing under it right now, and that’s nice to see. The US government is leaking legitimacy too, a very good sign, because what we need is what happened to the USSR in ’90, collapse and dissolution, nothing less.

Everything you say about the Western bloc, or whatever it’s called, is true. But that’s 20% of the world by population in one insular little corner. And in the remaining four-fifths of the world – also strongly independent – the cooperation, or in network-theoretic terms, the topology, is incomparably denser, by design: not just states clicking together like billiard balls with people trapped inside, like here, but societies and publics interacting at all levels. Not economically, politically. That’s another thing Americans never hear about, because UNCTAD is in the cone of silence. South-South cooperation. The Havana Declaration. NAM’s Teheran summit. More stuff Americans don’t hear about, for obvious reasons. In the aggregate it’s a weapon every dissident should know how to use. We all fight leviathan with our technological Nerf swords, but there’s a bazooka just lying there, and Americans don’t think to pick it up. Warsaw Pact dissidents didn’t turn their nose up at the Helsinki Final Act, they used it as a stick to beat the regime, and they helped wreck it.

Gary Gary October 29, 2014 7:10 AM

For those of us who live in Western bloc, your 20% of world by population in this little corner is all we need to care about. Until our annual shipment of Christmas ornaments from the east or is it realy the west, compressed coffee beans from the other America, that stinky stuff we feed to our vehicles, and countless other non-essential goods suddenly disappear from serving shelves of our many mass logistic warehouse outfits, we will have our daily dose of sanity, and freedom.

President Alphonzo October 29, 2014 8:11 AM

on the “whistleblowers are criminal, no they are not”

Obviously, whistleblowers are heroes for liberty and justice. Not just like “rendition is kidnapping” and “enhanced interrogation is torture”. And how Iraq did not have WMD or terrorist ties. Or how about how Al Qaeda would have not been a thing but for the US screw ups there.

Amazingly, people just are not buying into the bullshit much anymore. They are breaking out of the brainwashing. Many of them get into gov jobs and then realize, “Whoa, everyone is a hypocrite and this is all a lie”. Others go in like moles for the people, as opposed for some foreign state. And then, there are probably organized groups that operate in secret and see the excess as fat that needs to be burned off, a cancer that needs to be killed. Or not.

When the source of trust is undermined, then there are no shackles left. Which is why people invent fairy tales about Manning’s release of information (it killed confidential informants whose names who slobbishly leaked in the treasure trove of data the low level analyst had access to). Even if this were a true story (which it is not), what is the US doing throwing around the names and identifying information of agents everywhere?

Why would anyone ever become an agent of the CIA or other US foreign intel agencies if they are guaranteed that they will treat their data so horribly? Manning was not a superspy. Any low level spy would have had access to the very same data.

(Reality is, they are not so bad, at all. Neither Manning nor Snowden had any identifying data about spies. But this does not erase the incompetence of the Army nor the NSA in their handling of sensitive data. They were not trusted with it.)

President Alphonzo October 29, 2014 8:17 AM

Second Point:

Oh, no charges filed, and probably will not be filed. Take that to heart you would be leakers out there. Also consider, Snowden is making good. And the third (and other leakers, which there are, such as on the foreign telco story) are also doing perfectly fine.

We all know these are crimes which are exposed, and should be exposed.

Harrington Horseface October 29, 2014 4:23 PM

Why would anyone ever become an agent of the CIA or other US foreign intel agencies if they are guaranteed that they will treat their data so horribly? Manning was not a superspy. Any low level spy would have had access to the very same data.

While you admitted in the next graf you were being fecetious, I’ll play the straight answer-

Money. Job Security. Coercion.

Those are hard incentives to compete against coming from the most powerful state on the planet (we’ll pretend china doesn’t exist for a moment).

What is interesting is how horribly afoul things have gotten, to the point that integrity in a few individuals is starting to overcome those powerful incentives.

President Alphonzo October 29, 2014 5:02 PM

@Harrington Horseface

While you admitted in the next graf you were being fecetious, I’ll play the straight answer-

Money. Job Security. Coercion.

Those are hard incentives to compete against coming from the most powerful state on the planet (we’ll pretend china doesn’t exist for a moment).

What is interesting is how horribly afoul things have gotten, to the point that integrity in a few individuals is starting to overcome those powerful incentives.

I think you should consider taking someone with the name that has “President” in it, much more seriously.

That aside…

I think the US will continue to pay out big bucks to gabbers. And they may turn around and get even more bucks from their own country and others in the process. And all of this will be incredibly secret stuff. And if anyone finds out about it they will either go, “Wow this is incredibly boring, where are people’s video sexting” or wonder to themselves, “you know, their video sexting just makes me realize how I am so unattractive as a human being and can never possibly hope to know such sublime heights as these nobodies know”.

Maybe somewhere in all of that, like obviously putrid Hoover, they will be able to find a way to put extortion in there.

albert October 30, 2014 11:49 AM

@Derin Devlet
You said “…but societies and publics interacting at all levels. Not economically, politically. …” You hit the political nail head, but not the economic one. The convergence of the economic and political can be complicated. I wondered about how the Russians, and later, the Chinese always managed to buy products from certain countries, while the US has constant wars with those same countries. It’s because they leave politics out of it: You’re run by a dictator, we don’t care. Need bribes, no problem. Human rights, not an issue. You hate us, fine, our money is still good, and we won’t bother you politically or militarily. That makes us a good customer.
I won’t deal with the underlying purpose of US political meddling (i.e., ‘foreign policy’) but the fact is that a sustained state of war is not economically viable in the long term; you never get other countries resources for free; you either pay them, or your military. (Nuclear power is a good metaphor, a disaster now, worse in the future)
I feel a little guilty going so far off topic, but it’s been interesting to read everyones comments. I close with this:
Since there is NO ‘privacy’ and NO ‘secrecy’, there CANNOT be ‘security’. Haven’t we learned ANYTHING from Manning, Snowden, etc.? Leakers & whistleblowers should NOT be incarcerated. Even if a spy dies, can it ever be proven that the leaker is responsible? Spying is illegal in EVERY country, AFAIK. Some have death penalties. CIs get caught and killed all the time, and you’ll never read about it, unless it suits the gov’t propaganda machine. CIs even get ratted out by their own handlers. There is no honor among thieves.
Reducing secrecy will create better societies. I just wish I had time to expand this idea.
I gotta go…

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