Long Article on NSA and the Shadow Brokers

The New York Times just published a long article on the Shadow Brokers and their effects on NSA operations. Summary: it's been an operational disaster, the NSA still doesn't know who did it or how, and NSA morale has suffered considerably.

This is me on the Shadow Brokers from last May.

Posted on November 14, 2017 at 6:08 AM • 106 Comments


Clive RobinsonNovember 14, 2017 7:16 AM

@ Bruce,

Summary: it's been an operational disaster, the NSA still doesn't know who did it or how, and NSA morale has suffered considerably.

Now why does reading that make me feel more cheerful B-)

On a side note, I've said for a very long time now that For all their resources the NSA was in many ways not that much ahead of the academic or Open communities. And certainly behind the curve of the open community in some asspects.

Longterm readers of this blog will find that things discussed on this blog "eventually" end up being used by various Government entities, that get outed thus the state of the technology they actively use gets "benchmarked".

Thus the question arises of "How far up their knowlege curve, is the technology they actively use?"

There are a couple of ways you can look at this, the first is in some areas it's near parity because the knowledge has a very short life cycle. The other end is that they hold as much back in reserve as they can, and effectively only use "low hanging fruit" knowledge and techniques.

Some years prior to the Ed Snowden revelations I posted on this blog that the NSA's three main target areas were probably,

1, Protocols,
2, Standards,
3, Plaintext.

So far all the revelations have shown this to be broadly true, but also that "leaps ahead" of the open communities are quite rare when you consider the industrial rather than targeted approach they use.

As I've said a number of times they are constrained by the laws of nature and mathmatics just as much as everybody else is. They may be able to cheat the laws of the land but not those of nature. Which leaves the laws of mathmatics, which I would still expect them to have a lead in certain research areas. However the SigInt agencies offer bright minds neither Fame or Fortune just a moderatly comfortable life style if you toe the line all the way to retirment and beyond. Thus their previous monopoly on bright minds has gone, and in fact they are more likely to recruit only timmid minds these days. Which is what we are seeing by the paucity of government recruitment in other areas.

So although the summery has made me smile, it's not an unexpected smile.

Clive RobinsonNovember 14, 2017 8:48 AM

@ All,

One thing that has me a little puzzled is that the "publicity grab" has gone of the boil a bit for the Shadow Brokers.

Back at the end of May[1] I noticed that they were ramping up the publicity a notch at a time and suggested only half jokingly,

    I suspect it will not be long before there is a yet more news worthy story about the Shadow Brokers causing instability in the BitCoin market...

Well things died back instead. The question is thus along the lines of "Have they XXX?" with XXX being, run out of steam / pulled back for some reason / become yesterdays news... Or has there been some instruction from a state level authority to either the Shadow Brokers or the MSM to cool it down, so a look at current world politics might give some answers.

But I also made another half joking observation of,

    And the longer it goes on the more the NSA look like "The Muppets Show". If it's not another IC agency doing it you can bet they wish they were, or had concessions in the popcorn business.

This atleast appears to be comming true if the NYTimes article is on the money.

But as it must be getting close to the annual "Movie Script" competition, you are still in with a chance on another observation I made,

    I would make a small wager that some script writer is already putting this together to hawk around as a film proposal.

However, I must admit I miss the entertainment factor the Shadow Brokers brought in the Spring, maybe now it's autumn they'll turn the heat up again.


oliverNovember 14, 2017 9:52 AM

This could not have happend to a more deserving bunch of miscreants!!
I hope the NSA dies a quick and painful death!!
They are worse than useless.

Tina ReginaNovember 14, 2017 10:08 AM

Well, at least they have a great proven record on foiling terrorist attacks thanks to big-data infosec... oh, hang on a second... damn.

orcmidNovember 14, 2017 10:09 AM

I noticed the odd claim, buried in the article, that the Kaspersky discovery of the hacking tools was a covert search in a tit-for-tat operation.

Considering that the Kaspersky discovery is indistinguishable from standard means for identifying and classifying exploits encountered on infected computers, attribution to a focused covert effort seems a leap too far.

Whether Kaspersky Labs, along with other antivirus labs, attracts attention and penetration efforts of cyber-outlaws goes without saying.

It is still odd to see the Kaspersky assertion in the article, considering that it has almost nothing material to do with the topic and arc of the overall article. Now I wonder what other excessive inferences are present in the narrative.

One thing that we know for certain, of course, is that the leaked exploit tools have been used to inflict serious harm and the dismay over Shadow Brokers and NSA is warranted.

WinterNovember 14, 2017 10:33 AM

Seems to be yet another example of the rule that Secrecy is just a veil to hide Incompetence.

David MNovember 14, 2017 10:45 AM

Considering that any hacking tool created prior to 2014 is now probably in the hands of America's enemies, it would seem the only reasonable thing to do would be for the NSA to work with US companies to close those known security holes and then work to develop new tools. Both should be done in parallel and done ASAP.

Clive RobinsonNovember 14, 2017 11:49 AM

@ orcmid,

It is still odd to see the Kaspersky assertion in the article, considering that it has almost nothing material to do with the topic and arc of the overall article.

Have you noticed that in the US they can only have one external existential cyber National Security threat at a time?

You had China APT then Russia, then Iran, North Korea now Russia again, etc etc etc. For any sensibly minded person the realisation that all Countries that can "are at it" against each other friend or foe "all the time" is not a hard concept to grasp. Likewise if people think it's only the "Axis of Evil" they are limiting their horizons. We know that during the Obama Administration a US agency eves dropped on members of the US elected houses as they spoke to Israeli Government types overly candidly about US foreign policy (which is an out and out no no). We know this because Obama chose to let those concerned in the elected houses know in detail --much to their chagrin-- but publicaly just mildly rebuked them.

Israel is supposed to be one of the major allies of the US but we know not only do they Spy on the US they also run US citizens as agents for Israel in both US government and US industry as well.

In the UK it's been directly acknowledged that GCHQ spys on members of the House of Commons and other Parliamentary persons without exception (ie the Wilson Doctrine has no effect on GCHQs activities). We also know that because Parliament uses Office 365 all their correspondence etc crosses a national boarder and are thus intercepted by not just GCHQ... Oh and as that correspondence etc is regarded as "Business Records" under US law... Thus they are probably collected under NSL by the FBI from MicroSoft...

Thus the thing a reasonable person in the US should be asking is "Why does the USG only have one cyber enemy at a time?" when everyone else has hundreds. Or more correctly they should ask "Why do we only get to here about them one at a time, do they think the US citizens are stupid?"... Well the answer to that is almost certainly "Yes" but not for the obvious answer... It's all part of the "Great Game" and as such would be considered propaganda which is technically a no-no. So by only talking about one cyber entity at a time the USG is using propaganda without it being propaganda under some "re-meaning of the word" (the same as thr NSA "We don't...").

So as parts of the USG are running a propaganda war against Russia currently, it's not that surprising that a major "Russian Name" in the US would get such treatment...

RobinDCHNovember 14, 2017 12:43 PM

Not sure why there's so much cooing that the NSA were hacked. The hack was almost certainly carried out by Russian state actors who, having used the same hacks themselves, are up to much the same general mischief themselves. Except that they are operating entirely outside of any legal oversight, and with no aim other than to discredit and destroy the intelligence operations of democratic countries such as the US and the UK. I'd have thought this was a broadly bad thing.

And they are unfortunately succeeding with the ample help of organizations like Wikileaks who - as ever - seem to have a blind spot when it comes to releasing anything which might embarrass senior Russian politicians or their immensely rich oligarchical friends.

David RudlingNovember 14, 2017 1:17 PM

Like RobinDCH I cannot express unalloyed glee at the hacking of NSA and for the resons he/she ably expresses. However I am old enough to be a cold war relic and in those days we expressed utter contempt for the East German Stasi and for the unjustifiable degree of surveillance to which they subjected their own people. But we (USA/UK) have become the Stasi in terms of surveillance of our own people. We have become that which we rightly sneered at during the cold war. That makes me very uncomfortable and seriously undermines my support for the agencies whose targeted work I applaud wholeheartedly but whose Stasi-like surveillance of everyone "just on the off chance" is too shamefully reminiscent of the actions of our former enemies.

albertNovember 14, 2017 1:41 PM

@orcmid, @Clive,

Any piece that mentions Russia in a bad light is sure to find a comfy home in the MSM. Also the DPRK, China, and Iran. God forbid one should lean toward objectivity, even a little.

I see a cartoon, with all the bogeymen lined up against a turnstile, with USMSM character saying: "One at a time please."

Thinking back to WWII, the -immediate existential threat- to England was enough to get the sharpest minds in the country to drop everything and get with the program. It was about money then, and it's not really about money now. It's about ideology. That's where motivation come from. Folks who do it for the money can be bought.

Despite their 'best' efforts, the MSM has yet to convince everyone that there is -any- existential threat to the US, in any country that we are presently at war with, or one that we're trying to go to war with. Is it any wonder that we can't find great talent to fill those high-tech vacancies in the NSA. Surely anyone with two or more brain cells connected together can see the hypocrisy of the system.

Well, things were going along well, until the trolls started. Amusing.

. .. . .. --- ....

Clive RobinsonNovember 14, 2017 5:45 PM

@ RobinDCH,

Now let me see,

... carried out by Russian state actors ...

Appart from a load of assumptions, do you have any actuall proof of that? Because nobody has published anything even remotely like evidence.

Except that they are operating entirely outside of any legal oversight ...

If the Shadow Brokers are as you claim "Russian state actors" then they would be acting just as legally as the US NSA or UK GCHQ or other sovereign states SigInt or IC agency entity. So you can not have that argument both ways, unless you want to appear like an irate child throwing their toys around.

... to discredit and destroy the intelligence operations of democratic countries ...

Again any State can run intelligence opperations just as legally as any other. It matters not one jot under international law if they are "democratic countries" or not. After all one of the claims of democracies is "All are equal under the eyes of the law". Claiming that the supposed democratic nation you live in is exempt from the law whilst other nations are not is a very very silly and childish argument of "but we are the good guys". Oh and history shows that the US and UK are anything but the good guys as any reasonable education would have taught you.

... ample help of organizations like Wikileaks ...

Ahh the good old "it must be Assange" excuse for incompetence card... That US Politico's have been playing for a decade and still get laughed at for doing so. Get real there are plenty of other news entities would publish the same information if it was sent to them. But probably with less redaction and fact checking than Wikileaks do, oh and a lot of sensationalism. Which is probably a good reason people don't send their information else where...

... [wikileaks] seem to have a blind spot when it comes to releasing anything which might embarrass senior Russian ...

Again a US Political mantra based on at best assumptions that are probably invalid. Follow your logic and see where the gaping great hole in it is,

1, Wikileaks does not publish Russian stuff.

2, Wikileaks must have a blind spot.

3, Thus Wikileaks info must be some how false or prejudicial.

Well has it ever occured to you that Wikileaks may not actually get sent stuff about Russian Politicals etc?

Or if they do get sent some they can not tell if the information is genuine or false so behave with caution?

Or that any information sent might well be a product of a US False Flag Operation to discredit Wikileaks or others?

We are aware that the CIA probably had tools developed that could run false atribution cyber attacks, because they lost them as well. Likrwise the UK's GCHQ have similar tools we are awarevof via the Ed Snowden revelations.

Thus it's fairly safe to assume that false flag operations are an IC and SigInt entity staple. Thus I would guess that Wikileaks thinks likewise, and take care not to get discredited by a US IC false flag operation...

After all such false flag stuff does appear and people swallow it up. Sometimes they realise it's probably garbage or just some one being told what they want to hear for money and thus don't action it.

After all both the Republicans and Democrats paid quite a bit of money to an ex UK intel analyst to get dirt on Donald Trump and where did that go?

Well both political parties realised it was probably garbage and did nothing with it, likewise various US agencies. The UK ex intel analyst who apparently was a "desk jocky" decided he could be a "field agent" and ended up going to Russia and believing the garbage he had handed out money for... Then in what looks like madness to many, he went on and spent his own money for more garbage. Then when nobody else would, published his report he did it... The end result his report got discredited if not laughed at, thus so did he. Then people implied he left his UK Gov Intel post due to mental reasons. He thus lost his employment and had to go into hiding... Oh and he's no chance of ever working in the Intel business again as he's nolonger anonymous apart from being thoroughly discredited...

So have a rethink of your logic and reasoning, lest you discredit yourself and your employer as well...

Oh one final thing to consider with regards,

Not sure why there's so much cooing that the NSA were hacked.

Well lets look at it sensibly as most people would,

1, The NSA is probably the biggest taker of tax payer money of any SigInt agency in the world. It geys more money than many nations GDP...

2, The NSA managment decided quite foolishly to be overly offensive whilst not taking care of defence.

3, They made a whole bunch of offensive tools but none for defence.

4, They then used the offensive tools widely and apparently from subsequent AV reports fairly indiscriminately.

5, Because they did not take care of defence they lost not just the tools but a whole load of other intel...

6, Because they did not take care of defence the world had to pay a huge price for their behaviour.

7, Part of that price was genuine pain, suffering and possibly even death due to the way health care organisations were hit.

People are pointing the finger and in effect saying all that money and they can not take care of their business and get taken to the cleaners, and we get hurt as well... Wise Guys huh, I think not...

The NSA has thus brought not just themselves but other IC and SigInt agencies and the US Government into disrepute. In most employment contracts that level of "bringing into disrepute" is a fairly instant dismissal offence. So natural justice says that the NSA should be terminated...

To see why people are "cooing" have a look at any celebrity magazine that covers Hollywood Divorces. The NSA is playing the part of the philandering husband who is not keeping it holstered whilst away from home, or washing it before returning to the nest. The Shadow Brookers are acting like the scorned wife who's PI has dug up the motherload of pay dirt. Oh and the Western MSM well they play the part of the celeb magazine, bringing you all the dirty for your entertainment and righteous indignation.

Of course people are going to coo and chat about it at the water cooler or coffee machine, and as always "dis" the philanderer and talk up the one scorned, who is giving the philanderer some "righteous" amount of pain and embarrassment that he "justly" desserves for bring a "flat out fool", especially as he has been doing it "on their dime"...

If you can not see that then you realy are no judge of human behaviour, but then the rest of your judgment appears faulty as well so I guess it's par for the course.

John SmithNovember 14, 2017 5:46 PM

from RobinDCH:

"...Except that they are operating entirely outside of any legal oversight, and with no aim other than..."

Thanks for the laugh. I immediately thought of the NSA director lying to Congress about domestic spying.

But then, rereading your comment, I noticed its careful construction. You don't actually claim that Mordor de la Fort Meade is operating under legal oversight, just that the Other Side doesn't. The reader is invited to infer that Our Side is Decent and Does The Right Thing.

Nicely played, and amusing.

Kevin PNovember 14, 2017 8:43 PM

Thanks to MSM, we have had the moral high ground for a good part of past century, but advantage is fading.

For the most part the leaks of recent years pertain to the great undertaking our country partook after 9-11. This is not only in the name of MIC but a vastly expanded domestic/international national security apparatus.

As great partaking goes, such as construction of Pyramids, it requires a great number of workers, builders, and architects, so it is often known, as in the case of great tombs of China, that the workforce became sealed in within the wonders they built. Thus, upon nearing its completion, the shrewd knows stay close to the exits or keep leverage.

So here goes my lame movie script attempt... call it fill in the blank.

handle_xNovember 14, 2017 9:14 PM


"Or has there been some instruction from a state level authority to either the Shadow Brokers or the MSM to cool it down"

Paranoia on your part I think. There's been plenty to read about the topic, none of it a great fit for the "general audience" of 6pm network news headline repetition factories.

Without a new update from the NSA or some other knowledgeable (secret) authority, what would you have them report on? That there's nothing official and new to report?
Speculation? To what end?

They didn't disclose who did the theft, so either they genuinely don't know that or I think more likely they have some idea but aren't keen on going into sources and methods.
Presumably attributing such things specifically would require both.

And what would the public disclosure accomplish for their goals? Not a damn thing.
Open a can of secret worms in public that also embarrass the agency publicly?
They're in damage control mode.

Do not ascribe to malice that which can be explained by embarrassment.

handle_xNovember 14, 2017 9:29 PM

"However I am old enough to be a cold war relic and in those days we expressed utter contempt for the East German Stasi and for the unjustifiable degree of surveillance to which they subjected their own people."

With the Stasi it wasn't just about the surveillance, it was about what they did to people with it, right?

The NSA has a wide charter for some things, it's a big operation. But to my knowledge none of you have been blackmailed or harassed or threatened (or worse, disappeared) as a result of the NSA intruding on your internet privacy per their charter.

*Caveat : this is an assumption, if I'm wrong I'm sure you'll let me know.

Comparing the organizations side by side would be enlightening in the differences as well as the similarities, but I would caution you though old enough to remember and reference them from entirely casual comparisons. It's a Godwin.

The real stasi would have gotten to you for merely discussing them in the terms you did here, without question. As broad and as overreaching as the NSA may be, it's not quite that.

And they do have legal oversight - the problem is, it's secret. So it's as useful as that is.

Perhaps instead of criticizing the NSA's broad methodology we should be discussing that of the Congress that writes blank checks to them and prevents us from effectively having any informed say in the process, or the court system that prevents us from suing to find out if we are victims on the basis that we cannot already prove how we've been victimized for standing purposes. All perfectly legal catch 22's.

mostly harmfulNovember 14, 2017 11:25 PM

@ handle_x

The NSA has a wide charter for some things, it's a big operation. But to my knowledge none of you have been
blackmailed or harassed or threatened (or worse, disappeared) as a result of the NSA intruding on your internet
privacy per their charter.

*Caveat : this is an assumption, if I'm wrong I'm sure you'll let me know.

On the one hand: Genuine kudos to you, for an apparent good faith effort to make your assumptions clear. Explicit assumptions save a lot of time.

On the other hand: "… if I'm wrong I'm sure you'll let me know"

Um, is that sarcasm? An attempt at gallows humor? "Ha ha. The Disappeared tell no tales. Ha ha."

Difficult to tell. But you do seem to be making in earnest the overall argument that Stasi-to-USA-alphabet-soup comparisons fail "because NSA just snoops around, but hey, don't hesitate to give me a heads up if I'm wrong and you've been grabbed off the street and brutalised and think it might have been due to NSA-sourced intel! Because I'm totally sincerely concerned!".

First of all, division of labor. Blackmail, harassment, threats and disappearances are the primarily the remit of other tri-alphabetic organisations, with whom the NSA share information. The practice of Parallel Construction means that organisations like the FBI, DEA, etc, or even your local PD, do not indicate to their victims (or, if applicable, to the courts or their legal advocates) when their investigations/interrogations are based on, or originate in, NSA-sourced information.

Secondly, anyone with the guts to

  • survive the kind of trauma that such lawless violations produce in their subject, and
  • process the aftermath sufficiently to discuss it with anyone,

is unlikely to discuss their personal victimisation here productively.

They know that, and it I find it difficult to believe that you don't know it, too.

ShavedMyWhiskersNovember 15, 2017 12:17 AM

I want to giggle at this but it all reflects a flawed mind set by those in the drivers seat.

The US may be the most digitally at risk nation on the planet and as such any exploit has greater value to the “other side” than it does for us. The other side might be five kids in Atlanta or a building full of engineers in Kieve.

I see constant reference to child porn but at this point such references apparently are a distraction from the invasive nature of the process of gathering anything and everything.

One court ruled that any computer could be hacked and discounted evidence that it contained. The presence of such remote hacking tools in law enforcement invites fruit of the poison tree defenses by any and all for anything. Recall most image searching tools depend on a copy of the image before the search.

Homeland Security and DOD would be well advised to file bugs with vendors near and far donestic and international and hold them to task. A foreign company like Samstung should/ could be bared from importing their great hardware if they fail to maintain the software. A placed agent of a third nation might hobble the update process to our detriment. Some fear the NSA has infiltrated standards bodies, why not management of update engineering teams near and far. Nothing clever, just budget, bad talent and lazy schedules.

The shadow broker discussion reminds me of a Korean War story told to me by a Vet. His platoon noticed a breach in the wire so they (USArmy) placed weapons to engage and stop any attempting to slip in. None got through! then after dawn it was disclosed that the gap was a trap to capture prisoners. The incursion was in force and it was a good thing the gap was shut tight by “the kids”. Had it not been slammed shut with improvised defenses it would have gone wrong.

Criminals and opposition forces should never be underestimated.

The optimist in me wants some of these leaks on exploits to be “kids” not in the know slamming foolishly deployed “traps”. That should open a discussion on the design and Security of honeypots.

TovaritchNovember 15, 2017 12:58 AM

@ mostly harmful, handle_x

There is also another aspect to such comparisons: modern political systems are much more sophisticated in terms of population control than their Stalinist or East German ancestors. Back then there was no comprehensive panopticon, but they managed to create fear and compliance by brutally cracking down on anyone they did find, essentially creating the superstition of a panopticon. Thus they could be quite certain that a popular revolt would not take them by surprise because most people were simply to fearful to take part in one.

Today, the comprehensive panopticon is a reality and population control is comfortably handled by scanning everyone's communications and confirming that the majority of people are busy with mortgage/food/facebook/kardashianstuff. The system can afford to be more tolerant. A Clive Robinson here and there is acceptable as long as it is obvious (from surveillance) that they do not gain huge numbers of followers and with that political influence. One of the great insights of China's modern dictators like Xi is that most people are fine if they are allowed to make money and consume entertainment. They are even allowed to criticize. As was recently reported, Chinese internet censorship does not suppress criticism; it suppresses any attempt at organizing, were it only to get a few people together to clean up the neighborhood park.

So what I mean by all this is that it is unfair to applaud the US government for, say, not quite sending a Bill Binney to the Gulag, or for leaving a Clive Robinson alone, when it is in fact the mass surveillance these democracies have built (ironically, with Bill Binney's help) which enables such tolerance in the first place. That tolerance has its limits, as the victims of parallel construction could attest--at least those who can guess what happened to them.

WinterNovember 15, 2017 1:00 AM

From the article:
agency regarded as the world’s leader in breaking into adversaries’ computer
networks failed to protect its own."

So much for the "offensive advantage" justifying neglecting defenses. Not only were they unable to protect the US presidential elections against a genuine disinformation campaign, they cannot even protect their own house.

Maybe, just maybe, there will be some more emphasis on defense in the future.

handle_xNovember 15, 2017 1:48 AM

"Difficult to tell."

Yes, it's a difficult assumption that the NSA disappears people at the same frequency per capita as the actual Stasi. I applaud your caveat also Clive. Duly due. Righteo.

I was questioning that comparison.

I think there is at least a ridiculous theatrical facade that we call the justice system, let alone the ultra mega secret justice system -tm involved in super-secret state sauce affairs. This is the age of Gitmo and secret courts. Lawyers are literally being threatened with imprisonment there completely outside of US jurisdiction though they are entirely upstanding US citizens not accused of any crime except refusal to represent their accused clients without due process. Nice folks who can recite the Magna Carta at Gitmo probably do just fine, let's pretend for the sake of argument.

But I do think there are probably levels of discretion between the two organizations.
The Stasi were the secret police. Everything was implied and done under that charter.

The NSA is about the means of communications "overall" and what they collect isn't actually decided by them. It's just done by them. Then they hand it off. Now you will probably reply with "Befehl ist Befehl" or some such, and rightly so. Congress has given them their orders.

Congress. The representative body -sic.

Until that order becomes illegal, they are doing their job. If you would say that what they're doing is illegal? You will have to do so much louder than you are doing now.

Because I fully agree with you, I just see no point in merely griping about it without result or consequence.

handle_xNovember 15, 2017 1:58 AM

I said Clive when I meant mostly harmful, sorry unintended. Clive is on everyone's mind!

Calm down everybody.

gordoNovember 15, 2017 2:15 AM

From the NYT article on the NSA and the Shadow Brokers:

So T.A.O. personnel rushed to replace implants in many countries with new malware they did not believe the Russian company [Kaspersky Lab] could detect.



From the Snowden cache (circa 2013):

CNE > 50,000 world-wide implants

As reported on by Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad on November 23, 2013:

CNE—an abbreviation for "Computer Network Exploitation". It is performed by a special cyber-warfare unit of the NSA known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which infected over 50,000 computer networks worldwide with malicious software designed to steal sensitive information, and is mostly aimed at Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and parts of Eastern Europe



2016 breach of the Equation Group

The most recent dates of the stolen files are from June 2013, thus prompting Edward Snowden to speculate that a likely lockdown resulting from his leak of the NSA's global and domestic surveillance efforts stopped The Shadow Brokers' breach of the Equation Group.



How Israel Caught Russian Hackers Scouring the World for U.S. Secrets

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Russian hackers had stolen classified N.S.A. materials from a contractor using the Kaspersky software on his home computer. But the role of Israeli intelligence in uncovering that breach and the Russian hackers’ use of Kaspersky software in the broader search for American secrets have not previously been disclosed.



Preliminary results of the internal investigation into alleged incident reported by U.S. media

We were aware only of one single incident that happened in 2014 during an APT investigation when our detection subsystems caught what appeared to be Equation malware source code files and decided to check if there were any similar incidents. . . . The investigation has not revealed any other related incidents in 2015, 2016 or 2017.



Then came Vault 8:

Digital certificates for the authentication of implants are generated by the CIA impersonating existing entities. The three examples included in the source code build a fake certificate for the anti-virus company Kaspersky Laboratory, Moscow pretending to be signed by Thawte Premium Server CA, Cape Town. In this way, if the target organization looks at the network traffic coming out of its network, it is likely to misattribute the CIA exfiltration of data to uninvolved entities whose identities have been impersonated.



Again, from the NYT article on the NSA and the Shadow Brokers, the last couple of sentences, Mr. Williams:

“We’re obviously dealing with people who have operational security knowledge,” he said. “They have the whole law enforcement system and intelligence system after them. And they haven’t been caught.”



In the meantime, as "one thing [seems] to lede to another" these days, one wonders what hand the Shadow Brokers might yet have to play:

By identifying individual Russian military and intelligence hackers with charges, U.S. authorities could make it difficult for them to travel, but arrests and jailing would be unlikely, according to the Journal report.



Yes: Who Are the Shadow Brokers?

ElectrospacesNovember 15, 2017 5:47 AM

Here's my overview of all the leaks and publications that were not attributed to Snowden: https://electrospaces.blogspot.com/2015/12/leaked-documents-that-were-not.html

Most of the attention now goes to the Shadow Brokers, but it started earlier, just several months after the Snowden revelations, with the so-called Second Source - probably first identified by Bruce Schneier - which was apparently responsible for some notable leaks like TAO's ANT catalog. Is it possible that that Second Source is also responsible for the stuff published by the Shadow Brokers...?

DaveNovember 15, 2017 8:41 AM

Anyone that thinks Ed Snowden gets to live in Russia for free is naïve.

Occam's razor, to get asylum and maintain it Snowden has been debriefed and turned over anything he stole from the NSA. It’s possible the first source did more damage than thought and he is actively working in Russian Cyber Ops.

Only Snowden and the NSA know exactly how much he stole.

(1) This information has been used to close the gap between Russian and American Cyber operations.

(2) It has been leaked when it was no longer operationally useful for propaganda value.

(3) He could have shown them how to further hack the NSA and get more.

(4) Given them names

(5) Basically built them a blueprint of how they operate, where, when, IOC’s, Tools

It’s telling in Washington the hate for Snowden has only grown stronger.

Just a theory, but "Snowden" and his story seem very carefully told by "useful idiots"

We only know what we are told, and what we are told tends to be curated for effect.

Douglas CoulterNovember 15, 2017 10:14 AM

Go Clive!
Gee, Dave, you sound like someone whose rice bowl feels threatened. Good of you to self-identify as one trying to 'control the narrative'.
I guess you're hoping no one remembers how Ed wound up stuck in Russia, though he clearly had other plans, or that at least supposedly, he revealed all he got to the Guardian, who only published some of it (but I heard Bruce got to see it too). Seems no real damage was done at least in the sense that no one else got arrested, tortured, or killed over it. Heck, breathing isn't safe, and no one of intelligence thinks they can keep a dirty secret forever. Maybe we should call it the Delusion Community instead.

How what he did was NOT a service to we citizens - revealing a lawless and out of control set of efforts by our government agencies - who are paid with our money, taken by legal force, I have no idea how you justify, and I'm surprised you could bring up Occam's razor as it doesn't work for you at all here.

And as pointed out above - with all they they fail to protect us in even the most glaring cases of external interference - elections if you believe their narrative (look who is spouting that - the deep state themselves) - or I'd add OPM, Equifax, and probably some other big ones that have huge intelligence payoffs for an adversary (just those two - who has a clearance, combined with who had money issues, would seem the basis for most Humint at least in times past).

I'm sick of the mantra that conflates the IC with the US. NO! What hurts the IC does not hurt America or our citizens necessarily - you IC are *not* America, you are supposed to be our *servants* - at most you are a small part of the USA.

This said as someone who used to be in the IC. Like you guys, I took taxpayer money to do what I thought was the right thing - I meant to earn that money fairly - but unlike you I didn't forget who I was working for - and rather than pull a "Snowden" I simply quit all those decades ago. If you only care about working for yourself and keeping that rice bowl filled...You *really* don't have any justification for that spew at all.

TovaritchNovember 15, 2017 11:35 AM

@ Dave

Look at it from the perspective of any one of the 7 billion non-US subhumans, as you may think of them, who make up 96% of this planet's population. Every one of them who has heard about Snowden is likely grateful that one guy was brave enough to tell them that a few people from among the other 4% gave themselves the right and the means to secretly intercept/store/decode all their digital communications, therefore totally eliminating their privacy and in some instances even using said communications to determine who on the planet is to be killed with extreme prejudice, suddenly and secretly, literally out of the clear blue sky.

Not saying other powers aren't doing similar things. But I think anyone who thinks about it ought to realize that this is bigger than any one country's politics or laws. It is a planetary, civilization-altering and perhaps civilization-ending issue.

[Journalist to Mahātmā Gandhi: "What do you think of Western civilization?" Gandhi: "I think it would be a good idea."]

Douglas CoulterNovember 15, 2017 2:58 PM

Thanks for saying it better, my friend.

I guess I went off at "Occam's razor".

Imagine how obviously self-serving it would be to ditch a high paying good job in Hawaii and a pretty hot GF for uncertainty, forced international travel under fear of arrest with all the hounds after one, only to have to live in an airport at the mercy of a usually hostile government until finally they decide to let you in, and you can live there in the cold, if you can get a crap job and earn a living.

Meanwhile, the IC you deserted still wants to kill you, and you know they'll never forget - though they might wait till the news cycle is over and the less attentive have forgotten about it.

Sure, I'd do that all day long. Occam makes a ton of sense here. /sarc

And, vain much? Cognitive dissonance much? Really, if someone thinks the other state actors haven't figured out how we work, and can't write their own code and so forth - someone needs a clue-by-four. And if we really are that superior and no one else can do it without us...then what's the beef? The goose that lays the golden eggs wouldn't miss one or two, after all, he controls the supply. Truth is, we learned some of it from them.

My main hot-button I suppose is this false conflation of what's good for the IC is what's good for the country. It's obviously not true, again Occam's razor applies. If there was no threat - we'd not need an IC at all, or at least nothing like the current one at this funding level, and they have figured that one out.

"A fire eater will eat fire even if he has to kindle it himself" would seem to work better with Occam here.

WinterNovember 15, 2017 3:39 PM

"Anyone that thinks Ed Snowden gets to live in Russia for free is naïve."

Why? Snowden living in Russia is great for Russia. Not only do they show they can and will stop US aggression. They also show would be defectors that there is a place where you are safe. It has very obvious propaganda value.

And debrieving Snowden? He has made it perfectly clear that he would not carry any information on him. And he will not have analyzed the data he took himself.

TõnisNovember 15, 2017 4:56 PM

I remember how in the '80s my family would receive letters from our relatives in Estonia that had obviously been opened, read, and sloppily glued shut. We marveled at how blatant the Soviets were with their spying. Of course it wasn't our government here. And now the irony -- US/UK governments' spying on the entire world, beginning first with spying on their own citizens is infinitely worse than Soviet spying ever was.

TJNovember 15, 2017 5:11 PM

People are still shocked by things like memory corruption and people who know the basics of WAN data-points in 2017.. I have no doubt there are things the NSA and CIA still can't mitigate and trace..

Clive RobinsonNovember 15, 2017 5:45 PM

@ Dave,

Reading it out from the inter office memo? Or are you trying properganda on the US public?

As for Ed Snowden "living in Russia for free"... How many people with literally nothing driven out of their home countries by authoritarians seeking to kill them do you think there are?

How about all those refugees from the Middle East. You might not like it but the US Government under the Obama administration made Ed Snowden a refugee...

Under intetnational law the first country a refugee finds themselves in is required to give a minimal level of aid to ensure a refugees life and other recognised basic rights.

The US quite deliberatly made Ed Snowden a refugee when he was in Russia. I'm sure the US State Department were more than fully aware of the consequences of that when Ed Snowden was made a refugee.

Thus the US Gov under Obama quite deliberatly set Russia up in what they thought would be a lose-lose situation for Russia...

Thus I suspect that Russia having been handed a lemon by the USG did what they could to sweeten the acid. Thus profit from it by pushing back with lemon-aid. I think most people would agree that Russia pulled a win out of that, which left the USG embittered with sour grapes, unfit even for a good whine.

I guess the faux patriots in the US are the only ones who do not see the funny side of this, but then they take themselves way way to seriously and just make others laugh all the more.

Oh one thing to note, I've still to see anything to come out of the Ed Snowden trove that was not a confirmation for what was already known in broad brush strokes or atleast reasonably suspected based on existing evidence and knowledge.

Whilst code names for projects sound super sexy, the reality is they are just tags like "Dave" is and realy convey nothing (which surprise suprise is why they are used...). Even detailing information collected and how it flows is not realy revealing anything, a manager of a newspaper with investigative journalists could show you a very similar process in their own building just on a smaller scale.

It's methods and sources not procrsses and code names where things tend to get a little more interesting. Technical methods are touted as super sexy secrets but the reality is they are not[1]. Put simply they are governed by the laws of nature not man, therefor anyone with the ability to learn and think will realise not just what is possible and what is not, but also how difficult or resource intensive thus costly it would be to implement.

Further to also estimate where savings can be made by the economics of scale and industrialisation of procrsses. Such things have been discussed on this blog many times before[2] and after initial ups and downs generaly land on the money, which can suprise quite a few[3].

The real secrets that are important are covered by "sources" That is the field operational side of not just where the methods are being used but on what/who and who by. It may have missed your attention but this "field operational side" information is noticable by it's absence in what has been so far revealed of the Ed Snowden trove...

Thus the Ed Snowden's importance is not what's in the documents but the fact that it wakes people up to what the NSA is actually doing and in who's name they are doing it. Which is when those nice cosy self delusional story lines[3] get swept away and people see the cold hard reality through the lie[4] and thus start calling to account.

It's this that has made Ed Snowden the target of such ire. The NSA see him like the Mafia see informers that they think have "ratted them out" for their illegal behaviours.

All your comment above does is try to perpetuate the mystique whilst also trying to provide "Aid, Comfort and support" to those committing illegal acts against the citizens of America (so potentially treason). Presumably all done in the name of faux patriotism. What seems like a couple of centuries ago there was a put down line for such behaviour which was "My Country Right or Wrong" taken as a snipit from an overly patriotic after dinner speech. The behaviour behind it gained much notoriety because it was used to hide much evil just like "Only following orders" in the following century... The US pushed for and set a president at the end of WWII that such things were not legal defences. Thus they went around executing as many of the surrendered axis armed forces and political hierarchy as they could. Some might see a certain irony in the stance of those baying after Ed Snowden...

[1] The TAO catalogue released by persons unknown clearly shows that. There was actually nothing in it that you could not find in the open literature much of which was from well in the previous century.

[2] Have a look back through this blog but if you want just one quick example. Look back to shortly before Ed Snowden became news, it was that NSA data center in Utah that was of interest. Our host wanted to know what people thought it was capable of... The answers he got back kind of shocked even him[3].

[3] Most are shocked because they do not use an "Industrial Process Eye" which means they do not see "The Economies of Scale" involved in such industrialisation. Which is perhaps odd considering the rise of Dig Data Tech that does just the same. You only have to look at PayPals Peter Theil and Plantair or Amazon to see that some civilians "get it" even better than the "big scary"[4] IC and SigInt agencies like the CIA and NSA.

[4] The CIA, NSA et al "big secret" is realy not a secret at all. It's mystique like that of a stage magician, just a bit of misdirection to deceive an audiance that in the main wants to be deceived. Because it alows the audiance to develop their own comfortable story line in their heads. Which is almost exactly what con artists do every day of the week till the get caught, usually because somebody sees through the mystique to the ugly truth behind the misdirection.

TõnisNovember 15, 2017 5:54 PM

Unless we're being punked, and I don't believe that we are, Ed Snowden is an American hero.

WaelNovember 15, 2017 5:56 PM

@Clive Robinson,

Reading it out from the inter office memo?

I'll go out on a limb here: he can't confirm or deny :)

JimNovember 15, 2017 9:59 PM

Ed Snowden is a hero only in his own cause. Those in the know and who had figured it out had enjoyed the same distinct advantage. Coming to public light, only served the purpose of the public ignorant of such revelations and provided ammunition for those seeking to progress change in the system for better or worse.

Ed is undoubtedly brave but he is naive. There is always a greater cause and no crisis had ever gone to waste.

hmmNovember 16, 2017 2:02 AM

"Coming to public light, only served the purpose of the public ignorant of such revelations and provided ammunition for those seeking to progress change in the system for better or worse."

So you'd prefer to have your speculations about what the government is actually doing rather than having cold hard proof that they're breaking their charter? Really.

Woodward and Bernstein were just profiteering off the ignorance of the general masses, right? All the true scotsmen knew Nixon was up to no good, and writing it out long-form in a newspaper that risked not only their careers but that institution itself? Just grandstanding attempts at social change, bah!

Snowden was naive? You're being naive. Snowden made a very long-form calculus about the value of the information he was trying to expose. He expected to end up in prison. Semi miraculously and with a lot of help he escaped and has a degree of freedom, but he has forever traded "his life" as he knew it for our public knowledge that you now disregard.

His life is continually threatened. You want to assume he didn't see it coming and decide to do it anyway. FWIW, it's documented by journalists worth their paycheck at the intercept. You know, naive people with jobs entertaining the ignorant for ad money.

They WouldNovember 16, 2017 2:55 AM

In many ways, it looks like the Shadow Brokers are Israel. Israel is probably APT 29 at least in the hacks of the Democrats.

This NYT article talks about the Shadow Brokers having lots of code from Olympic Games. Olympic Games is Stuxnet. And the US did that with Israel. Israel created Duqu from Stuxnet. However, the Shadow Brokers claimed the US created Duqu.

And we know Israel hacked into Kaspersky with Duqu, giving them even more NSA malware. Note that Israel was not spying on Kaspersky for the US, because the US is a much more powerful cyber actor. They just wanted to loot them for awesome malware. Kaspersky caught them. And then the US and Israel didn't talk about it until just recently. They made accusations against Kapersky doing spying, but they mysteriously sat around for two years doing nothing about it, and not telling anyone not to use Kaspersky.

One of the big holes in the "it's Russia" theory is that Donald Trump doesn't really do a whole lot for Russia. The US and Russia are still basically adversaries.

In fact, Trump is much better for Israel. This isn't suprising considering Jared Kushner's personal relationship with Netanyahu.

Kushner is in fact in charge of middle east policy. He also urged Trump to pick Mike Pence as his running mate. Right-wing Christians are very reliable supporters of Israel.

Possibly related, Shadow Brokers has doxxed former NSA people who work for Arab governments. Also, one political rant urged Trump to embrace the policies of Steve Bannon, which would probably refer to a hard anti-Iran stance.

Also, SB threatens to blackmail the US with information about how the NSA tracks terrorist financing.

AndersNovember 16, 2017 7:11 AM


In which way Snowden is the hero? Care to explain?

Thanks to Snowden Russia knows all the NSA secrets, ALL, in details.

After Snowden revelations Russia started using typewriters for
creating classified documents, ditching computers.




Moreover, Russia can use now all those secrets against their own people being totalitaristic country. I have lot of contacts in Russia and Ukraine and i have first hand information how Russia is using that information to spy on their own people.

Snowden handed over all those secrets to the utmost EVIL on the silver platter, just for his own well-being, helping dissidents oppression.

TovaritchNovember 16, 2017 8:42 AM

"Thanks to Snowden Russia knows all the NSA secrets, ALL, in details."

Your formulation implies that Snowden gave Russia material way beyond what he gave to journalists (of which only a fraction was actually published). Be that as it may, it simply does not matter compared to the destruction of every human's privacy and dignity. That is a monstrous crime against humanity and had to be exposed. As a member of mankind, I am eternally grateful.

Now, if Russia, China, and Glenn Greenwald also got hold of a number of _additional_ secrets, that is mere collateral damage, and to this day an unproven assertion. Were it true, IMHO the US IC and their valets in Congress and Senate would be all over the news with coördinated leaks about how Russia stepped up crackdowns on dissidents thanks to material Snowden would have provided exclusively to Russia.

Or maybe not, 'cause then maybe someone would _really_ start questioning who ran the stupid operation that resulted in Snowden being stuck in one of the few countries where the CIA cannot easily grab him--as opposed to, say, Ecuador, where they likely do as they please.

AndersNovember 16, 2017 8:57 AM


"Your formulation implies that Snowden gave Russia material way beyond what he gave to journalists (of which only a fraction was actually published)."

Of course he did. Do you really think that they allow him to stay there in Russia just because of his nice eyes while he have his laptops full of unpublished NSA secrets?

Yes, NSA did bad but USA is still a democratic country. Russia is using those secrets in millions time worse way, against it's own people and against the rest of world. Think about that.

book_reviewNovember 16, 2017 9:07 AM

Regarding things like governments in Germany, USA, China, Russia, etc., both past and present, a novel, "God's Eye View", by Barry Eisler, is a "fun" or dystopian read about the NSA or, by extrapolation, organizations in other surveillance states.

I wonder what dirt Admiral Rogers has, or might have, on politicians to have kept his job, assuming that he was responsible for some of these leaks. Or might the shadow brokers leaks be a result of actions of a predecessor of his?

In addition, iirc, Bruce Schneier or Marcy Wheeler of emptywheel.net, show up in the Eisler's novel's footnotes. Although a novel, numerous footnotes citing sources like the nytimes, wsj, washington post, etc., help justify to reality some of the books assumptions or plot lines.

From https://www.democracynow.org/2016/2/25/former_cia_agent_says_edward_snowden :
"We speak with former CIA agent Barry Eisler about the role of Edward Snowden in raising public awareness about encryption and privacy ahead o"
"Eisner also discusses his new novel, “The God’s Eye View,” which he says is “grounded in things that are actually happening in the world. … I realized I was not going nearly far enough in what I had imagined.”"


curious 77November 16, 2017 9:27 AM

"One of the great insights of China's modern dictators like Xi is that most people are fine if they are allowed to make money and consume entertainment. They are even allowed to criticize. As was recently reported, Chinese internet censorship does not suppress criticism; it suppresses any attempt at organizing, were it only to get a few people together to clean up the neighborhood park."

references please

hmmNovember 16, 2017 2:30 PM

"One of the great insights of China's modern dictators like Xi is that most people are fine if they are allowed to make money and consume entertainment. They are even allowed to criticize."

If China as a NATION hadn't just banned WINNIE THE POOH because people tried to say Xi looks a little lazy eyed towards the honey jar, then I'd believe your assertion that people are allowed to criticize in China, for a half second.

AndersNovember 16, 2017 4:01 PM



So you think that KGB, GRU and all the other nice three letter agencies didn't give the rat's a$$ about all those secrets Snowden did have and knew at that time?

I think the first discussion was - "You give us all the data we want and in exchange you are protected here. Otherwise - we escort you to the US embassy"

TõnisNovember 16, 2017 6:05 PM

@Anders, I suspect you're Estonian? I'm an American of Estonian descent. My parents escaped Estonia, first to DP camps in Germany, then to the US as refugees when Russia occupied Estonia. My mother survived the bombing of Dresden. Some of my relatives were sent to Siberian slave labor camps. I was born in Massachusetts, raised in an Estonian home, and Estonian was my first language. I speak it fluently even today with my family and Estonian contacts. I suspect that Estonia/Estonians still see Russia as a great threat and with good reason. Even my parents who have been in the US since the 1950s still see Russia and communists as a great threat to America and the world.

My parents taught me Estonian history and about communism and what the Russian communists did. However, I also have the benefit of the American experience, and my worldview, which I'll elaborate on, is a blend of both my knowledge about what happened to Estonia and what I've seen and learned growing up in America.

First, I love America, a union of states each with its own constitution, as it was established by our federal Constitution. I love our rights which are God-given rights, not government-given rights, that belong to all of mankind, some of which just so happen to be enumerated in our American Constitution(s). I am fortunate to live in what might be the only country to have such a comprehensive document. For example, the right to bear arms is firmly entrenched in our Constitution(s) having been part of our culture since the Framers overthrew a tyrannical oppressor; if it weren't for guns, we'd still be British subjects, and without the right to bear arms, talk of rights would be nothing other than talk: mere talk with nothing to back it up. The Framers understood this well. This brings us to the next part.

Americans' rights have always been under attack by seditious enemies of our Constitution, most of them enemies within. The struggle against the erosion of our rights is continuous, every day of every year. Having always been one to search for answers rather than accept "that's just the way it is" as an explanation, I've often been the vocal one warning my family and countrymen about the dangers facing us from oppressors and tyrants who would destroy our rights and make us slaves. For example, more than fifteen years ago I was warning people about the militarization of local police, how that is a threat to our liberty, but what did I hear from most? "Take off your tinfoil hat!" I warned my own family who taught me about the Gulags -- "Wake up! What happened in Estonia can happen here!!!" -- and the responses were something to the effect of, "Oh, that could never happen here." Only now with the widespread use of camera phones and internet (in some ways a bane to totalitarians) has the mainstream media, governments' ministry of propaganda, been forced to stop ignoring some of the abuses of people and their rights at the hands of the US government. Ed Snowden revealed to mankind the great extent that totalitarians in America's (and by extension the UK's and others' governments) have no business doing: spying on their own citizens.

I realize this is getting long, so I'll summarize my school of thought a bit more with a few points:

1. The rights enumerated in America's Constitution are God-given rights that belong to all of mankind.

2. The struggle to assert and exercise one's rights in America and anywhere else in the world is real and constant. It's becoming harder by the day; one can exercise his rights, but he might get killed doing so even in America. This is bad news for the world.

3. Americans do good things at home and abroad, but they also do bad things, evil things, at home and abroad. For example, they invade and occupy countries just like Russia did under the auspices of "liberating" them. Where were the Americans when Estonia was occupied by Russia? Why didn't America liberate Estonia, in the true sense of the word, that is? America invades a country when there is something in it for America.

4. There are political prisoners in America, just like in the Soviet Union/Russia, who suffer greatly.

5. There are no credible existential threats to North America. Not Russia; not Muslim terrorists, who our soldiers were supposedly searching for in "caves," per the ministry of propaganda; not North Korea; and not even China. Yes, Russia could be a threat to Estonia, and Muslim terrorists (even ones living in caves) could be a threat to Israel. I understand this.

6. Ed Snowden is an American patriot who did Americans and all of mankind a great service by exposing Orwellian activities of totalitarians. I do hope Ed Snowden does not return to the US -- for his own sake -- under any circumstances. The US federal government cannot be trusted.

@Anders, I do understand why Estonia would align itself with America. I do understand how NATO is important to Estonia which holds up its end of the NATO bargain unlike other derelict NATO members who don't, and I do hope America can be counted on insofar as NATO is concerned. The struggle for liberty is much bigger than Russia. The threat to mankind by tyrants who would oppress and enslave it is worldwide, abroad and at home, and it extends beyond the threat of militaristic invasions across political borders into the realm of financial and spiritual warfare. Ed Snowden is on the frontlines of that battle, and that makes him an American hero.

Douglas CoulterNovember 16, 2017 6:06 PM


References indeed - are you even in a place to access such? Would explain a lot. At least the stuff we know Snowden revealed - the only people who didn't already know and have reasonable proof were the public.

Do you really think the other state actors, whose tradecraft we study, don't know diddly unless we tell them? The vanity smells to high heaven here.

Regardless, it was easy to guess anyway, after howevermany revs of what became Poindexter's "Total information awareness" and the more-recent letting of a Darpa contract for help "controlling the narrative" which was even published on physorg.


So, right in front of God and everybody, the IC itself revealed their plans...
And some guy at AT&T also kinda spilled the beans...
And on it goes. IF you didn't know, you (and perhaps Dave) were about the only interested parties not paying attention.

Or you're trying to "control the narrative"...

Douglas CoulterNovember 16, 2017 6:17 PM

So, some here seem to think that even with things like this referrence:

No one could possibly have surmised that we have a government agency or few that are prepared to lie to control the narrative - and who want to have "total information awareness" despite being voted down a time or few.

Hey, if they're that dumb..they are no threat, we'll just do somthing different tomorrow and they'll never figure it out, right? If they're not that dumb, well then...any mediocre analyst could have figured out all Ed revealed (other than line by line source code - the methods themselves are obvious, many used by script kiddes already without state help).

So, if they're not dumb, then the implications of information published by the IC itself - officially - was enough to figure it all out. The only "dupes" were the lazy thinking public at large.

You can't have it both ways, no matter how hard you try to rephrase it. It's as cognitively dissonant as "responsible encryption" that only the government can break. Let us know when you get that working.

How was it bad to inform them that their wishes weren't being followed, their votes ignored, and likely blackmail info being gathered on them?

AndersNovember 16, 2017 6:53 PM

@curious 77, @Douglas Coulter

Do you really think there will be any public references on that?

Learn from the history, cold war, history is full of spy defectors,
who traded knowledge and secrets for their asylum, well-being and life.

Do you really think that if Russian govt elite hacking team member ended up in the USA with laptops and head full of deepest secrets NSA and FBI wouldn't be all over him? Common sense is in order here, not any written reference.

It's clear as a day that everything Snowden had or did know at that time ended up on the hands of Russian three letter agencies.

It's interesting contradiction here - Russia is actually the only country that can protect Snowden's life, on the other hand Russia is the worst place Snowden could ever ended up. The biggest problem here us that we don't know what secrets Snowden handed over to the Russian govt. With Shadow Brokers it's clear what they had, with Snowden even NSA don't still know what he did take with him.

Yes, Snowden did make the world great service with his revelations, however he ended up in very, very dark place and we don't know what he did gave them... That's bad, very, very bad...

AndersNovember 16, 2017 7:50 PM

BTW, why are Shadow Brokers so effective getting NSA hacking tools and information? I think this is direct consequence of what Snowden did "sing" to Russian gvt. I think he did sing a lot, like a little bird, lot of opsec information and that's why Shadow Brokers now are so effective. Timeline matches perfectly.

TovaritchNovember 16, 2017 9:22 PM

@curious 77
"references please"

Please see here for example: https://gking.harvard.edu/files/gking/files/how_the_chinese_government_fabricates_social_media_posts_for_strategic_distraction_not_engaged_argument.pdf
Quote: "common knowledge of grievances is already commonplace, and thus allowing more information about them to become public is of little risk to the regime or value to its opponents. Since disrupting discussion of grievances only limits information that is otherwise useful to the regime, the leaders have little reason to censor it, argue with it, or flood the net with opposing viewpoints. What is risky for the regime, and therefore vigorously opposed through large-scale censorship and huge numbers of fabricated social media posts, is posts with collective action potential."

Pure totalitarian genius.

"It's clear as a day that everything Snowden had or did know at that time ended up on the hands of Russian three letter agencies."

Like I wrote, be that as it may. If indeed the Russkies got hold of a bunch of sources and methods, that does not change my conviction that what the Five Eyes [mostly white guys who speak English, as I think of them :-)] have cooked up should not exist, if only because it is incompatible with human dignity. Now if Snowden indeed did have additional digital material with him, or access to it, or if they did make him an offer about what he knows and which he could not refuse, add that to the sacrifice he made.

Thanks for the fascinating info on your background. I have a similar one but am unwilling to share it publicly, because, as Glenn Greenwald reminded us, knowing about the panopticon changes our behavior, and we self-censor. But like you, I am worried that Snowden's "turnkey tyranny" prophecy is closing in on us. During the Cold War people like our parents had somewhere to escape to, but where to now? We'd need another planet!

TõnisNovember 16, 2017 10:13 PM

@Tovaritch, I understand. Merely exercising one's rights can get one killed...or at least on the list. And you bring up a point which I'm sure is why my own parents who taught me so much about what happened are so closed minded when I've warned about (i.e. criticized) the US. The Americans fire bombed Dresden. Still, my family understood why and ran toward the Americans. America was the great hope. The denial runs deep, understandably, because at this point, there's no place else to run to.

AndersNovember 17, 2017 4:42 AM

@Tõnis, tänan taustainfo eest, Sinuga oleks huvitav rääkida foorumiväliselt.

ps. ma peaks Snowdenit ka kangelaseks, kui ta oleks maabunud ükskõik millises teises riigis, aga mitte Venemaal. Kuradiga kasulikke diile ei sõlmita.

TovaritchNovember 17, 2017 7:45 AM

Read about how exactly he ended up in Russia. Once there, what could he have done to make you happy? Go to the US Embassy? Kill himself? What Earth needs is a morally superior authority that has the power and means to shelter such people from any and all retaliation, such that they don't have to compromise themselves. That could be God, but that ship has sailed when he kicked Adam and Eve out of Paradise. Or maybe we can get a peaceful extraterrestrial invasion like in this famous novel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childhood%27s_End

AndersNovember 17, 2017 9:17 AM


I know how he ended up there.

But i also know this.

"A week after publication of his leaks began, Ars Technica confirmed that Snowden had been an active participant at the site's online forum from 2001 through May 2012, discussing a variety of topics under the pseudonym "TheTrueHOOHA". In a January 2009 entry, TheTrueHOOHA exhibited strong support for the U.S. security state apparatus and said leakers of classified information "should be shot in the balls"."

curious 77November 17, 2017 10:29 AM


"If China as a NATION hadn't just banned WINNIE THE POOH because people tried to say Xi looks a little lazy eyed towards the honey jar, then I'd believe your assertion that people are allowed to criticize in China, for a half second."

Searching for: WINNIE THE POOH Xi censorship yielded multiple hits.

A guest on Charlie Rose recently said something like "Xi is the most capable and powerful leader" in the world today.

I wonder if Trump is jealous of Xi's power, ability, etc., or how often Trump thinks about things like starting a war to try to increase or consolidate his power ...

TovaritchNovember 17, 2017 10:42 AM


I see--you were expecting him to shoot himself in the balls. :-)

But yes, I remember that, too. Assuming he actually meant it, I also remember thinking how admirable it was that despite his modest background, he had been able to abandon such a simplistic and jingoistic viewpoint, and apparently completely autodidactically.

@AndersNovember 17, 2017 11:11 AM


Some of what you have said in this thread, is logically reasonable, but unverified, obviously.

I worry about the propoganda power of the USG being turned against its' citizens. Perhaps try to maintain skeptical thinking at all times.

curious 77November 17, 2017 11:29 AM


"Pure totalitarian genius."

Thanks for the link. I haven't read the article yet, but I suspect there wouldn't be much switching cost if China decided to change course. I would hate to see Trump have that much power.

Sancho_PNovember 17, 2017 6:03 PM


I think I understand what you meant but please be aware that this sentence, besides being wrong, also can be read as combining blasphemy and American exceptionalism:
”1. The rights enumerated in America's Constitution are God-given rights that belong to all of mankind.”

To me Ed Snowden’s revelations were bad for the US-IC, but not the point.
The point was how the US (USG, MSM, public) reacted.
Their insane backlash against the “traitor” was the real revelation.

In fact, the Kremlin don’t trust Ed, as he might be a spy. Even if he new much more they won’t touch him with a twenty foot pole.
+ Snowden was misbehaving, this is what authoritarians can not tolerate, regardless if there was a reason. We’ve learned obedience from our day one and it’s really hard to deviate from once absorbed behavior.
In this point East and West are very similar:
The smaller the mind the smaller the horizon.

RatioNovember 18, 2017 9:08 AM


“A week after publication of his leaks began, Ars Technica confirmed that Snowden had been an active participant at the site's online forum from 2001 through May 2012, discussing a variety of topics under the pseudonym "TheTrueHOOHA".”

Quoting from the May 2014 article The errors of Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald that had been in my “to read” pile for weeks:

Snowden’s early writings on the online forum Ars Technica, published under the pseudonym TheTrueHOOHA, reveal a grab bag of familiar libertarian opinions. He supports gun and marijuana rights, opposes social security, belittles high unemployment, votes for Ron Paul for President in 2008 (though Paul belongs to a more traditionally conservative, far-right strain), contributes money to Paul’s campaign in 2012, and is outraged when President Barack Obama appoints a former politician, Leon Panetta, as director of the CIA. In 2009, TheTrueHOOHA was incensed at the New York Times for revealing details about American and Israeli plans to sabotage Iran’s nuclear programme. But four years later, preparing his epic leak, Snowden refused to deal with New York Times reporters because, he thought, the paper is too timid and beholden to the government. Luke Harding, a Guardian correspondent and the author of The Snowden Files (which covers some of the same ground as Greenwald [in No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US Surveillance State]), tries to explain this contradiction as a matter of consistent principle. Harding accepts Snowden’s claim that he opposes leaks that could betray operational security, like the story in the New York Times. But the trove of now-public documents disclosed by Snowden includes accounts of American hacking of Chinese computers, a presidential directive for cyberwar against specifically named countries, and details of surveillance used for drone strikes in Pakistan. What’s constant isn’t Snowden’s scruples about leaking, but his contempt for the New York Times. The shifting reasons matter less than the abiding distrust of the leading newspaper in America.

Defending the American people is the one power that most libertarians readily accord to government. Snowden supported the Iraq war and enlisted in the Army in 2004 at age 20, only lasting a few months before a training injury ended his military career. He went on to become an information technology specialist in various agencies of US intelligence. But in his eight years among American spies, Snowden came to see their world as just as corrupt and dangerous as that of politicians and journalists, if not more.

JohnNovember 18, 2017 1:24 PM

"It's clear as a day that everything Snowden had or did know at that time ended up on the hands of Russian three letter agencies."


You are assuming that a majority of operations are visible to Snowden and he knows the internal workings of the many tools that he obtained user manuals for, both of which are highly unlikely events given his tenure and educational background.

A couple screenshots and instructions does not adequately explain how a tool actually perform, much like most sysadmins have no idea how to code a kernel. At the lower levels, even coders themselves have no idea due to layers of abstractions involved in design. This is pretty much expected of any Secrecy oriented operation. Many people call it OpSec.

The folk/s behind entity known as Shadow Brokers obviously has a pretty good idea of agency OpSec, otherwise it'd have been caught and put on a stick by now.

Clive RobinsonNovember 18, 2017 5:48 PM

@ Anders,

    ... it will be possible to identify those very brave people in countries where if you spy for Britain you get killed.

Yeah well senior US Politico's think nothing of naming assets, agents and officers.

So "The Special Relationship" the Brits continuously get told about is only special in that the Brits are not supposed to complain when a point scoring idiot in one of the US houses flaps their gums and a source gets burned or a trial gets blown out of the water.

Ed Snowden did not reveal any names or anything else, he handed the trove over to journalists who were supposed to be responsible. As it turns out few journalists these days have the time to be responsible as other whistle blowers have discovered...

AndersNovember 18, 2017 6:07 PM

@Clive Robinson

Do you remember on what conditions Snowden was granted the asylum in Russia?

“If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: He must cease his work aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, as strange as it may sound from my lips.”

This means that there was lot more information than journalist got. Since NSA didn't know what Snowden exactly took with him stopping publishing the materials helped Russkies - now NSA don't know what Russian agencies got to know getting access to whole Snowden trove.

Clive RobinsonNovember 19, 2017 12:15 AM

@ Anders,

This means that there was lot more information than journalist got.

That is supposition on your behalf. The only person who knows what Ed Snowden liberated from the NSA archive systems is in all probability Ed and that only in a general sense. Likewise what was actualy distributed is known only to Ed and those he gave them to either for use or safe keeping.

Those he gave to Glen Greenwald we indirectly know --from others Glen showed them to initially-- exceed those that have so far been published. Realistically we also know that of those they won't all get published in newspapers as they are lossing their news worthyness as time goes by. After a decade most will have lost any interest to the public at large, and be only of interest to the techno curious and historians, unless of course they have real blackmail potential for seniors in the US IC...

However if we are to believe what the NSA, UK IC and others variously claimed it's between 50,000 and 1.7million individual documents, which suggests both numbers are complete guesses[0].

The high figure fails the "sniff test" whilst Ed Snowden potentialy had access to that many documents as an individual it would be highly unlikely that he could have read even their titles in a cohearant way. Let alone organise them in a usable way for someone who had little or no relevant indoctrination. We've been told that what Glen Greenwald was given was highly structured, whixh suggests that Ed Snowden did a lot lot more than just read document titles. Thus the 50,000 number may actually be high as well.

As for the First of July comment by Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to Ed receiving temporary asylum, it's actually very much what is in line with international law on refugees and political asylum seekers, nothing more, nothing less[1] and actualy quite moderate [2] in tone and approach.

As for if Ed was "traveling with the documents" and when I rather doubt it beyond a certain point.

He would have had the documents prior to his meeting with journalists in Hong Kong and he may have kept them for while there after. But he may well not have trvelled with them either to or from Hong Kong. That is he could just have posted them ahead in various ways and picked them up after he arived at Hong Kong, there are very many ways he could have done this with reasonable certainty they would arrive. After why take the risk of travelling with them when you don't need to. A rational actor would have minimised risk to themselves and trveling with ComproMat would be an unwarented risk.

He would in all probability only have made an "online stash" if he could have decoupled himself from it entirely as it would be reasonable of him to assume that the NSA "record it all policy" which he would be aware of would have it caught somewhere waiting to be found.

But though he would have copies in Hong Kong for the journalists the minute he realised he was a "marked man" he would have not had them on his person to protect his own life. Further any online stash would be dangerous so he would have to decouple himself from it such that he could not reveal it under questioning / interogation / torture. Which based on other information we have from other whistleblowers would very definitely have been his fate, thus we can assume he knew this as well.

If he could have aranged an online stash decoupled from him then he may well have thought about doing so. This would be based on the sword of Damocles, not dead mans switch principle. Put simply as long as he is alive and well and at liberty to say so the skeletons in the stash stay out of sight. But importantly looking over various peoples shoulders reminding them Ed is better alive and well than not. Seductive as that sounds the thing is Ed would also know the amount of trust he would be placing in somebody elses hands and also the burden he would be placing on them.

Further realistically he would have had to set it up before leaving Hong Kong, probably even before ariving there. Which gives a narrow "search window" for the NSA. He would also have known just what level of scrutiny would be brought down on every one he had had visable contact with in the 2011-13 period. He would also know that the authorities would not stop looking for the next half century or so.

Thus my guess would be that there is actually no stash of other documents online or similar, because they are just to traceable. Thus just the suspicion of a stash in the minds of those with the most to lose to keep them in line. But further such peoples influance will diminish and expire before Ed would be expected to die of natural causes (hence 50years). The Internet changes virtually compleatly every couple of years, thus hiding an online stash and not lossing it is, quickly going to become a traceble act a rational actor would avoid. However digitl media changes almost as fast so even an off line stash would need to be treated with care.

You no doubt have your own view on the matter, but each persons viewpoint will be in all probability based on their life experiences and these vary wildly.

[0] The 50,000 number came from hearsay evidence presented in a UK court brought to recover the property of the partner of Glen Greenwald conviscated by UK air side boarder forces. Personally I suspect the whole thing was a setup by Greenwald and Portrais to test the ability of someone to act as a courier under suspicion. Thus there is a high probability that the encrypted archive contained litle more than fake or unrelated files. The 1.7 million figure sort of emerged from the NSA, I suspect it's an inflated cover your ass figure based on audit logs of all the files accessed by not just Ed Snowden but others near and far he had access to at one point or another. Thus only Ed knows what he liberated in a broad sense, but the recipients of some of those files now know them in a narrow sense.

[1] You can look the details up on line as to what a refugee is and what an asylum seeker is and the constraints laid down upon them. Not just for their protection but protection of the host nation.

[2] The comments are in line with what President Putin has been saying for many years, thus show a degree of longterm consistancy. If people believe them or not is up to them. As I don't believe a word any politician makes in my own country with out corroborating evidence I pay the same courtesy to all politicians of all countries.

TõnisNovember 19, 2017 2:02 PM

@Anders, Jah, nõustun, et oleks huvitav omavahel juttu ajada väljaspool. Oletasin, et oled eestlane; ega meid palju ei ole -- mõni miljon?

Saan aga hästi aru. Ei ole sugugi kergelt võtmas kurjust mida venelane on eestlastele teinud ega hädaohtu mis Venemaa Eestile ikka võiks olla, nii et saad ehk ette kujutada kui tõsiselt muretsen üldise vabaduse olukorra kohta. On valus iroonia, et "vaba" maa ajab dissidenti taga ja ainukene praktiline koht kuhu ta saab pääseda on Venemaa. See on kui traagiiline see olukord on.

TõnisNovember 19, 2017 2:12 PM



I think I understand what you meant but please be aware that this sentence, besides being wrong, also can be read as combining blasphemy and American exceptionalism:
”1. The rights enumerated in America's Constitution are God-given rights that belong to all of mankind.”

I respectfully disagree. It is my sincere belief that rights (e.g. the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom of speech, etc.) are God-given rights ("human rights," if you will) that belong to all of mankind. You would disagree with that? America's Framers merely reduced them to writing in our Constitution. That does make America an exceptional experiment in liberty.

TõnisNovember 19, 2017 2:25 PM


I don't know if any of you watched the Putin interviews. I was a bit disappointed in his reply when he was asked about Snowden. Paraphrased (to my recollection), Putin said that Snowden was allowed to stay in Russia because he hadn't broken any Russian laws, even though he personally wouldn't have done what Snowden did because he thought it was, though not illegal under Russian law, wrong. Well, there's some logic there, but I had hoped his reply would be something more enlightened, anti-Orwellian/pro-liberty. But I'll accept it. In his part in allowing Snowden to stay he did the right thing for a half-right reason.

Sancho_PNovember 19, 2017 6:18 PM


Thanks for coming back.
OK, we are far OT now but I’ll try to explain, hopefully the Mod won’t get upset:

First, it’s not so easy with God. If it was, we would have just one ‘religion’, celebrate and live in peace, together with the atheists.
Which should we adopt, there are so many, all have funny rules on earth ...

My God has nothing to do with power / a person on earth, doesn’t need rituals or symbols, on the contrary. Meet “him” anytime you want, just look around in nature.
But “he” doesn’t / can't give anything, simply there is no “he”.
What we got is what we have - but “rights” were never encountered, AFAIK.
Where would you have / store them?
To ‘give’ rights sounds strange anyway (like ol’ Moses stone tablets), wouldn’t it be ‘grant’ a right, as a right is intangible? (Pls. apologize, I'm ESL)

Now, think of discussing your “God [gave / helped with] America’s Constitution” with an Islamic cleric, would he agree to override Mohammed by your Constitution? Because God helped the Framers to write them down? Wouldn’t it be blasphemy?
What would the Pope say?

A right is valuable if society and justice system enforce it. Worldwide.
Don’t get me wrong here, American Constitution, Amendments and opinions, thousands of lawyers trampling on your (not mine, foreigners) values, twisting words and basic laws, plus no enforcement even in the US and even for US citizens - this should be granted by God?
This “belong[s]” (ups, intangible) “to all of mankind”? E.g. also to the Rohingyas? Probably you forgot to add “should” before “belong”?

But thanks, I don’t need and don’t want your Constitution and rights because they are useless in our world.
There is only one single right we share with the whole world:
It’s the right to vanish / die.

Re exceptional experiment in liberty, do you think of exterritorial parts like Guantanamo or other rendition camps?
What is exceptional with America is your President, your democratic leader, the top of your society, and the fact that he was voted the best of the best in the US.
Very telling!

Sorry for the long rant, I only wanted to bring up that America isn’t the world, not personally offend you.

Re Putin’s reply, what’s the not right half of your “half-right reason”?
Putin is both, straight and clever, but not cozy (anti-Orwellian). Loyalty and absolute subordination is what he demands in his position, don’t expect him to openly support what Ed did, that would be worse than suicide.

As @Anders quoted (but not understood), Putin, at that time, was still ready to see the US as partner, and didn’t want Ed’s case to add tension.

TõnisNovember 19, 2017 7:48 PM


1. My point was not so much that the rights come from God (even though I believe that they do), rather that they don't come from any government; they are not some gift from some government (especially not from the US government) or from the UN. For example, the right to life belongs to you, whether you believe it comes from God or not. Even if America's Framers hadn't enumerated (i.e. listed) this right in America's Constitution, that right would still exist. Governments might disagree with your position, that you have a right to die, and do everything in their power to prevent you from killing yourself. Does that mean you don't have a right to die?

2. As for Putin being half-right, I was referring to his legalese, his reasoning in allowing Snowden to stay in Russia. He did the right thing according to his country's law without letting his personal feelings interfere with the decision (which I inferred from him having said that he believed what Snowden did was wrong, that being the wrong half of the decision per my comment), because I think part of his reason(ing) should have been that it's morally right to let Snowden stay. I mean, it's not just about "the law." We have to reach a higher philosophical level when we ask whether something is right or wrong. Many people can't reach such points. Ask them if something is right or wrong and their knee-jerk reply is, "Let's see what the law says." China is replete with laws, but that doesn't mean any of them are right. In America, the US and state constitutions make up the supreme law of the land. All other statutes are subordinate to and must be in accordance to the constitutions. Yes, one of our rights is that here, within our geographical borders (our jurisdiction), one has the right to not have to witness against himself in a criminal proceeding, but I believe that one has that right in any another country on earth even if his government disagrees. By virtue of being an alive person he has that "human" right. In America, we just happen to have a handy document to point to when we insist something is our right.

3. I don't think Putin was implying any kind of partnership with the US. I think he was merely speaking with diplomacy. From the interviews, Putin was also saying that he asked Obama why there's still a need for NATO, why NATO wasn't being disbanded with the "Soviet Union" being no longer in existence, no longer a threat to Europe, etc. and pointing out the hypocrisy of the United States in that regard. In person, when Putin put him on the spot, Obama answered something to the effect of he would instruct his people to get on that (disbanding NATO) as soon as he gets back to the US, but later a letter came from the the US IC saying that won't be happening. Laughable.

Sorry for the long rant, I only wanted to bring up that America isn’t the world, not personally offend you.

Please be assured I'm not at all offended by anything you've said, nor have I meant to offend you or anyone else, rather I've very much enjoyed this meaningful discussion. Thank you for that.

RatioNovember 20, 2017 7:10 AM


OT on your OT:

First, it’s not so easy with God. If it was, we would have just one ‘religion’, celebrate and live in peace, together with the atheists.

History has yet to show staggering amounts of violence between those who believe in one or more gods and those who don't (that is, they believe in one or more other gods, or they don't believe in any gods), or between people who believe in the exact same god(s), or between people of the same religion? This is remarkable news.

Which should we adopt, there are so many, all have funny rules on earth ...

How many are left if you merely exclude the ones that make demonstrably false claims? The Earth being flat, say. Which candidates make it over this (laughably low) hurdle?

jimNovember 20, 2017 4:11 PM

you folks *do* realize "Snowden", "Greenwald", "Assange" and "WikiLeaks", et al are all limited hangout, disinfo ops & assets, right? its theatrics, people. real whistleblowers and leakers don't get this kind of fawning attention in the controlled mass media, including the alt-media. they get prison (or worse) for themselves and their families. to add insult to injury their reputations (living or dead) are then utterly destroyed along with their lives and those of their loved ones as a warning to others who fail to keep the IC "omerta". if some of the so-called "revelations" wake people up, great. but much of the general gist of it (overarching government surveillance of the u.s. public) isn't exactly breaking news. its been going on for decades. Schneier and you guys kissing these obvious, contrived characters' behinds can't possibly be *that* naïve, so please stop trying to confer legitimacy on these actors, it makes your motives appear rather suspect.

Sancho_PNovember 20, 2017 5:47 PM


Only the wording triggered my comment.
Once you have a friend who dies within 4 months after being diagnosed with cancer you’ll realize that the ‘right’ to live is second to the right to die.

I agree, ”… should have been that it's morally right to let Snowden stay.” but glorifying disloyalty, even in dreams, would be too much for this otherwise brave guy, plus would not fit to his mindset at the time:
- Impossible to know what Putin really thought, but expressively using the word “partners” in that sentence may indicate his eager desire (his dream) to be “back” at the table with the US. Only much later (with Syria) he realized that no one is / was ever accepted at the US table, there are no US partners, never.
Diplomacy: I haven’t noticed that with Putin, he means what he says, he’s straight.

Probably I didn’t understand your ”that make demonstrably false claims?” in context with the flat earth example.
What I meant is to require certain things / actions and obey some rules on earth to please “him” (seriously, is there a “her” religion?) like strange dress codes, bows into certain directions, beards, clerics, circumcision, prayers, tax, symbols, saints, Shabbat elevators, stretching cords, patriarchy or absolute power of men over women, better living after death, a.s.f.
The list is endless but always constitutes (male) power on earth = stinks.

After writing and re-reading I think we meant the same demonstrably false claims 8-)

WaelNovember 20, 2017 7:02 PM

@Sancho_P, CC: @Ratio,

... living after death [...] After writing and re-reading I think we meant the same demonstrably false claims 8-)

I won't talk about the other "falsehoods", as you call them because it's a much longer discussion and OT to this forum. What I'd like to see is a demonstration of the falsehood of life after death. That would be ... impressive :-) Should be easy; it's "demonstrable", right?

Go forth and demonstrate.

RatioNovember 20, 2017 7:37 PM

@Sancho_P,   (hi there, @Wael)

Probably I didn’t understand your ”that make demonstrably false claims?” in context with the flat earth example.

Claiming Earth is flat was an example of those demonstrably false claims.

seriously, is there a “her” religion?

I can't think of a monotheistic religion with a female deity, but there are goddesses in polytheistic religions and some of them occupy a (or even the) central position.

After writing and re-reading I think we meant the same demonstrably false claims 8-)

The requirements you mention are of a different type. And falsifying the claim that, for example, “following strange dress codes pleases the god(s)” is not entirely trivial. ;-)

(See also @Wael's comment.)

WaelNovember 20, 2017 7:48 PM

@Ratio, @Dancho_P,

Hi there...


I can't think of a monotheistic religion with a female deity...

Language limitation. God has no gender.

“following strange dress codes pleases the god(s)”

The premise is false! It's not to "please God" ;)

WaelNovember 20, 2017 8:06 PM

@Ratio, @Sancho_P,

Claiming Earth is flat was an example of those demonstrably false claims.

That is obviously false! Who made that claim besides the amusing nutters on YouTube? I watched a bunch of them for entertainment purposes. I mean who knows, perhaps it's flat and I didn't pay attention, or flat in n-dimensions (n > 3) -- Na! I don't buy that.

RatioNovember 20, 2017 8:14 PM


Language limitation. God has no gender.

That's just getting there by another route: I still can't think of a monotheistic goddess.

(I think you're arguing that words such as هو shouldn't be taken as indication of a male god? Or hypothetically, I suppose, هي as an indication of a female god? Grammatically male, but no more?)

The premise is false! It's not to "please God" ;)

In the example it was. @Sancho_P, incoming! ;-)

Wael November 20, 2017 8:24 PM


(I think you're arguing that words such as هو shouldn't be taken as indication of a male god? Or hypothetically, I suppose, هي as an indication of a female god? Grammatically male, but no more?)

Correct! That is well understood. It's a long grammar discussion. The short of it is: the Arabic word for God is a word that's neither feminine nor masculine; it cannot be pluralized either.

RatioNovember 20, 2017 9:18 PM


Who made that [flat Earth] claim besides the amusing nutters on YouTube?

Does amusing nutters quoting their preferred scripture on YouTube work for you? :-)

The short of it is: the Arabic word for God is a word that's neither feminine nor masculine; it cannot be pluralized either.

On the other hand, the words إله and إلاهة are masculine and feminine, and can be pluralized. Can you say “the god” (male) without saying exactly “God”? It gets kinda fuzzy, if you see what I'm saying.

gordoNovember 20, 2017 10:01 PM

Regarding the full quote from President Putin on the Snowden asylum question, a good read on it, made at the time, is here:

To sum up, Putin appears to have found a way to simultaneously (a) avoid the rupture in diplomatic relations with the United States that would probably attend giving Snowden asylum; (b) suggest that he views Snowden as a hero, thereby ingratiating himself with the wide swatches of the Russian, European, and American publics that share that view; (c) make it clear that while human-rights activism is a good thing in the abstract, it is not—in the post-Sakharov era—a Russian thing.



Regarding non-state actors (NSA)s, more and more the term seems to be taking on negative, threatening connotations. Big tech is beginning to feel some of that heat. I suppose it's a function of the status quo. For now, though, sympathies aside and getting back on topic, lacking any conclusive evidence for who they are, The Shadow Brokers are non-state actors. To the best of my knowledge, sentient.

WaelNovember 21, 2017 1:27 AM


Does amusing nutters quoting their preferred scripture on YouTube work for you? :-)

So you have a battery, a piece of wire and an LED. Someone (or more than someone) connects them and the LED doesn't turn on. What's the reason? Is it only one possibility?

Clive RobinsonNovember 21, 2017 1:55 AM

@ Ratio,

I can't think of a monotheistic religion with a female deity, but there are goddesses in polytheistic religions and some of them occupy a (or even the) central position.

That is because they have in effect "fallen out of favour". The closest you will find these days are "Mother Earth" religions. Historically though most ehat we woukd noe call "ancient fertility worship" was about women either directly or indirectly as "the bringers of life into the world".

The thing about deities is that at the time they come into vogue they are about "being better" than humans, or worse. Thus as humans have progressed with their understanding of the world the deities in general remain just ahead of humans. In essence something to strive towards.

By the way there are not realy any monotheistic religions. A deity is imbued with better but apparently attainable abilities than humans. But the abilities are agnostic to use, thus importantly "choice" therefor you have ultimate good and ultimate bad as the two ends of the atainment scale by which humans can be measured.

For instance Christianity has "but one god" only there is the devil. The religious leaders try to get around this by the notion of "servants of god" such as daemons or angels and it is the servants who have the choice of good and bad.

The point about "choice" is the hidden agender of raising "status" thus influence/wealth/power and who gets it. You can look up the notion of "divine right" and the protection racket we call monarchy / presidents which gives us our notions of a "Sovereign State" and the "head of state".

Thus some believe that "humans have to be led" which gives rise to hierarchies. Which we know vest power at the top thus leaders are generally more subject to corupting or bad influences. Most humans however simply want to get on with a measure of comfort in their existance. In the main they don't want to strive for strivings sake, they just want a roof over their head a table to put food on, find a mate to share their life with and raise the next generation and give them a better start in life. The problem with this is of course resources, who benifits from them and thus who controls them. It's easy to see that "the power of numbers" gives you the ability not just to aquire resources but withhold them from others thus you get status. History is littered with conflict usually the underlying cause is the control of resources.

For about as long as we have identifiable historical records there have been power hierarchies, that have had two basic routes to civil power, heredity and religion. The third route to power of course is the uncivil acts of war where you simply depose the leader. In humans this often involved also removing the heredity in variois ways to reduce the likely hood of future conflict.

Thus if you try to be objective it's possible to see the lie in "God made man in his likeness" it's actually "Man made God in his likness" for the sake of raising status / power / influance / control of the masses. Which kind of explains the ideas of authority, authoritarian followers and guard labour.

Thus as I point out to people from time to time a persons religion is generally unimportant, it's their morals that count. Because morals are based on societal norms that give rise to our laws that help redress the excesses of status and push them in a direction that most tend to agree on. Social change is general pushed forward by those with what are apolitical liberal views, but held back by those with apolitical conservative views. You tend to find status and authoritarian followers in the consetvative camp. Because liberals tend more to be strivers than contents or conservatives there is a pedulum swing effect between conservative and liberal, provided this stays within the bounds that the contents are prepared to accept you get social stability. Whilst not democracy it forms the foundations of democracy. Arguably you can only have social stability whilst there are sufficient resources to support society, as resources start to become squeased you get the "King Game" start up. Ultimately there are only two soloutions to this limit the size of populations or find new supplies of resources.

Interestingly as societies change from agrarian to industrial the size of families thus the population in general falls. There are variois reasons for this, but a declining population has distinct issues. Most people do not want to strive to survive and as part of this they have expectations of living a confortable existance in later years when their abilities to acrue the means to survive deminish. Thus a deminishing population due to a fall in the birth rate will tend towards an aging less capable population that will need to be supported in various ways. I won't go into the arguments but the outcome is either a society controled by "rent seekers" or dependent on transient imigration. The only way to reduce the transient imigration is by "force multiplication" of the indigenous population to increase it's "productivity" thus spare capacity and diminish the ability for people to "rent seek". Whilst science can in general address the force multiplication issues it takes time and is limited by the forces of nature and ultimately the efficiency/entropy trade off. The problem thus boils down to limiting the effects of the rent seekers or expanding outwards to find new resources. The problem with this is that you need a rent seeking ability to do the basic steps that will alow society to move outwards to find new resources. It's the reason we have taxation which in turn brings us back to the ills of status and hierarchies.

Which in turn brings us back to the notions of good and bad and the idea of entities that are better than ourselves in atainable agnostic abilities that they then have the ability to chose to use for good or bad. As we are by definition less able on mass society wants these entities to be "good for us" not them, thus in effect altruistic in nature, even though it would not be in the entities self interest...

Ultimately religion is a mess of our own making that now has a lot of vested interests one of which is the scientifically absurd idea that the male is somehow more important than the female. Which is why our deities have tended for a while to be seen as male. As with most things this will probably swing back the other way in order to preserve societal stability depending on how hard those of liberal views strive to push the societal norms that way and how restrained those of conservative outlook are with the use of guard labour to retain their position.

Clive RobinsonNovember 21, 2017 2:27 AM

@ Wael,

What I'd like to see is a demonstration of the falsehood of life after death. That would be ... impressive :-) Should be easy; it's "demonstrable", right?

The first question you should realy ask is "Why on earth should there be life after death?" untill you resolve that you will be wasting your time.

As for "demonstrable" by what means, mathmatics?, Physics?, By the person who can shout loudest?, or the one that can make an audience feel most good about themselves?, or how about the person who can turn it into a rent seeking business franchise?

So second step would be to define your measurands and show how they relate to the Plank Constants or can be exceptions but still acceptable as quantifiable and comparable measures.

But there is always that squidgy mess of human failings to fall back on for a glib answer...

We all know that humans are by behavior contrarian... That is, if there is a wrong way to do something then the first human in line is bound to find one, then likewise the second person in line. In fact the chances of finding anyone in a line that actually knows the right way to do something are so small they could easily hide behind the smallest assumed particle ;-)

Thus if there is an afterlife it's a sure bet that someone if not all someones would want to come back. Because it's a given with humans that "Things were always better in the good old days" even when those good old days were actually bad old days filled with pain suffering and a short existance.

Thus this "crossing over" business if real must most definately be a one way trip with no returns what so ever in anyway what so ever... So the question arises how on earth is it possible to know what exists beyond that barrier if anything at all...

Which lets be honest sounds like the perfect marketing opportunity, "Give now for a better future" sounds good but yould want proof wouldn't you? If I tried to sell you "Give now for an unknowable future" you'ld assume I was a con artist wouldn't you? If not I've a bridge in London I can sell you real cheap...

Does that glibly give you the "demonstration" you desire?

Clive RobinsonNovember 21, 2017 2:42 AM

@ jim,

[Y]ou folks *do* realize "Snowden", "Greenwald", "Assange" and "WikiLeaks", et al are all limited hangout, disinfo ops & assets, right?

OK I'll bite, what's your "snif test" for such an assertion?

But don't forget you will have to overcome the "follow the money" snif test to even remotely stand a chance of being credible...

One small part of the "follow the money" sniff test is the "What's in it for them" sniff test with demonstrating which part of the MICE criteria they are opperating under.

If you can't do it then your argument will likewise fail.

Which brings us to your assertion of,

you guys kissing these obvious, contrived characters' behinds can't possibly be *that* naïve, so please stop trying to confer legitimacy on these actors, it makes your motives appear rather suspect.

Could easiky be reworded as,

    You kissing these obvious, contrived arguments can't possibly be *that* naïve, so please stop trying to confer legitimacy on these arguments, it makes your motives appear rather suspect.

gordoNovember 21, 2017 6:26 AM

@ Clive Robinson,

Thus some believe that "humans have to be led" which gives rise to hierarchies.

It's not that we have to be led it's that we are. One need look no further than a mirror; even a rear-view mirror. The question is, at any given moment, by whom or by what are we led, i.e., who's got the reins or what drives us?


Who'll Stop the Rain?


Former religious gossip columnist Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello) announces his new People's Catholic Church where every member becomes a Pope and can wear whatever Pope-apparel they like, even a Papal Pantsuit. [Season 11, 1985]


WaelNovember 21, 2017 7:29 AM

@Clive Robinson,

"Why on earth should there be life after death?"

Good thinking. Perhaps because we witnessed life after death the first time? We were not alive then we were. Life from death, we see everyday. Why stop there? That's just one answer out of many. Besides, It won't be on earth.

As for "demonstrable" by what means,

@Sancho_P made the claim it's demonstrably false. I asked him to demonstrate without any restrictions. His choice. Let's see when / if he does "demonstrate".

Thus if there is an afterlife it's a sure bet that someone if not all someones would want to come back.

It's a sure bet some would want to come back, but not all. For different reasons than you mention.

Thus this "crossing over" business if real must most definately be a one way trip with no returns what so ever in anyway what so ever...

That's some elegant proof you have there! "Thus" is building on what? The previous statements?

Does that glibly give you the "demonstration" ...?

You know the answer: no

If not I've a bridge in London I can sell you real cheap...

What's your markup? ;) Then again I know freinds and family that bought land in Scotland for £30 and became Lords and Ladies. Several sites to buy from and they gave them a certificate. By law, they must be called Lord or Lady in Scotland. What title will I earn if I buy your bridge? I know a couple of scumbags that are tired of their title, and another guy who wants to change his "Schweinehund" title by buying a bridge or a small piece of land in Germany ;)

Clive RobinsonNovember 21, 2017 9:00 AM

@ Wael,

That's some elegant proof you have there!

I did warn you it was,a "glib answer"...

A quick look in the OnlineCollins English Dictionary, gives,

    glib in British. (ɡlɪb ) adjectiveWord forms: glibber or glibbest. fluent and easy, often in an insincere or deceptive way.

And you are asking for "proof" outrageous!!! What do you think I am a politicians aid? ;-)

Clive RobinsonNovember 21, 2017 9:13 AM

@ Wael,

By law, they must be called Lord or Lady in Scotland. What title will I earn if I buy your bridge?

Well I have to ask are you planning on living on it or under it?

I belive that the legal title for the person aboded beneath a bridge in Norway is "troll"... If you want me to call you "Lord Troll of London nee Wael" just shout out B-)

Oh how are your "odd socks" have you found a match for the old one?

WaelNovember 21, 2017 9:43 AM

@Clive Robinson,

What do you think I am a politicians aid? ;-)

Oh, not at all. I don't trust politicians.
I'm tempted to tell you the story at the risk of unintentionally offending some. But it's an amusing story and also requires some thinking because it has a minor challenge at the end. True story.

you want me to call you "Lord Troll of London nee...

Good seeds for the next foot cover when it gets colder. Not sure, though.

Oh how are your "odd socks" have you found a match for the old one?

Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps you were sleeping? That one is recycled too. Pay attention next time. I'm running out of good brand name attire ;)

Sancho_PNovember 21, 2017 5:40 PM


The false promise is to have a “better life” (if you do funny things on earth). Obviously it is a con to end one’s misery and is aimed at the very simple ones.
All who can deliberately listen to nature, watch sunrise, breathe in fresh air, feel rain, enjoy a conversation, music, books, watch animals, are able to feel empathy, love, -
(In short: All who consciously have at least some human capabilities)
- won’t fall for that ruse.

I for one can never have a better life as I already have on earth, thanks.

But I wouldn’t challenge you talking about being reborn as whatever, tree, animal, what you like (or dislike, he he he).
[I’d love to be reborn as my eldest cat. Will it work back in time? What must I do, would six additional prayers in direction of the North Pole suffice?]

You call it “language limitation” but that’s not true in languages that have something else / in between (btw., in the EU we’ll probably get that in our birth register in the very close future: Male, Female, Both).
Simply call your God “it” - YMMV ;-)

In contrast your “God has no gender” is true, but that’s exactly one of the points to unveil religions as simple terrestrial fraternities, from male deputies (Pope) to prophets and clerics.
All have serious restrictions for women in advantage of (mostly old) men who are empowered to explain and interpret rules, punish the plebs, and have absolute control over our daily life (sometimes with impunity and free sexual harassment of boys and girls):
Unfortunately their genderless God gave knowledge and power on earth only to men.

- Oh so sorry, my dear ladies, you’re out here, we make the rules!

You wrote: ”The premise is false! It's not to "please God"”
Umm, seems I got that wrong? I thought there was something like salvation and damnation, and “it” gave us rules and choice?

So they do it - why???

Sancho_PNovember 21, 2017 6:01 PM

@gordo - Thanks for the newyorker link, obviously written in bitterness.

But conclusion (a) and Point 2. are a bit off track:
There were no honest diplomatic relations, he was already fearful of. He was reaching out a hand, but US politicos didn’t understand. Couldn't understand?
Since WWII the US view was always from the table down to those who feed on the US crumbs (the inventor of capitalism's viewing angle).
A communist isn’t even allowed on the corridor. That’s the point.
Now he knows, as Xi does (probably longer did than Putin).

WaelNovember 21, 2017 6:10 PM


So the demonstration is:

Obviously it is a con to end one’s misery and is aimed at the very simple ones.

To me that's just a claim! The rest, Sancho_P my friend, isn't true. Like I said, I can discuss each and every point with you -- rationally, logically, scientifically, and mathematically (where appropriate,) but I'll get slapped. Next time we have that discussion, which happens a few times a year, just focus on one point. @Clive Robinson said a mouthful above; wrong from A to Z, but I can't reply to every point because it'll be too long. Successful tactic to evade a discussion, I guess.

TõnisNovember 21, 2017 7:07 PM

I haven't had the chance yet to read the entire discussion, but it seems to be focused on the existence of God and an afterlife. I'll just add that atheism itself is a religion. I'll stipulate that my faith in the existence of God and an afterlife is irrational. An agnostic, I get; he says he simply doesn't know, but an atheist claims to know that God doesn't exist, and that's just as irrational as my saying that he does.

Clive RobinsonNovember 21, 2017 7:26 PM

@ Wael,

I can't reply to every point because it'll be too long. Successful tactic to evade a discussion, I guess.

Ouch not so...

This is at the end of a thread that has apparently otherwise gone cold. In the past some latitude has been alowed providing it's kept polite and not "party" biased.

But that said my post was actually mainly about "the king game" which is very much an underlying point of security. Our host has on a number of occasions shown his thinking about the "feudalism" that is beseting the technology sector, and denying privacy etc to the "surfs" whilst those with entitlement "lords" are broadly exclded from such privations as befiting their "status".

As we have seen recently with the "Hollywood Harvey" sex pest outing, sexism, misogynist behavior through to rape by men in power frequently results in the diminishing and denigration of women not just in person but in general image and status. As historians and psychologists have noted there is a reason for King Henry VIII's large cod piece, it was a visual projection not of manhood but power and virility of it's excercise. It was in effect "a shock and awe tactic" writ large that preceded him where ever he went, and it was aimed at other men --not women-- to let them know they were inferior.

ThomasNovember 21, 2017 7:43 PM

@gordo said, "For now, though, sympathies aside and getting back on topic, lacking any conclusive evidence for who they are, The Shadow Brokers are non-state actors. To the best of my knowledge, sentient."

In retrospec, high profile hacks over past several years were attributed to state actors. Whether these attributions were with or without merit is another story. TSB shouldn't be any different in terms of the logic involved in attribution process except admission would paint USIC an unfavorable light.

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