Edward Snowden's Memoirs

Ed Snowden has published a book of his memoirs: Permanent Record. I have not read it yet, but I want to point you all towards two pieces of writing about the book. The first is an excellent review of the book and Snowden in general by SF writer and essayist Jonathan Lethem, who helped make a short film about Snowden in 2014. The second is an essay looking back at the Snowden revelations and what they mean. Both are worth reading.

As to the book, there are lots of other reviews.

The US government has sued to seize Snowden's royalties from book sales.

Posted on October 7, 2019 at 6:53 AM • 78 Comments

Comments

meOctober 7, 2019 8:08 AM

@Schneier
> I have not read it yet

You should read it! It's awesome.
It's not technic or difficult, it explains his life and why he decided to reveal the truth and why he decided to do so in that way.

> looking back at the Snowden revelations and what they mean

To me, they mean that a single person actions can make the differece, that all what we do matters and have an impact on the society we live in, that everyone of us can change the world we live in.
They also mean that the nsa can't be trusted, that they are limited only by capability and not by any moral compass or law.
I'm from Italy and while i don't find legal or correct to spy on heads of state like Merkel i can somehow understand that there is an economical gain in doing so.
But they spied also on normal people, people like me, and again i find it wrong but i'm not american so i might be "the enemy".
But they spied also on american people their own citizen, all of them, and i can't really find this behavior excusable in any way.

meOctober 7, 2019 10:10 AM

@Pffft!
I don't care at all, what i do care about is the NSA spying american citizen and worldwide citizens, sabotating security standard, spreading disinformation.
All of this is wrong, even if Snowden is a traitor (and i don't think he is).

wiredogOctober 7, 2019 12:45 PM

Was Snowden able to publish the book without interference from the Russian government? If not,how would we know?

Jesse ThompsonOctober 7, 2019 3:36 PM

Now I'm curious of the opposition view. Who are these people who are upset by Snowden? Who think he is a traitor, or caused harm, or represents an ongoing threat, or even who are just annoyed at his tone?

I've never really encountered anyone online to espouse this view (save for some forum trolls wearing conservative face makeup who were far more interested in evoking emotional response from others than they were in offering sincere personal perspectives), nor reports about people who do, interviews with people throwing shade at him, etc.

The closest I could find was this paragraph from an LA Times article circa 2015:

Although pollsters find many younger Americans applaud his whistle-blowing, the majority express dislike for him, which probably will discourage leading candidates in the looming presidential election from expending political capital on a call for clemency. In a U.S. News & World Report poll in April, 64% of respondents familiar with Snowden said they held a negative view of him.

The article talks about why NSA staffers and "intelligence and security veterans" are upset with him, but those also represent the only people who previously had access to that information. "He told secrets only we used to be privy to" is a pretty niche concern, and doesn't explain the opinion of the other supposed 64% of the US general population disliking the man or his actions.

JonOctober 7, 2019 5:20 PM

@Jesse Thompson: I don't know either. For awhile I had a picture of Edward Snowden up on the wall. I can only assume those who have a negative view do not have the whole view. J.

Erdem MemisyaziciOctober 7, 2019 10:16 PM

The man's a hero. We all believe in privacy, in fact it's fundamental to the formation of America when we denounced a monarchy. People were tired of soldiers of the empire busting in their homes going through their documents so they wrote it into the Constiution that it's not what America will be about. This guy risked his life and career to protect that spirit and educate the people.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsOctober 7, 2019 11:16 PM

Meanwhile...

Government sues Edward Snowden's publisher for the proceeds of the book titled "Permanent Record". The government I argue cannot be a beneficiary of proceeds gained from ill gotten goods from illegal behavior. The primary act of malfeasance is at the hands of government operatives and agencies, not Snowden. For example, a bank robber has the cache of money snatched up by someone else ("the snatcher"). The bank robber sues "the snatcher" for the monies that the robber had illegally acquired.

Resolution in this situation requires the robber coming clean, face justice, and make those harmed whole. "The snatcher" need only return the monies, not to the robber, but to those harmed. My list of the harmed:

All the citizens of the United States, for specific harms and grievous acts
All the citizens of sovereign democratic and non-democratic countries
All peoples in pursuit of life, liberty, and their happiness

meOctober 8, 2019 1:35 AM

@Jesse Thompson
> Now I'm curious of the opposition view. Who are these people who are upset by Snowden

Me too, i would like to read some "opposite view" but since 2013 i never found anything useful, there are some people who say "he is a traitor" or "he damaged america" without explaining why they think so.
I would really like to know why they think that.
But my conclusion is that they are a nsa disinformation operation, from Snowden revelations we know that they conduct that too, they try to influence people thinking by posting online.
The "best" explained idea so far is "he is a russian spy because he is in russia" while the truth is that usa revoked his pasport while he was on a plane, and he was blocked in russian airport for 40 days.

David AustraliaOctober 8, 2019 3:45 AM

Moderator

Thank you for removing the obnoxious post by so called Patriot

For those who don't know. Glenn Greenwald wrote the definitive account of, not only the events but also the necessary rebuttal of each and every erroneous concept attributed to events. Eg, people were harmed, he's a russian spy.
The book is called No Place To Hide, and
Greenwald explains how he came to be in that situation with Ms Poitras, and how the Guardian forced the third jounralist upon to them whom they really resented but later came to really appreciate
Greenwald also discusses the notion of 'The Chilling Effect' which I believe has been the major force behind the NSA all along. It's not spying, it's control. The way to fight overt oppression is not to be paranoid, and not to restrain your creative spirit

Weather
I have a lot of difficulty understanding your pithy comments on this blog, most of the time. Feel to spend a bit more time with your posts, for cohesion and clarity, I'm sure we'll all benefit.

PatriotOctober 8, 2019 5:55 AM

I compared Edward Snowden to Timothy McVeigh because both were failures in the U.S. Army who had an axe to grind, and both did significant harm to the United States. Both tried to make it into Special Forces, and both failed. Both had histories of not getting along with people, and in Snowden's case his conflicts with the CIA in Switzerland led to his going rogue. Namely, he did not get promoted.

The current Secretary of State of the United States said that Snowden had blood on his hands. I was paraphrasing Secretary Pompeo. One can hardly get a more authoritative quote than that.

What I would like people to consider is that Edward Snowden willfully betrayed his sacred oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Then he took refuge in Moscow.

I have read several news articles that said Snowden's revelations have made terrorists much more careful. One of those was the Manchester bomber.

Taking 7 TB of highly classified data to Moscow did not make your lives any safer, ladies and gentlemen. That's a fact. Even President Obama said this.

meOctober 8, 2019 6:22 AM

@Patriot
> sacred oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign *and domestic* (emphasis mine)

when he saw nsa lie to the congress under oath, and nsa spy his own citizen it was clear that both actions were against the constitution, so he defended the constitution

> Then he took refuge in Moscow.
this is wrong, his pasport was revoked by the usa while he was in flight to ecuador. he has been forced to go to moscow by the usa.

>Taking 7 TB ... did not make your lives any safer
I think the opposite is truth: more than 50% of the webpages are now protected by https, thus they are safer agains any criminal trying to hack me.


> Even President Obama said this.
He also said "nobody is listening to your phone calls" just to be disproved in the next news edition, i remember when i saw the tv in the first day of revelations, Obama was quick to minimize and deny.

gordoOctober 8, 2019 7:09 AM

I agree with Mr. Taibbi's diagnostic:

The ‘Whistleblower’ Probably Isn’t
It’s an insult to real whistleblowers to use the term with the Ukrainegate protagonist
By Matt Taibbi, October 6, 2019

Americans who’ve blown the whistle over serious offenses by the federal government either spend the rest of their lives overseas, like Edward Snowden, end up in jail, like Chelsea Manning, get arrested and ruined financially, like former NSA official Thomas Drake, have their homes raided by FBI like disabled NSA vet William Binney, or get charged with espionage like ex-CIA exposer-of-torture John Kiriakou. It’s an insult to all of these people, and the suffering they’ve weathered, to frame the ballcarrier in the Beltway’s latest partisan power contest as a whistleblower.

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/whistleblower-ukraine-trump-impeach-cia-spying-895529/

Petre Peter October 8, 2019 7:16 AM

Technology can subvert policy but policy can also subvert technology. We need more whistleblowers.

CallMeLateForSupperOctober 8, 2019 8:58 AM

"The US government has sued to seize Snowden's royalties from book sales."

I anticipated exactly that while reading the very first news story I saw that announced the book. I figured Snowden anticipated it too and does not really care.

LomaxOctober 8, 2019 9:30 AM

@Patriot:
You should do well to remember Mark Twain's quote: "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it."

You can't deny that the NSA has been spying on everyone, including the regular blue-collar american, treating each of them as the enemy. They lied to your Congress, have been stretching the definitions of their mission and playing fast and loose with the limits the laws impose on them. Does any of it merits saying your government deserves your support?

And then when Snowden exposed all of that he was naturally branded as the enemy by the very crooks he was exposing. No surprise there. What surprises me is seeing people like you accepting the narrative as molded by people who were already proven as chronic liars, just because they happen to hold a chair in the government. As if it suddenly means they cannot be amoral and their every action is excusable just because of the office they're in.

meOctober 8, 2019 9:37 AM

@David Australia @all
> The book No Place To Hide by Greenwald

Your seems a good and interesting review.

Has anyone read this? I have read the Snowden one because i was curious about what he wanted say, beause it was his story told by himself.
I have not read no place to hide because i was following the revelations closely so i felt there was nothing new inside it but i have never read a review, now i'm wondering if i should read it. Is it only a recap of what happened?
I know i can search for a review online but i'd also like your opinions.
Thank you all.
(Hope i'm not going too much off topic)

AndersOctober 8, 2019 10:48 AM

"The US government has sued to seize Snowden's royalties from book sales."

I'd release a free e-book against that move, if i would be the Snowden.

AndersOctober 8, 2019 10:54 AM

@me

re: The book No Place To Hide by Greenwald

This book is available in full form at archive.org.
Won't give you a direct link (our host may mind) but
use creative search...

PatriotOctober 8, 2019 11:04 AM

@Lomax

Thank you very much for your comments, and I am going to try to give you the best response I can because this is important. First of all, it was my fault that my first comment got removed, my fault entirely. Here goes:

(1) I think it was a White House press spokesman under Obama who said something like this in front of the cameras: regular people know about 10% of what is really going on.

(2) The Puzzle Palace people are not crooks in the regular sense. It is their job to lie and steal. The better they deceive, steal, and snoop, the better they are doing their jobs. Why do they exist? If you want to win a fight, then fight dirty. Virtue loses fights. Do you think an army marches out and announces their real strength and intentions while avoiding any information about their adversary that was gained in some manner not fit for a gentleman? Hardly.

(3) Yes, the Puzzle Palace went out of control. General Odom, a former DIRNSA, said that it would have never happened on his watch. Perhaps folks with his sterling character are not to be found very often these days. Self-interest took over, and a lack of real oversight-- a self-licking ice cream cone that will change the U.S. into something we can no longer recognize... unless stopped.

(4) Did you hear what General Kelly said about Trump's first intell brief? Again, musing in public... something along the lines of: If people knew how bad it is, they would not go outside. Pause for a moment and let that sink in.

That is why Snowden is such a bad person. He has no creed. The world is a highly dangerous place and he was entrusted to work towards keeping it safe for normal people. He did help enable terrorism. The Manchester bomber is just one documented example. Secretary of State Pompeo, who should know, said Ed has red human liquid on his hands. Did it ever cross your mind that you, your family, or someone else you know might become a victim of terrorism or military conflict that was enabled by the unauthorized disclosure of national security information?

It is not about privacy--it is about safety and strategic issues like peace and stability.

SpaceLifeFormOctober 8, 2019 11:08 AM

@me

Snowden did not take *any* data to Moscow.

@Patriot is spinning.

Also wondering if he just discussed classified stuff relating to personnel.

SpaceLifeFormOctober 8, 2019 11:30 AM

@Lomax

I would not waste too much effort on him.
It is his job to spew nonsense.

Best to point out the errors, and leave it at that. Further engagement is a waste of time, and then you are just feeding a troll.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

Clive RobinsonOctober 8, 2019 1:17 PM

@ Patriot,

The current Secretary of State of the United States said that Snowden had blood on his hands. I was paraphrasing Secretary Pompeo. One can hardly get a more authoritative quote than that.

You are confusing Politics and the Truth.

I would trust the word of current political appointees of any government less than I would those of a serial killer out of their head on crystal meth.

But in his case, in his own words,

    "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. It was like we had entire training courses."

He was also the man when in charge of the CIA did all he could to protect the known failure of "Enhanced Interrogation" and it's two creators who became multi-millionairs for inflicting "cruel and inhumane treatment on innocent persons"

Then there is his "running interference" and "suppression of evidence" with regards the actions of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the assassination of columnist and journalist Jamal Khashoggi who worked for the Washington Post.

But his politics... He's a "card carrying" member of the "Tea baggers" and so "pro Trump" that other CIA Directors have called him into question. But worse yet he is well and truly owned by those criminals the Koch Brothers...

You would seriously take the word of someone like that without seeking significant verification from atleast three independent sources?

gordoOctober 8, 2019 1:29 PM

@ MarkH,

This is what's happening, as foretold in 2017:

"Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you."

— United States Senator, Chuck Schumer

MarkHOctober 8, 2019 1:55 PM

@gordo:

Ad hominem responds not to the facts and logic of a proposition, but rather to the character, qualifications, or some other personal attribute of the person asserting the proposition.

It seems to me, that I addressed -- quite specifically -- the interpretive lens Taibbi applied in his writing, or in other words his premises and inferential logic.

Those premises and logic -- which are far from universally accepted! -- are discernable in certain public figures, including Putin and Trump.

To say that someone applied the Pythagorean theorem to arrive at a result, is not to say that he is somehow equivalent to Pythagoras.

To observe precise historical parallels between Hitler's annexation of the Memel region and Putin's annexation of Crimea is neither an assertion that Hitler and Putin are equivalent, nor is it an example of "Godwin's law".

gordoOctober 8, 2019 2:20 PM

@ MarkH,

Whether you or I think that Taibbi is a cynic doesn't mattter. Chuck Schumer tells us that Taibbi has good reason for his take on the matter.

MarkHOctober 8, 2019 2:52 PM

@gordo:

Here's why cynicism is a powerful -- and enormously destructive -- force.

What Snowden did was surely illegal. Many who were alarmed or angered by his conduct attributed corrupt motives to him such as anti-Americanism, betrayal to hostile powers, and the like. Their interpretation is cynical.

I haven't seen evidence of Snowden's corruption. I think it most likely that he was motivated by patriotism.

Taibbi asserts (as if it were established fact) that the "phone call" whistleblower is a partisan political operator. He dismisses out of hand any possibility that the lawful disclosure was patriotic in purpose. That's cynicism.

A couple of recent comments from you seem to imply (I beg your pardon, if I misunderstood) a dark motive very distinct from Taibbi's claim: vengeance by the intelligence community for injuries real or imagined. Again, the possibility of any legitimate motive seems to be discounted.

Does the foregoing make sense?

SpaceLifeFormOctober 8, 2019 3:19 PM

@Anders

Really? You have to ask?

He turned it over in Hong Kong.

One does not transport 7TB of data in their shoe into Moscow. Or into Hong Kong.

Assuming that one believes the 7TB story.

70GB more likely. Maybe more, but not 7TB.

3 USB keys, now we're talking over 70GB.

Throw in a laptop, with large SSD, even then, not even close to 7TB.

See the spin going on?


AndersOctober 8, 2019 3:45 PM

@SpaceLifeForm,

Amount in TB is still in question.
But Snowden smuggled the data out from NSA on the
micro SD card (or multiple cards) hidden inside
Rubic's Cube. See the link i earlier posted.

Laptop's was a diversion.
Getting those micro SD cards through the customs
is a piece of cake.

AndersOctober 8, 2019 4:11 PM

@SpaceLifeForm

I doubt that he handed over EVERYTHING.
I think he had duplicates.

One does not go and ask protection / asylum from one
totalitarian country without having something to bargain with.

MarkHOctober 8, 2019 4:15 PM

@SpaceLifeForm:

The comments continue to demonstrate the thesis I described.

Many accused Snowden of corrupt purpose, without adequate evidence.

Taibbi accuses the "phone call" whistleblower of corrupt purpose, without adequate evidence.

Insinuations here seem to accuse the same person(s) of a different corrupt purpose, without adequate evidence.

Your reference to TLAs seems to imply that rather than an individual -- or a few individuals -- acting on their own initiative, the disclosures are a conspiracy by one or more intelligence agencies to carry out a corrupt agenda under the fraudulent cover of independent whistleblowing.

Okay, fine. On what evidence?

WeatherOctober 8, 2019 4:34 PM

Against the general flow of this site, they IC have a axe over they heads, is law, it was built over many years and keeps getting fined tuned, I'm guessing nothing really...,just to say even Iraq etc, was to save lives, it isn't feathers and fluffy dugs, you don't need to be on illegal drugs to be nuts, come on real world view not some computer screen, yes its punch lines, but...tradition

lurkerOctober 8, 2019 7:55 PM

Serendip: looking for other things in the fount of all knowledge Wikipedia and stumbled on

Security and privacy experts such as Edward Snowden, Daniel J. Bernstein, and Christopher Soghoian have publicly praised [Qubes OS]

meOctober 9, 2019 3:48 AM

Congratulations to nsa people for changing the conversation topic once again from "nsa doing immoral & illegal things" which is what matters to "is snowden a traitor or a hero?" which doesn't matter and doesn't change what nsa have done and is doing

people, never forget that what matters, nsa spying matters, Snowden doesn't.

gordoOctober 9, 2019 10:18 AM

@ MarkH,

On what evidence?

To wit:

As The Federalist reported and the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) confirmed, the spy watchdog secretly changed its whistleblower forms and internal rules in September to eliminate a requirement that whistleblowers provide first-hand evidence to support any allegations of wrongdoing. In a press release last week, the ICIG confessed that it changed its rules in response to an anti-Trump complaint filed on August 12. That complaint, which was declassified and released by President Donald Trump in September, was based entirely on second-hand information, much of which was shown to be false following the declassification and release of a telephone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/10/07/intel-community-ig-stonewalling-congress-on-backdated-whistleblower-rule-changes/

SpaceLifeFormOctober 9, 2019 1:31 PM

@markH

My comment about TLAs maybe can be misread.

To clarify: There are issues inside IC.
There are bad actors inside. But it is not an entire TLA that is bad. It's just that there are bad actors inside the big three. Highly placed.

We do not know how they got in place over decades.

Players and roles.

Your thesis is sound.

Some TLA needs to step up, and break the 'system', and more whistleblowers need to step up.

If fascists can control IC, then IC can not function as designed.

The link @gordo provided is not an accurate read of that particular whistleblower (the first of recent three).

That site is not trustable, and IIRC, the point was later disproved.

@me gets it


gordoOctober 9, 2019 2:58 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

Be that as it may, Trump will not be impeached and deeper problems will not be addressed.

SpaceLifeFormOctober 9, 2019 4:27 PM

@MarkH, @gordo, @me

While it is true that impeachment will not solve all problems, my point remains.

There are too many actors inside TLAs that can not be trusted. Blackmailed, bought off, or just a spy. Who knows for sure?

There is plenty of evidence of leaks in recent years.

But, when a DOJ AAG signs off on a court filing, that the same DOJ AAG is *named* in, then, that is a hint.

hxxps[:]//www.twitter.com/kyledcheney/status/1181715993753788417

SpaceLifeFormOctober 9, 2019 5:22 PM

Frese. Had TS, but *only* leaked Secret.

It takes time, but compartments will find.

P/KOctober 9, 2019 7:06 PM

Snowden's memoir is a disappointment and he discredits himself with it. He was apparently scared by what the Chinese were doing (which is domestic surveillance, where NSA is a foreign intelligence agency) and shocked by the STELLARWIND report (I doubt whether that's true, first because the report isn't that shocking at all, secondly because the NSA's bulk collection of domestic phone records was already revealed by USA Today in 2006).

He then went looking for any evidence that the NSA was doing the same, and so he misused his sysadmins privileges and bypassed internal control systems to search, read and eventually store all kinds of internal documents. First that's not what whistleblowing is supposed to be and secondly he doesn't even describe what "crimes and abuses" he actually found.

Snowden only repeats that NSA want to collect everyone's communications and store them forever. He doesn't present evidence for that, and the numerous documents that have been released also don't support those claims. Instead of addressing specific legal and practical problems with the NSA's collection efforts, he's just fearmongering.

Anyone who is interested in a far more detailed and balanced discussion of the revelations, the NSA programs and its legal authorities should read "Beyond Snowden" by Timothy H. Edgar, published in 2017.

PatriotOctober 9, 2019 9:29 PM

@SpaceLifeForm

It is all from the news.

@Anders

That was very interesting about how Snowden got the data out of his facility. I have been wondering about that. However he did it, security was lax.

P/KOctober 10, 2019 1:06 AM

@ Jesse Thompson & me:

I guess a lot of people will simply say: okay, Snowden leaked classified documents, so he's a traitor, or, okay he's in Russia so he must be a Russian spy. I don't think it's that simple, but most people don't have the time to take a closer look at this quite complicated matter.

What irritates me most when it comes to Snowden, is that he persists in exaggerations and even lies. Those claims like NSA is collecting all our emails and wants to store them forever are simply not true. Ironically, even the original internal NSA documents which Snowden himself provided to journalists don't support those claims.

I will not deny that there are various issues and methods that are doubtful and controversial, but a proper judgement should also take in account how these methods are actually implemented and for which goals. But there's much less information available about those aspects. The war on terrorism and the drone killings are based upon political decisions for which one cannot blame the NSA.

Reading his book seems to confirm what I already suspected, which is that Snowden himself also had no good or full picture of what the NSA is actually doing. As he describes it, he had to piece everything together in the same way as later on the press had to do it, except that he was on his own, while it took a few dozen journalists several years to wield through all those files in trying to understand them.

Then it's a bit grotesque to see Snowden all over the world on super-size video screens being admired and presented as the ultimate expert on the NSA and its surveillance systems, especially because he usually doesn't come much further than the general dangers of big data and government surveillance and that we all should encrypt as much as possible.

tdsOctober 10, 2019 11:40 AM

Regarding Taibbi and whistle-blowers https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/why-theyre-attacking-the-whistle-blower/599680/

"In August, an intelligence analyst filed a whistle-blower complaint alleging that President Donald Trump pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to open an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

That allegation has since been substantiated by independent reporting, a summary of the call released by the White House, and text messages from Trump officials arguing about the ethics of using taxpayer funds for an act of political extortion. Since then, Trump has publicly reiterated his call for both Ukraine and China, an authoritarian nation seeking relief from a Trump-instigated trade war, to investigate Biden.

You wouldn’t know any of this, however, if you simply read Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone column alleging that the person who filed the whistle-blower complaint is “not a real whistleblower.” The allegations, and their subsequent corroboration by the White House’s own documents, are simply not worth explaining. Instead, Taibbi quotes the former CIA analyst Robert Baer as arguing that the whistle-blower is part of a “palace coup against Trump.” Taibbi argues that a “real whistleblower” would have had his life shattered by prosecution or imprisonment, like Thomas Drake or Chelsea Manning. The column makes a strong case that the whistle-blower is not punk enough for Taibbi, but it does not even try to make the case that the individual in question has not exposed serious abuses of power... "

gordoOctober 10, 2019 12:14 PM

Yeah, @tds, it's laughable considering how people like Drake, and Kiriakou were treated for what they exposed. If the treatment of whistle-blowers weren't political then people like Gina Haspel would be in jail.

tdsOctober 10, 2019 1:19 PM

@gordo

"Yeah, @tds, it's [not] laughable considering how people like Drake, and Kiriakou [and Snowden, Binney, Ellsberg, etc.] were treated for what they exposed." (edits mine)

More from the above Atlantic article "So What If the Whistle-Blower Has a Political Motive?"

"Put simply, whistle-blowers often have political motives, or motives that people can reasonably criticize, disagree with, or find abhorrent. But those motives do not supersede, diminish, or otherwise validate the misconduct they expose. To fixate on those motives at the expense of the misconduct being uncovered is to reward malfeasance.

The exception is where no actual misconduct is revealed; then the motives of the individual coming forward become more significant. But Trump supporters are so bereft of benign explanations for the president’s behavior that they have fallen to mischaracterizing it, pretending it did not occur, or suggesting that the president was acting in jest. Similarly, Taibbi simply doesn’t say what Trump did, or why it would matter in the first place.

[...]

Indeed, despite all the rhetoric about “deep state” conspiracies, the most prominent example of such direct interference is the head of the FBI [Comey in 2016] breaking protocol by announcing an investigation of Hillary Clinton while keeping the investigation into Trump secret, in order to avoid a backlash from right-wing officials within the bureau. But corrupt use of national-security authority is the very abuse of power that Trump himself was engaged in—pressuring Ukraine in order to force that nation to kneecap his political opponent. If justified skepticism of intelligence agencies leads you to ignore the very kinds of abuses that make them perilous to democracy, then you’ve missed the point.

The stakes here are existential. You cannot have free speech, due process, or fair elections in a country where the head of state can unilaterally demand investigations of political critics and rivals. It is not a power that any president, from any party, should ever have. Whatever the whistle-blower’s motives, they pale in comparison with the misconduct that’s been uncovered."

gordoOctober 10, 2019 1:45 PM

@tds,

The problem is not whistle-blowers but how government treats them and their revelations. The current set of whistle-blowers are being protected because of potential political gain. Drake, Kiriakou, Manning and Snowden, for example, should all have been able to be protected from full-on prosecution, but were not for fear of political costs to both parties. What remains at stake is the rule of law.

gordoOctober 10, 2019 2:44 PM

Oh, and while we're at it, Joe Biden should get out of the race. A sense of shame for allowing his son to be used as an overpaid mascot in lieu of a bribe would set a good example for everyone. /s

gordoOctober 10, 2019 3:04 PM

It won't happen, but, for the good of the country, both Trump and Biden should end their campaigns for President of the United States.

Rolf WeberOctober 10, 2019 5:10 PM

I absolutely agree with P/K.
I wrote a review too, see my linked blog, if you are interested.

What me surprised most is that Snowden *admitted* that he had no firsthand knowledge, that he "learned" everything from reading stolen docs.
And then he explained hi misconceptions to even more clueless -- but anti-NSA biased -- journalists. Wow, that explains how this shit happened...

MarkHOctober 11, 2019 8:27 AM

@gordo, tds, SpaceLifeForm:

Matt Taibbi's logic is like Christian theology run in reverse: "he was not crucified, therefore he cannot be a prophet."

When your analysis begins with the premise that no actor can be motivated by ethics or duty, you're thinking just like Putin.

I agree that it's secondary, whether Snowden is hero or villain. My personal opinion (which I cannot prove) is that his reverence for the Constitution exceeded that of his employers.

Trump (and his lickspittles) are obsessed with the imagined misconduct of the whistleblower, because there is no defense for his own (already documented) misconduct.

gordoOctober 11, 2019 9:10 AM

@ MarkH,

The diagnostic is that the Ukrainegate whistle-blowers are being treated differently from past whistle-blowers. What one does with that is a separate question.

Clive RobinsonOctober 11, 2019 10:06 AM

@ gordo, Mark H,

The diagnostic is that the Ukrainegate whistle-blowers are being treated differently from past whistle-blowers.

Arguably it's about time, neither the current or previous US Presidents have looked on Whistleblowers, journalists or others holding them to account favourably. But there is documented evidence of various US Gov entities behaving very badly to what they saw as "leakers" going back into the early 1980's that I clearly remember.

In part the law got changed not so long ago, but it did nothing to improve transparancy ot oversight of what are "lawless" or "law abusing" agencies.

If the citizens do not have effective ways to hold thr seniors and executives feet to the fire, then it does not bode well for US Security.

Many forget that security is in part based on how you treat others. Treat people or nations like an enemy, and it's a self fore filling behaviour, "you reap what you sow" if that is distrust, hate and malign behaviours then, you can expect a mirror to be held up one way or another.

A hard lesson for people to learn is that there is "no moral high ground", no "greater good" each action you take is your responsability and in turn you should expect to pay the price. It may not be today, it may not be tommorow but the price will be paid one way or another. Thus the question is by who?

As 9/11 and other events have shown you can not protect your citizens all of the time, in all placez, and it is they that most often bare the cost of political nonsense. Thus the citizens have an absolute moral right to know what is being done in their name, and to hold accountable those who have transgressed and thereby endagered not just them but their descendants.

If such people forget when busy pushing the pendulum way way from the center, they should remember that they too are citizens and thus not invulnerable either. Whistleblowing is but the first step in pushing the pendulum back towards where it should rest. History tells us it can get pushed a lot lot harder, revolution, civil war and other methods lie in that cannon.

MarkHOctober 11, 2019 8:05 PM

Thanks to Clive, for his contribution.

In the U.S., a broad variety of things work more justly, lawfully and democratically than they did in earlier times.

What I wrote before about cynicism, I believe to be of enormous importance.

Something seems to be working as intended -- a whistleblower lawfully reported obvious gross misconduct and, after a few weeks, has not yet suffered any draconian punishment*.

To interpret this small and partial success as evidence of a sinister conspiracy -- while completely dismissing the possibilities that the whistleblower is motivated by patriotism, and that government agencies are simply complying with law -- is as toxic and corrosive as cynicism can get.

History documents that this kind of thinking empowers authoritarian governments.


* Taibbi's argument ignores that POTUS has threatened this person with illegal exposure (explicitly) and death (somewhat indirectly).

tdsOctober 12, 2019 11:33 AM

@gordo, Mark H, Clive Robinson

You may know that a new Le Carre novel, "Agent Running in the Field", has a October 17 release date.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/oct/11/john-le-carre-truth-was-what-you-got-away-with

"In the new book there is a plotline that is predicated on covert collusion between Trump’s US and the British security services with the aim of undermining the democratic institutions of the European Union. “It’s horribly plausible,” he says, with some relish when we meet in his Hampstead home."

Clive RobinsonOctober 12, 2019 5:41 PM

@ tds,

    “It’s horribly plausible,” he says, with some relish when we meet in his Hampstead home.

It's funny to think I walked past his house just a few days ago. It was the day I caught my filthy cold that's had me in bed untill today... It's difficult to walk around that bit of Hampstead without passing somebody famous like an actor or author and the odd politician.

The point is the story line is rather more than plausible in certain respects... No doubt people remember "Cambridge Analytica" back in 2016 and the Facebook scandle. What was more known about them in the UK was the police enquiry into money that appeared to come from America via Russia and fed illegally into pro brexit organisations by them. Apparently that's what the Met Police were investigating prior to it all suddenly stopping, causing politicians to make pointed questions in the Houses of Parliament...

Sometimes you can not make it up, because it realy happens...

PatriotOctober 13, 2019 11:10 AM

@Clive Robinson

After thinking about it, I have to admit that you are basically right: before we believe anyone whose job it is to lie, bend the truth, wiggle, etc., we should get independent verification. That makes sense.

I don't like Jamal Khashoggi having been killed either. It's terrible. It was like a bad spy movie turned horror film. I don't like the Christians in Action torturing people. What would have happened if one of those videos had surfaced and made its way to the Internet? Any guesses? Picture a trail of fire from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur to Bangladesh, across Pakistan, moving in an concave arc to Morocco.

Back to Snowden: I hope you can agree with my basic point that Ed Snowden's compromise of important information was very bad from the viewpoint of hindering terrorism and keeping the world as stable as possible. Now those really bad people are informed.

Rolf WeberOctober 13, 2019 12:03 PM

@Patriot

I don't think the documents that Snowden handed over to journalists and were published, caused much harm. Only indirecty, because they were used for a desinformation campaign.
The problem are the rest of the docs, containing military and operational secrets, that Snowden without reasonable doubt handed over to Russian services.

tdsOctober 13, 2019 1:47 PM

Apparently Snowden brought Section 702 to the world's attention [1].

Into the weeds on Section 702: https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/10/12/how-twelve-years-of-warning-and-six-years-of-plodding-reform-finally-forced-fbi-to-do-minimal-fisa-oversight/

This article: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/10/secret-court-rules-fbis-backdoor-searches-americans-violated-fourth-amendment was mentioned on this weeks Squid: https://www.schneier.com/blog/newcomments.html and is also about Section 702.

[1] "The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, also called the FAA and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008,[1] is an Act of Congress that amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.[2] It has been used as the legal basis for surveillance programs disclosed by Edward Snowden in 2013, including PRISM.[3]"

C U AnonOctober 13, 2019 5:09 PM

@ Rolf Weber,

Spoiler: Facts, no Snowden bombshell bullshit.

I'm guessing you've not read the report in it's entirety.

Which figures, you have a long history of "bullshit" trailing behind your authoritarian worshiping trail.

I'm sure many who still read hear remember the trail of "mist" you dragged through here last time you got on your little charger in defence of the US Politician view.

Tell me where was it you stood on the "Snowden must be executed" nonsense that came out of the CIA and a few US Politicians?

Rolf WeberOctober 14, 2019 1:34 AM

@C U Anon

I did read it entirelly. Which part of the report you think I must have missed?

Of course "Snowden must be executed" is nonsense. America is a state based on law, and courts decide if and how he should be punished.

But this will not happen anyway. He will never leave Russia.

tdsOctober 16, 2019 11:16 AM

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/15/encryption-lose-privacy-us-uk-australia-facebook

"Without encryption, we will lose all privacy. This is our new battleground

[by] Edward Snowden

The US, UK and Australia are taking on Facebook in a bid to undermine the only method that protects our personal information

• Edward Snowden is a US surveillance whistleblower

In every country of the world, the security of computers keeps the lights on, the shelves stocked, the dams closed, and transportation running. For more than half a decade, the vulnerability of our computers and computer networks has been ranked the number one risk in the US Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment – that’s higher than terrorism, higher than war. Your bank balance, the local hospital’s equipment, and the 2020 US presidential election, among many, many other things, all depend on computer safety.

And yet, in the midst of the greatest computer security crisis in history, the US government, along with the governments of the UK and Australia, is attempting to undermine the only method that currently exists for reliably protecting the world’s information: encryption. Should they succeed in their quest to undermine encryption, our public infrastructure and private lives will be rendered permanently unsafe..."

tdsOctober 17, 2019 7:53 AM

@Clive Robinson

"The point is the story line [1] is rather more than plausible in certain respects..."

Sondland, both the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. and scheduled to testify today, is in the news.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/16/us/politics/gordon-sondland-impeachment.html

"His [Sondland's] message to his European hosts was less friendly. At one dinner party, Mr. Sondland said his job was "to destroy the European Union," one senior European official said.


[1] from above: "In the new [le Carre] book there is a plotline that is predicated on covert collusion between Trump’s US and the British security services with the aim of undermining the democratic institutions of the European Union."

C U AnonOctober 17, 2019 12:25 PM

@ Rolf Weber, ALL,

I wrote a few comments on Snowden's opinion piece

If it is anything like the previous junk you've written spouting your very odd political view points, I for one am not going to go anywhere near it, and I suspect others for the sake of their health do likewise.

Rolf WeberOctober 17, 2019 3:54 PM

@C U Anon

My points are technical, not political.
But no problem, we live in free countries, I don't mind when adult people prefer to worship to a Microsoft Sharepoint admin instead of technical facts.

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