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Snowden Is Lying, Say House Intelligence Committee Leaders 749

Posted by Soulskill
from the somebody's-pants-are-on-fire dept.
cold fjord writes "There are new developments in the ongoing controversy engulfing the NSA as a result of the Snowden leaks. From The Hill: 'Emerging from a hearing with NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), the senior Democrat on the panel, said Edward Snowden simply wasn't in the position to access the content of the communications gathered under National Security Agency programs, as he's claimed. "He was lying," Rogers said. "He clearly has over-inflated his position, he has over-inflated his access and he's even over-inflated what the actual technology of the programs would allow one to do. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do." ... "He's done tremendous damage to the country where he was born and raised and educated," Ruppersberger said. ... "It was clear that he attempted to go places that he was not authorized to go, which should raise questions for everyone," Rogers added.'" U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has also told the E.U. justice commissioner that media reports surrounding PRISM are wrong: "The contention it [PRISM] is not subject to any internal or external oversights is simply not correct. It's subject to an extensive oversight regime from executive, legislative and judicial branches and Congress is made aware of these activities. The courts are aware as we need to get a court order. ... We can't target anyone unless appropriate documented foreign intelligence purpose for the prevention of terrorism or hostile cyber activities." Meanwhile, Bloomberg has gone live with a report (based on unidentified sources, so take it with a grain of salt) saying that private sector cooperation with snooping government agencies extends far beyond the ones listed in the PRISM report. "Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said." Whatever PRISM turns out to be, the NY Times is reporting that at least Yahoo, and probably other tech companies as well, tried to fight participation in it. Other reports suggest Twitter refused to participate, though there's been no official confirmation.
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Snowden Is Lying, Say House Intelligence Committee Leaders

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  • Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coId fjord (2949869) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:37AM (#44007507)

    I instantly believe you. It's not as if it's the government's fault that people are so distrusting of it or anything; it couldn't be!

  • Who to believe? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RoknrolZombie (2504888) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:42AM (#44007559)
    A random internet stranger that claims to know more than the rest of us, or the Government institutions that we know will not hesitate to lie, cheat, steal, swindle, and torture to get their own way. Decisions decisions...
  • What oversight? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:42AM (#44007563)

    Last time I checked, all oversight connected with these sorts of things consist of are guidelines for the users to follow. IF you come across personal data, you are SUPPOSED to report it so it get's cleaned.... that's just not enough. You can sift through personal data all day and just not tell anyone and there's a high probability nobody will ever know.

    You are basically asked nicely not to abuse the power these systems give. There is no actual, active oversight nor are there any actual barriers in place.

  • Which one is it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EricWright (16803) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:44AM (#44007597) Journal

    He's lying, or he's the worst traitor in the history of the United States. It can't be both. If he's lying, then he didn't reveal any highly classified state secrets.

    Typical gub'mint response. Talking out of both sides of their asses at the same time.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jawtheshark (198669) * <slashdot@nosPAm.jawtheshark.com> on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:44AM (#44007601) Homepage Journal
    Don't mind the man behind the curtain....
  • Of Course.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mengel (13619) <(mengel) (at) (users.sourceforge.net)> on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:45AM (#44007609) Homepage Journal

    Of Course the Senator knows all about the computers at the contractors to the NSA and what they can do,
    while the guy who used to be a sysadmin there knows nothing about it.

    Uh huh.

    Because we all know that Senators know everything about technology.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:46AM (#44007633)

    I instantly believe you. It's not as if it's the government's fault that people are so distrusting of it or anything; it couldn't be!

    Funny, you instantly believed a 29-year-old who ran to Hong Kong to make outlandish claims about surveillance...

  • Credibility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by intermodal (534361) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:48AM (#44007655) Homepage Journal

    The reality of PRISM is that if the program described exists at all, trying to claim what Holder and Rogers are about oversight does not change the fundamental constitutional problems associated with the programs they are running. You'll notice that there are no credible denials here, just declarations that Snowden is exaggerating and assertions that the existence of oversight on how the data is accessed and used is somehow justification for the data collection in the first place. If the program exists at all, it's either without a warrant or under the exact kind of general warrant the Fourth Amendment was written to prevent.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coId fjord (2949869) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:48AM (#44007657)

    Outlandish? We have people getting groped at airports because they want to get on a plane. You call spying in the name of terrorist "outlandish"? Please.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X0563511 (793323) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:49AM (#44007675) Homepage Journal

    It says something (sad) about the state of our government when I'll take the word of a 29-year-old who ran to Hong Kong over that of the government.

  • by intermodal (534361) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:49AM (#44007679) Homepage Journal

    There are definitely lies coming from the government, and I'm also fairly certain there is some extent of exaggeration from the whistleblowers. However, the facts of the program itself are problematic, not the semantics the government are trying to justify it with.

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:49AM (#44007683) Homepage Journal

    but how is he doing serious damage then.

    and how come they're admitting to prism just with their next breath, but saying that they have it under control because some judge, some senator and some chief at nsa reads a report now and then? "We can't target anyone unless appropriate documented foreign intelligence purpose for the prevention of terrorism or hostile cyber activities." too bad that includes fucking everything nowadays.

    I'm really skeptical that the system has a security system so that it just can't be accessed without that documentation. how would that even work? the court would give one time passes to the executive branch?

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:50AM (#44007699) Journal

    Why are we even talking about this still?! Didn't you hear? Syria used chemical weapons and crossed the line Obama told them not to cross! Quick lets talk about Syria! They've got it coming now!

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:51AM (#44007703)

    The *last* entity I'm going to give any credibility to is the one with the worst track record with civil liberties, money laundering, bank bailouts, misuse of power, outstanding privacy issues (Hello AT&T from room 641A), corruption, bribery, cronyism, etc.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jythie (914043) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:51AM (#44007705)
    I can see skepticism, but the 29 year old put a lot on the line and will probably never lead a normal life again, while the the people on the House Intelligence Comity only have to worry about reelection and are unlikely to be all that personally impacted no matter what they say. So I would say their incentive to lie is currently greater.
  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:51AM (#44007707)

    Please don't mix up tinfoil hatters with actual libertarians. Thanks.

    Yes, an actual libertarian decries the downside of a gigantic government bureaucracy, as well as the need to classify everything as Top Secret, but that doesn't make them act like this.

    A real change for the better in this country is not going to come through some people breaking the law, it is going to come from educating people on what a world without an oppressive government would look like, and how they can make that happen gradually and peacefully.

    Things like this and calls for revolution are just asking for the very real danger of replacing the Bad with the Worse.

  • Re:Who to believe? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by techsoldaten (309296) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:51AM (#44007711) Journal

    It's not so much a question of who to believe, but a statement about how much blind faith you are willing to put in government.

    We know who Snowden is, he would not merit this level of attention if he did not have something to say. It could be argued we know more about him than what we know about the CIA and NSA.

    We do not know much about the programs he described in the documents he had released. For someone to be saying they contain lies, when there are so few details contained, it makes me wonder why they need to deny it at all.

    There's nothing random or stranger about this all though. The reactions of public officials are what are so revealing.

  • by pla (258480) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:51AM (#44007715) Journal
    If Snowden lied, then he didn't commit a crime by leaking classified information.

    So, Mr. Rogers (hehehe), why do we currently have a worldwide manhunt - Including calling in favors from our 51st-state lapdogs - For someone who didn't commit a crime?

    You'll forgive me, of course, for presuming you as completely full of shit and trying to salvage your precious unconstitutional spying campaign.
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:52AM (#44007721)

    It's always parsed wording. Kinda like Apple said it was unaware of the government's Prism program. Now, of course they were aware they were piping private info out to the Feds. They just didn't know the program name.

    I also love the irony here. So, Snowden devastated US intelligence with this leak, but he's completely wrong and lying and exaggerating about what he knows?

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:55AM (#44007769) Journal

    Everyone from the President on down basically spent the last week saying "yeah, we're doing this, but we're doing it to protect Teh Freedums".

    And now they're suddenly not doing it? Pull the other one!

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWiTfan (2887093) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:58AM (#44007803)

    Discredit the messenger to distract from the actual message:

    He's a traitor, he's a rapist, people say bad things about him, he's a liar, he supports terrorists, he puts you and your loved ones in danger, you should hate him.

  • by sideslash (1865434) on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:58AM (#44007807)
    The government's denials appear to follow a pattern of avoiding the question of machine gathering of raw intelligence products, and just focusing on the humans sifting through them. People are concerned about the former (raw data), whereas the denials seem to be focused on the manual human aspect, which of course misses the big point. I suspect this is partly related to people not understanding how computers and data storage/archival work.

    Best example of this: Still waiting for Hayden to go to jail for lying under oath to a congressional committee, when he claimed that intelligence wasn't being collected on millions of Americans, then had to walk it back later, and claim that he was just talking about people preparing actionable reports. There's no question in my mind that all that data trawled from the internets is still sitting there waiting to be queried at the snap of a bureaucrat's fingers.
  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Friday June 14, 2013 @11:59AM (#44007829) Homepage

    > If you do not trust them, then that is your problem of socialization.
    > And, if you have a problem with socialization, you do not present yourself as someone that the
    > rest of society need to support.

    And if you buy this line of BS, I have a bridge for sale in Manhatten at rock bottom prices, you will make a killing.

    Seriously, if you trust secret government actions, based on secret policies, under the supervision of secret courts, which make secret interpretations of the law, then you have a terrible grasp of history. Power gets abused, period.

    The entire point of the constitution was to put limits on government, serious limits. This sort of action is entirely beyond the pale. Its not like this is our first rodeo. Every time the government gets any sort of power that it has any ability to exercise in secret, it gets abused. If that doesn't happen here then it would be the exception.

  • Re:What oversight? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tnk1 (899206) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:00PM (#44007841)

    That's not true at all. That's like saying that enforcing sexual harassment laws is just sort of a guideline. Sure, if enough people ignored it, it may go unreported for awhile, but the reality is that most people find that sort of behavior disgusting and would report it, even if the target of the abuse didn't.

    All processes are based upon the fundamental need to have humans there to know the rules and enforce them. Collusion to break the rules will cause problems, it is true. That does not mean that there is no one who will step forward to deal with it.

    There is some idea that anyone who works for these agencies has had their brain and conscience wiped. Of course, despite the fact that he broke the law, Snowden's misguided actions show that there are certainly people in the NSA who think about these sorts of things. There are many people who join agencies like this who are doing it because they want to protect fellow citizens, and not for some sort of power trip.

    It is clear that when power is available like this, there will be unscrupulous people who are attracted to it, but that doesn't mean that the organization is Always Evil.

  • Don't forget— (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aussersterne (212916) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:01PM (#44007859) Homepage

    a pack of politicians with some of the historically lowest levels of public regard and trust in the history of their nation, though to be incompetent or crooks by 9 out of 10 individuals.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:02PM (#44007869) Homepage

    This database should not exist period.

    It doesn't matter what kind of "controls" are in place. The next regime can just ignore those controls. How would we know really? We wouldn't until it's too late.

    This thing should be dismantled and law enforcement should have to go back to begging companies for data when and if they need it.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:06PM (#44007919) Journal

    Even if he is lying, the fact that there's any ambiguity at all is proof that there's not enough oversight.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:06PM (#44007927)

    I instantly believe you. It's not as if it's the government's fault that people are so distrusting of it or anything; it couldn't be!

    I do believe them, actually.

    I believe the specific statements they are making right now ARE true. But these statements are pretty specifically crafted to attempt to draw people's attention from the significant parts of the accustations.

    Did they come out and say "we don't have access to all the data on Google, Microsoft, and Apple servers"? Did they say the secret congressional slideshow was forged or innacurate? No - they said "the claim that we have unfettered access is wrong", and then talked about "extensive oversight". They say "Snowden didn't have clearance for that level of information", not that the information he provided is wrong.

    It is pretty obvious they DO have complete access to all that data - and we already knew about the supposed "oversight" that we're not allowed to even know who is performing or what their directives are.

    Snowden did his country a greater service than these people could ever dream of doing themselves. Hopefully, someday, they or their successors will figure that out.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:08PM (#44007943) Journal

    He had no reason to reveal that to the press

    Except that the American people have a right to know.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by techsoldaten (309296) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:09PM (#44007959) Journal

    At this point, this is not an issue of a lawbreaker. Until he's charged with something in a free and open court, Snowden is not a criminal.

    An Australian general, addressing issues with sexual harassment in the military, had this to say about the values of an organization in a recent video:

    "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QaqpoeVgr8U [youtube.com]

    This is a little more apropos for the situation. Someone saw something he felt was unconscionable and acted to try and correct it. This is in keeping with the highest values of ethical conduct, and most ethical scholars would agree people have an obligation to act in this way.

    We will see what Snowden is ultimately charged with. But casting him as a criminal before he is charged with anything, and rushing to judgement about his guilt or innocence, shows a lot less respect for the legal process and rule of law than anything he has done.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:10PM (#44007977)

    It says something (sad) about the state of our government when I'll take the word of a 29-year-old who ran to Hong Kong over that of the government.

    Uh, given that many of the most powerful positions within our government are still elected positions, I'd say you're only half right.

    It says a hell of a lot more about the apathy and ignorance of the voters who helped create it.

    And yes, of course it's too late to effect real change. This didn't happen overnight, didn't start with some guy named "Bush", and won't end with some guy named "Obama". That said, it seems that finger pointing creates headlines and generates click revenue these days, so back to our regular two-party mudslinging system we go, ironically in the name of capitalism.

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:11PM (#44007983)

    Talking out of both sides of their asses at the same time.

    False dichotomy. You're pretending that he can't be talking about stuff he does know about and had some access to and swore (under penalty of criminal prosecution) he wouldn't talk about, while also while not also being an Assange-like attention whore who is laying on a bunch of BS. He can be a reckless violator of his clearance and a delusional or fabricating BS-er at the same time. Which is looking more and more likely.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:12PM (#44007997)

    I instantly believe you. It's not as if it's the government's fault that people are so distrusting of it or anything; it couldn't be!

    Funny, you instantly believed a 29-year-old who ran to Hong Kong to make outlandish claims about surveillance...

    You mean the outlandish claim that millions of citizens had their phone "metadata" tracked and compiled by the NSA from Verizon? The outlandish claim that is so outlandish that the government sources actually had to say "Whatcha so upset about? We've been doing it for years!"

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:13PM (#44008007) Journal

    high-school dropouts & moronic Ron Paul libertarians.

    Go fuck yourself. Ron Paul warned us that the NSA was violating our privacy, and he's been proven right not just this time, but over and over.

    the NSA is filled with professionals that fully understand rights and freedoms,

    Oh, they understand the rights they're violating on a routine basis? That makes it all better. Sure it does.

    -jcr

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:14PM (#44008015)

    Probably never lead a normal life again only if you're talking about having no money and living in America. This guy isn't going to go to jail. He'll get a couple million bucks from donations and live happily in Hong Kong. I'm not saying he's lying, all I'm saying is that he has a lot to gain. He has more to gain from this than staying at his job. Both Assange and Manning have received lots of donations. Manning's problem was that he was within reach of the US. Assange has done it properly. He stays at arms length of the US and just pokes them when he needs headlines and cash. Snowden, may be, following in the footsteps of Assange. Get somewhere the US can't get you (China is a very good choice), and then monetize the public's fear of government.

    Again, I'm not saying he's lying. An ulterior motive doesn't automatically mean you aren't telling the truth. I'm just being honest that the guy has a lot to gain. Maybe during the years of the Pentagon Papers he wouldn't be able to live "a normal life again," but the modern day is different. He doesn't need to work; he'll get donations from the anti-government folks and live well.

    And yes, the government has a lot to gain from discrediting the guy, but that doesn't mean it is lying either (although most of slashdot seems to think this line of reasoning is rock solid when used against the government but not anyone else).

    Like most things, the truth is probably in the middle. The government was listening but probably not to the extent he says (either depth or without legal oversight). He bumped up what he says was happening to, amazingly, match anti-government groups worst fears to make the story pop and generate more revenue.

    Last, I know I'll be blasted for being so pro-government, but I personally wouldn't prosecute either Assange, Manning, or Snowden. We don't need 2nd Amendment remedies like the Tea Party wants, what we need is transparency (which Obama has failed completely at). I try to be even handed and tease out what actually occurred, but our government is so messed up mass leaks and information dumps are needed. We need to pull back the veil and disallow government secrecy in all but the most necessary circumstances. Nothing the three leakers did falls into that category. Let them go. The people should demand protections for people who expose the disease.

  • Re:Don't forget— (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:17PM (#44008075)

    a pack of politicians with some of the historically lowest levels of public regard and trust in the history of their nation, though to be incompetent or crooks by 9 out of 10 individuals.

    And yet they are repeatedly voted into office.

    When trying to figure out who should wear the dunce cap, perhaps we should start with the ones putting crooks in positions of power.

  • Sorry.. ummm.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gQuigs (913879) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:18PM (#44008089) Homepage

    If he was able to hack into Prism, that's a worse controversy for the US government. Not a better one.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cfsops (2922481) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:19PM (#44008109)

    The correct answer is to know that the NSA is filled with professionals that fully understand rights and freedoms, and know exactly what Posse Comitatus is, which is pretty much their Prime Directive/First Rule of Fight Club

    Brilliant. You ought to run for office.

    Or, perhaps, just pucker up.

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:23PM (#44008173)

    We will see senior officials repeatedly make the claims that 1) Snowden is lying, 2) Snowden is mentally unbalanced, and 3) Snowden has ulterior motives (greed/ideology - take your pick) for what he says. Of course, there is no way we can ever personally corroborate anything that Snowden or the senior officials says so we have to decide who to believe...and Snowden is more creditable. Here's why. First, he contacted the Guardian news organization and provided documentation for what he claims long in advance of publication. Second, there is no dispute that he was employed as a highly-paid intelligence analyst with a high security clearance which means that his background, mental health, and credit were thoroughly investigated by the FBI over a long period of time. Third, Snowden has correctly identified numerous secret activities that no one (other than those close to them) were aware of such as PRISM. Obviously, the government loves these programs because access to such a huge amount of personal information represents enormous power. But...power in the United States rightfully rests in the hands of its citizens. Most of us would prefer to take our chances with the terrorists but would prefer that the government officials stay out of our emails, cell phone conversations, and internet searches unless we are actual suspects in a real investigation with a fixed objective and timetable. The damage that the terrorists do will be far, far less than the damage that an omnipotent 'big brother' style of government monitoring would do. Any elected official that cannot recognize that should be removed from office via the ballot box at the next election.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Holi (250190) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:30PM (#44008291)

    Except they are not spying on terrorists they are spying on everyone.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:37PM (#44008351) Homepage Journal

    The forums right now are filled with comments that are calling for Snowden's head, I have heard calls to radio shows that lust for Snowden's blood. He has proven to be damaging not only to the politicians, but also to egos of the 'common' people, who find him to be too good of a person to compare themselves to him and so they hate him for showing what they are to themselves.

    Here is an example of such a phone call, scroll to the beginning of the second hour (minute 60 of the show) and just listen to a guy named Gregory calling in. [noxsolutions.com]

    There are plenty of NSA and other government agents flooding the Internet with all this propaganda, but there are likely 1000 times more actual USEFUL IDIOTS living their pathetic empty every day lives, being used as an instrument of fearmongering and hate, being used as a voting block or by these 'opinion polls', they provide the necessary background noise and support for the governments destroying individual freedoms.

    I hope Ed Snowden thought hard before he did what he did and understood that the response to his actions will not be all rosy from the public, he knew what the response would be from governments, hopefully he didn't fool himself into thinking that the public will be united on his side and the side of individual freedoms.

    After all, the people actually do deserve the governments that they had (though personally I think we must at some point get over this very idea that central governments are even necessary at all and shut them down entirely).

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:37PM (#44008353)

    I question first why the program is hidden at all. Those who spy on people to catch "terrorists" are quite fond of saying "if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide", implying that if you want to "hide" things, you are doing something wrong.

    So why, then, is the surveillance program so secret?

    Life is changing. I realize that our standards are going to have to change, to tolerate increase recording and scrutiny simply because there is no way to stop it. But it should be a two-way street - we need, and deserve, more transparency from the government now than ever before.

    Civilization is built upon balances of power - revolution, war, even most crime, are all caused by imbalances of power. Balances between nations brought us through the Cold War relatively undamaged. Balances between branches of government prevent coups. And, most importantly, a balance between the citizens and the government is essential - on one hand, a government with too much power will oppress its people, on the other, a government with no power cannot maintain order.

    Power takes many forms. Military power. Economic power. Media power. And one that is only now being recognized - information power. That is where we have a new imbalance of power. It used to be that we had relatively little insight to what the government was doing, but they had relatively little information on us, and what they had was disconnected and incomplete. Now, they have comprehensive, connected databases, and are pushing towards even more surveillance of us. But, perversely, we are granted less and less insight into what they're doing.

    You want to spy on us, record every email and phone call we make? Fine - but in return, I want every email sent to or from an elected official's or a government employee's account, I want cameras placed on every police officer broadcasting in the open 24/7 with felony penalties for tampering with it or disabling it, and I want a complete report of every cent spent by any city, county, state or federal agency.

    After all, if you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide, now, do you?

  • Yeahbut... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:41PM (#44008387)

    The courts are aware as we need to get a court order.

    The FISA court is secret and accountable to nobody, and it's not like we didn't hear about this before as "Total Information Awareness."

    TIA got shouted down publicly, but I'm not betting it ever went away. Black budgets and all that.

    Even if Snowden is lying and that he exaggerated his authority, the evidence to the contrary of what the politicians are saying is pretty much overwhelming, taken as a big picture.

    --
    BMO

  • Backtracking? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fldsofglry (2754803) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:42PM (#44008409)
    This would have way more credibility if the NSA director had something like "We don't do this" or "That is incomplete" or "This guy is full of it", when the news first broke. But he has said that these types of surveillance has helped deter attacks.
  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interval1066 (668936) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:43PM (#44008421) Homepage Journal

    It says a hell of a lot more about the apathy and ignorance of the voters who helped create it.

    Yes, certainly this is part of the problem. But there comes a point when a government becomes a completely self-sustaining, mindless, autocratic system whose sole reason for being is to feed upon the country its supposed to serve and become bigger. We're well past that point, and past the point where our government can be steered to correctness simply by voting. Unless you're a large corporate entity with a lot of cash this government really has no use for you, you're fodder, a bug to be smashed by its own huge, lumbering wheels. Voting? Ha, that's just an ancient ritual that we practice becuase our ancestors did it. What would be the purpose of Prism? To prevent terrorism? So far, its not working all that well. All those phone records. Smells to me like a more efficient way of traking a suspect's activities up to the event, provide a chain of evidence that will lock him away easier than keeping Little Billy and Auntie Em safe. And that's what this country does, it puts even more people in prison than any other country in the WORLD. North Korea only has about 1.2 mil in those prison camps. Last figures I saw for incarcerated Americans was approching 2 mil.

    Its interesting to me that they claim to have stopped thousands of terrorist attacks, yet refuse to provide hard data in the name of national defense. Yet they were powerless to prevent the Boston bombings. I wonder what the excuse will be after the next terrorist attack? And remember kids, the best way to perpetuate the status quo is to keep your people under the yolk by setting up a standing emergency (terrorist threats) and keeping the country in a state of perpetual war. Keeps 'm guessing, that's what Pappy always said; "Keep 'm guessing and keep those arrest warrants secret."

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:46PM (#44008445)

    We will see what Snowden is ultimately charged with. But casting him as a criminal before he is charged with anything, and rushing to judgement about his guilt or innocence, shows a lot less respect for the legal process and rule of law than anything he has done.

    Don't be surprised if the government (as it is starting to do already) simply demonizes him but lets him be, as long as he stays out of the country. He's released what he has, and if he hasn't it would do no good to kick the hornets nest again.

    Worst case for the government would be to actually have to put him on trial. They would have no choice but to try him in secret, in a closed court.

    So expect the government to use all of the facilities of the NSA and the FBI to demonize him publicly and track him privately, and perhaps kill him (deniably), all the while telling us what a good job the government could have done to protect us from 9/11 if only their web of universal spying had existed earlier, without ever once mentioning the Boston Marathon which happened under the nose of they spying, even when the Russians warned them ahead of time.

     

  • Re:Of course. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:48PM (#44008455)

    Well, everyone is a *potential* terrorist, right? Therefore we must spy on everyone to protect America!

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamgnat (1015755) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:48PM (#44008459)

    Actually it will be history that decides if his actions were correct or not. There is no question (and he doesn't even deny it) that he broke several laws in releasing this information. Since there is no question he broke the law, he is therefore a criminal. He just isn't convicted.

    The question for history to decide is if his actions were the right thing to do and/or if the laws are correct. And really the only way he is viewed by history as anything but a criminal (if he is remembered at all) is if his "side" ultimately wins.

    Our country was founded by a bunch of people that were legally criminals as they broke the laws of the ruling power. They are not remembered as such because they ultimately won their fight and broke with the Crown. Had the revolution failed (or more specifically if it never really started because the majority of the populace was too apathetic about it all) if the founding fathers were remembered at all it would be either a foot note in some legal rulings or as villains that were to be derided (think Guy Fawkes).

    Personally I think laws to prevent critical information being spilled need to exists, but there also need to be protections for people that expose information in a responsible manner to enlighten people about abuses of power. Our country was founded by people that spoke out against an oppressive government and our most basic protected freedom should be to do just that.

    Sadly I think we (the People) are far too accepting of them saying "trust us, it's to stop terrorists" and even if they don't like it most are too apathetic to do anything about it.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:49PM (#44008477) Homepage Journal

    Because the lies, which Snowden pull out of his ass, were classified. When he exposed the stuff that he had made up out of thin air, he jeopardized the programs which don't do those things. Dozens of terror threats have been foiled by this thing which lacks the capability to discover terror threats, and now it may no longer have the ability to not do that.

    And finally, the biggest reason Snowden's lies should be swept away, is that prior to the Guardian story, bad guys didn't know that NSA was trying to intercept their communications. Now the bad guys know it, and they may take countermeasures, thanks to Snowden falsely misleading them into thinking it's true.

    If bad guys set a new trend where usage is shifted from systems and methods which aren't spied upon, to those which are spied upon, the mass mainstream may follow their trend. That could put US Citizens' civil liberties at risk.

  • by sycodon (149926) on Friday June 14, 2013 @12:59PM (#44008585)

    The Federal Government has been taken over by and is being run by world class morons at every level. From the President to the idiot at the Post Office who takes his lunch when there are 30 people in line.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:00PM (#44008589) Homepage

    The electoral process is captive and has been for a while. Every few years they trot out 2 candidates who call each other names and pretend they hate each other. But in the end, it doesn't seem to matter that much if you pick Tweedledee or Tweedledum.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeffmeden (135043) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:00PM (#44008591) Homepage Journal

    It says something (sad) about the state of our government when I'll take the word of a 29-year-old who ran to Hong Kong over that of the government.

    Uh, given that many of the most powerful positions within our government are still elected positions, I'd say you're only half right.

    It says a hell of a lot more about the apathy and ignorance of the voters who helped create it.

    And yes, of course it's too late to effect real change. This didn't happen overnight, didn't start with some guy named "Bush", and won't end with some guy named "Obama". That said, it seems that finger pointing creates headlines and generates click revenue these days, so back to our regular two-party mudslinging system we go, ironically in the name of capitalism.

    We really are seeing the logical outcome of the system we created where people now have more incentive to simply back the party that says the right things to them (it just feels so *good* to be right all the time) than to become informed and maybe come across information that challenges their viewpoint (which is downright uncomfortable, maybe even saddening.) Now that there is an entire political/media hierarchy in place for both popular worldviews (and innumerable more popping up on the internet) there really is no reason to ever think to yourself that maybe you are wrong about something, since you can just change the channel and *poof* the guy telling you about the world suddenly says you are right about everything!

  • Re:Of course. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:01PM (#44008599)

    If his claims were outlandish, nobody would care, especially not the US government.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeffmeden (135043) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:11PM (#44008683) Homepage Journal

    Snowden, may be, following in the footsteps of Assange. Get somewhere the US can't get you (China is a very good choice), and then monetize the public's fear of government.

    Again, I'm not saying he's lying. An ulterior motive doesn't automatically mean you aren't telling the truth. I'm just being honest that the guy has a lot to gain. Maybe during the years of the Pentagon Papers he wouldn't be able to live "a normal life again," but the modern day is different. He doesn't need to work; he'll get donations from the anti-government folks and live well.

    He is going to get charged with enough computer misuse to put him away for a long time, and his donations might be seen as "ill gotten gains" that will be frozen by the global banking system (read: the US banking system). Hope he finds a lot of hotels willing to take BTC as payment. As for Assange, you do know he has been living for like a year in a single room in an embassy in Britain, right? He can't even get to Ecuador to lounge on the beach, he has literally not been outside of the building, trapped in "good enough prison" the entire time. Sounds grand, eh?

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:15PM (#44008735)

    But if he isn't given a suitable brutal treatment, it could inspire future leakers. National security demands he not only be caught wherever he may run, but then be given the most blatantly unfair trial possible and subjected to the harshest public punishment to serve as an example to others: Don't screw with the US government, for they don't play by their own rules.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:19PM (#44008789)

    There is ultimately only one form of authority: Might makes right.

    It was on that authority that the United States was created: By winning a war of independance.

    It is on that authority that all governments stand: For if they cannot grant their laws power by the threat of violence, the laws have no effective existance.

    Try protesting in any oppressive regime and telling the police they have no legal authority to arrest you. You may well be right - even North Korea has a constitution that protects freedom of speech. That won't stop them from throwing you in the gulag to rot, and your closest family for good measure.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjbe (173966) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:23PM (#44008839)

    It says something (sad) about the state of our government when I'll take the word of a 29-year-old who ran to Hong Kong over that of the government.

    Actually it doesn't even matter whose word we take because the important bit is that the activities of the NSA are now public knowledge. It is impossible to have a debate about the balance of security and civil rights if our civil rights are taken away in secret. To all appearances the NSA has lied to the American people about the scope, method and possibly purpose of their activities.

    I find it astonishing that they think that we would be ok with them gathering data on everyone in secret, storing and analyzing it indefinitely, while being supposedly overseen by a secret "court" which is equally unaccountable. The administration who is in charge of the NSA is basically making the argument that "we passed a law so it is legal" despite having never withstood independent judicial review. No one could challenge the NSA in court because it is impossible to prove standing or harm against something that you cannot prove exists. Congress won't do anything about it for fear of appearing weak on national security during their next election campaign.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:26PM (#44008869)

    the idiot at the Post Office who takes his lunch when there are 30 people in line.

    Cut the guy a break. If he waited till there was no one in line, he wouldn't eat till the day was over.

    Blame the managers for not hiring enough people, but leave the front desk man alone.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GlennC (96879) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:30PM (#44008937)

    You assume that PARTY A and PARTY B are, in fact, two separate entities.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:40PM (#44009049)

    What risk? You just lock him up in solitary for a year or two without any contact with the outside world (You don't want him becoming a celebrity) then hold a secret hearing and declare him guilty. Easy. No risk at all.

    Everyone recognises a kangaroo court, but that's even better as a deterrant - make it clear to leakers that no matter how good their reasons and how much they consider their actions justified, the judge isn't going to listen.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:50PM (#44009171) Journal

    I don't believe anyone has ever claimed that the NSA, CIA, whatever other alphabet soup agencies need to disclose everything they do.

    I do. Everything every government agency does should be open to the public. If there's a need for operational security, some secrecy may be appropriate, but it should be extremely limited in scope and duration.

    No one argues that the need for secrecy is warranted in most situations.

    I do. How do you know that the need for secrecy is warranted? Only because those who want the secrecy tell you it is. That's a pretty profound conflict of interest.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by polebridge (517983) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:51PM (#44009187)

    >Snowden says he did "X". "X" is against the law. Snowden therefore broke the law. Snowden is a lawbreaker. QED.

    Not quite. You may be able to say "Snowden says he did "X". "X" is against the law. Snowden therefore claims he broke the law. Snowden claims he is a lawbreaker." But there's no QED.

    Snowden says he traveled faster than light. FTL is against the law. Snowden therefore broke the law. Snowden is a lawbreaker and can actually travel FTL. QED?

  • Re:Of course. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @02:05PM (#44009327)

    laws that are themselves illegal cannot be upheld, therefor he broke no laws.

  • by lgw (121541) on Friday June 14, 2013 @02:08PM (#44009369) Journal

    As I understand all the crap, the excuse it "we're gathering data on everyone but we're not looking at it without a warrant." That seems like exactly the sort of weaseling around the constitution that the government has been getting away with for years, and will continue getting away with as long as people are scared witless of minor threats.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shagg (99693) on Friday June 14, 2013 @02:17PM (#44009461)

    It says a hell of a lot more about the apathy and ignorance of the voters who helped create it.

    You're right, Tweedledee is doing a terrible job. If only the voters had elected Tweedledum instead.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zordak (123132) on Friday June 14, 2013 @02:38PM (#44009697) Homepage Journal

    Why not fabricate information about a surveillance program to slander the current federal government so someone like Ron Paul can be ushered in as the saviour of America? Snowden made quite clear his political leaning after donating to Ron Paul's campaign.

    Except the government hasn't even denied that they are collecting all this information. Their defense has consistently been, "Yes, we're collecting everything about everybody, but we only look at the database with a court order. Trust us." Even if that's true right now, whom do you trust to have that kind of database and never, ever abuse it?

    This whole thing seems like a scandal fabricated to generate page hits or to sling political mud at opponents.

    What opponents? The Washington elite of both parties have lined up to defend this thing and remind us that they need this information to protect us from the big, bad terrorists.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Friday June 14, 2013 @02:46PM (#44009783)
    They may have prevented lots of terrorist attacks. They may have prevented 0. I don't know. I do know that the fact that the Boston attacks happened is not evidence that other terrorist attacks were not prevented. I would not expect even the best possible intelligence to be able to stop 100% of attacks, especially ones that where done by individuals rather than groups communicating electronically.
  • Re:Of course. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vainglorious Coward (267452) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:31PM (#44010275) Journal

    Both sides are lying, but the truth isn't in the middle - it's off on a tangent that no one talks about. There have recently been a flurry of scandals from DC, all showing up at a time when Benghazi was starting to be looked at very closely

    You're really trying to claim that the Benghazi "scandal" - where USG allegedly didn't quickly enough label an incident as terrorism - is way more serious an issue than a massive program of covert surveillance? So serious that revealing the NSA's secrets is a useful distraction? There has been plenty of partisan smoke blown over the revelations, but yours is the most ridiculuous I've seen.

    I had a point to all this that I think I've lost

    I think it is the plot, rather than the point, that you have lost. Well, that and your constitutional rights. At least your sig got it right.

  • by Wookact (2804191) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:57PM (#44010575)
    Modded down? No I do not think you should be modded down for your opinion. I just think you are a sheep reacting to knee jerk ideas that people will perish without this policy. Seriously my actual privacy outweights your irrational fears. You cannot take away my rights cause you got scared. Especially when your fears are warrantless.
  • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:10PM (#44011303)

    The Federal Government has been taken over by and is being run by world class criminals at every level.

    FTFY

  • Dear Congress... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZeroPly (881915) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:47PM (#44011633)
    ... wait, let me start over. What I really meant to say was:

    Dear Shitbags,

    You might have noticed that your latest approval rating is 10%. This is a good example of why that has come to pass. When you repeatedly, emphatically state that every request for information goes through a judge, a sane individual does not assume that a single request consists of THREE TRILLION FUCKING PIECES OF DATA COVERING THE ENTIRE FUCKING US POPULATION.

    You are cretins. I would feel more comfortable if Snowden was on the intelligence committee than any single one of you idiots.
  • by tragedy (27079) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @12:00AM (#44013249)

    Every single school day I pledged my allegiance to my country, every single time I did that I really believed in my country

    That one has a;ways been a red flag to me. Forced loyalty oaths for children don't quite jibe with the values the country is supposed to be founded on. Now, I know the Supreme Court has found (on multiple occasions) that it's unconstitutional for the pledge of allegiance to be mandatory, so someone could claim it's not forced. Of course, that's ignoring how it got to the Supreme Court in the first place.

    Should I still pay my taxes?

    Yes, pay your taxes. Governments are big and complex and it's pretty much guaranteed that some of your tax money will be spent in ways that you will disagree with or that are outright illegal and detrimental to you, but most is still spent on basic government services you rely on. It's a mixed bag. You can't just opt out of civilization altogether. Instead, you have to do everything you can to stay aware of how your tax money is being spent and raise your voice when there's a problem.

    The government spending billions to pointlessly spy illegally on its own citizens is a prime example of the kind kind of problem I'm talking about.

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