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NSA Has No Clue As To Scope of Snowden's Data Trove 383

Posted by timothy
from the known-unknowns dept.
krakman writes "According to a NY Times article, a 6-month internal investigation has not been able to define the actual files that Edward Snowden had copied. There is a suspicion that not all the documents have been leaked to newspapers, and a senior NSA official (Rick Ledgett), who is heading the security agency's task force examining Mr. Snowden's leak, has said on the record that he would consider recommending amnesty for Mr. Snowden in exchange for those unleaked documents. 'They've spent hundreds and hundreds of man-hours trying to reconstruct everything he has gotten, and they still don't know all of what he took,' a senior administration official said. 'I know that seems crazy, but everything with this is crazy.' That Mr. Snowden was so expertly able to exploit blind spots in the systems of America's most secretive spy agency illustrates how far computer security still lagged years after President Obama ordered standards tightened after the WikiLeaks revelations of 2010."
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NSA Has No Clue As To Scope of Snowden's Data Trove

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  • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @01:57AM (#45693173) Homepage Journal

    it's only treason if it doesn't expose treason ;)

    aanyhow... maybe they don't know what he took because they wanted to keep the system in such a way that there wouldn't be accountability about who did what and looked at what on the executive level in nsa...(he used some higher ups credentials).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @02:06AM (#45693203)

    I immigrated to US in 1998 and to honest, and until recently, I was under impression that US was the best county on the entire globe. Period.
    Guns, jobs, "Freedom", country had real drive. That is how I saw it for last 30 years.

    It me a while to sink in that it shit is going down a drain.
    Iraq and Afghanistan wars didn't make me change my opinion.
    Economic Meltdown in 2008, and the fact that no one went to jail and CEO's got big ass bonuses, didn't make me change my opinion.
    Fucked-up Health Insurance didn't......

    Guess what changed my opinion ? NSA.

  • Re:Amnesty? *snarf* (Score:5, Interesting)

    by uvajed_ekil (914487) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @02:12AM (#45693223)
    And if he's smart, which he clearly seems to be, he has already given copies of the documents to a few people he trusts, with the threat of mass releases ensuring his safety. Surely the NSA has thought of this possibility. And any amnesty deal would have to be contingent upon him keeping a low profile, likely outside of the US, and be subject to revocation should anyone else release related documents that are believed to have been stolen by Snowden.

    If it were me, I'd have divided copies up among multiple recipients, with multiple recipients for each document but without all documents to anyone. Of course this assumes that there are people he thinks he can trust, which may not be the case. Or maybe he doesn't have much more that is interesting? Either way, I would not be quick to trust his word enough to offer amnesty, nor should he be trusting enough to accept a deal from a government he clearly does not (and probably should not) trust.
  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @02:25AM (#45693295) Homepage

    The problem the NSA's having is likely the same one most large businesses have when it comes to IT: the management involved has absolutely no clue about what's going on with their computer systems, and they won't believe what the technical people who do know what's going on are telling them because it disagrees with what that management thinks should be going on. End result, the steps that are taken don't fix any of the security problems and the steps that would fix the problems are vetoed. And it'll be "lather, rinse, repeat" until management starts being fired (not allowed to resign, fired for incompetence) and losing their cushy termination benefits packages because they failed to listen.

  • Re:Databases (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Required Snark (1702878) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @03:26AM (#45693489)
    I wish I could mod you up. This is a great insight into the dysfunctional nature of the current out of control intelligence apparatus.

    The outsourcing model was also a big part of the failed Iraqi invasion. (Blackwater [wikipedia.org] ring a bell?) That also wasted vast resources and had a terrible political outcome. I guess that both started right after 9/11, but we are only seeing the incompetence and bad results from the NSA types now.

    The next logical question is why outsource core mission operations?. I think there are two reasons. First is ideological. Outsourcing is supposed to be more efficient. It also is a big part of right wing political theory, where efficient private companies replace wasteful government bureaucracies. Remember the expansion of intelligence and the creation of Homeland Security happened under Bush, so that's when outsourcing happened big time.

    The second big reason is plausible deniability. Have contractors to do dirty work makes it much easier to avoid oversight and implement policies that are illegal/immoral/stupid/wasteful.

    A very current example is the rogue operation in Iraq of CIA contractor Robert Levinson [go.com]. The White House is quoted in the article as saying "was not a U.S. government employee", which they can do because he was a contractor as opposed to an employee.

    This operation was screwed up that those directly responsible were forced to leave the CIA, and procedures were changed to keep this kind of event from happening again.

  • practically in jail (Score:4, Interesting)

    by globaljustin (574257) <[justinglobal] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday December 15, 2013 @03:33AM (#45693501) Homepage Journal

    Ok look, I'm with you on the fact that Snowden didn't release any new info, at best it confirmed and gave operational details to stuff that was known publicly since 2006... [usatoday.com]

    Snowden isn't a free man. Whoever has been pulling his strings has got him on a tight leash.

    Why doesn't he have a blog? Why haven't we seen or heard of him around town in Russia? Why is he always wearing the same light grey shirt?

    He's in trouble...he got himself in it, either by doing something to get blackmailed (downloading kiddie pr0n from a scammer) or deluded himself into thinking he was some kind of 'Deep Throat' figure.

    Other questions:

    Why didn't Snowden use Wikileaks?

    Why didn't Glenn Greenwald release Snowden's name?

  • Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @03:37AM (#45693517) Homepage

    We have no idea what a random person working for a contractor with access to our top-secret systems managed to steal before he went on the run...

    but we have to know your shoe-size, what toilet-paper you use, and what kind of porn turns you on.

    A well-prioritised spying agency, there.

  • Re:Yeah, sure... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @04:56AM (#45693693)

    what has Wikileaks released recently?

    The GI files just finished being published. They, for example, tell us that around 2011 there was "not much of a free Syria army", but that they were financing, arming and training people to "commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within". Even worst, it also tells us that "They dont believe air intervention would happen unless there was enough media attention on a massacre, like the Ghadafi move against Benghazi".

    So basically, while it makes no sense for Assad to use chemical weapons against his people, it shows that since 2011 the USA consider this a necessity for their attacks. Here is the full leaked email [wikileaks.org]

    There were many other revelations from the Global Intelligence files, but I think this is the most important one since over 100,000 people already died from the "civil war" the USA is creating in Syria.

    The other recent leak was the TPP IP, this is Forbes report on it: US Fails To Close TPP Deal As Wikileaks Exposes Discord [forbes.com]

    And FYI, many of the "Manning Papers" (Cablegate) were published around the world and of course not on the land of the free, not just because American journalists are being persecuted, but also because they matter more for those countries.

  • Heck of a job (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dbIII (701233) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @05:04AM (#45693717)
    It's not the capability of the USA here, it's the capability of some clowns that thought it was a good idea to get a Hollywood set designer in to do an operations centre. It's not Tom Clancy calling the shots here - reality is closer to Conrad's "The Secret Agent" where deluded and petty figures are just taking advantage of anything they can.
    You are getting them mixed up with the military. They are toy soldiers and a network of Horse Judges that got the job because of who they knew, and a lot of it seems to be pointless busywork designed to justify a flow of money.
  • by rusty0101 (565565) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @06:06AM (#45693895) Homepage Journal

    However due to the way that information is compartmentalized within the NSA, it is entirely possible that Snowden has more information than a senior NSA official may be aware that the NSA has. There is a wel known security policy that states that information should only be provided to eople on a need to know basis, and it is entirely possible that up to now the senior NSA official may not have had a need to know just how much data the NSA collects. For that matter, it is possible that the official may still not have a need to know, or never have it.

  • Re:Amnesty? *snarf* (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pav (4298) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @08:36AM (#45694261)
    It's a trivial problem solved long ago - you report what's happening, just not specifically who it's happening to. Ubiqitous surveilance is only a problem in that it shouldn't be happening in the first place. This idea that "the people" shouldn't know the real truth, and that a special vanguard should control society isn't new either. The communist movement, the islamist movement (through their founding father Sayyid Qutb [wikipedia.org]) and interestingly enough the neo-conservative movement (specifically their founding philosopher Leo Strauss [wikipedia.org]) expouse this view. It's repugnant and toxic to democracy. Unfortunately the traditional guardians of wide enfranchisement (ie. the political left) seem to have bought into this idea too. It seems to me like the leadership of the western world doesn't believe in democracy anymore.
  • by Pav (4298) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @11:34AM (#45695127)

    Apparently this statement is from one of Mandelas trials - it's an interesting read. Mandela says although he engaged in violence he was never a terrorist. Yes, the man was defending himself in court, but I had difficulty even parsing the argment. After it sunk in I was ashamed, and shocked/afraid at my own malleability - of course terrorism isn't the catchall defined in the media. The statement follows :

    "I do not deny that I planned sabotage. We believed violence by the African people had become inevitable. [T]here would be outbreaks of terrorism. Without violence there would be no way open to the African people to suceed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy.

    [Umkhonto] volunteers were not, and are not, the soldiers of a black army pledge to fight a Civil War against the whites.

    50 years of nonviolence had brought the African people nothing our followers were beginning to lose confidence in this policy and were developing disturbing ideas of terrorism.

    As violence in this country was inevitable, it would be unrealistic and wrong for African leaders to continue preaching peace and nonviolence

    [In mid-1961] the ANC was prepared to depart from its 50 year old policy of nonviolence to this extent that it would no longer disapprove of properly controlled violence.

    I say 'properly controlled violence' because I made it clear that I would at all times subject it to the political guidance of the ANC.

    Four forms of violence were possible. There is sabotage, there is guerrilla warfare, there is terrorism, and there is open revolution. We chose to adopt the first method and to exhaust it before taking any other decision. Sabotage Offered the best hope for future race relations."

  • by billstewart (78916) on Monday December 16, 2013 @03:27AM (#45701533) Journal

    The Apartheid governments of South Africa had no business calling anybody else terrorists; Mandela was 30 when they took over, and they were far worse than the British colonial government he'd been working against before then.

The 11 is for people with the pride of a 10 and the pocketbook of an 8. -- R.B. Greenberg [referring to PDPs?]

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