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Snowden Says His Mission Is Accomplished 312

Posted by timothy
from the so-where's-the-banner? dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Edward Snowden met with reporters from the Washington Post for fourteen hours and in his first interview since June reflected at length about surveillance, democracy and the meaning of the documents he exposed. 'For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished. I already won,' says Snowden. 'All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed. That is a milestone we left a long time ago. Right now, all we are looking at are stretch goals.' Snowden says that the NSA's business is 'information dominance,' the use of other people's secrets to shape events. But Snowden upended the agency on its own turf. 'You recognize that you're going in blind, that there's no model,' says Snowden, acknowledging that he had no way to know whether the public would share his views. 'But when you weigh that against the alternative, which is not to act, you realize that some analysis is better than no analysis. Because even if your analysis proves to be wrong, the marketplace of ideas will bear that out.' Snowden succeeded because the NSA, accustomed to watching without being watched, faces scrutiny it has not endured since the 1970s, or perhaps ever, and says people who accuse him of disloyalty mistake his purpose. 'I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA. I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don't realize it.'"
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Snowden Says His Mission Is Accomplished

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:02AM (#45775303)
    He's not wearing a jumpsuit and standing on an aircraft carrier with a banner behind him.
  • Right On (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:03AM (#45775317)

    Snowden is a real hero. I am sorry he can't be home for the holidays this year because of his sacrifice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How is this flamebait? NSA voting again?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:31AM (#45775585)
        Do you really think the NSA has time to waste on Slashdot? We have much more pressing issues to take care of.
  • I disagree (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:07AM (#45775355)

    The NSA should be dismantled....

    Hang on, someone's at the door.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I agree with Snowden that the NSA can serve a useful purpose. We do need a way to protect the country's lines of communications. We don't need them snooping on people without just cause.

      • Re:I disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

        by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex&project-retrograde,com> on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:39PM (#45776071) Homepage

        I disagree because your statement is blatantly false. The NSA can not serve a useful purpose. Simple application of the mathematics of information disparity proves you can't prove your statement to the contrary. As a scientist, I don't believe things without evidence, especially not statements lacking disprovability.

        You're aware Omnivore, Carnivore, ECHELON, and PRISM's room 641A existed before 9/11. [wikipedia.org] They failed to prevent 9/11, and every terrorist attack since the 70's. The NIST helps secure our encryption systems. By what amazing feat of mental gymnastics do you arrive at the conclusion that a secret research group can be proven to be helping secure our communications? No, that's asinine. I require evidence. The government secrecy is directly opposed to both freedom and security.

        Especially since we've got an army of hubble-esque telescopes zipping around the earth providing total global situation awareness. You don't need warrantless wiretaps with that kind of spy power. [youtube.com]

        Bonus, the NRO helps with natural disasters, weather, and space sciences. [space.com] Defund, NSA, DHS, etc., spit the funding between NASA and the NRO. [nro.gov] The folks benefiting from domestic spying could instead make their money selling space wares... Ah, but then they wouldn't be able to do insider trading quite so well at all.

        You can't be serious, right? By what logical misstep do you propose we trust again a spy who has proven to be a double agent? The same goes for an OS compromised by malware, there is no "removal" of malware, you nuke it from orbit, because it's the only way to be sure.

        They want to have their cake and eat it too. We should either have no privacy indoors & in our communication between indoor areas while having expectation to not be spied on outdoors, or have zero protection of privacy outdoors & assurances that our communications are not compromised. Look, if you want to spy on my conversations you can just stand next to me, or aim a laser microphone at my windows or glasses. You don't need to tap the coms lines because folks can buy a burner phone and install their own encrypted voice and text applications. It'll be to late to do anything by the time it's deciphered. The domestic spying and wiretaps only prevent legitimate use of the technology.

        Unfortunately, information theory tells us we can not have assurances that our communications are not spied on unless we eliminate the secret spying operation. We have a chance to eliminate secrets and stand brave among the most powerful nations who have mutually assured nuclear peace, and against which no terrorist can pose a threat. Scaremongers would have you believe the terrorists are nothing to sneeze at, yet every year the flu claims SIX TIMES the lives as a 9/11 scale attack. [cdc.gov] Cars and Cheeseburgers are 400 times more deadly every year than 9/11. Even the most devastating of terrorist threats is not even a flesh wound. We need proportional protection: If you're so scared of 1/400th the threat a Happy Meal poses, then allocate 1/400th of the taxes we spend on heart disease and accident prevention to the NSA and DHS. We need no secrets. Without secrets no spy can harm us.

        The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.

        - John F. Kennedy

        As a rational human being: If you, Snowden or anyone would say that the NSA can serve a useful purpose then the burden of proof is on you to provide evidence to support your unproven claim. Don't forget to prove your hypothesis you will need to more significantly disprove the null hypo

        • Re:I disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

          by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @01:34PM (#45776493) Homepage Journal

          You're aware Omnivore, Carnivore, ECHELON, and PRISM's room 641A existed before 9/11. [wikipedia.org] They failed to prevent 9/11, and every terrorist attack since the 70's.

          Failure to stop terrorist attacks doesn't indicate lack of utility, it just indicates lack of utility against terrorists. The utility of the NSA is primarily against other nation states; the NSA was very useful during the Cold War, and its predecessor was astoundingly useful during WWII. You can argue that there is no current threat against which the NSA is a valuable tool, but that's a separate argument, which you didn't try to make.

          The NIST helps secure our encryption systems.

          Actually, it doesn't. NIST is a standards organization. It has run the selection processes for standard cryptographic algorithms lately, but it has always relied heavily on the NSA for technical expertise in the process. This was more visible during the DES standardization process, but you can be sure the NSA was advising for AES and SHA3.

          By what amazing feat of mental gymnastics do you arrive at the conclusion that a secret research group can be proven to be helping secure our communications? No, that's asinine. I require evidence.

          There is ample evidence in the development of many security technologies. I experienced it personally when I was building a key management system for smart card credit card issuance. The NSA exercised oversight over the design and implementation process, and made some really excellent suggestions that substantially improved the system.

          I find it very, very disturbing that in recent years the NSA has apparently abandoned that part of their mission, and has been actively working to subvert strong security. I stop short of saying this means the NSA should be destroyed, but it definitely means it needs new management with the right mandate and proper oversight. And it should probably be pared down to a fraction of its current size.

          Unfortunately, information theory tells us we can not have assurances that our communications are not spied on unless we eliminate the secret spying operation.

          Actually, we cannot have any such assurances at all, because we can never know that we've eliminated all of the secret spying operations... because they're secret. By definition we can only eliminate the non-secret spying operations.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      Don't be ridiculous.

      Have you seen the traffic? We'll need at least half an hour to reach you. Please stay put.

      Secretly yours,
      NSA.

      • We don't want a lot for Christmas
        We know almost everything we need
        We don't care about the peasants
        They give their information for free

        We just want you for our own
        You are ours Edward Snow'n
        Make our wish come true oh
        All we want for Christmas is you

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:09AM (#45775375)

    ... when he was working there. According to Forbes, his coworkers report that he would wear a Electronic Frontier Foundation hoodie to work and have a copy of the constitution on his desk to argue when he was asked to do something against the constitution.
    They just had to emulate him and he would still be in Hawai with his girlfriend and working for the NSA.

  • It's pretty obvious from what he says in the interview that he was well coached ahead of time on what message to get out. But despite that, he comes across as essentially saying that he's smarter and more moral than anyone in the executive, judicial, or legislative branches of government.

    There are ways to address concerns about abuses of government power, he chose the nuclear route. Whether exposing the abuses of power that were happening is worth the side effects remains to be seen.

    • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:19AM (#45775471) Journal

      It is incredibly easy to be smarter and more moral than anyone in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the government.

      Sometimes you need to detonate the on-site warhead.

      • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:38AM (#45775635)

        It is incredibly easy to be smarter and more moral than anyone in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the government.

        General opinion is that even used-car salesman can do as much.

        • It is incredibly easy to be smarter and more moral than anyone in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the government.

          General opinion is that even used-car salesman can do as much.

          When I was a kid, we had one really, really smart chicken.

          I'd bet on ol' Roy the Rooster in a battle of wits with damn near any politician.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are ways to address concerns about abuses of government power, he chose the nuclear route.

      Well, of course. Do you honestly believe that the government would self-regulate? All those governments abusing powers throughout history must be a figment of my imagination, because there's no way that governments aren't composed of perfect beings! And I don't see any reason why the people shouldn't be aware of the abuses of power.

      I'm glad he took what you call "the nuclear route."

    • by oodaloop (1229816)

      he comes across as essentially saying that he's smarter and more moral than anyone in the executive, judicial, or legislative branches of government.

      Those two bars are not especially hard to cross.

    • by AHuxley (892839) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:27AM (#45775541) Homepage Journal
      There is no open court "route" left in the US for cleared staff. You face the people you work for with your cleared lawyer selected from a short list of lawyers in a sealed court. He's smarter as in he saw the many who have tried before him and saw the color of law results - even with political support in sealed courts - nothing gets done or out to the tame US press. The rest is history, for academics, the press, lawyers and courts to work out in the US and around the world over time.
      Better crypto for all the internet and less junk software is always a good thing :)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      > he comes across as essentially saying that he's smarter and more moral than anyone in the executive, judicial, or legislative branches of government ... which seems not to be a very high bar, alas.

      > he chose the nuclear route [...]

      which other routes, pray tell, were open to him?

      > Whether exposing the abuses of power that were happening is worth the side effects [...]

      It is worth the side effects. It can be seen already.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:34AM (#45775607)

      I think there are a lot of smart people in the executive, judicial, legislative, and even in the intelligence branches of government. The problem is, they are in opposition (e.g., the executive preventing consideration of these issues by blocking court cases for years), the judiciary can only interpret the law as it is, the legislature has signed "blank checks" and been told only a limited amount of information about what is actually going on, and the intelligence agencies have regularly downplayed or outright lied about what they are actually doing.

      At no point have the public been properly informed or consulted on this. Everything that was done to this point was a token, bogus effort. In the government it's a lot of smart people with (I believe) largely good intentions, but none of them have been allowed to see all of the pieces of the puzzle at once, or alternatively been able to share it with the public to get the public's views. That's a fundamental failure that defies the entire point of democracy and representative government. Yes, Snowden "chose the nuclear route" to get information out there, but considering the couple of decades of opportunity for any of those branches of government to do the right (inform and consult the public), it was justified. There was ample time for smart people in government to say "Wait, no, we shouldn't be doing this. At least, not without the public *really* knowing about it and giving their okay." Fail.

      While I agree exposing these abuses of power has come at a high cost, there are two reasons why my concerns are tempered: 1) government had their chance to do it right, and didn't; 2) if nothing else, this episode should demonstrate yet again what most people should already know: you can't keep a secret forever, and it's better to get in front of it than to deal with the aftermath of an uncontrolled release to the public that isn't on your terms.

      The public probably would be willing to grant the NSA and other intelligence agencies a lot of leeway to do their job, if properly monitored. Now? Not so much, because public trust has been violated.

    • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:00PM (#45775815) Homepage

      Actually, there aren't any ways to address government abuse of power, except whistleblowing.

      Kiriakou: torture whistleblower, only person person to go to prison over torture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kiriakou [wikipedia.org]

      Binney: Going to the DOJ about waste in the NSA will fuck up your life: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Binney_(U.S._intelligence_official) [wikipedia.org]

      Drake: Going through the legal processes within the NSA got him prosecuted: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Andrews_Drake [wikipedia.org]

    • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:28PM (#45775989) Homepage Journal

      There are ways to address concerns about abuses of government power, he chose the nuclear route. Whether exposing the abuses of power that were happening is worth the side effects remains to be seen.

      There are, but when you are likely to get brushed under the rug, other approaches need to be used. He essentially blew a hole through the rug, meaning there was no way to hide his message.

      Was the way he did things the best way, it is hard to say, since I don't fully grasp the workings of the agency, but I suspect that there are too many people with vested interests in hiding their and the agencies failings? Sometimes in politics you need someone to put their neck on the line for the greater good, but it has to be done with care since otherwise to have collateral damage and possibly a miscommunicated message. IMHO Snowdon probably did something many people would have wanted to do, in the sense of causing change, but are too stuck in the political labyrinth to achieve anything. Don't underestimate the weight of government and bureaucracy to block real change. Too many stake holders who either have vested interests or don't want to experience change.

      However you look at things, Snowdon was brave, but he did follow his convictions to the end. I think many of us would be too coward to do what he did.

    • by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @02:23PM (#45776869) Journal

      There are ways to address concerns about abuses of government power, he chose the nuclear route

      They leave you no choice. For decades now they've been saying "we'll protect the whistle blowers" and doing the exact opposite.

      I've heard some people say that this is the same mentality that put Hugo Chavez in office. Why? Because whenever a moderate left-leaning person got in office, the CIA toppled them. Thus, the only way to go was full-bore hard Left militant. It's the same logic you get when all crimes are capital. You don't steal bread when all crimes are capital. You steal a gun and a jeep, rob the bank, and bust through the border blazing away.

  • One of Snoiwden's coworkers told him that they were processing as much data as in the Library of Congress every 14.4 seconds. Sources say that the Library of Congress has 235 TBytes of data.
    (235 [TByte] / 14.4 [sec]) X 60 [sec/min] X 60 [min/hr] X 24 [hr/day] = 1.4 X10^18 [Bytes/day] = 1.4 [Exabytes/day]
  • Nya.

  • Now is our turn to do the acknowledge that it is happening, avoiding its worst effects, and if possible, fixing it.
  • "A republic, if you can keep it." -Benjamin Franklin

    "Remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself." -Edward Snowden.

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:26PM (#45775973)
    We finally have a new picture of him.
  • by EMG at MU (1194965) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:34PM (#45776027)
    There are some people that I would consider "smart" that don't even know who Snowden is or what the NSA does. These people are successful professionals, some valedictorians of their undergraduate colleges. There is always going to be a small segment of the population that is critical of the government, paranoid about the encroachment on civil liberties, and overall dissatisfied with the status quo. But that isn't a majority. Its not even half. I would guess it's less than 25%.

    Snowden sacrificed a lot for the world. I wish I knew of a way to get the world to care.
  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:41PM (#45776085)

    The NSA's policies have remained constant through "liberal" and "conservative" administrations. This is not a liberal/conservative or right wing/left wing issue. You don't need to decide which side you are on before you decide where you stand on the issue of the NSA's bulk surveillance of American citizens. Maybe you actually ought to think for yourself on this issue!!!

    The NSA is a HUGE waste of money. I defy anyone to prove otherwise.

    I like the idea of the NSA spying on the rest of the world. But when the NSA starts spying on Americans, bad people--very bad people--have taken over the NSA. These people are acting just like Stasi functionaries and it is scary.

    This is awful and it needs to stop.

  • by hax4bux (209237) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @01:25PM (#45776417)

    Does this imply there is an "information dominatrix?"

    "50 shades of gray for your firewall?"

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