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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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  • 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.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:12AM (#45775397)

    If nothing has changed, it's not his fault.

    It's ours.

  • by tomhath (637240) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:13AM (#45775407)

    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.

  • Re:Right On (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:15AM (#45775415)

    How is this flamebait? NSA voting again?

  • 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 Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:22AM (#45775501)

    And nothing has changed. What a waste of time. Enjoy your stay, comrade.

    It took years for this shit to become entrenched, it is going to take at least as long to unwind it.

  • 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 on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:31AM (#45775577)

    > 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 JWW (79176) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:32AM (#45775593)

    No! We need real change away from both what Bush did AND what Obama is doing.

    Every time people make the "but Bush" argument they're giving Obama more power to abuse the system.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  • 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.

  • Re:Of course not! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:41AM (#45775673) Homepage Journal

    Do you really think the NSA has time to waste on Slashdot? We have much more pressing issues to take care of.

    Like trolling WoW.

  • by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:43AM (#45775693)
    Sad part is, there is nothing they "could have done" to prevent the 9/11 attacks that was prevented by the legal actions available at the time. There was absolutely no need for any additional powers or surveillance. Since they found zip with all the new surveillance after 10 years, I think it is safe to conclude the threat is greatly exaggerated. Where were they when the Boston Marathon attacks were being planned? They were snooping on Brazilian oil companies.
  • Re:Right On (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:47AM (#45775731) Homepage Journal

    giving the shallow-thinking right-wing a scapegoat.

    Yea, amazing how short-sighted and narcissistic the typical American voter is, huh?

    Like, when Bush II was in charge, setting up all these bullshit draconian laws, the self-proclaimed "liberals" wouldn't shut up about how horrible America would become if we allowed said policies to go into place. Flash forward 7 years - now it's the "liberal" guy in office, and suddenly all those horrible policies aren't considered so horrible after all... Unless, of course, you're a self-proclaimed "conservative," in which case letting "your guy's" laws fall into the hands of the "other guy" is the worst fucking thing to happen in American history.

    Land of the free, alright - free of the ability to form cogent fucking thoughts.

  • Re:Right On (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pellik (193063) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @11:51AM (#45775761)

    Land of the free, alright - free of the ability to form cogent fucking thoughts.

    There are plenty of smart people here who can form cogent thoughts. However we do seem to be free of the ambition to do so.

  • Re:Well, at least (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RDW (41497) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:10PM (#45775881)

    He's not wearing an orange jumpsuit in a stress position with razor wire in front of him either.

    Avoiding this indefinitely is probably one of the 'stretch goals' he mentions.

  • Re:Right On (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vitriol+Angst (458300) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:22PM (#45775955)

    "Flash forward 7 years - now it's the "liberal" guy in office, and suddenly all those horrible policies aren't considered so horrible after all..."

    >> Liberal voter here. Nope -- I'm still pissed. I'm surprised the "Liberal media" wasn't informing you how troubled we are with Obama doing these things as well.

    I held my nose and voted for Obama. What was my option here? Gordon Gecko? You think whichever boob we put in office isn't going to have these policies?

    The reason Domestic spying is so bad is that they can use it to extort politicians, leaders and the media into compliance. Not that they need that with the way politicos have to thank zero interest loans from banks for affording office, and media personalities being titillating rather than educational.

    So I don't think anyone is "OK" with this, other than people who say; "I'm OK with this -- thank you for defending my freedom!" And I think those people are idiots. I happen to know quite a few Liberals and Democrats and not many idiots. I've seen more conservatives "OK" with this domestic spying from my anecdotal experience. Not that it is productive getting in a tit-for-tat spat.

    If impeaching Obama would end this -- I'd be for it. But really we need what we've always needed; campaign finance reform. Most corruption starts and ends with that.

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

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <`VortexCortex' ` ... -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

  • 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.

  • Re:Right On (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:43PM (#45776097)

    The first past the post voting system in America will always reinforce the two party setup we have. Third party voting can send a message in a lopsided election but in anything close, it's dangerous. It is arguably the reason we even had GWB in the first place. Gore probably would have won had he not lost so many votes to the Green party.

    Of course, the ones in power are the ones benefiting most from this arrangement, so it's unlikely to change.

  • Re:Right On (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:55PM (#45776187) Homepage Journal

    He's a criminal, not a hero. The ends do NOT justify the means. He should be in a US prison for the rest of his life.

    Let's extrapolate that to a different, historical scenario, shall we?

    [George Washington]'s a criminal, not a hero. The ends do NOT justify the means. He should be in a [British Imperial] prison for the rest of his life.

    Do you still feel the same way? Keep in mind, many people actually died as a result of Gen. Washington's decision to commit treason against the crown.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @01:01PM (#45776239) Homepage Journal

    Hmm,

    I think a few things are or will be changing. Now as an amateur democracy activist I think more things would change if U.S. citizens realized how much political power they actually have.

    Read and understand the Constitution: the only powers the government has are specifically listed in that document; to that end, it even states that any power or right not specifically delegated to the government in the Constitution (and Amendments) is a right and power of the people.

    The people running the government have been very successful at convincing regular folks that we don't actually have as many rights as the Constitution allows us. Not sure what to do about that one...

  • Re:Right On (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @01:26PM (#45776427)

    Keep in mind, many people actually died as a result of Gen. Washington's decision to commit treason against the crown.

    Washington's actions paid off rather handsomely, many times over. The bill for Snowden's actions hasn't been presented yet, and it will take years to tally. It is far from clear that the reward will justify the cost in the long run.

  • 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.

  • Re:Right On (Score:2, Insightful)

    by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @02:16PM (#45776813) Homepage Journal

    And, as I said, by doing this you're effectively opting out of the system. Protest votes are irrelevant. It's not about picking a winner, it's about having an impact, and your approach has none -- it's equivalent to flipping a coin and casting your vote for one of the two major party candidates, or simply not voting at all. None of them have any bearing on the outcome, and neither of them send any significant "message".

    If you want to have an impact, and neither of the major parties is offering what you want, then the only way to accomplish anything is to get involved and change one of the parties so it does offer what you want.

  • 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.

  • Re:Right On (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @02:37PM (#45776985) Homepage

    What you don't get, is that you can't have an impact by voting major parties. They are totally fungible.

    Secondly, the parties are immutable -- the notion that you can change them from within is belied by all the evidence that you can't. Look at the 2008 election -- Obama lied (to get elected) and people died. Again, it is a form of insanity to say "I hate what you are doing, but I'll vote for you anyway" and expect change.

    Third parties bring topics that the GOP and DNC won't touch due to the bipartisan consensus on so many issues. Supporting third parties is the only way to get those issues debated. Of course, what has been a real problem since Ross Perot, is that the parties simply won't allow others into the debates.

    Finally, Obama is the poster child of New Boss Same as the Old Boss. One can only hope that eventually, enough people will get it. And when that happens, change will occur. But by working inside the DNC? That's useless and will just continue our slow rightward slide with every "you suck, but I still vote for you" decision.

  • Re:Right On (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PrimaryConsult (1546585) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @02:54PM (#45777097)

    When you vote D or R, you are voting for the policies they *currently* have. The best way to push them is vote for a third party that has what you want. D and R are constantly trying to court the independent vote, party line voters are already in the bag, they don't need to care about them. Think about it, if people in favor of a stance on issue X held by a Libertarian vote Lib enough that the Rs lose important elections, they will incorporate issue X to win back those voters.

  • Re:Right On (Score:4, Insightful)

    by matthewv789 (1803086) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @02:58PM (#45777131)
    Not so. If enough people vote, say Green, Pirate, Peace and Freedom, etc. that the Democrats start to lose votes off the progressive side, then they'll have to shift their policies to the left in hopes of getting them back, rather than constantly trying to stay JUST SLIGHTLY to the left of the Republicans, wherever the Republicans happen to be.
  • Re:Right On (Score:4, Insightful)

    by _merlin (160982) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @04:23PM (#45777783) Homepage Journal

    Whether or not his actions were worth it largely depends on how we view him NOW. If we dismiss him as a criminal, nothing will change and his efforts were for naught.

    You've forgotten one important thing: even if we dismiss him as a criminal, he's satisfied his own conscience. It might not be worth anything to the rest of us, but he'll be able to die at peace with himself. Even one man's inner peace is worth something.

  • Re:Right On (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @04:37PM (#45777881)

    Secondly, the parties are immutable -- the notion that you can change them from within is belied by all the evidence that you can't.

    If you think the parties haven't changed drastically over the last 20 or 30 years, you haven't been paying attetion. The Republican party has become far, far, far more radical. Good god.. Palin was questioning whether the great god Ronald Reagan was conservative enough just recently! And it's not as if she's not correct. Reagan was a freaking liberal compared to where the tea party wants the Republicans to go.

    Now we could have an interesting discussion on exactly WHAT causes the parties to change. But if you don't even acknowledge they've changed drastically, there's not much point in a further discussion.

  • Bullshit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s.petry (762400) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @05:16PM (#45778157)

    How quickly we forget things like this [slashdot.org] right?

    To claim that it does not happen, when we have evidence that it does happen is beyond idiotic. It is complete and utter bullshit (either intentional or from ignorance.

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