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LA Times: Snowden Had 3 Helpers Inside NSA 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the join-the-gang dept.
retroworks writes "Three people at the National Security Agency have been implicated in Edward Snowden's efforts to copy classified material, including a civilian employee who resigned last month after acknowledging he allowed Snowden to use his computer ID, according to an NSA memo sent to Congress. The other two were an active-duty member of the military and a civilian contractor. The memo does not describe their conduct, but says they were barred from the NSA and its systems in August."
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LA Times: Snowden Had 3 Helpers Inside NSA

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  • by jkrise (535370) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @10:29AM (#46259423) Journal

    Nice to know... there are still humans around!

    • Nice to know... there are still humans around!

      Nice to know, but is this new?
      http://yro.slashdot.org/story/... [slashdot.org]

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Because it is great when employees of the federal government take matters into their own hands and over ride the elected government? What could possible go wring with that?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Thank you comrade. It is good to know that there are real patriots out there that do what they are told and worship the government as they are supposed to.
        we did notice you have not paid your tribute to the great leader lately, you do know this is punishable. I suggest posting at least 15 comments praising the glorious leader on your facebook to make sure you do not have to be re-educated again.

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @12:06PM (#46259875)

        When right turns to wrong, resistance becomes an obligation.

        Dictatorships all over the world have to rely on people who "only do their job". Without them, no dictatorship in history would have been possible. Whenever you study the makeup of a dictatorship, you'll notice that the die-hard proponents are only a tiny minority. Most people follow either out of opportunistic motivations, because they fear the repercussions if they don't, because they were brainwashed long enough to believe the bull they've been fed or because they simply don't care and just want to be left alone.

        As for "elected government". The Soviet Union had an elected government. That's no hallmark of a government that is beneficial for its country. If you complain that they only had one party, I can only tell you that I fail to see the difference between having one party or two parties that are essentially insignificantly different in those matters that actually matter. Being allowed to choose which bully should beat you up is no choice, it's a false dilemma at best.

        • When right turns to wrong, resistance becomes an obligation.

          The problem is that nobody has demonstrated that in this case. All we really get are hyperbole, distortions, or false claims that the government is engaged in oppression.

          Your example of the Soviet Union is specious. Being forced to vote for the Communist party is simply window dressing on a dictatorship.

          As to the US, you have more than two choices as to party. Although there is broad general agreement on various questions such as "should the government passively allow Americans to be killed," there are m

          • Your example of the Soviet Union is specious.

            Mkay. Whyzat?

            Being forced to vote for the Communist party is simply window dressing on a dictatorship.

            Which was precisely Opportunist's point. So, no, not specious at all.

            • by Lumpy (12016)

              He will not see it until they hook up electrodes to his nuts. And even then I doubt it.

              • by anagama (611277)

                He's either a total backbirth who somehow manages to type, or being paid by the NSA to troll. I'm guessing the latter, in which case, CF will be hooking up electrodes to other people's nuts without probable cause while exhorting them on the virtues of American values.

          • by easyTree (1042254)

            As to the US, you have more than two choices as to party.

            One can only imagine the countrywide-outcry, nay riotous scenario which would develop if there were x, { x : 2 <= x <= 3 } options when choosing beer, football, tv shows - all important choices with longstanding ramifications affecting every aspect of life.

          • by nbauman (624611)

            there are many meaningful differences between the main two parties. If you think that is not the case, then please, illuminate us as to what you think is important? What is it that "actually matters" that isn't different between the Democrats and Republicans that you think should be different?

            Let's take the policy issue I know most about, health care. As most people on Slashdot realize, we spend twice as much on health care as most other developed countries because we pass all our health care payments through an unnecessary, inefficient, parasitical private insurance system. According to the polls, most Americans wanted a Medicare-type system. Yet the Democrats gave us a health care system based on a model created by the Heritage Foundation. So we now have an even more inefficient, expensive sys

            • by anagama (611277)

              That Heritage Foundation stuff comes directly from the plan Nixon offered -- yeah, Tricky Dick. Obama's plan is essentially the same thing with the liberal parts stripped out.

              http://www.kaiserhealthnews.or... [kaiserhealthnews.org]

              • by nbauman (624611)

                That's right.

                That's because Nixon's Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare was Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Moynihan came up with a lot of (relatively) liberal programs, which Nixon supported.

                Another one was the guaranteed annual income.

                Ralph Nader said that except for foreign policy, the Democrats have moved to the right of Nixon.

            • by easyTree (1042254)

              In most other developed countries this would be considered bribery

              I can assure you that it is recognized as bribery and that the world has been looking on in horror as your giant flaming snowball* spins out of control.

              (*) I like the smell of a mixed metaphor before breakfast.

          • by anagama (611277)

            We can take the word of people like you that all is well in the Government, like we've been doing for decades ... or the word of a conservative federal judge who called the programs Orwellian and almost certainly unconstitutional.

            We would not be having this discussion without Snowden. Snowden was the only person who took his oat to the Constitution seriously.

            As for the GOP and DNC, we basically have two neocon parties, one largely pro-abortion and gay-marriage, the other largely anti-abortion and gay-marri

          • I'll put you in the "brainwashed 'til believing the bull" bin, if you don't mind.

            • You are free to mentally pigeonhole me in any manner that you care to. You should not, however, expect me to acquiesce when addressed with a categorization that I find disagreeable.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          "Dictatorships all over the world have to rely on people who "only do their job""
          In a democratic society the employees are supposed to be answerable to the elected government and the elected government to the people. It is dangerous when go outside the law. Do you think a murderer should go free if a police officers finds the evidence with an illegal search? Maybe you feel that the answer is yes because a police officer has to follow the law no matter what because you see a lot of danger if the police get's

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by easyTree (1042254)

      Nice to know... there are still humans around!

      Were humans around:

      The memo does not describe their conduct, but says they were barred from the NSA and its systems in August.

      Once identified as non-[evil|corrupt|power-mongering|privacy-invading] humans, they were jettisoned lest they bring the tone of the organization up.

  • In related news, Saw VIII will use some new "hidden footage" that will add a lot of realism to the horror series.
  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @10:48AM (#46259513)
    It remains to be seen if there will be any real change in the way governments are allowed to use surveillance with impunity.

    I watched a President pay lip service to reform and restriction, and I recall some initial outrage in the populace and the media...

    but if that's all there is, and this fades away as folks get back to their busy little lives, I am afraid the watchers will go back to work with a confidence reeking of our tacit permission.

    • Exactly (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      People have taken their freedom for granted for so long, they don't see any of the NSA spying as a threat. As far as I can see, most folks in the general public are quite confident that this only applies to the terrorists. I was hoping that because this happened under Obama's watch, Fox News and the Talk Radio guys would keep beating it home, but no,, they're still going after Obamacare and Benghazi.

      This is where the Republicans can shine and be the party of Freedom but instead they're wasting time on BS i

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @12:12PM (#46259895)

      Why should there be any change? If the Snowden revelations showed us anything, then that nobody gives a fuck. And not just in the US, there've been revelations that the US spied, with the blessing of the local governments, in countries in Europe. Right before elections happened there. Which promptly led to landslide victories of those parties that were essentially guilty of high treason.

      Nobody gives a fuck. That's the saddest part.

      • With the NSA going hard after anyone duped by Snowden, and the President mouthing a bunch of words of concern -- I can guarantee you that they at the very least don't give two fucks.

      • by easyTree (1042254)

        If they did give a fuck, how would it look?

        You might not have noticed but we in the free world live in fur-lined cages guarded by retarded jack-booted thugs empowered by their masters. There are few opportunities for change beyond a change of mind; for that, widespread access to accurate information is required; not coincidentally, control of information is the front on which open battle is raging. Once secured, it's game over, people.

    • by easyTree (1042254)

      I am afraid the watchers will go back to work with a confidence reeking of our tacit permission.

      For me, this is the core of the problem; they're not asking for permission and our lack of permission has no teeth or even gums.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Sunday February 16, 2014 @11:01AM (#46259577) Homepage

    It is not all clear. If someone ''helped'' then they, in some way, knew what Snowden was about and so sharing-passwords/what-ever was a kind of tacit approval. If they simply acted to a job related request from a co-worker and did not know what Snowden was doing - can that be called helping ?

    Whatever: this story still has the wrong focus, it is about Snowden. Snowden should not be the story. The story should be about the illegal activities of the NSA.

    • The story should be about the illegal activities of the NSA.

      That would be a very short and boring story indeed as it doesn't really seem to exist in any meaningful way. The big story is NSA activities that some people find disagreeable.

      • by Zontar The Mindless (9002) <plasticfish@info.gmail@com> on Sunday February 16, 2014 @01:26PM (#46260281)

        I fail to see why my rights as a US citizen are disregarded by US intelligence agencies operating overseas. And then there's my family in the US, whose rights are violated every time they communicate with me, or I with them.

        And before you start giving me any fast talk about borders and jurisdiction, please bear in mind that I remain liable for US taxes no matter where I live. So, in effect, I'm supposed to pay for these violations of my rights, and those of my family. Nice, huh.

        • I fail to see why my rights as a US citizen are disregarded by US intelligence agencies operating overseas.

          What makes you think that? That isn't what NSA says. Are you saying that is wrong? Do you have any evidence?

          Frequently Asked Questions - Oversight [nsa.gov]

          4. Are U.S. persons outside of the United States afforded protection?

          Yes, the privacy rights of U.S. persons are protected regardless of their location.

          --------

          And then there's my family in the US, whose rights are violated every time they communicate with me, or I with them.

          Another assertion. Any evidence?

    • Here is the memo that this story is based on:

      http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/ms... [msn.com]

  • How many others? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by davecb (6526) <davec-b@rogers.com> on Sunday February 16, 2014 @11:04AM (#46259587) Homepage Journal

    In an organization as large as the NSA, how many

    • - sysadmins have left with saleable information in their pockets
    • - actual spies have shipped data to <enemy of the week>
    • - ordinary staff have oopsed and let data leak

    Mr Snowdon is the tip of the iceberg!

    • According to my calculator, Snowden was an ice cube floating in a hot tub.

      NSA was previously reported to be downsizing their system administration staff by 90%, and implementing the two man rule, on top of completing the rollout of new security systems to catch this sort of thing.

      Besides, out of about 40,000 NSA employees:

      About one person per year loses control and spies on a love interest, for which they are disciplined and lose their job.
      A couple of people per decade, more or less, engage in "whistle blow

      • by davecb (6526)

        Thanks for the background!

        In your opinion, are these kinds of numbers consistent with what we've seen with other security services? Canada seems to suffer about one full-fledged security fiasco a decade, ranging for burning barns to a naval sub-leftenant spying for Putin's Russia last year. The STASI was reported to be substantially worse.

        My suspicions came from civilian experience admistering Trusted Solaris, where the standard sysadmin kludge was to assign both the root and security-administrator rol

      • by Imrik (148191)

        Just keep in mind, those are just the ones that get caught.

      • by joss (1346)

        So, you believe the NSA hardly ever fucks up. Fascinating, and who told you this exactly ?

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        About one person per year loses control and spies on a love interest, and later admits to it.

        FTFY.

        Furthermore, given that the NSA has a history of lying and misdirection, why believe any numbers that the NSA produces?

        • The NSA has a history of not wanting to say anything, or be in the papers. That is different than lying or misdirection.

          If you don't want to believe, then why ask?

          • "If you don't want to believe John Clapper, then why ask?"
            Fixed that for you.

            Hmmm...most people quit shoveling when they find they are in the bottom of a deep hole, but not you!

            Keep digging, the spectacle is hilarious from up here at ground level!

            You may even end up a 'Wile E. Coyote, Supergenius: Dedicated to the Mission' Award nominee at this rate!

            Now, I'm off to set up my popcorn maker....

            • by anagama (611277)

              Cut him some slack, it's his job to grovel in and shovel shit. Don't blame him for following orders. /sarcasm.

            • That wasn't really a good fix.

              Wyden’s Stunt Was Congress at its Worst [commentarymagazine.com]

              • by whoever57 (658626)

                That wasn't really a good fix.

                Wyden's Stunt Was Congress at its Worst

                That link points to an opinion, not facts, and the opinion about Wyden is based on a falsehood.

              • by rts008 (812749)

                That link changes nothing.
                Plenty good enough 'fix' for the likes of your class of comments.

                The fact that Clapper lied under oath to congress is still a fact.

                All that link shows is that Clapper played the game by choice, and was caught. If he was not involved, then he could not be so easily trapped. He was in deep over his head. Guilty as charged. Case closed. Period.

                That link doesn't change anything at all. In fact, it just shows that the lawbreaking, anti-constitutional, lying criminals have become more

                • Since Congress was already informed by means of classified briefings and reports, then no, he didn't lie to Congress. It was Wyden that was playing games, and for some reason you don't acknowledge that. Your diktat doesn't change anything.

                  • Your diktat doesn't change anything.

                    Same back at you.
                    Where's my answer?

                    • Check the other thread.

                    • by rts008 (812749)

                      Where's the answer to my question?

                    • I can and do read.
                      But apparently that reply was modded below my reading threshold of '0', and was never presented to me to read.

                      Having read the answer, it's just more handwaving, as 'cold fjord' is a well known troll here.

                      Which tells me that others with mod points are modding 'cold' fjord' down faster than notice of reply gets to me.
                      That fact speaks volumes for the value of those posts. In other words, many feel the same as I about 'cold fjord' just being a troll.

                      As for your link to his reply, and consider

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The NSA is running a witch-hunt for anyone who thought they were innocently bending the rules for a friendly coworker. This kind of policy is how you destroy a cordial work environment. Only a certain kind of person will be left at the NSA.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 16, 2014 @11:52AM (#46259819)

      Clearly you haven't been exposed to the freak show that is the NSA.

      A man who walks around the OPS 2 cafeteria picking out uneaten food from the trash to save money and reduce food waste. A woman who keeps score of her bowel movements on the bathroom wall using smears of her poop (which admittedly I never saw for myself but female coworkers constantly complained about). A man who carries a thermometer who refuses to sit in a chair if it is above 98.6F so that he doesn't have to feel someone's body heat on his rear.

      To think they gave me such a hard time during my poly and background investigation.

      I can post many more examples. Working there (as a contractor) was an experience in the surreal. I couldn't handle it and left after a year and a half for NASA which is just a few miles down the BW Parkway. Much better (assuming my funding doesn't dry up... a different issue).

      And don't even get me started about the code quality of which I can't really comment on. One example being that a guy argued vehemently about framing every single line individually in a try-block.

      The only redeeming factor is that they really are motivated with the citizens bests interests in mind, and that is no shit (assuming you are American)... but somewhere things went horribly wrong and they diverged from that ideal. But that is the view from the bottom. I have no clue what the higher ups had in mind - but that said neither do you.

      • In other words, a collection of the most anal retentive control freaks you could find. Pretty much what I was expecting.

        • You seem to think that about the entire US government anyway.

          • Anal retentive? Not really, that takes a special kind of person. Corrupt, yes. Inefficient, yes. For hire and sale, yes. But not anal retentive.

  • I mean when I read his bio on Wikipedia nothing came out to me that said he was some sort of uber hacker so it seemed weird just how much stuff he managed to get. Oh well, hopefully since there's at least 3 other people at the NSA that have some sort of moral compass there are more in there as well. (But knowing how these things go they'll probably just fire everybody that hasn't drunk the kool-ade.)
    • by anagama (611277)

      He may or may not be an uber-hacker, I have no idea. That said, if you are handed root, you don't need to be a hacker at all.

  • by j-turkey (187775) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @11:40AM (#46259757) Homepage

    This feels like a big fat smoke screen to me. This isn't about Snowden, it's about the federal governments wholesale wiretapping and warehousing of our personal data, an unprecedented overstep of policing and surveillance power. It's about secret FISA courts and undisclosed secret warrants that are rubber-stamped by appointed-for-life (unaccountable) federal judges in the name of national security. It's about a lack of oversight.

    Every time we make this about Snowden and how the data was collected, "they" win a little bit more.

  • by Subm (79417) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @11:45AM (#46259781)

    TFA Headline: "Three former NSA workers accused of aiding Snowden"

    A more responsible headline: "The rest of the NSA accused of violating the Fourth Amendment rights of the entire nation, undermining the interests of the nation and its people, and destabilizing the checks and balances keeping the nation strong for over two centuries."

  • 'fess up -- who amongst us has NEVER EVER used someone else's login credentials to do some task? Perhaps the inexperienced, yet to understand security hypocrisy.

    The entire yelpdesk industry lives by taking Remote Control" of users' machines.

    • Re:"Let he who is without blame cast the first stone"

      From out of the crowd a rock was thrown and hit him upside the face.
      Mom! I told you to stay home.

      ah, couldn't help it...

  • I realize your new business model depends on sensationalist clickbait headlines, but you're getting pretty close to libel here.

    The original article makes it clear that the NSA employee question did allow Snowden to get access to his logon credentials, it was not part of a deliberate attempt to assist him in stealing classified information. Describing him as a "helper" implies active collaboration. You're basically accusing him of a serious felony with absolutely no evidence to suggest that you're correct.

  • Unable to put Snowden on trial, the NSA has decided to sacrifice three other employees.

    I look forward to the circus of their trial, I hear they'll be serving bread.

    • They don't care about anything except the public finding out the truth.

      A big part of that is terrorism against their staff and the press to make sure they never dare oppose them. They will make strong "examples" out of deviants and just like in history, the more desperate they get to prevent it, the more extreme the "examples".

      The benefit of knowing some history is why they are not dumping acid on the faces of these people opposing them; something the Taliban has yet to learn (poor education; history repea

  • Practically everyone in the private security and private investigations businesses has a few buddies in law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Access to restricted data for their benefit has been going on for years. Swapping login credentials to gain access to different silos of information as a part of this practice is pretty common. The only thing Snowden did that was different was to dump this data wholesale (more or less) in the lap of the press.

    Heck, even the press and some well known authors have

  • Well that will teach them. They were most likely asked to leave or get a ruler across their knuckles.

  • The key problem with these networks is that there the system which keeps content secure however this content is created on ordinary windows PC and file shares. You create content with word and then you upload this into system X. System X is secure but there's a copy on the local network. Also when viewing content it is downloaded to be viewed in word or powerpoint. ie it goes outside the system into the MS world. The logging in windows is very obscure and rarely leveraged in a manner which audits read only

    • They actually do use two factor authentication. These stories are considered unlikely at best by people who actually use these networks.

  • Now we'll find out what they would've done (or will do) to Snowden if they can get their hands on him. Or, will they hold these three hostage to try to get Snowden to give himself up?

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