[FoRK] Snowden sets OPSEC record straight

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Fri Oct 18 02:11:39 PDT 2013


----- Forwarded message from coderman <coderman at gmail.com> -----

Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2013 21:13:38 -0700
From: coderman <coderman at gmail.com>
To: cpunks <cypherpunks at cpunks.org>
Subject: Snowden sets OPSEC record straight
Message-ID: <CAJVRA1RsdEr5Yg+t-kGEK-37jBRCATyYFfiNigXEUw6ioAjKww at mail.gmail.com>

it doesn't get much more definitive than this retort.. :
"""
[Snowden] felt confident that he had kept the documents secure from
Chinese spies, and that the N.S.A. knew he had done so. His last
target while working as an agency contractor was China, he said,
adding that he had had “access to every target, every active
operation” mounted by the N.S.A. against the Chinese. “Full lists of
them,” he said.

“If that was compromised,” he went on, “N.S.A. would have set the
table on fire from slamming it so many times in denouncing the damage
it had caused. Yet N.S.A. has not offered a single example of damage
from the leaks. They haven’t said boo about it except ‘we think,’
‘maybe,’ ‘have to assume’ from anonymous and former officials. Not
‘China is going dark.’ Not ‘the Chinese military has shut us out.’ ”
"""


there is a clear thoughtfulness, moral reasoning, and
conscientiousness repeatedly demonstrated by Snowden in these events.
it is now obvious that history will exonerate him fully.

... the distance between current reactionary retribution and that
future absolution appears to be a bit of a distance, however...
hopefully not too long.



---

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/world/snowden-says-he-took-no-secret-files-to-russia.html?_r=0&pagewanted=print

October 17, 2013

Snowden Says He Took No Secret Files to Russia

By JAMES RISEN

WASHINGTON — Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency
contractor, said in an extensive interview this month that he did not
take any secret N.S.A. documents with him to Russia when he fled there
in June, assuring that Russian intelligence officials could not get
access to them.

Mr. Snowden said he gave all of the classified documents he had
obtained to journalists he met in Hong Kong, before flying to Moscow,
and did not keep any copies for himself. He did not take the files to
Russia “because it wouldn’t serve the public interest,” he said.

“What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of
the materials onward?” he added.

He also asserted that he was able to protect the documents from
China’s spies because he was familiar with that nation’s intelligence
abilities, saying that as an N.S.A. contractor he had targeted Chinese
operations and had taught a course on Chinese
cybercounterintelligence.

“There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received
any documents,” he said.

American intelligence officials have expressed grave concern that the
files might have fallen into the hands of foreign intelligence
services, but Mr. Snowden said he believed that the N.S.A. knew he had
not cooperated with the Russians or the Chinese. He said he was
publicly revealing that he no longer had any agency documents to
explain why he was confident that Russia had not gained access to
them. He had been reluctant to disclose that information previously,
he said, for fear of exposing the journalists to greater scrutiny.

In a wide-ranging interview over several days in the last week, Mr.
Snowden offered detailed responses to accusations that have been
leveled against him by American officials and other critics, provided
new insights into why he became disillusioned with the N.S.A. and
decided to disclose the documents, and talked about the international
debate over surveillance that resulted from the revelations. The
interview took place through encrypted online communications.

Mr. Snowden, 30, has been praised by privacy advocates and assailed by
government officials as a traitor who has caused irreparable harm, and
he is facing charges under the Espionage Act for leaking the N.S.A.
documents to the news media. In the interview, he said he believed he
was a whistle-blower who was acting in the nation’s best interests by
revealing information about the N.S.A.’s surveillance dragnet and huge
collections of communications data, including that of Americans.

He argued that he had helped American national security by prompting a
badly needed public debate about the scope of the intelligence effort.
“The secret continuance of these programs represents a far greater
danger than their disclosure,” he said. He added that he had been more
concerned that Americans had not been told about the N.S.A.’s reach
than he was about any specific surveillance operation.

“So long as there’s broad support amongst a people, it can be argued
there’s a level of legitimacy even to the most invasive and morally
wrong program, as it was an informed and willing decision,” he said.
“However, programs that are implemented in secret, out of public
oversight, lack that legitimacy, and that’s a problem. It also
represents a dangerous normalization of ‘governing in the dark,’ where
decisions with enormous public impact occur without any public input.”

Mr. Snowden said he had never considered defecting while in Hong Kong,
nor in Russia, where he has been permitted to stay for one year. He
said he felt confident that he had kept the documents secure from
Chinese spies, and that the N.S.A. knew he had done so. His last
target while working as an agency contractor was China, he said,
adding that he had had “access to every target, every active
operation” mounted by the N.S.A. against the Chinese. “Full lists of
them,” he said.

“If that was compromised,” he went on, “N.S.A. would have set the
table on fire from slamming it so many times in denouncing the damage
it had caused. Yet N.S.A. has not offered a single example of damage
from the leaks. They haven’t said boo about it except ‘we think,’
‘maybe,’ ‘have to assume’ from anonymous and former officials. Not
‘China is going dark.’ Not ‘the Chinese military has shut us out.’ ”

An N.S.A. spokeswoman did not respond Thursday to a request for
comment on Mr. Snowden’s assertions.

Mr. Snowden said his decision to leak N.S.A. documents developed
gradually, dating back at least to his time working as a technician in
the Geneva station of the C.I.A. His experiences there, Mr. Snowden
said, fed his doubts about the intelligence community, while also
convincing him that working through the chain of command would only
lead to retribution.

He disputed an account in The New York Times last week reporting that
a derogatory comment placed in his personnel evaluation while he was
in Geneva was a result of suspicions that he was trying to break in to
classified files to which he was not authorized to have access. (The
C.I.A. later took issue with the description of why he had been
reprimanded.) Mr. Snowden said the comment was placed in his file by a
senior manager seeking to punish him for trying to warn the C.I.A.
about a computer vulnerability.

Mr. Snowden said that in 2008 and 2009, he was working in Geneva as a
telecommunications information systems officer, handling everything
from information technology and computer networks to maintenance of
the heating and air-conditioning systems. He began pushing for a
promotion, but got into what he termed a “petty e-mail spat” in which
he questioned a senior manager’s judgment.

Several months later, Mr. Snowden said, he was writing his annual
self-evaluation when he discovered flaws in the software of the
C.I.A.’s personnel Web applications that would make them vulnerable to
hacking. He warned his supervisor, he said, but his boss advised him
to drop the matter and not rock the boat. After a technical team also
brushed him off, he said, his boss finally agreed to allow him to test
the system to prove that it was flawed.

He did so by adding some code and text “in a nonmalicious manner” to
his evaluation document that showed that the vulnerability existed, he
said. His immediate supervisor signed off on it and sent it through
the system, but a more senior manager — the man Mr. Snowden had
challenged earlier — was furious and filed a critical comment in Mr.
Snowden’s personnel file, he said.

He said he had considered filing a complaint with the C.I.A.’s
inspector general about what he considered to be a reprisal, adding
that he could not recall whether he had done so or a supervisor had
talked him out of it. A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment on Mr.
Snowden’s account of the episode or whether he had filed a complaint.

But the incident, Mr. Snowden said, convinced him that trying to work
through the system would only lead to punishment. He said he knew of
others who suffered reprisals for what they had exposed, including
Thomas A. Drake, who was prosecuted for disclosing N.S.A. contracting
abuses to The Baltimore Sun. (He met with Mr. Snowden in Moscow last
week to present an award to him for his actions.) And he knew other
N.S.A. employees who had gotten into trouble for embarrassing a senior
official in an e-mail chain that included a line, referring to the
Chinese Army, that said, “Is this the P.L.A. or the N.S.A.?”

Mr. Snowden added that inside the spy agency “there’s a lot of dissent
— palpable with some, even.” But he said that people were kept in line
through “fear and a false image of patriotism,” which he described as
“obedience to authority.”

He said he believed that if he tried to question the N.S.A.’s
surveillance operations as an insider, his efforts “would have been
buried forever,” and he would “have been discredited and ruined.” He
said that “the system does not work,” adding that “you have to report
wrongdoing to those most responsible for it.”

Mr. Snowden said he finally decided to act when he discovered a copy
of a classified 2009 inspector general’s report on the N.S.A.’s
warrantless wiretapping program during the Bush administration. He
said he found the document through a “dirty word search,” which he
described as an effort by a systems administrator to check a computer
system for things that should not be there in order to delete them and
sanitize the system.

“It was too highly classified to be where it was,” he said of the
report. He opened the document to make certain that it did not belong
there, and after he saw what it revealed, “curiosity prevailed,” he
said.

After reading about the program, which skirted the existing
surveillance laws, he concluded that it had been illegal, he said. “If
the highest officials in government can break the law without fearing
punishment or even any repercussions at all,” he said, “secret powers
become tremendously dangerous.”

He would not say exactly when he read the report, or discuss the
timing of his subsequent actions to collect N.S.A. documents in order
to leak them. But he said that reading the report helped crystallize
his decision. “You can’t read something like that and not realize what
it means for all of these systems we have,” he said.

Mr. Snowden said that the impact of his decision to disclose
information about the N.S.A. had been bigger than he had anticipated.
He added that he did not control what the journalists who had the
documents wrote about. He said that he handed over the documents to
them because he wanted his own bias “divorced from the decision-making
of publication,” and that “technical solutions were in place to ensure
the work of the journalists couldn’t be interfered with.”

Mr. Snowden declined to provide details about his living conditions in
Moscow, except to say that he was not under Russian government control
and was free to move around.


----- End forwarded message -----
-- 
Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
______________________________________________________________
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://ativel.com http://postbiota.org
AC894EC5: 38A5 5F46 A4FF 59B8 336B  47EE F46E 3489 AC89 4EC5


More information about the FoRK mailing list