venerdì 8 agosto 2014

Text for World Wide Reading for Edward Snowden



Text for World Wide Reading for Edward Snowden 



This text comprises extracts from various interviews with and statements by Edward Snowden. 

Two Statements by Edward Snowden as published in Glenn Greenwald’s book ‘No Place to Hide’. These statements were given to Glenn Greenwald, along with the leaked files, to explain Snowden’s actions. 

My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them. The U.S. government, in conspiracy with client states, chiefest among them the Five Eyes - the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand - have inflicted upon the world a system of secret, pervasive surveillance from which there is no refuge. They protect their domestic systems from the oversight of citizenry through classification and lies, and shield themselves from outrage in the event of leaks by overemphasizing limited protections they choose to grant the governed…. The enclosed documents are real and original, and are offered to provide an understanding of how the global, passive surveillance system works so that protections against it may be developed. On the day of his writing, all new communications records that can be ingested and catalogued by this system are intended to be held for [] years, and new - Massive Data Repositories‖ (or euphemistically - Mission‖ Data Repositories) are being built and deployed worldwide, with the largest at the new data center in Utah. While I pray that public awareness and debate will lead to reform, bear in mind that the policies of men change in time, and even the Constitution is subverted when the appetites of power demand it. In words from history: Let us speak no more of faith in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of cryptography. (Snowden as quoted in ‘No Place to Hide - Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State’ by Glenn Greenwald, published by Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Books, London 2014, pp. 23-24)

Many will malign me for failing to engage in national relativism, to look away from [my] society’s problems toward distant, external evils for which we hold neither authority nor responsibility, but citizenship carries with it a duty to first police one’s own government before seeking to correct others. Here, now, at home, we suffer a government that only grudgingly allows limited oversight, and refuses accountability when crimes are committed. When marginalized youths commit minor infractions, we as a society turn a blind eye as they suffer insufferable consequences in the world’s largest prison system, yet when the richest and most powerful telecommunications providers in the country knowingly commit tens of millions of felonies, Congress passes our nation’s first law providing their elite friends with full retroactive immunity - civil and criminal - for crimes that would have merited the longest sentences in [] history. 
These companies…have the best lawyers in the country on their staff and they do not suffer even the slightest consequences. When officials at the highest levels of power, to specifically include the Vice President, are found on investigation to have personally directed such a criminal enterprise, what should happen? If you believe that investigation should be stopped, its results classified above-top-secret in a special - Exceptionally Controlled Information‖ compartment called STLW (STELLARWIND), any future investigations ruled out on the principle that holding those who abuse power to account is against the national interest, that we must ―look forward, not backward,‖ and rather than closing the illegal program you would expand it with even more authorities, you will be welcome in the halls of America’s power, for that is what came to be, and I am releasing the documents that prove it. 
I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end. I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon, and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed for even an instant. If you seek to help, join the open source community and fight to keep the spirit of the press alive and the internet free. I have been to the darkest corners of government, and what they fear is light. 
(Snowden as quoted in ‘No Place to Hide – Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State’ by Glenn Greenwald, published by Hamish Hamilton, 
an imprint of Penguin Books, London 2014, pp. 31-32) 
On Why He Did It 
The reality is this, the situation determined that this needed to be told the public, you know, the constitution of the United States had been violated on a massive scale. Now, had that not happened, had the government not gone too far and overreached, we wouldn’t be in a situation where whistleblowers were necessary. I think it’s important to remember that people don’t set their lives on fire, that they don’t say good-bye to their families, actually pack up without saying good-bye to their families, they don’t walk away from their extraordinarily comfortable lives, I mean, I have been a guy with a lot of money for someone without a high school diploma, and burn down everything they love for no reason. (from a conversation between Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, June 2013 in Hong Kong

We constantly hear the phrase - national security‖ but when the state begins… broadly intercepting the communications, seizing the communications by themselves, without any warrant, without any suspicion, without any judicial involvement, without any demonstration of probable cause, are they really protecting national security or are they protecting state security? 

What I came to feel - and what I think more and more people have seen at least the potential for - is that a regime that is described as a national security agency has stopped representing the public interest and has instead begun to protect and promote state security interests. And the idea of western democracy as having state security bureaus, just that term, that phrase itself, - state security bureau‖, is kind of chilling. 

So when we think about the nation we think about our country, we think about our home, we think about the people living in it and we think about its values. When we think about the state, we’re thinking about an institution. 
The distinction there is that we now have an institution that has become so powerful it feels comfortable granting itself new authorities, without the involvement of the country, without the involvement of the public, without the full involvement of all of our elected representatives and without the full involvement of open courts, and that’s a terrifying thing – at least for me. (from an interview with The Guardian, July 2014

The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. People will see in the media all of these disclosures. They'll know the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves powers unilaterally to create greater control over American society and global society. But they won't be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.

 And the months ahead, the years ahead it's only going to get worse until eventually there will be a time where policies will change because the only thing that restricts the activities of the surveillance state are policy. Even our agreements with other sovereign governments, we consider that to be a stipulation of policy rather than a stipulation of law. And because of that a new leader will be elected, they'll find the switch, say that 'Because of the crisis, because of the dangers we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power.' And there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny. (from a conversation between Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, June 2013 in Hong Kong

On How NSA Surveillance Works

They're tasked to know everything of importance that happens outside of the United States. That's a significant challenge. When it is made to appear as though not knowing everything about everyone is an existential crisis, then you feel that bending the rules is okay. Once people hate you for bending those rules, breaking them becomes a matter of survival. (from an interview with Der Spiegel, July 2013

NSA and intelligence community in general is focused on getting intelligence wherever it can by any means possible. It believes, on the grounds of sort of a self-certification, that they serve the national interest. Originally we saw that focus very narrowly tailored as foreign intelligence gathered overseas. 

Now increasingly we see that it's happening domestically and to do that they, the NSA specifically, targets the communications of everyone. It ingests them by default. It collects them in its system and it filters them and it analyses them and it measures them and it stores them for periods of time simply because that's the easiest, most efficient, and most valuable way to achieve these ends. So while they may be intending to target someone associated with a foreign government or someone they suspect of terrorism, they're collecting you're communications to do so. 

Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector, anywhere. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail. 
(from a conversation between Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, June 2013 in Hong Kong)

On Metadata

Metadata is contrasted typically against content. People think about metadata being the details of the call - when you made the call, who the call was to, when it happened, how long it occurred for - versus the content of the call, which is what you said. As an analyst, nine times out of 10, you don’t care what was said on the phone call till very late in the investigative chain. What you care about is the metadata because metadata does not lie. 

People lie in phone calls when they’re involved in real criminal activity. They use code words. They talk round it. You can’t trust what you’re hearing but you can trust the metadata. That’s the reason that metadata is often more intrusive. 

Metadata can be analogised to the details that a private eye … produces in the course of their investigation. For example, the private eye might follow you to a diner where you meet a friend, you meet a lover. They see who you meet, they see where you met, they see when you went there and they may even know the broad details of the topics of your conversation, but they won’t have gotten the full content. They won’t have gotten close enough to expose themselves and hear everything you’ve said. 
What’s happened with these programmes is governments in the United Kingdom, for example, the United States and other western governments, as well as much less responsible governments around the world, have taken it upon themselves to assign private eyes to every citizen in their country and around the world to the best of their ability. It happens automatically, pervasively, and it’s stored on databases, whether or not it’s needed. (from an interview with The Guardian, July 2014)

On NSA culture

When you’re an NSA analyst and you’re looking for raw signals intelligence, what you realise is that the majority of the communications in our databases are not the communications of targets, they’re the communications of ordinary people, of your neighbours, of your neighbours’ friends, of your relations, of the person who runs the register at the store. They’re the most deep and intense and intimate and damaging private moments of their lives, and we’re seizing [them] without any authorisation, without any reason, records of all of their activities – their cell phone locations, their purchase records, their private text messages, their phone calls, the content of those calls in certain circumstances, transaction histories – and from this we can create a perfect, or nearly perfect, record of each individual’s activity, and those activities are increasingly becoming permanent records. 

Many of the people searching through the haystacks were young, enlisted guys and … 18 to 22 years old. They’ve suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all your private records. In the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work, for example an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation but they’re extremely attractive. So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and they show a co-worker. And their co-worker says: ―Oh, hey, that’s great. Send that to Bill down the way.‖ And then Bill sends it to George, George sends it to Tom and sooner or later this person’s whole life has been seen by all of these other people. Anything goes, more or less. You’re in a vaulted space. Everybody has sort of similar clearances, everybody knows everybody. It’s a small world.

It’s never reported, nobody ever knows about it, because the auditing of these systems is incredibly weak. Now while people may say that it’s an innocent harm, this person doesn’t even know that their image was viewed, it represents a fundamental principle, which is that we don’t have to see individual instances of abuse. The mere seizure of that communication by itself was an abuse. The fact that your private images, records of your private lives, records of your intimate moments have been taken from your private communication stream, from the intended recipient, and given to the government without any specific authorisation, without any specific need, is itself a violation of your rights. Why is that in the government database? 

I’d say probably every two months you see something like that happen. It’s routine enough, depending on the company you keep, it could be more or less frequent. But these are seen as the fringe benefits of surveillance positions. (from an interview with The Guardian, July 2014

On Privacy 

Even if you're not doing anything wrong you're being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it's getting to the point where you don't have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody even by a wrong call. And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made, every friend you've ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis to sort to derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer. (from a conversation between Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, June 2013 in Hong Kong

Of course we can imagine hypotheticals in which some sort of mass surveillance system, facial recognition system, would be effective in preventing crime. In the same way we can imagine hypotheticals in which, if we allowed police to enter our homes freely and search them when we’re gone at work, we’d be able to discover elements of crime and drug use and any kind of social ill. But we draw the line, and we have to draw that line somewhere. The question is, why are our private details that are transmitted online, why are our private details that are stored on our personal devices, any different [from] the details and private records of our lives that are stored in our private journals? 

There shouldn’t be this distinction between digital information and printed information. But governments, in the United States and many other countries around the world, increasingly seek to make that distinction because they recognise that it actively increases their powers of investigation. (from an interview with The Guardian, July 2014)

On Who Can Own Your Phone

Right, the NSA, the Russian intelligence service, the Chinese intelligence service, any intelligence service in the world that has significant funding, and a real technological research team can own that phone the minute it connects to their network. As soon as you turn it on it can be theirs, they can turn into a microphone they can take pictures from it, they can take the data off of it. But it's important to understand that these things are typically done on a targeted basis. Right, it's only done when people go - this phone is suspicious. I think it's being held by a drug dealer I think it's being used by a terrorist.‖ (from an interview on NBC, May 2014

On the NSA’s International Partners 

In some cases, the so-called Five Eye Partners go beyond what NSA itself does. For instance, the UK's General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has a system called TEMPORA. TEMPORA is the signals intelligence community's first "full-take" Internet buffer that doesn't care about content type and pays only marginal attention to the Human Rights Act. It snarfs everything, in a rolling buffer to allow retroactive investigation without missing a single bit. Right now the buffer can hold three days of traffic, but that's being improved. 

As a general rule, so long as you have any choice at all, you should never route through or peer with the UK under any circumstances. Their fibers are radioactive, and even the Queen's selfies to the pool boy get logged. (from an interview with Der Spiegel, July 2013)

On the NSA’s British partner, GCHQ

Their respect for the privacy right, their respect for individual citizens, their ability to communicate and associate without monitoring and interference is not strongly encoded in law or policy. And the result of that is that citizens in the United Kingdom and citizens around the world who are targeted by the United Kingdom, by the UK government, by UK systems, by UK authorities, they’re at a much greater risk than they are in the United States. 

You’ve got their own admission in their own documents that - we’ve got a much lighter oversight regime than we should have‖, full stop. That’s what they’re talking about. They enjoy authorities that they really shouldn’t be entitled to. And the problem with that is, when you have an unrestrained intelligence agency that’s not being well overseen, that’s not accountable to the public, they’re going to go further than they need to. They’re going to overreach. They’re going to implement systems and policies and target people who are not necessary to target. (from an interview with The Guardian, July 2014)

On Germany

I think it’s unfortunate that we see in a number of states - and this is particularly well represented in western Europe - [that] the priorities of governments seem to be very distinct from the desires of the public. I think it’s unfortunate when, for 8
example, in Germany evidence has revealed that the NSA is spying on millions of German citizens … and that’s not a scandal. But when Angela Merkel’s cell phone is listened [in] on and she herself is made a victim, suddenly it changes relations. We shouldn’t elevate senior officials. We shouldn’t elevate leaders above the average citizen because, really, who is it that they’re working for? You know the public interest is the national interest. You know the priorities of the NSA should not take precedence over the needs of the German population. (from an interview with The Guardian, July 2014

On the Involvement of Private Companies 

Definitive proof of this is the hard part because the NSA considers the identities of telecom collaborators to be the jewels in their crown of omniscience. As a general rule, US-based multinationals should not be trusted until they prove otherwise. This is sad, because they have the capability to provide the best and most trusted services in the world if they actually desire to do so. To facilitate this, civil liberties organizations should use this disclosure to push them to update their contracts to include enforceable clauses indicating they aren't spying on you, and they need to implement technical changes. If they can get even one company to play ball, it will change the security of global communications forever. If they won't, consider starting that company. 

This category will get a lot larger if the collaborators are punished by consumers in the market, which should be considered Priority One for anyone who believes in freedom of thought. (from an interview with Der Spiegel, July 2013

Unusually hidden even from people who worked for these agencies are the details of the financial arrangements between [the] government and the telecommunication service providers. And we have to ask ourselves, why is that? Why are their details of how they’re being paid to collaborate with [the] government protected at a much greater level than for example the names of human agents operating undercover, embedded with terrorist groups? 
So the way Prism [the program that deals with the relationship between the NSA and the internet companies] works is agencies are provided with direct access to the contents of the server at these private companies. That doesn’t mean the companies can, or the intelligence agencies can, let themselves in. What it means is Facebook is allowing the government to get copies of your Facebook messages, your Skype conversations, your Gmail mailboxes, things like that.

It distinguishes it from where the government is creating its own access – so called upstream operations – where they sort of tap the backbones where these communications cross and they try to take them in transit. Instead they go to the company and they say: ―You’re going to give us this. You’re going to give us that. You’re going to give us that.‖ And the company gives them all of this information in a cooperative relationship. If Facebook is going to hand over all of your messages, all of your wall posts, all of your private photos, all of your private details from their server the government has no need to intercept all of the communications that constitute those private records. (from an interview with The Guardian, July 2014

On 9/11 

I take the threat of terrorism seriously, and I think we all do, and I think it's really disingenuous for, for the government to invoke, and sort of scandalize our memories, to sort of exploit the national trauma that we all suffered together, and worked so hard to come through, to justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe, but cost us liberties, and freedoms that we don't need to give up and our Constitution says we should not give up. (from an interview on NBC, May 2014

On the role of Citizens 

The definition of a security state, is any nation that prioritizes security over all other considerations. I don't believe the United States is, or ever should be, a security state. If we want to be free we can't become subject to surveillance, we can't give away our privacy, we can't give away our rights. We have to be an active party, we have to be an active part of our government. And we have to say there are some things worth dying for, and I think the country is one of them. (from an interview on NBC, May 2014

On the Stasi 

No system of mass surveillance has existed in any society that we know of to this point that has not been abused. When we look at the German Stasi for example, they were a state security bureau set up to protect their nation, to protect the stability of their political system, which they considered to be under threat. They were ordinary citizens like anyone else. They believed they were doing the right thing, they believed they were doing a good thing. But when we look at them in historic terms, what were they doing to their people? What were they doing to the countries around them? What was the net impact of their mass indiscriminate spying campaigns? And we can see it more clearly. (from an interview with The Guardian, July 2014

On the Response to the Revelations 

What we saw initially in response to the revelations was sort of a circling of the wagons of government around the National Security Agency. Instead of circling around the public and protecting their rights the political class circled around the security state and protected their rights. What’s interesting is though that was the initially response, since then we’ve seen a softening. We’ve seen the President acknowledge that when he first said ―we’ve drawn the right balance, there are no abuses‖, we’ve seen him and his officials admit that there have been abuses. There have been thousands of violations of the National Security Agency and other agencies and authorities every single year. 

It was clear from the President’s speech [on 17th January 2014] that he wanted to make minor changes to preserve authorities that we don’t need. The President created a review board from officials that were personal friends, from national security insiders, former Deputy of the CIA, people who had every incentive to be soft on these programs and to see them in the best possible light. But what they found was that these programs have no value, they’ve never stopped a terrorist attack in the United States and they have marginal utility at best for other things. The only thing that the Section 215 phone metadata program, actually it’s a broader metadata programme of bulk collection – bulk collection means mass surveillance – program was in stopping or detecting $8500 wire transfer from a cab driver in California and it’s this kind of review where insiders go we don’t need these programs, these programs don’t make us safe. They take a tremendous amount of resources to run and they offer us no value. They go ―we can modify these‖. The National Security agency operates under the President’s executive authority alone. He can end of modify or direct a change of their policies at any time. (from an interview with ARD, January 2014

On His Own Future 

I don't think there's ever been any question that I'd like to go home. I mean I've from day one said the I'm doing this to serve my country, I'm still working for the government. Now whether amnesty or clemency ever becomes a possibility is not for me to say. That's a debate for public and the government to decide, but if I could go anywhere in the world that place would be home. 

I think my priority is not about myself, it’s about making sure that these programs are reformed and that the family I left behind, the country, that I left behind can be helped by my actions and I will do everything I can to continue to work in a most responsible way possible and to prioritize causing no harm and serving the public good. (from an interview on NBC, May 2014

A Manifesto for the Truth 

In a very short time, the world has learned much about unaccountable secret agencies and about sometimes illegal surveillance programs. Sometimes the agencies even deliberately try to hide their surveillance of high officials or the public. While the NSA and GCHQ seem to be the worst offenders – this is what the currently available documents suggest – we must not forget that mass surveillance is a global problem in need of global solutions. Such programs are not only a threat to privacy, they also threaten freedom of speech and open societies. The existence of spy technology should not determine policy. We have a moral duty to ensure that our laws and values limit monitoring programs and protect human rights. 

Society can only understand and control these problems through an open, respectful and informed debate. At first, some governments feeling embarrassed by the revelations of mass surveillance initiated an unprecedented campaign of persecution to supress this debate. They intimidated journalists and criminalized publishing the truth. At this point, the public was not yet able to evaluate the benefits of the revelations. They relied on their governments to decide correctly. 

Today we know that this was a mistake and that such action does not serve the public interest. The debate which they wanted to prevent will now take place in countries around the world. And instead of doing harm, the societal benefits of this new public knowledge is now clear, since reforms are now proposed in the form of increased oversight and new legislation. 

Citizens have to fight suppression of information on matters of vital public importance. To tell the truth is not a crime. (Edward Snowden, Moscow, 1.11.2013, 



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