Edward Snowden: “NSA Surveillance Is About Power, Not ‘Safety'”

By Edward Snowden

17 December, 2013
[Countercurrents.org published this note introducing Edward Snowden’s open letter to the people of Brazil. “This letter was published today in the Brazilian newspaper A Folha in Portuguese and this original text was provided via the Facebook page of Glenn Greenwald’s husband David Miranda.”]

Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government’s National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist’s camera. I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a world-wide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say. I went in front of that camera with open eyes, knowing that the decision would cost me family and my home, and would risk my life. I was motivated by a belief that the citizens of the world deserve to understand the system in which they live.

My greatest fear was that no one would listen to my warning. Never have I been so glad to have been so wrong. The reaction in certain countries has been particularly inspiring to me, and Brazil is certainly one of those. Continue reading

Daniel Ellsberg defends NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, says whistleblowers like Snowden and Bradley Manning are helping Americans defend their right to privacy.

Jennifer Mattson, GlobalPost, June 10, 2013

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, said Edward Snowden, 29, the whistleblower who exposed a National Security Agency wide-ranging surveillance program, showed “the kind of courage that we expect of people on the battlefield.”

Ellsberg said on Twitter “there has not been in American history a more important leak than Snowden’s,” including his own, during Watergate.

In July 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a former National Security Council consultant and military analyst changed the course of history when he leaked confidential information about the Vietnam War to a reporter at The New York Times. Those documents later became known as The Pentagon Papers.

Snowden, who has fled to Hong Kong, worked for the NSA as a contractor for Dell and Booz Allen over the last four years.
Ellsberg told The Daily Beast:
“The information about unconstitutional activity that he [Snowden] put out could only be reversed or stopped if the public knows about it, and there was absolutely no way for them or most members of Congress to learn about it without him putting it out.
He went on to say that he identifies with Snowden, “his choice, his decision, his performance” and that the 29-year-old is clearly aware of the consequences of his actions.

He said it is clear is that Snowden broke the law and faces possible of prosecution.

Ellsberg had this to say on CNN:

Daniel Ellsberg “I Think They Have Everything And That Is The Recipe For A TYRANNY In This Country!”



Data Surveillance with Global Implications

By Marcel Rosenbach, Holger Stark and Jonathan Stock, Der Spiegel, June 10 2013

The American intelligence director and the White House have finally confirmed what insiders have long known: The Obama administration is spying on the entire world. Politicians in Germany are demanding answers.

South of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, the National Security Agency (NSA), a United States foreign intelligence service, keeps watch over one of its most expensive secrets. Here, on 100,000 square meters (1,100,000 square feet) near the US military’s Camp Williams, the NSA is constructing enormous buildings to house superfast computers. All together, the project will cost around $2 billion (€1.5 billion) and the computers will be capable of storing a gigantic volume of data, at least 5 billion gigabytes. The energy needed to power the cooling system for the servers alone will cost $40 million a year.

Former NSA employees Thomas Drake and Bill Binney told SPIEGEL in March that the facility would soon store personal data on people from all over the world and keep it for decades. This includes emails, Skype conversations, Google searches, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, bank transfers — electronic data of every kind.

“They have everything about you in Utah,” Drake says. “Who decides whether they look at that data? Who decides what they do with it?” Binney, a mathematician who was previously an influential analyst at the NSA, calculates that the servers are large enough to store the entirety of humanity’s electronic communications for the next 100 years — and that, of course, gives his former colleagues plenty of opportunity to read along and listen in.

James Clapper, the country’s director of national intelligence, has confirmed the existence of a large-scale surveillance program. President Barack Obama further explained that Congress authorized the program — but that American citizens are exempt from it.

A top-secret document published last week by the Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian shows where the NSA may be getting the majority of its data. According to the document, which was allegedly leaked by former CIA employee Edward Snowden, the intelligence agency began seeking out direct access to servers belonging to American Internet companies on a wide scale in 2007. The first of these companies to come onboard was Microsoft. Yahoo followed half a year later, then Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype and AOL. The most recent company to declare its willingness to cooperate was Apple, in October 2012, according to the secret government document, which proudly states that this access to data is achieved “directly from the servers” of the companies. Continue reading

US’ “Junior-Partners-in-Empire” also spied by NSA (but worried that data is not shared with them)

Europe outraged but conflicted over NSA surveillance

Indignation was sharp and predictable across Europe – a continent where privacy is revered. Yet anger over revelations of U.S. electronic surveillance was tempered by an indisputable fact: Europe wants the information that American intelligence provides.

That dilemma was clear Tuesday, only days after leaks about two National Security Agency programs that purportedly target foreign messages – including private e-mails, voice and other data transmissions – sent through U.S. Internet providers.

The European Union’s top justice official, Viviane Reding, said she would demand that the United States afford EU citizens the same rights as Americans when it comes to data protection. Hannes Swoboda, a Socialist leader in the European Parliament, said the purported surveillance showed that the U.S. “is just doing what it wants.”At the same time, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich confirmed that his government regularly receives tips from the United States on Islamic extremists – and he doesn’t expect the Americans to tell him where they got the information. Continue reading

The Whistleblower: “I Can’t Allow the US Government to Destroy Privacy and Basic Liberties”

Jun 9, 2013

The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadow


, and in Hong Kong The Guardian, Sunday 9 June 2013

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “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 even for an instant.”

Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”

He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. “I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me.” Continue reading