NO PLACE TO HIDE

No Place To Hide:
Edward Snowden, The NSA and The U.S. Surveillance State
by
Glenn Greenwald

Despite the near-certain costs of outing himself–a lengthy prison term if not worse–he was, [Edward Snowden] said again and again, “at peace” with those consequences. “I only have one fear in doing all of this,” he said, which is “that people will see these documents and shrug, that they’ll say, ‘we assumed this was happening and don’t care.’ The only thing I’m worried about is that I’ll do all this to my life for nothing.”

“I seriously doubt that will happen,” I assured him, but I wasn’t convinced I really believed that. I knew from my years of writing about NSA abuses that it can be hard to generate serious concern about secret state surveillance: invasion of privacy and abuse of power can be viewed as abstractions, ones that are difficult to get people to care about viscerally. p. 19

I un-zipped the file, saw the list of documents, and randomly clicked on one of them. At the top of the page in red letters, a code appeared: “TOP SECRET//COMINT//NOFORN/.”

This meant the document had been legally designated top secret, pertained to communications intelligence, and was not for distribution to foreign nationals, including international organizations coalition partners. There it was with incontrovertible clarity: a highly confidential communications from the NSA, one of the most secretive agencies in the world’s most powerful government. p. 20

[Given today’s access to hundreds of thousands of fonts, does Greenwald really want us to believe that simply putting the above phrase in red letters–I can just see the yellow butterflies–convinced him that the documents were genuine? That does not bolster my confidence in Greenwald’s credibility. JH]

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, pervasive surveillance from which there is no refuge. They protect their domestic systems from 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 this writing, all new communications records that can be ingested and catalogued by this system are intended to be held for [redacted] years, and new “Massive Data Repositories” (or euphemistically “Mission” Data Repositories) are being built and deployed worldwide, with the largest, all 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 of faith in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of cryptography. p. 23-4

For two years Democratic senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of New Mexico had been going around the country warning that Americans would be “stunned to learn” of the “secret interpretations of law” the Obama administration was using to vest itself with vast, unknown spying powers. But because these spying activities and “secret interpretations” were classified, the two senators, who were members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had stopped short of disclosing to the public what they found so menacing, despite the legal shield of immunity granted to members of Congress by the Constitution to make such disclosures had they chosen to. p. 28

Many will malign me for failing to engage in national relativism, to look away from society’s problems toward distant

In particular, the NSA has a surveillance relationship with Israel that often entails cooperation as close as the Five Eyes partnership, if not sometimes even closer. A Memorandum Of Understanding between the NSA and the Israeli intelligence service details how the United States take the unusual step of routinely sharing with Israel raw intelligence containing the communications of American citizens. Among the data furnished to Israel are “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice, and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.” P. 124

Via Janine Gibson, Times executive editor Jill Abramson–at a meeting to convince the Guardian to collaborate on certain NSA stories–sent a message:

Please tell Glenn Greenwald personally [but not officially or professionally, JH] that I agree with him completely about the fact that we should never have run the claim about China ‘draining’ Snowden’s laptops. It was irresponsible.

Gibson seemed to expect that I would be pleased, though I was anything but: how could the executive editor of a newspaper conclude that an obviously damaging article was irresponsible and should not have been published, and then not retract it or at least run an editor’s note? p. 224-5

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