Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden's NSA Leak Was Heroic, Historic

Edward Snowden's release of secret NSA surveillance methods used against the America public makes him the most admirable and important whistleblower in national security history.

That's essence of comment by Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, left, the nation's most-honored whistleblower.

“There’s no American official or former official that I admire more at this point," Ellsberg said of Snowden to a reporter. "There’s never been a more important disclosure to the American people than the leak — and I include the Pentagon Papers in that."

Ellsberg also said of Snowden, 29, shown at right in a Guardian photo, "He’s clearly ready to give his life or his freedom for the interests of his country.” Meanwhile, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat married to a major federal contractor, adjudged Snowden guilty of "treason" and said he should be punished in keeping with that determination.

This column provides other expert assessment on Snowden's actions, and addresses questions about the surveillance. It concludes with an appendix of other commentary. As the dust settled, the major mysteries remained, as indicated by: 5 Basic Things We Still Do Not Know about NSA Snooping.

Update: The Justice Integrity Project published on June 16: Backgrounder on Obama's Big Data Domestic Spying System. The purpose was to resolve conflicting claims about recent revelations about the Obama-Bush domestic spying program.

The Guardian published a video of Snowden's eloquent description of his reasons for risking imprisonment. He said he wanted to alert the American public to the danger it faces from surveillance of potentially any electronic communications by phone and social media.

Snowden, the source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA's history, explained to the Guardian team of Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, and videographer Laura Poitras "his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows."

Snowden said of his freedom and the rest of his future, "I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."

Ellsberg's praise of Snowden was based partly on Snowden's rare choice to take responsibility for his actions before authorities outed him. Others prominent in national security whistleblowing and related civil rights advocacy also praised Snowden, a onetime Army recruit injured in training for Iraq service.

"He’s a whistleblower,” said Thomas Drake, whom the Obama administration tried to imprison spy charges for proesting a billion dollars in waste to a reporter. “I consider it a magnificent act of civil disobedience,” Drake said of Snowden, who documented for Guadian and Washington Post reporters massive surveillance of the American public in violation of the NSA's onetime requirement to focus on foreign threats.

Predictably, high federal officials called for Snowden's arrest. Also, supporters of the surveillance state warned that his actions threatened security. U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York went further by calling for prosecution of reporters who publish leaked information. The Associated Press, a victim of secret surveillance of 100 reporters and their sources, instructed its staff never to call "leakers" of national security information "whistle-blowers" because the latter term implies that the news sources may have identified wrongdoing.

National Intelligence Director James Clapper said the Justice Department should arrest Snowden, who travelled to Hong Kong to announce his role in the video, released June 9.

“The government is not going to hold back on this case,” commented Michael Vatis, a former Clinton Justice Department official. “This is a huge one.”

Greenwald is the Guardian columnist who broke the Snowden stories after working with Poitras on the probe since February. He pushed back against anti-Snowden arguments June 10 from MSNBC "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski. Greenwald, right, said the public should be made aware of massive government surveillance to decide if they approve it. The hostess asked him to put the programs into perspective this way:

"Isn't it the case that reviewing of emails or any wiretapping cannot take place without an additional warrant from a judge and a review?" she asked. "I mean it's not like there's haphazard probing into all of our personal emails. Can we put this into context so we understand exactly what is going on?"

"Yeah, I'll put this into context for you," Greenwald responded. "The White House talking points that you're using are completely misleading and false."

Greenwald said the law required individual warrants under when two people are in the United States and are both American citizens, but that the government could still probe the phone calls and emails of "all kinds of American citizens." "So those talking points that you're reading from are completely false as anybody whose paid even remote attention to the surveillance debate knows over the past 10 years," Greenwald continued. 

She interrupted, "Uh no. Hey, Glenn, I'm not reading talking points. Glenn, I'd like to ask a question. Is this legal or illegal?"

A meaningful answer to her question on legality requires context. Publicly, the NSA boasts legal compliance in its motto below.

Legality is determined by enforcement, which can be highly subjective and otherwise unfair. The Justice Integrity Project here frequently documents that reality in our case studies, as did Greenwald in his important 2011 book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.

Greenwald was too diplomatic to ask whether Brzezinksi's family background might influence her views.

Her father, Zbiegniew, has long been considered the most influential Democratic eminence in the national security field and thus presumably a major defender of continued secrecy. He worked with the Rockefeller family to found the Trilateral Commission, boasted in his memoirs of helping pick Jimmy Carter as the Trilateral Commission's presidential choice in 1976, served in the Carter Cabinet as the president's National Security Advisor.

Her father, nicked "Zbig," served as Sen. Barack Obama's top national security advisor during the 2008 presidential campaign. He has long been a professor at Columbia University, where President Obama matriculated with no documented interaction with Brzezinski during Obama's student days.

That background is relevant when his daughter asked her question about legalities, even though she may well have independent views on current issues,

White House Perspectives

President Obama has just made two new appointments to his national security team. In the photo, Obama talks with, from left, Samantha Power, former Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in the Oval Office on June 5. As indicated by the White House photo, the core group seems to enjoy their work, at least on occasion.

But those in authority readily dispense with social and other legal niceties when the stakes are high, as illustrated by the government's current prosecution of Army Private Bradley Manning. As a technie, Manning was horrified at what he regarded as war crimes and slaughter he observed, and reportedly sought to alert the public via WikiLeaks.

President Obama said in 2011 of Manning, "He broke the law" in justifying why Manning was being held pretrial in what independent observers regarded as barbaric conditions that included solitary confiement amounting to torture. A United Nations investigator cited the United States for pre-trial mistreatment of Manning. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez concluded that thBradley Manninge United States has imposed improper punitive conditions on Manning for some 18 months in advance of any formal charges, much less a finding of guilt.

Mendez demanded to know why the United States is holding an “unindicted detainee in solitary confinement.” Government officials responded that Manning, right, is under “prevention of harm watch.” But they have refused to allow Mendez to interview Manning alone to determine the facts. Officials kept Manning in isolation and sleeping naked in a cell until worldwide human rights pressure forced his removal from a military brig to a maximum security prison to await further developments. 

Manning's trial is currently underway in Fort Meade, Maryland on spy charges that authorities are pursuing to put him in prison for the rest of his life, not simply the 20-year sentence he sought as a plea bargain. 

Expert defenders of the current surveillance regime are not above playing word games to defend the new regime of surveillance, which brings massive contracts and other career opportunities to many of them. I have studied this pattern in part for my forthcoming book, Presidential Puppetry. Supposed experts are currently confusing the public on several key issues that would be especially helpful at this point to clarify.

1) How widespread is the surveillance?

Snowden says that virtually all electronic communications from anyone in the country can be intercepted, stored and retrieved by NSA, and that even he had that power to as a relatively junior employee who did not even work directly for the federal government. He said he could have monitored President Obama's communications if he wanted, as well as any Senator or House member. Snowden, who lacks a college degree and worked his way up from his initial post as a security guard, was a contract analyst for four years with private companies working with NSA after several years work for the CIA following an Army career prematurely ended when he broke both legs in trainging. He most recently worked for three months based in Hawaii for the contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, which has been assigned many national security and military tasks formerly held by career officials as part of the privatization effort to place core government functions into the hands of private contractors. The Guardian reported that NSA was paying at the rate of $200,000 a year for Snowden's services.

2) What's new about the revelations?

Snowden's revelations were illustrated in part by secret documents, including an order from the ultra-secret FISA court reauthorizing Verizon to continue surveillance for three more months on tens of millions of callers. Furthermore, the UK-based Guardian does not operate under the self-censorship of many US news organizations regarding national security reporting. The Guardian's agressive reporting and the recent criticism of the Obama administration on alleged scandals and cover-ups likely encouraged the Washington Post, including its national security team including Pulitzer-winner Barton Gellman, to proceed more aggressively than usual, especially because it was in direct contact with Snowden even before the Guardian published its first articles last week.

However, the essence of Snowden's claims have been widely reported in books, occasionally mainstream media, and frequently in the alternative media for years based on previous whistleblowers and expert authors, who include those with far more national security experience and credentials than Snowden. Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio refused to cooperate in 2001 with illegal spying requested by the Bush-Cheney administration on the regional Bell company's customers in the Western states. All od his rival Bell CEOs reportedly agreed. AT&T technician Mark Klein discovered in 2004 that billions of calls and emails were being illegally captured by his company in cooperation with federal surveillance authorities in the secret program. It took Klein a year to persuade the New York Times to write part of the story, which was reported in the paper and in tandem with the James Risen's 2006 Pulitzer-winning book, State of War: The Secret Historyof the CIA and the Bush Administration. Government whistleblowers who have courageously stepped forward as sources include Drake and William Binney of NSA, and Thomas Tamm of the U.S. Justice Department in the secret Stellar Wind domestic spying operation. Authors with NSA credentials on the topic include James Bamford and Wayne Madsen, each the author of multiple books reporting for many years on the scope of the surveillance and its genesis in arguably illegal procedures. Courts and Congress retroactively approved the legality, removing the public's ability to learn about the spying or seek redress through the courts. Drake has been especially eloquent for more than a year in describing the dangers to the public, as widely reported on this site and elsewhere.  

3) Isn't the surveillance approved by law?

Thomas DrakeMaybe, maybe not. Mika Brzeziski's seemingly simple question to her guest Greenwald is actually quite complicated, as each knew -- but most listeners would not. The "law" in such complicated matters is what the courts and Executive Branch say it is. Almost no one else can know the law when the facts and justification theories are secret, as are decisions. Drake, shown at right, and Binney are among those who have said the core principle of NSA was always that its surveillance and other methods should not be used in dragnet fashion domestically against Americans. But that changed by secret fiat.  Those who say that all federal actions are authorized in advance by courts are playing word games, according to such independent experts. Snowden and Drake, for example, say that virtually all communications are intercepted and stored without specific FISA court orders, a procedure that might arguably be illegal. However, the government reportedly does not define interception as occurring unless authorities examine the content, which can then be done with an appropriate court court. 

4) Hasn't some of the reporting been flawed by mistakes or potential bad motives?

Some critics, including at the CEO and White House levels, have levelled serious charges of inaccuracies, as described below. Any proven mistakes are horrible in investigative journalism, and anyone who cares about the issues should follow this debate carefully as it unfolds.

Even proven mistakes, however, should be considered in the context of what was new, accurate, important, and otherwise not known. One reason these topics are not better reported is that they involve highly secret technical matters involving officials who routinely avoid comment.

Mistakes are an inevitable part of the journalistic process, as the Supreme Court recognized in the 1964 case New York Times v. Sullivan. The court's most important First Amendment case in history established the "actual malice" standard for reporting about public officials, thereby allowing reporting on the civil rights struggle in the South to proceed after Southern juries had awarded some $300 million in damages against the media. In the Sullivan case, plaintiffs had won a $500,000 judgment against the Times for commentary Alabama police procedures. The court recognized in its 9-0 that mistakes can occur in vigorous reportng.

As background on the Pentagon Papers case: Ellsberg risked imprisonment in 1971 to give the media a secret Defense Department history of the Vietnam War. The Nixon Administration sought to enjoin publication. The New York Times won a major Supreme Court victory enabling continued publication.The 9-0 decision helped establish parameters for such reporting, as my recent radio guest James Goodale described in a book on his representation of the Times. The Nixon administration targeted Ellsberg personally for vicious reprisal, including a break-in at his psychiatrist's office in hopes of finding dirt that could be used against him. Partly as a result of official misconduct, prosecution was dropped and he has acquired a wide following of admirers through the years.

By contrast, the Obama administration viciously prosecuted Drake as a spy even though he had been a high-ranking and much-respected executive whose communications with a reporter did not involve classified materials. He was fortunate to obtain a capable defense attorney and honest judge, who in effected forced the Justice Department to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.

The overall history has prompted OpedNews founder and editor Rob Kall, among others, to attack traditional political divisions. Kall's passionate column June 11, The Mask of Liberalism Falls As Their Pundits Accuse Snowden of Being a Traitor and Narcissist, is worth reading and excerpted below. It begins: "The liberal pundits in America are coming out, revealing themselves to be duopolist sycophants, serving the corporate state, serving the worst abuser of executive privilege in US history. The Liberal mainstream media is so 'out of the closet' they are disgustingly naked. They are calling Edward Snowden -- who is absolutely a courageous hero -- a traitor and narcissist."

The news articles and commentaries below expand on these issues. Kindly send me a link if you find others that seem especially importent to include in this kind of brief overview. These issues will doubtless be with us for some time. As historical perspective, some activists pay with a lifetime in prison and others do not.


Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment


An NSA chart shows its official procedures.


Highlights from Edward Snowden's Guardian Interview

What follows are excerpts from the Guardian video interview of Edward Snowden conducted by Glenn Greenwald, filmed by Laura Poitras and co-produced by Ewen MacAskill, and slightly edited here.


He is quiet, smart, easy-going and self-effacing. A master on computers, he seemed happiest when talking about the technical side of surveillance, at a level of detail comprehensible probably only to fellow communication specialists. But he showed intense passion when talking about the value of privacy and how he felt it was being steadily eroded by the behavior of the intelligence services.

Snowden did not always believe the US government posed a threat to his political values. He was brought up originally in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. His family moved later to Maryland, near the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade. By his own admission, he was not a stellar student. In order to get the credits necessary to obtain a high school diploma, he attended a community college in Maryland, studying computing, but never completed the coursework. (He later obtained his GED.)

In 2003, he enlisted in the US army and began a training program to join the Special Forces. Invoking the same principles that he now cites to justify his leaks, he said: "I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression." He recounted how his beliefs about the war's purpose were quickly dispelled. "Most of the people training us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone," he said. After he broke both his legs in a training accident, he was discharged....

By 2007, the CIA stationed him with diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland. His responsibility for maintaining computer network security meant he had clearance to access a wide array of classified documents.That access, along with the almost three years he spent around CIA officers, led him to begin seriously questioning the rightness of what he saw.

"Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world," he says. "I realized that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good." He said it was during his CIA stint in Geneva that he thought for the first time about exposing government secrets. But, at the time, he chose not to for two reasons.

First, he said: "Most of the secrets the CIA has are about people, not machines and systems, so I didn't feel comfortable with disclosures that I thought could endanger anyone." Secondly, the election of Barack Obama in 2008 gave him hope that there would be real reforms, rendering disclosures unnecessary.

He left the CIA in 2009 in order to take his first job working for a private contractor that assigned him to a functioning NSA facility, stationed on a military base in Japan. It was then, he said, that he "watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in," and as a result, "I got hardened."

The primary lesson from this experience was that "you can't wait around for someone else to act. I had been looking for leaders, but I realized that leadership is about being the first to act."


Once Snowden reached the conclusion that the NSA's surveillance net would soon be irrevocable, he said it was just a matter of time before he chose to act. "What they're doing" poses "an existential threat to democracy," he said....For him, it is a matter of principle. "The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to," he said.

Recommended Commentaries

Editor's Note: James Bamford, former investigative editor for ABC-TV and author of the leading books about the NSA, described its new Bluffdale Data Center in a major article in 2012 for Wired Magazine. Bamford, at right, had disclosed the operations of the super-secret NSA in The Puzzle Palace in 1982. Later, however, NSA Director Michael Hayden cooperated with Bamford in the latter's 2001 book, Body of Secrets, chronicling NSA's vast spying operation. Bamford's The Shadow Factory in 2009 continued his book-length, cutting-edge reporting. His Wired cover-story below was the  Inside the Matrix: The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say), published in the edition of March 15, 2012. This week, he published in Wired the authoritative article below.

Wired, Connecting the Dots on PRISM, Phone Surveillance, and the NSA’s Massive Spy Center, James Bamford, June 6, 2013. Physically, the NSA has always been well protected by miles of high fences and electrified wire, thousands of cameras, and gun-toting guards. But that was to protect the agency from those on the outside trying to get in to steal secrets. Now it is confronting a new challenge: those on the inside going out and giving the secrets away.

As someone who has written many books and articles about the agency, I have seldom seen the NSA in such a state. Like a night prowler with a bag of stolen goods suddenly caught in a powerful Klieg light, it now finds itself under the glare of nonstop press coverage, accused of robbing the public of its right to privacy. Despite the standard denials from the agency’s public relations office, the documents outline a massive operation to secretly keep track of everyone’s phone calls on a daily basis – billions upon billions of private records; and another to reroute the pipes going in and out of Google, Apple, Yahoo, and the other Internet giants through Fort Meade – figuratively if not literally.

But long before Edward Snowden walked out of the NSA with his trove of documents, whistleblowers there had been trying for years to bring attention to the massive turn toward domestic spying that the agency was making. Last year in my Wired cover story on the enormous new NSA data center in Utah, Bill Binney, the man who largely designed the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping system, warned of the secret, nationwide surveillance. He told how the NSA had gained access to billions of billing records not only from AT&T but also from Verizon. “That multiplies the call rate by at least a factor of five,” he said. “So you’re over a billion and a half calls a day.” Among the top-secret documents Snowden released was a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order proving the truth to Binney’s claim and indicating that the operation was still going on. Without documents to prove their claims, the agency simply dismissed them as falsehoods and much of the mainstream press simply accepted that.

“We don’t hold data on U.S. citizens,” Alexander said in a talk at the American Enterprise Institute last summer, by which time he had been serving as the head of the NSA for six years. The deception by General Alexander is especially troubling.

In my new cover story for Wired’s July issue, which will be published online Thursday, I show how he has become the most powerful intelligence chief in the nation’s history. Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign, or the depth of his secrecy.  The article also sheds light on the enormous privatization not only of the intelligence agencies but now also of Cyber Command, with thousands of people working for little-known companies hired to develop the weapons of cyber war, cyber targeting, and cyber exploitation. The Snowden case demonstrates the potential risks involved when the nation turns its spying and eavesdropping over to companies with lax security and inadequate personnel policies. The risks increase exponentially when those same people must make critical decisions involving choices that may lead to war, cyber or otherwise.

RT (Russia Today), ‘NSA ‘bamboozling’ lawmakers for access to Americans’ private data’ – agency, Staff report, June 12, 2013. American citizens hoping to change the way the NSA monitors their everyday activities have little hope of recourse, longtime agency veteran Bill Binney told RT. He said the way the Patriot Act is interpreted is the a big first step toward totalitarianism. American citizens hoping to change the way the NSA monitors their everyday activities have little hope of recourse, longtime agency veteran Bill Binney told RT. He said the way the Patriot Act is interpreted is the a big first step toward totalitarianism.

RT: I’m sitting here with Mr. William Binney -- he’s a thirty-two year veteran of the NSA who helped design a top-secret program that he says broadly changed Americans’ personal data. And he actually helped crack those codes, and enter into this. He’s now a whistleblower. Mr. Binney, thank you so much for joining me. So first of all, let’s talk about the latest information that has come out from this NSA spying on Americans.

Bill Binney: Well, first of all, the FISA warrant that was issued to the FBI to get the data from Verizon…that’s been going on, according to the paper anyway, since 2007. And this is like being renewed every three months. So if you look at the top-right corner of that order, it’s 13-80 -- that means it’s the 80thorder since this year of 2013. So when you start to say, so what are the other 79 orders? You can figure other companies. And this is like the second order of 2013, for each company. So that maximum -- you would divide 80 by two, and the maximum number of companies that could be involved in this order would be 40. But I’m sure that there are other things, that they have other orders they are issuing than just this kind, for the service providers, or the telecoms.

FireDogLake, Uncle Sam = Big Brother? U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, June 14, 2013. In George Orwell’s novel 1984, “Big Brother” is the dictator of Oceania. No one knows whether Big Brother is a real person, or simply the personification of the dictatorship. Big Brother spies on every citizen through “telescreens.” Everyone is reminded constantly, “Big Brother is Watching You.” Let’s compare that to the recent revelations about the Orwellian-named National Security Agency (NSA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense. The NSA has not denied that it is collecting call records on every America. On the contrary, the NSA sees nothing wrong with it. I see three fundamental problems with this:

1.This is worse than the proverbial “fishing expedition”; this is like putting the entire ocean through a sieve. It makes a mockery of the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that government searches be “particular.”
2.This assumes not only that everyone is guilty until proven innocent, but that everyone is guilty. The Fourth Amendment limits searches to cases of “probable cause,” meaning that a prudent and cautious person would reasonably believe that the search will yield evidence of a crime. Obviously, most phone records have absolutely nothing to do with the commission of any crime.
3.Providing this information to the Department of Defense violates the fundamental principle that our military does not operate on American soil, against American citizens. That principle has been embodied in law since the 1870s. From this perspective, providing this personal call record information to DoD is no different from providing it to the CIA – another agency that is not allowed to operate on US soil.

Zero Hedge, Thousands Of Firms Trade Confidential Data With The US Government In Exchange For Classified Intelligence, Tyler Durden, June 14, 2013. The rabbit hole just got deeper. A whole lot deeper. On Sunday we predicated that "there's one reason why the administration, James Clapper and the NSA should just keep their mouths shut as the PRISM-gate fallout escalates: with every incremental attempt to refute some previously unknown facet of the US Big Brother state, a new piece of previously unleaked information from the same intelligence organization now scrambling for damage control, emerges and exposes the brand new narrative as yet another lie, forcing even more lies, more retribution against sources, more journalist persecution and so on." And like a hole that just gets deeper the more you dug and exposes ever more dirt, tonight's installment revealing one more facet of the conversion of a once great republic into a great fascist, "big brother" state, comes from Bloomberg which reports that "thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said."

Bloomberg, U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms, Michael Riley, June 13, 2013. Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said. In addition to private communications, information about equipment specifications and data needed for the Internet to work -- much of which isn’t subject to oversight because it doesn’t involve private communications -- is valuable to intelligence, U.S. law-enforcement officials and the military. These programs, whose participants are known as trusted partners, extend far beyond what was revealed by Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the National Security Agency. The role of private companies has come under intense scrutiny since his disclosure this month that the NSA is collecting millions of U.S. residents’ telephone records and the computer communications of foreigners from Google Inc (GOOG). and other Internet companies under court order. Many of these same Internet and telecommunications companies voluntarily provide U.S. intelligence organizations with additional data, such as equipment specifications, that don’t involve private communications of their customers, the four people said.

Related News Coverage

This is the National Security Agency's new Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. The government is collecting the records of virtually all U.S. customers, according to independent experts. The government defines "collection" in a narrow way, and says it is compling with relevant law. The data center had a VIP launch May 30, and moves into formal launch in October. Details below from the NSA's website:

The Utah Data Center, code-named Bumblehive, is the first Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (IC CNCI) data center designed to support the Intelligence Community's efforts to monitor, strengthen and protect the nation. NSA is the executive agent for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and will be the lead agency at the center. The steady rise in available computer power and the development of novel computer platforms will enable us to easily turn the huge volume of incoming data into an asset to be exploited, for the good of the nation.

The Utah Data Center is currently under construction and is expected to open in October 2013. Our 1.5 billion-dollar one million square-foot Bluffdale / Camp Williams facility will house a 100,000 sq-ft mission critical data center. The remaining 900,000 SF will be used for technical support and administrative space. Other supporting facilities include water treatment facilities, chiller plant, power substations, vehicle inspection facility, visitor control center, and sixty diesel-fueled emergency standby generators and fuel facility for a 3-day 100% power backup capability. We're using a Critical Path Method (CPM) schedule to track the cost and resource data for over 26,000 activities. The project initially required over a million cubic yards of earthwork and nearly seven miles of new roadways. The massive twenty-building complex is being completed in three phases. The first phase was completed last Fall and includes the first of four data halls.

Editor's Note: James Bamford, former investigative editor for ABC-TV and author of the leading books about the NSA, described its new Bluffdale Data Center in a major article in 2012 for Wired Magazine, excerpted below. Bamford, at right, had disclosed the operations of the super-secret NSA in The Puzzle Palace in 1982. Later, however, NSA Director Michael Hayden cooperated with Bamford in the latter's 2001 book, Body of Secrets, chronicling NSA's vast spying operation. Bamford's The Shadow Factory in 2009 continued his book-length, cutting-edge reporting. His Wired cover-story below was the  Inside the Matrix: The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say), published in the edition of March 15, 2012.

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

New York Times, Surveillance: A Threat to Democracy, Editorial Board, June 11, 2013. Perhaps the lack of a broader sense of alarm is not all that surprising when President Obama, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, and intelligence officials insist that such surveillance is crucial to the nation’s antiterrorism efforts.  But Americans should not be fooled by political leaders putting forward a false choice. The issue is not whether the government should vigorously pursue terrorists. The question is whether the security goals can be achieved by less-intrusive or sweeping means, without trampling on democratic freedoms and basic rights. Far too little has been said on this question by the White House or Congress in their defense of the N.S.A.’s dragnet.  The surreptitious collection of “metadata” — every bit of information about every phone call except the word-by-word content of conversations — fundamentally alters the relationship between individuals and their government.

Guardian, Al Gore: NSA's secret surveillance program 'not really the American way,' Suzanne Goldenberg, June 14, 2013. Former vice-president – not persuaded by argument that program was legal – urges Congress and Obama to amend the laws,  The National Security Agency's blanket collection of US citizens' phone records was "not really the American way", Al Gore said on Friday, declaring that he believed the practice to be unlawful. In his most expansive comments to date on the NSA revelations, the former vice-president was unsparing in his criticism of the surveillance apparatus, telling the Guardian security considerations should never overwhelm the basic rights of American citizens. He also urged Barack Obama and Congress to review and amend the laws under which the NSA operated. "I quite understand the viewpoint that many have expressed that they are fine with it and they just want to be safe but that is not really the American way," Gore said in a telephone interview. "Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that those who would give up essential liberty to try to gain some temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Lawfare, Today’s [NSA/Snowden] Headlines and Commentary, Raffaela Wakeman, June 13, 2013. Yesterday’s Senate Appropriations Committee hearing attracted quite a lot of attention, unsurprisingly, as General Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, testified regarding the PRISM program. Ellen Nakashima and Jerry Markon report in the Washington Post, a trio at the New York Times also have a story, as does The Hill. Edward Snowden will fight an extradition order, should it come to that, writes Keith Bradsher in the Times. Ashley had a post earlier this week on the options available to the United States in its efforts to collect Snowden. For technophobes among us, NPR has assembled this guide to key terms in the story. Here’s a Wall Street Journal story discussing technological advances that have made the PRISM program possible.

Lawfare, Today’s [NSA/Snowden] Headlines and Commentary, Ritika Singh, June 11, 2013. Keith Bradsher of the New York Times reports that Hong Kong is likely to extradite Edward Snowden if asked to by the U.S. government. From the Department of You Really Can’t Make This Up: Russia has called Snowden a “human rights activist” and has said it would consider an asylum request from him. Julian Assange, meanwhile, has invaluable advice for Snowden: “I would strongly advise him to go to Latin America.” CNN has more. The Post tells us that a full-scale investigation has begun into how Snowden was able to gain access to the information he leaked. The Times also reports on how and why Snowden gave his media contacts the information he did. And Kim Zetter of Wired magazine explains why what Snowden did was the “ultimate insider attack.” The Los Angeles Times, however, reports that Snowden’s claims that “at any time [he could] target anyone, any selector, anywhere” are a huge overstatement of what the NSA can legally do.

Washington Post, Timeline of surveillance. Staff report, June 9, 2013. A timeline of surveillance in the United States from 2001 to 2013: from the Patriot Act to the PRISM program,

Washington Post, Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and the risk of the low-level, tech-savvy leaker, Greg Miller, June 11, 2013. In the span of three years, the United States has developed two gaping holes in its national security hull, punctures caused by leakers who worked at the lowest levels of the nation’s intelligence ranks but gained access to large caches of classified material. The parallels between Edward Snowden, who has declared himself the source of leaks on National Security Agency surveillance programs, and Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army private on trial for sending hundreds of thousands of secret files to the WikiLeaks Web site, go beyond generational ties. Who is Edward Snowden?: A 29-year-old government contractor who admitted that he was behind recent leaks of classified intelligence has vaulted from obscurity to international notoriety, joining the ranks of high-profile leakers such as Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame. Both enlisted in the Army during the war in Iraq only to later say they were disillusioned by that conflict. Neither has a college degree or extensive academic training in computer science. And yet both were technically savvy, able to navigate sensitive computer networks and smuggle classified files.

Washington Post, Source of NSA leak reveals himself, Barton Gellman, Aaron Blake and Greg Miller, June 9, 2013. Edward Snowden, 29, says disclosing the top-secret information was right to do and is seeking asylum abroad.

Guardian, Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind revelations of NSA surveillance, Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras, June 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 shadows. 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.

Guardian, NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily, Glenn Greenwald, June 5, 2013. Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama. Under the terms of the order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data and the time and duration of all calls. The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April. The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries. The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing. The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19. Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

Washington Post, Documents: U.S. intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program, Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras, June 6, 2013. The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track one target or trace a whole network of associates, according to a top-secret document obtained by the Washington Post. The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley. Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”

Washington Post, NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program, Staff report, June 6, 2013. Through a top-secret program authorized by federal judges working under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the U.S. intelligence community can gain access to the servers of nine Internet companies for a wide range of digital data. Documents describing the previously undisclosed program, obtained by the Washington Post, show the breadth of U.S. electronic surveillance capabilities in the wake of a widely publicized controversy over warrantless wiretapping of U.S. domestic telephone communications in 2005. These slides, annotated by The Washington Post, represent a selection from the overall document, and certain portions are redacted. Read related article.

Washington Post, What you need to know about Booz Allen Hamilton, Matt DeLong, June 10, 2013. With the revelation that Edward Snowden, the man who admitted disclosing top-secret information about National Security Agency surveillance programs, is an employee of the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, the degree to which the federal government has outsourced much of its intelligence activities is back in the spotlight. In 2010, The Washington Post published “Top Secret America,” a two-year investigation of the explosive growth of the government’s national security system — and the ecosystem of contractors that emerged around it — since 2001. The project examined the nearly 2,000 private companies doing top-secret work, and Booz Allen Hamilton, where Snowden worked for the last three months as a tech specialist in Hawaii, is among the most prominent. The analysis found that the McLean-based firm was contracted to perform top-secret work with 26 of the 45 government agencies engaged in such activities in 69 locations. The company performed work in 16 of the 23 categories examined by The Post, including law enforcement, disaster preparation, border control, nuclear operations, special operations, weapons technology, satellite operations, building and personal security, security training, counterintelligence, and intelligence analysis. The firm currently employs approximately 24,500, after cutting about 500 jobs over the last year. The Associated Press reports that “about 23 percent of its revenue, or $1.3 billion, came from U.S. intelligence agencies last year.” The company reported $5.86 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2012, up from $5.59 billion in 2011.

Washington Post, Hong Kong hotel says Edward Snowden was there, but checked out Monday, Jia Lynn Yang, June 10, 2013. “Hong Kong is definitely not a safe harbor for him,” said Regina Ip, a current legislator and chair of the New People’s Party. Snowden’s fate lies in a 16-year-old treaty between the United States and Hong Kong that guarantees extraditions except under rare circumstances. The treaty says that Hong Kong can refuse to transfer a suspected criminal to the United States if giving up the person “implicates” the “defense, foreign affairs or essential public interest or policy” of the People’s Republic of China.  The treaty with Hong Kong says that any request to extradite must originate from the U.S. Department of Justice, and would be channeled through the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong.

Washington Post, From obscurity to notoriety, Snowden took an unusual path, Ellen Nakashima, June 9, 2013. Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old National Security Agency contractor who admitted that he was behind recent leaks of classified intelligence, has vaulted from obscurity to international notoriety, joining the ranks of high-profile leakers such as Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame. The fact that Snowden stepped forward to acknowledge his leaks to The Washington Post and the Guardian newspapers rather than wait for the FBI to find him impressed others who have disclosed government secrets. “As far as I’m able to judge, the public policy value [of his leaks] far exceeds the potential risk involved to national security,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy. “It has triggered an intense public debate. These stories have really enriched public discourse.” Aftergood said Snowden’s leaks were targeted and selective, unlike those of Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst on trial for orchestrating the leak of more than 700,000 government documents to the antisecrecy WikiLeaks Web site.
Washington Post, The risk of outsourcing intelligence, Robert O’Harrow Jr., June 9, 2013. The unprecedented leak of National Security Agency secrets by an intelligence contractor, including bombshells about top-secret programs to collect telephone records, e-mail and other personal data, was probably an inevitable consequence of the massive growth of the U.S. security-industrial complex.

Washington Post, Who is Edward Snowden? Barton Gellman and Jerry Markon, June 9, 2013. Before the world knew his name, 29-year-old Edward Snowden drafted a note of explanation. He had worked for the CIA and as a contractor for the NSA, he wrote, and had lived a “comfortable and privileged life.” But he was also deeply uncomfortable with the knowledge that had already been afforded to him in his brief career — knowledge about the U.S. surveillance that officials said they were carrying out to keep America safe. The U.S. goverment is accessing top Internet companies’ servers to track foreign targets. Reporter Barton Gellman talks about the source who revealed this top-secret information and how he believes his whistleblowing was worth whatever consequences are ahead.  The U.S. goverment is accessing top Internet companies’ servers to track foreign targets. Reporter Barton Gellman talks about the source who revealed this top-secret information and how he believes his whistleblowing was worth whatever consequences are ahead. “As I advanced and learned the dangerous truth behind the U.S. policies that seek to develop secret, irresistible powers and concentrate them in the hands of an unaccountable few, human weakness haunted me,” Snowden wrote in the note, which would accompany the first documents he leaked. “As I worked in secret to resist them, selfish fear questioned if the stone thrown by a single man could justify the loss of everything he loves. "I have come to my answer.”

Slate, Edward Snowden, the Man Behind the NSA Leaks, Farhad Manjoo, June 10, 2013. If the NSA Trusted Edward Snowden With Our Data, Why Should We Trust the NSA?  Edward Snowden sounds like a thoughtful, patriotic young man, and I’m sure glad he blew the whistle on the NSA’s surveillance programs. But the more I learned about him this afternoon, the angrier I became. Wait, him? The NSA trusted its most sensitive documents to this guy? According to the Guardian, Snowden is a 29-year-old high-school dropout who trained for the Army Special Forces before an injury forced him to leave the military. His IT credentials are apparently limited to a few “computer” classes he took at a community college in order to get his high-school equivalency degree—courses that he did not complete. His first job at the NSA was as a security guard. Then, amazingly, he moved up the ranks of the United States’ national security infrastructure: The CIA gave him a job in IT security. He was given diplomatic cover in Geneva. The worst part about the NSA’s surveillance is not its massive reach. It’s that it operates entirely in secret, so that we have no way of assessing the sophistication of its operation.

Washington Post, Source of NSA leak reveals himself, Barton Gellman, Aaron Blake and Greg Miller, June 9, 2013. Edward Snowden, 29, says disclosing the top-secret information was right to do and is seeking asylum abroad.

Time, Four Things to Know About Surveillance Leaker Edward Snowden, Zeke J Miller, June 9, 2013.Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old defense contractor who leaked classified documents on U.S. government surveillance programs, revealed himself Sunday afternoon in interviews with the Guardian and the Washington Post. Snowden, an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton for the past three months, moved to a Hong Kong hotel on May 20, after accessing a trove of classified information from a government office in Hawaii with the intent to reveal information on the controversial classified programs, the Guardian reported. Last week the British paper revealed details on two classified programs — one pertaining to the seizure of all telephone metadata in the U.S. and another dealing with an effort to monitor Internet activities overseas using the resources of American technology firms. The Post revealed information about the second program, called PRISM. Both papers confirmed that Snowden passed them the information.

Washington Post, Tech companies urge U.S. to ease secrecy rules on national security probes, Craig Timberg and Cecilia Kang, June 11, 2013. Technology companies stung by the controversy over the National Security Agency’s sweeping Internet surveillance program are calling on U.S. officials to ease the secrecy surrounding national security investigations and lift long-standing gag orders covering the nature and extent of information collected about Internet users. The requests, made by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo and echoed by a top official from Twitter, came as debate intensified over whether oversight of government spying programs grew too lax in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when security concerns combined with soaring technological capabilities led to individuals being monitored on a vast new scale.

Washington Post, NSA revelations put Booz Allen Hamilton, Carlyle Group in uncomfortable limelight, Thomas Heath and Marjorie Censer, June 11, 2013. The Carlyle Group has spent years attempting to shed its image as a well-connected private equity firm leveraging Washington heavyweights in the defense sector. Instead, it nurtured a reputation as a financially sophisticated asset manager that buys and sells everything from railroads to oil refineries. The recent disclosures involving National Security Agency surveillance on U.S. citizens by an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, a Virginia consulting firm that is majority owned by Carlyle, has thrust two of Washington’s most prominent corporate entities uncomfortably into the limelight, bound by the thread of turning government secrets into profits.

Washington Post, Snowden’s girlfriend — dancer, nature lover — said to be shocked by his actions, Carol D. Leonnig and Julie Tate,  June 11, 2013. Edward Snowden, the government contractor who leaked documents revealing a top-secret government surveillance program, was so cautious and distant that even his girlfriend of eight years referred to him as “my man of mystery.” For a 29-year-old who made his living in the digital world, Snowden has left remarkably few online traces. But as reclusive and private as he was, his longtime girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, 28, who moved with him to Hawaii last year, was outgoing and expressive. Writing in a blog that has vanished from public view, Mills, a native of Laurel, told of having to “kidnap” Snowden and “force a little adventure” on him to get him to join friends on a hike to a waterfall.

Washington Post, Facebook, Microsoft release number of data requests from government, Cecilia Kang, June 14, 2013. Facebook and Microsoft for the first time on Friday said they had gotten data requests from the government under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but they added that the U.S. government did not permit them to provide specific figures. Instead, the government allowed the companies to release only broad numbers with no breakdowns. Over the last six months of 2012, Facebook said, it had received as many as 10,000 requests from local, state and federal agencies, which impacted as many as 19,000 accounts. Facebook has 1.1 billion accounts worldwide. Microsoft said that it received between 6,000 and 7,000 similar requests, affecting as many as 32,000 accounts.
Washington Post, CBS confirms reporter’s computer was breached, Paul Farhi, June 14, 2013. The breaches, by an “unknown party,” appeared to be “sophisticated,” according to a statement Friday.


White House Reactions

Washington Post, Obama defends sweeping surveillance efforts, Philip Rucker, Sean Sullivan and and Aaron Blake, June 7, 2013. President Obama strongly defended the government’s secret surveillance of people’s phone records and Internet activities Friday, saying there are “a whole bunch of safeguards involved” and that Congress has repeatedly authorized the programs. Commenting on the surveillance for the first time since news organizations revealed the sweeping National Security Agency programs this week, Obama highlighted limits to the programs to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens and said the surveillance has helped the government thwart terrorist attacks. “They make a difference in our capacity to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity,” Obama said. He added that the programs are “under very strict supervision by all three branches of government and they do not involve listening to people’s phone calls, do not involve reading the e-mails of U.S. citizens and U.S. residents.”

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Keith Alexander is shown at left. Alexander also holds the titles of Chief of the U.S. Central Security Service and Commander of the Cyber Command. He previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 2003 to 2005. He was born in Syracuse, New York in 1951, and entered active duty at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Reuters via Huffington Post, NSA Leaks Investigation Report Filed, Timothy Gardner and Mark Hosenball, June 8, 2013. A U.S. intelligence agency requested a criminal probe on Saturday into the leak of highly classified information about secret surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper launched an aggressive defense of a secret government data collection program. Clapper, right, blasted what he called "reckless disclosures" of a highly classified spy agency project code-named PRISM. It was not known how broad a leaks investigation was requested by the super-secret NSA. The report goes to the Justice Department. Prosecutors have brought a series of high-profile leak investigations under President Barack Obama. U.S. officials said the NSA leaks were so astonishing they expected the Justice Department to take the case. In a statement earlier on Saturday, Clapper acknowledged PRISM's existence by name for the first time and said it had been mischaracterized by the media.

Director of National Intelligence, Facts on the Collection of Intelligence Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, James Clapper, June 8, 2013. PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program. It is an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government’s statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a). This authority was created by the Congress and has been widely known and publicly discussed since its inception in 2008. Under Section 702 of FISA, the United States Government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers. All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. In short, Section 702 facilitates the targeted acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning foreign targets located outside the United States under court oversight. Service providers supply information to the Government when they are lawfully required to do so. The Government cannot target anyone under the court-approved procedures for Section 702 collection unless there is an appropriate, and documented, foreign intelligence purpose for the acquisition (such as for the prevention of terrorism, hostile cyber activities, or nuclear proliferation) and the foreign target is reasonably believed to be outside the United States. We cannot target even foreign persons overseas without a valid foreign intelligence purpose.

FireDogLake, Why Clapper’s Deception Destroys Obama’s Defense of Newly Revealed NSA Programs, Jon Walker, June 11, 2013. Not only are the prepared deceptive answers given by Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper in Congressional testimony potentially serious crimes, but the entire incident completely undermines President Obama defense of the newly revealed NSA domestic surveillance programs. When asked about revelations Obama defended both the legality and legitimacy of the programs by repeatedly claiming they were subject checks by the other branches of government. Obama’s entire case for why these programs are acceptable is based on the premise that Congress is fully briefed and has complete oversight.

Washington Post, NSA director says dozens of attacks were stopped by surveillance programs, Ellen Nakashima and Jerry Markon, June 12, 2013. The head of the National Security Agency defended his agency’s broad electronic surveillance programs Wednesday, saying that they have helped thwart dozens of terrorist attacks and that their recent public disclosure has done “great harm” to the nation’s security. Facing his first public grilling since it was revealed that the NSA has secretly collected millions of telephone records as well as e-mails and other Internet data, Gen. Keith Alexander sought to aggressively rebut congressional and other criticism of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism tactics. The South China Morning Post, which said it interviewed Snowden at an undisclosed location in Hong Kong, said he presented “unverified documents” describing an extensive U.S. campaign to obtain information from computers in Hong Kong and mainland China. “We hack network backbones — like huge Internet routers, basically — that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he told the newspaper. According to Snowden, the NSA has engaged in more than 61,000 hacking operations worldwide, including hundreds aimed at Chinese universities, businesses and public officials. Senior American officials have accused China of hacking into U.S. military and business computers. Snowden’s claims of extensive U.S. hacking of Chinese computers track assertions made repeatedly by senior Chinese government officials that they are victims of similar cyber-intrusions. Snowden’s assertions could not be verified, and U.S. officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Scope of Surveillance?

National Security Agency, Utah Data Center, Government website (accessed June 12, 2013.) The Utah Data Center, code-named Bumblehive, right, is the first Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (IC CNCI) data center designed to support the Intelligence Community's efforts to monitor, strengthen and protect the nation. NSA is the executive agent for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and will be the lead agency at the center. The steady rise in available computer power and the development of novel computer platforms will enable us to easily turn the huge volume of incoming data into an asset to be exploited, for the good of the nation.

FoxNews.com, Inside the Utah Data Center, John Brandon, June 11, 2013.  As Americans demand answers about the government's wholesale electronic snooping on its citizens, the primary snooper -- the National Security Agency (NSA) -- is building a monstrous digital datacenter in a remote corner of Utah capable of sorting through and storing every e-mail, voicemail, and social media communication it can get its hands on. Former NSA employee William Binney told The Associated Press that he estimates the agency collects records on 3 billion phone calls each day. This top-secret data warehouse could hold as many as 1.25 million 4-terabyte hard drives, built into some 5,000 servers to store the trillions upon trillions of ones and zeroes that make up your digital fingerprint. But that's just one way to catalog people, said Charles King, principal analyst at data center consulting firm Pund-IT.

Pro Publica via Washington Spectator, 5 Basic Things We Still Do Not Know about NSA Snooping, Justin Elliott and Theodoric Meyer, June 10, 2013. Last week saw revelations that the FBI and the National Security Agency have been collecting Americans' phone records en masse and that the agencies have access to data from nine tech companies. But secrecy around the programs has meant even basic questions are still unanswered. Here's what we still don't know:

  1. Has the NSA been collecting all Americans' phone records, and for how long?
  2. What surveillance powers does the government believe it has under the Patriot Act?
  3. Has the NSA's massive collection of metadata thwarted any terrorist attacks?
  4. How much information, and from whom, is the government sweeping up through Prism?
  5. So, how does Prism work?

Scientific American Magazine, Former NSA Whistleblower Sheds Light on the Science of Surveillance, Dina Fine Maron, June  11, 2013. Q&A, Thomas Drake talks about surveillance algorithms and the outlook for the latest alleged whistleblower Edward Snowden, drawing from his own NSA prosecution.

Question: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said it's not realistic nor would he want to listen to everyone's communications, so what can be done with all these phone records that the NSA is collecting?

Thomas Drake: The distinction here is metadata versus content. It’s like when you get physical snail mail, it has a certain shape, weight and type of envelope, and an address and a return address and a stamp and usually a date and routing numbers. And it’s going to a particular mailbox at a particular address—that’s all metadata. The content is what it’s inside the envelope. In a digital space the metadata is always associated with content. The content would be the actual phone call—the conversation. The fact is the metadata is far more valuable to them because it gives them an index of everything. If they want to, the data is available and the capability exists to store it, then later they can access the content as well with a warrant. You can learn a tremendous amount about people by looking at the metadata…phone records include location information. At that level you can track them as well and know who they speak with, the time of day and all of that. By definition a phone number is always associated with somebody or some business—believe me, subscribers all have names. Think of the White Pages; the White Pages equal metadata. If I store that, that gives the government a phenomenal power in secret to track all kinds of information about a person without going to content.

Lawfare, The risk of outsourcing intelligence, Robert O’Harrow Jr., June 9, 2013. The unprecedented leak of National Security Agency secrets by an intelligence contractor, including bombshells about top-secret programs to collect telephone records, e-mail and other personal data, was probably an inevitable consequence of the massive growth of the U.S. security-industrial complex.

Washington Post, Edward Snowden says motive behind leaks was to expose ‘surveillance state,’ Barton Gellman and Jerry Markon, June 9, 2013. Before the world knew his name, 29-year-old Edward Snowden drafted a note of explanation. He had worked for the CIA and as a contractor for the NSA, he wrote, and had lived a “comfortable and privileged life.” But he was also deeply uncomfortable with the knowledge that had already been afforded to him in his brief career — knowledge about the U.S. surveillance that officials said they were carrying out to keep America safe.

Reason, 3 Reasons the ‘Nothing to Hide’ Crowd Should Be Worried About Government Surveillance, Scott Shackford, June 12, 2013. Most people think the federal government would have no interest in them, but many discover to their horror how wrong they are. Responding to a popular reaction to news of the National Security Agency’s massive data collection program, blogger Daniel Sieradski started a Twitter feed called “Nothing to Hide.” He has retweeted hundreds of people who have declared in one form or another that they are not concerned that the federal government may spy on them. They say they have done nothing wrong, so they have nothing to hide. If it helps the government fight terrorists, go ahead, take their civil liberties away. In his blog, a frustrated Sieradski listed many of the abuses of power our federal government is known for; he is not happy with the "nothing to hide" crowd.

New York Times, The Program, Laura Poitras, August 22, 2012. It took me a few days to work up the nerve to phone William Binney. As someone already a “target” of the United States government, I found it difficult not to worry about the chain of unintended consequences I might unleash by calling Mr. Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency turned whistle-blower. He picked up. I nervously explained I was a documentary filmmaker and wanted to speak to him. To my surprise he replied: “I’m tired of my government harassing me and violating the Constitution. Yes, I’ll talk to you.”

Institute for Political Economy, What Is The Government’s Agenda? Paul Craig Roberts, June 11, 2013. It has been public information for a decade that the US government secretly, illegally, and unconstitutionally spies on its citizens. Congress and the federal courts have done nothing about this extreme violation of the US Constitution and statutory law, and the insouciant US public seems unperturbed. In 2004 a whistleblower informed the New York Times that the National Security Agency (NSA) was violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by ignoring the FISA court and spying on Americans without obtaining the necessary warrants.There is no longer any doubt whatsoever that the US government is lawless, that it regards the US Constitution as a scrap of paper, that it does not believe Americans have any rights other than those that the government tolerates at any point in time, and that the government has no fear of being held accountable by the weak and castrated US Congress, the sycophantic federal courts, a controlled media, and an insouciant public.

This brings us to the crux of the matter. What is the purpose of the spying program?  Even if an American believes the official stories of 9/11 and the Boston Marathon Bombing, these are the only two terrorist acts in the US that resulted in the lost of human life in 12 years. Why should the Constitution and civil liberty be deep-sixed because of two alleged terrorist acts in 12 years?  How safe is any American when their government regards every citizen as a potential suspect who has no rights? Why is there no discussion of this in American public life?  The only information Americans have comes from whistleblowers, whom Obama ruthlessly prosecutes.

Guardian, A Guide to Your Metadata, Staff Report, June 12, 2013, Metadata is information generated as you use technology, and its use has been the subject of controversy since NSA's secret surveillance program was revealed. Examples include the date and time you called somebody or the location from which you last accessed your email. The data collected generally does not contain personal or content-specific details, but rather transactional information about the user, the device and activities taking place. In some cases you can limit the information that is collected – by turning off location services on your cell phone for instance – but many times you cannot. Below, explore some of the data collected through activities you do every day. On Thursday, June 13 The Guardian's data editor James Ball will answer your questions about the NSA data collection program in the US from 3pm-4pm EST | 8pm-9pm BST. 

FireDogLake, Big Brother Is Watching — And So Are Lowly Bureaucrats and Contractors, Jon Walker, June 10, 2013. Many people are rightly focused on how the state as a whole could abuse the vast databases of information on regular Americans, but it should be noted that is not the only concern with such programs. Even if the “Government” acts in a mostly benign manner with this data, there is still the real danger of what rogue segments of a government agency or even individual contractors/bureaucrats could do. In his interview with Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden acknowledged that his position allowed him, and many others, the ability to access huge amounts of information about individuals. Snowden said he had “the authorities to wiretap anyone from you, or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President.”  This is a huge amount of power to put in the hands of individuals. On an individual level it could be abused to pursue personal vendettas, stalk old relationships, blackmail people in power, advance political goals, or illegally access information to be used for financial gain. The number of nefarious purposes this level of power could be used by a rogue individual or small group is almost beyond count. The same secrecy that hides the existence of these programs could make it easier for individuals to hide their abuses of it.

AP via Huffington Post, NSA PRISM Program: Is Big Data Turning Government Into 'Big Brother?' Michael Liedtke, June 7, 2013. With every phone call they make and every Web excursion they take, people are leaving a digital trail of revealing data that can be tracked by profit-seeking companies and terrorist-hunting government officials. The revelations that the National Security Agency is perusing millions of U.S. customer phone records at Verizon Communications and snooping on the digital communications stored by nine major Internet services illustrate how aggressively personal data is being collected and analyzed. Verizon is handing over so-called metadata, excerpts from millions of U.S. customer records, to the NSA under an order issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian. The report was confirmed Thursday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Washington Post, Does Verizon records case mean an end to privacy? Eugene Robinson, June 6, 2013. Someday, a young girl will look up into her father’s eyes and ask, “Daddy, what was privacy?” The father probably won’t recall. I fear we’ve already forgotten that there was a time when a U.S. citizen’s telephone calls were nobody else’s business. A time when people would have been shocked and angered to learn that the government was compiling a detailed log of ostensibly private calls made and received by millions of Americans. The Guardian got its scoop by obtaining a secret order signed by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Since we know so little about this shadowy court’s proceedings and rulings, it’s hard to put the Verizon order in context.

Daily Caller, What Do They know about you? An interview with Former NSA analyst William Binney, Tim Cavanaugh, June 10, 2013.

Daily Caller: Can they retroactively put together the conversation we’re having right now? Suppose nobody from the government is taping this conversation right now. Is there any way they can go back and reconstruct it?

Binney: Well I think I’m on a target list, so anybody that my phone calls, they will be recorded. So yeah.

Daily Caller: Does this mean that my phone number is now going to be on a list?

Binney: You are now part of my community, so you can assume you are now going to be targeted, too.

Daily Caller: What did you make of the news over the last couple of days with Mr. Snowden coming forward?

Binney: Well obviously, I would have started out by trying to go different routes, like going to the intelligence committee, or the IG. I mean that didn’t do any good but that’s the route I took; I at least tried to do the right thing. So I’m not going to try to understand his motivation. I guess he was properly disturbed by the surveillance state we have, or the police state if you want to call it that. I wouldn’t have done it that way, but that’s the way he did it.

Daily Caller: But you said going through the proper channels didn’t do any good.

Binney: Yes, it didn’t do any good. I would still have done that to say I tried. And then, when it completely failed, then I might consider something radical.

Atlantic, The Irrationality of Giving Up This Much Liberty to Fight Terror, Conor Friedersdorf, June 11, 2013. When confronted by far deadlier threats, Americans are much less willing to cede freedom and privacy. Of course we should dedicate significant resources and effort to stopping terrorism. But consider some hard facts. In 2001, the year when America suffered an unprecedented terrorist attack -- by far the biggest in its history -- roughly 3,000 people died from terrorism in the U.S. Let's put that in context. That same year in the United States: 71,372 died of diabetes. 29,573 were killed by guns. 13,290 were killed in drunk driving accidents. That's what things looked like at the all-time peak for deaths by terrorism.

What's New About the Claims?

Huffington Post, PRISM Program: Obama Administration Held 22 Briefings For Congress On Key FISA Law, Sam Stein  June 10, 2013. The Obama administration officials held 22 separate briefings or meetings for members of Congress on the law that has been used to justify the National Security Agency's controversial email monitoring program, according to data provided by a senior administration official.  According to the official, the sessions that took place over the course of 14 months starting in October 2011 touched on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act, which gives the attorney general and director of national intelligence the authority to gather intelligence on non-U.S. citizens for up to one year. Section 702 has been cited by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as the legal basis for the NSA's PRISM program, which has allowed the government to track email communication data. 

New Republic via Lawfare Blog, A Tale of Two NSA Leaks, Benjamin Wittes and Robert Chesney, June 10, 2013. Former NSA contractor Edwards Snowden sure does know how to change the subject. Only a few days ago, everyone was talking about the excesses of leak investigations. But now, as a result of his set of disclosures to the Guardian and The Washington Post, we’re back on the surveillance state—and the dangers of the leaks themselves. The New York Times complains in an editorial that “most lawmakers did not know the government was collecting records on almost every phone call made in the United States or was able to collect anyone’s e-mail messages and Internet chats.” The Washington Post describes President Barack Obama as facing “a rash of disclosures that have revealed the extent to which his administration . . . has [cast] a massive electronic surveillance net . . . within the United States that appears to have gathered data on almost anyone with a computer or phone.” Maureen Dowd, writing in the Times, asks with her characteristic snark, “Now that we are envisioning some guy in a National Security Agency warehouse in Fort Meade, Md., going through billions of cat videos and drunk-dialing records of teenagers, can the Ministries of Love and Truth be far behind?”

New York Times, Congress Can Stop Privacy Abuse, Editorial Board, June 7, 2013. Most members of Congress, it turns out, had received the usual bland assurances from counterterrorism officials that the authority granted to the government under the Patriot Act and related laws were absolutely necessary to prevent an attack on the United States, and that domestic spying activities must remain top secret. Proposals to bring greater transparency to these activities, or to limit their scope, were vigorously opposed by the Obama administration. (The Justice Department argued in a court filing in April that there must be no public disclosure of the extent of domestic data collection.) Except for a few leaders and members of the intelligence committees, most lawmakers did not know the government was collecting records on almost every phone call made in the United States or was able to collect anyone’s e-mail messages and Internet chats. And most important, since the public did not know about the extent of the surveillance, it was in no position to bring popular pressure against elected representatives.

BBC, William Hague: UK agencies uphold the law at all times, Nick Robinson, June 10, 2013.  Foreign Secretary William Hague said data obtained from the US was subject to proper UK safeguards.' Allegations that the data-gathering centre GCHQ circumvented the law to gain information on UK citizens are "baseless", William Hague has said. Ex-CIA worker Edward Snowden claims US agencies gathered and shared phone records and internet data with allies. But the foreign secretary said people could have confidence in the work of UK security agencies and "their adherence to the law and democratic values."  Most of the House of Commons seemed reassured. Many MPs wanted to know if the security services might not need more powers rather than fewer. However, if you were hoping for clear or detailed answers you did not get them.”

Is the Program 'Legal'? What Is Snowden's Liability?

Dianne Feinstein

Hill, Sen. Feinstein calls Snowden's NSA leaks an 'act of treason,' Jeremy Herb and Justin Sink, June 10, 2013. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), right, said the 29-year-old man who leaked information about two national security programs is guilty of treason. Feinstein said that she doesn’t see National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden as a hero or a whistle blower. But see Justice Integrity Project, California Senator Rejects Criticism of Privacy Violations, Husband's Deal, Andrew Kreig, June 7, 2013.

Huffington Post, Dianne Feinstein Says NSA Phone Records Surveillance Has Thwarted Terrorism, 'But That's Classified,' Matt Sledge, June 6, 2013. Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Thursday the National Security Agency program collecting domestic phone records has prevented terrorism. But she and other senators briefed on the program refused to delve into details about how it is used. Feinstein, right, spoke to reporters after the Intelligence Committee held a "highly classified" briefing on the vast NSA program, which Feinstein said had been put together "quickly" after The Guardian's report on its existence.

Huffington Post, Rep. Peter King: Reporters Should Be Prosecuted For Publishing Leaked Classified Information (VIDEO), Braden Goyette, June 12, 2013. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said on CNN's "AC 360" Tuesday night that reporters should be prosecuted for publishing stories with leaked classified information. After King explained why he believes the recent NSA leaks pose a grave threat to national security, host Anderson Cooper asked him if he thinks the reporters who break stories off of leaked information should be punished in some way. "If they willingly knew that this was classified information, I think action should be taken, especially on something of this magnitude," King said. "I think on something of this magnitude, there is an obligation both moral but also legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something that would so severely compromise national security." Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story of the NSA's phone record collecting practices last week, expressed his disbelief at King's remarks on Twitter.

OpEdNews, The Mask of Liberalism Falls As Their Pundits Accuse Snowden of Being a Traitor and Narcissist, Rob Kall, left, June 11, 2013. The liberal pundits in America are coming out, revealing themselves to be duopolist sycophants, serving the corporate state, serving the worst abuser of executive privilege in US history. The Liberal mainstream media is so "out of the closet" they are disgustingly naked. They are calling Edward Snowden -- who is absolutely a courageous hero -- a traitor and narcissist. Jeffrey Toobin suggests that because he left his good job and girlfriend he is being narcissistic. Funny, if a guy leaves a job in pro-sports to enlist, leaving his family, he's considered a hero. What a pure crock from a collection of limp liberals who wouldn't know courage if it bit them. Watch the former Obama appointees on MSNBC perform oral service for Obama. They have sold out the values that the Democratic party is supposed to and used to have. They have become political operatives. There were a few on MSNBC who didn't cave to the Obama/Democratic party line. But too many are buying the idea that the Patriot Act more good than bad, that spying on tens of millions of Americans as an excuse for national security is a good thing. NO. It is not a good thing. It is a very bad thing. The thinking, "I don't have anything to hide. Let them spy," is bad for America and is moving us further towards a police state and we are already way to far down that road. American Liberals have become worthless. Liberal used to be a term used with disdain by the right. At this point, the term liberal has become a derisive term that should be used for dupes who still believe that the Democrats and Obama have anything to do with the ideas and values liberals used to think about and embrace. They have become a part of the problem. It's not ALL their fault. They've been sold a bill of goods by the mainstream media. But it's their fault for not waking up to the reality that the mainstream media, owned by huge corporations, has no interest in what used to be liberal values.

Washington Post, Administration, lawmakers defend NSA program to collect phone records, Ellen Nakashima and Ed O’Keefe, June 6, 2013. The Obama administration and key U.S. lawmakers on Thursday defended a secret National Security Agency telephone surveillance program that one congressman said had helped avert a terrorist attack in recent years. The program apparently has collected the telephone records of tens of millions of American customers of Verizon, one of the nation’s largest phone companies, under a top-secret court order. The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it's fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping its citizens safe. The National Security Agency secretly collected phone records of millions of Verizon customers. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the court order, issued in April, appears to be “the exact three-month renewal” of the program that has been underway for the past seven years. She said the program is “lawful.”

Politico, NSA leaker reveals self, has no apologies, Reid J. Epstein, June 9, 2013. The leaker is taking credit for exposing the NSA’s PRISM program. Snowden told the Guardian that he has gone to great lengths to maintain his digital privacy, going so far as to keep pillows under his door frame to interfere with listening devices and maintain a hood over his computer when entering passwords to block any hidden cameras. “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” he told the paper. “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.” Snowden, according to the Guardian, copied a series of NSA documents from a Hawaii office where he worked until late May, when he requested According to the Guardian, Snowden was raised in North Carolina and suburban Maryland. The paper reported that he never completed high school, yet was able to enter a U.S. Army Special Forces training program in order to fight in the Iraq war. The paper said he later received a GED. The Guardian reported that Snowden was discharged from the Army after breaking his legs in a training accident. Then, the paper said, he joined the NSA where it reported his “understanding of the internet and his talent for computer programming enabled him to rise fairly quickly for someone who lacked even a high school diploma.

Wayne Madsen Report, NSA contractor claims he is source of classified surveillance papers, Wayne Madsen, June 10, 2013 (Subscription only). An author and former Navy Intelligence officer provides counsel to Snowden on extradition dangers he faces, along with strategiies. 

Fox News / Lawfare, The NSA’s phone collection order -- it may be legal, but is it wise? Paul Rosenzweig, June 6, 2013. The revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) has secured a court order directing Verizon to provide it with call data has sparked controversy. And, rightly so. If the order is genuine (and nobody has denied that it is), it reflects a significant expansion of America’s surveillance apparatus – one that should at a minimum be closely examined. First, some details. The order applies only to “meta-data” of calls: the phone numbers called, the location of the cell phone when the call was made, and the time and duration of the call. So the order does not require Verizon to let the NSA monitor the conversations or other content of the calls. Also, the order applies both to international calls and to calls occurring wholly within the United States. Verizon is required to update its compliance “on a daily basis.” Finally, though the order disclosed Wednesday applies only to Verizon, the logic of the request supports an inference that similar orders have been issued to other major elecommunications carriers like ATT & Sprint. Whatever its legality, the entire NSA order is remarkably overbroad and quite likely unwise. In short, the order appears to give NSA blanket access to the records of Verizon customers' phone calls –foreign and domestic—made between April 25, when the order was signed, and July 19, when it expires. Of course, if the order is only the latest in a series of orders (as also seems likely), then the access may go back for quite some time. Meta-data are not currently protected under the Fourth Amendment, and the large-scale collection of that meta-data remains lawful. On the other hand, it is uncertain how the NSA was allowed to collect information on U.S. citizens within the United States. Historically, both law and policy have limited the NSA to collecting signals intelligence only when it involves foreigners. Presumably there is some underlying procedural or legal limitation that insures that the NSA’s actions conform to law – but to date we don’t know what that is. Finally, whatever its legality, the entire order is remarkably overbroad and quite likely unwise.

Washington Post, Surveillance controversy illuminated by history, Walter Pincus, June  10,  2013. The NSA was founded in 1952 but only publicly acknowledged years later, which explains its nickname “No Such Agency.”
A little history and a little law are needed in the wake of the current uproar over the re-discovery that the National Security Agency has been vacuuming up telephone records of Americans and e-mails, phone messages and other Web data related to suspected overseas terrorists.
Let’s start with a bit of history. Forty-three years ago, the staff director and counsel of a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, set up by then-Chairman J.W. Fulbright (D-Ark.), traveled the world gathering facts as part of an investigation of military involvement in U.S. foreign policy. They visited NSA listening posts in Europe and Asia and interviewed those who ran the facilities. They were surprised at the data being collected, not just overheard communications but also cables and intercepts from satellites. I know about these events firsthand because I was that staff director. In a classified annex of the subcommittee’s report, there were recommendations relating to the NSA.

MSNBC via Huffington Post, Glenn Greenwald Clashes With Mika Brzezinski, Accuses MSNBC Host Of Using 'White House Talking Points' (VIDEO), June 10, 2013. Glenn Greenwald clashed with Mika Brzezinski on air Monday when he accused her of using "White House talking points." The Guardian columnist broke a bombshell story revealing the NSA's secret surveillance of the phone records of Verizon customers on Wednesday night. The next day, he raced the Washington Post to report on the NSA's PRISM program. The revelations have roiled the Obama administration. On Monday, Greenwald appeared on "Morning Joe" to discuss the programs.

Huffington Post, Rand Paul: NSA Surveillance Programs Warrant Supreme Court Challenge, Mollie Reilly June 9, 2013. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), left, said Sunday that he is weighing a Supreme Court challenge to the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance programs, calling the organization's collection of records an "extraordinary invasion of privacy."  "I'm going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level," Paul said on Fox News Sunday. "I’m going to be asking all the internet providers and all of the phone companies: Ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit. If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington." 

Washington Post, Wonkblog: Is he crazy to seek asylum? Has the US become the type of nation from which you have to seek asylum? Timothy B. Lee, June 9, 2013. The whistleblower who disclosed classified documents regarding NSA surveillance to The Washington Post and the Guardian has gone public. He is Edward Snowden, 29, an employee of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Rather than face charges in the United States, Snowden has fled to Hong Kong. He plans to seek asylum in a nation with a strong civil liberties record, such as Iceland. Americans are familiar with stories of dissidents fleeing repressive regimes such as those in China or Iran and seeking asylum in the United States. Snowden is in the opposite position. He’s an American leaving the land of his birth because he fears persecution. Four decades ago, Daniel Ellsberg surrendered to federal authorities to face charges of violating the Espionage Act. During his trial, he was allowed to go free on bail, giving him a chance to explain his actions to the media. His case was eventually thrown out after it was revealed that the government had wiretapped him illegally. Bradley Manning, a soldier who released classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, has had a very different experience. Manning was held for three years without trial, including 11 months when he was held in de facto solitary confinement. During some of this period, he was forced to sleep naked at night, allegedly as a way to prevent him from committing suicide. The United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture has condemned this as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Article 16 of the convention against torture.” Ellsberg has argued that this degrading treatment alone should be grounds for dismissing the charges against Manning. Instead, the government has sought the harshest possible sentence.

Washington Post, Vast surveillance programs renew debate about oversight, Robert Barnes, Timothy B. Lee and Ellen Nakashima, June 8, 2013. The disclosure of vast government surveillance programs has renewed the debate about whether the kind of transparent oversight that Americans expect from their government can work if it might compromise efforts to keep them safe from terrorism. President Obama and his national security leaders have asserted that vigorous oversight of government surveillance of phone calls and Internet data exists and denounced media reports that brought the programs to public attention. Can the kind of transparent oversight Americans expect from their government work if it might compromise efforts to keep them safe from terrorism?

Washington Post, Investigators looking into how Snowden gained access at NSA, Peter Finn, Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima, June 10, 2013. Counterintelligence investigators are scrutinizing how a 29-year-old contractor who said he leaked top-secret National Security Agency documents was able to gain access to what should be highly compartmentalized information, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials. Edward J. Snowden worked as a systems administrator at an NSA Threat Operations Center in Hawaii, one of several such facilities that are tasked with detecting threats to government computer systems. He has previously worked for the CIA, U.S. officials said. Snowden leaked documents to The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper on distinctly different operations: the NSA’s collection of data from U.S. phone call records and its surveillance of online communications to and from foreign targets.

Alleged Reporting Mistakes, Judicial Conflict, and Deceptive Administration Testimony

New York Times, Tech Companies Concede to Surveillance Program, Claire Cain Miller, June 7, 2013. When government officials came to Silicon Valley to demand easier ways for the world’s largest Internet companies to turn over user data as part of a secret surveillance program, the companies bristled. In the end, though, many cooperated at least a bit. While handing over data in response to a legitimate FISA request is a legal requirement, making it easier for the government to get the information is not, which is why Twitter could decline to do so. Details on the discussions help explain the disparity between initial descriptions of the government program and the companies’ responses. Instead of adding a back door to their servers, the companies were essentially asked to erect a locked mailbox and give the government the key, people briefed on the negotiations said. Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information, they said. The data shared in these ways, the people said, is shared after company lawyers have reviewed the FISA request according to company practice. It is not sent automatically or in bulk, and the government does not have full access to company servers. Instead, they said, it is a more secure and efficient way to hand over the data.

Lawfare, The Washington Post on Prism, Paul Rosenzweig, June 9, 2013. I had some hesitancy writing this blog since so many of the writers at the Post are acquaintances. But it really must be said. By now, readers are familiar with the Post’s story on the NSA Prism program from last week. It turns out that the story is wrong — wrong on the facts and wrong on the technology. That’s not my conclusion — that’s the conclusion of the inestimable Declan McCullagh of CNET. His conclusion is notable precisely because McCullagh is never thought of as a government apologist. Quite to the contrary he is a frequent, but fair, critic. 

Ed Bott Report via ZD Net, The real story in the NSA scandal is the collapse of journalism, Ed Bott, June 8, 2013. Summary: A bombshell story published in the Washington Post this week alleged that the NSA had enlisted nine tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Apple, in a massive program of online spying. Now the story is unraveling, and the Post has quietly changed key details. What went wrong? One day later, with no acknowledgment except for a change in the timestamp, the Post revised the story, backing down from sensational claims it made originally. But the damage was already done.

Washington Post, U.S., company officials: Internet surveillance does not indiscriminately mine data, Robert O’Harrow Jr., Ellen Nakashima and Barton Gellman, June 8, 2013. The director of national intelligence on Saturday stepped up his public defense of a top-secret government data surveillance program as technology companies began privately explaining the mechanics of its use. The program, code-named PRISM, has enabled national security officials to collect e-mail, videos, documents and other material from at least nine U.S. companies over six years, including Google, Microsoft and Apple, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post.  The disclosures about PRISM have renewed a national debate about the surveillance systems that sprang up after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, how broad those systems might be and the extent of their reach into American lives.

CNET, No evidence of NSA's 'direct access' to tech companies, Sources challenge reports alleging National Security Agency is "tapping directly into the central servers." Instead, they say, the spy agency is obtaining orders under process created by Congress, Declan McCullagh, Updated June 8, 2013. In response to outcry over PRISM, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence has released some details. Among other things, he says the government "does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers" and that PRISM-related activities are conducted "under court supervision." The National Security Agency has not obtained direct access to the systems of Apple, Google, Facebook, and other major Internet companies, CNET has learned. Recent reports in The Washington Post and The Guardian claimed a classified program called PRISM grants "intelligence services direct access to the companies' servers" and that "from inside a company's data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes." Those reports are incorrect and appear to be based on a misreading of a leaked Powerpoint document, according to a former government official who is intimately familiar with this process of data acquisition and spoke today on condition of anonymity.

Center for Public Integrity, Secret court judge attended expenses-paid terrorism seminar; Lecturers included advocate for strong executive powers, Chris Youngemail, June 7, 2013. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, who signed an order requiring Verizon to give the National Security Agency telephone records for tens of millions of American customers, attended an expense-paid judicial seminar sponsored by a libertarian think tank that featured lectures from a vocal proponent of executive branch powers. Vinson, whose term on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court began in 2006 and expired last month, was the only member of the special court to attend the August 2008 conference sponsored by the Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment, according to disclosure records filed by the federal judge. The Center for Public Integrity collected the disclosure records as part of an investigative report that revealed how large corporations and conservative foundations routinely sponsor ideologically driven educational conferences for state and federal judges. Eric Posner, a University of Chicago law professor who delivered two lectures, argued in a 2007 book he co-wrote — Terror in the Balance: Security, Liberty, and the Courts — that “the executive branch, not Congress or the judicial branch, should make the tradeoff between security and liberty.”

FireDogLake, General Clapper Appears To Have Misled Congress And Public About NSA Program, DSWright, June 10, 2013. In testimony before Congress the Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper claimed there was no program to collect information on American citizens. "SENATOR RON WYDEN: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans? GENERAL JAMES CLAPPER: No sir. SENATOR WYDEN: It does not? GENERAL CLAPPER: Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect—but not wittingly." 

That is a direct denial of the information revealed by Edward Snowden regarding the NSA’s programs, which Clapper surely knew about. Clapper’s testimony at first glance appears to be intended to mislead Congress and the public. Clapper has now clarified his remarks in an interview with the National Journal. "Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday that he stood by what he told Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in March when he said that the National Security Agency does not “wittingly” collect data on millions of Americans. '“What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails. I stand by that,” Clapper told National Journal in a telephone interview.'"

As the video demonstrates, that is not what he said. He first gave a flat denial “No sir.” Then, when Clapper was pressed, he said if information was collected on Americans it was done “unwittingly,” which is also a knowingly false answer. Whether or not there will be consequences for Clapper’s deceptive testimony is anyone’s guess.

Senator Diane Feinstein has already indicated a disinterest in holding Clapper accountable, which may be indicative of a larger partisan mindset in the Senate about providing accountability to Obama Administration officials. While appearing on This Week the Senator reacted to video of Clapper’s testimony thus:

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think this is very hard. There is no more direct or honest person than Jim Clapper, and I think both Mike and I know that. You can misunderstand the question. This is one of the dilemmas of talking about it. He could have thought the question had content or something, but it is true that this is a wide collection of phone records, as Mike said. No name, no content. But the number to number, the length of time, the kind of thing that’s on the telephone bill, and we have to deal with that.

Prospects for Reform

Alex Jones' Infowars.com, Ron Paul and Wayne Madsen Interviews, Alex Jones, June 12, 2013. On today's show, we'll listen to former Congressman Ron Paul's defense of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is surprisingly being labeled a 'traitor' by members of the Republican party. We also welcome journalist and author Wayne Madsen to give his take on the giant whirlwind of scandals.

WhoWhatWhy, Why Obama Cannot Undo the Surveillance Society—But We Can, Russ Baker, June 11, 2013. Today, the New York Times, in a news/analysis article, essentially declared that there was no hope for any kind of restraint of growing government spying on the public. Not if it is up to the people’s representatives. The Times noted that secrecy rules will prevent robust and open discussion in Congress. It also pointed out that Republicans will mostly stay in line with their traditional allies in the intelligence services—and that Democrats will too, both because they will want to show they did the right thing in voting to authorize the Patriot Act and other relevant legislation, and because during this round, the leader is Obama, a Democrat. But that’s just the beginning of the difficulties in the way of achieving reform of our incipient surveillance state. What the Times and other media will not and perhaps cannot say, is this: not only is Congress impotent in these matters, but it wouldn’t even matter if the president himself chose to act. Here’s why. Presidents of both parties rarely deviate from a kind of “consensus” cobbled together by people in academia, media and government, a consensus that almost always serves the interests of a fairly small number of wealthy people and interests. (If you’ve never heard this notion, a visit to one of our remaining public libraries might be in order.) This is not a partisan issue. It doesn’t matter who is president. No “ordinary American who can dream of one day becoming president” is in a position to alter the basic equation, which would involve bucking the vast military-financial-industrial-academic complex that drives the American economy, funds our political elections and keeps people in line through any means necessary. That’s as true of Obama as it was of Kennedy or Nixon or…fill in the blank.

Attacks on Snowden

Reuters, Edward Snowden and the selective targeting of leaks, Jack Shafer, June 11, 2013. Edward Snowden’s expansive disclosures to the Guardian ] and the Washington Post  about various National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs have only two corollaries in contemporary history—the classified cache Bradley Manning allegedly released to WikiLeaks a few years ago and Daniel Ellsberg’s dissemination of the voluminous Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and other newspapers in 1971. Leakers like Snowden, Manning and Ellsberg don’t merely risk being called narcissists, traitors or mental cases for having liberated state secrets for public scrutiny. They absolutely guarantee it. In the last two days, the New York Times’s David Brooks, Politico’s Roger Simon, the Washington Post‘s Richard Cohen and others have vilified Snowden for revealing the government’s aggressive spying on its own citizens, calling him self-indulgent, a loser and a narcissist. Yet even as the insults pile up and the amateur psychoanalysis intensifies, keep in mind that Snowden’s leak has more in common with the standard Washington leak than should make the likes of Brooks, Simon and Cohen comfortable. Without defending Snowden for breaking his vow to safeguard secrets, he’s only done in the macro what the national security establishment does in the micro every day of the week to manage, manipulate and influence ongoing policy debates. Keeping the policy leak separate from the heretic leak is crucial to understanding how these stories play out in the press.

Profiles of Players: Author Glenn Greenwald, Film Maker Laura Poitras, etc.

New York Times, Blogger, With Focus on Surveillance, Is at Center of a Debate, Noam Cohen and Leslie Kaufman, June 6, 2013. After writing intensely, even obsessively, for years about government surveillance and the prosecution of journalists, Glenn Greenwald has suddenly put himself directly at the intersection of those two issues, and perhaps in the cross hairs of federal prosecutors. Late Wednesday, Mr. Greenwald, a lawyer and longtime blogger, published an article in the British newspaper The Guardian about the existence of a top-secret court order allowing the National Security Agency to monitor millions of telephone logs. The article, which included a link to the order, is expected to attract an investigation from the Justice Department, which has aggressively pursued leakers.

Naked Capitalism, NY Times Belittles Glenn Greenwald After Surveillance Scoops, Yves Smith, June 7, 2013. The Grey Lady roused itself to profile Glenn Greenwald after his blockbuster stories of the last two days: the first on a secret court order now in effect for Verizon to provide the NSA on all telephone records in its systems, the second on the PRISM program, which has given the NSA direct access to servers of information giants including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, since 2007. But the piece is mean-spirited, underplaying Greenwald’s credentials and coming too close for comfort to character sniping. Start with first impressions: the headline, the opening paragraph, and the picture: “Blogger, With Focus on Surveillance, Is at Center of a Debate.“ So where do we start with this? First, Greenwald is introduced as a blogger, not a lawyer, and most important, a recognized expert on constitutional law and author of four books, including New York Times best sellers. Second, the depiction of him as intense and obsessive (Warning! possibly dangerous!) puts his personality rather than his information and analysis in the spotlight. And that photo! Notice how the emphasis is on the risk, as in the how the authorities may stomp on him, and not a peep on how his actions benefit the public.

The article, remarkably, sidesteps the elephant in the room: what does this Administration conduct reveal about our democracy and our rights? The Times, sadly, has come a long and not at all good way since the days of the Pentagon Papers. And it isn’t just the famed l’affaire Judith Miller. Recall that the Times held off on publishing information about the Bush Administration warrantless wiretap program over a year, and hemmed and hawed when pressed on the question of whether it made the decision to hold back the story prior to the 2004 election (eventual answer, yes, with some less than persuasive justifications). Given the Times’ greater fealty to Obama than to Bush, and the dearth of any reliable American media outlets to its left, no wonder Greenwald’s source(s) came to him and the Guardian. The Times’ reluctance to give Greenwald all the credit he is due reflects its inability to face up to what his scoops say about the sorry state of American journalism.

Washington Post, Filmmaker has a key role in NSA revelations, Paul Farhi, June 10, 2013. When a source with intimate knowledge of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance activities decided to reveal government secrets, he turned to an accomplished, if little known, documentary filmmaker to reveal the program to the world. Laura Poitras, 49, had the odd distinction of sharing a byline in the Washington Post and in London’s Guardian newspaper last week on two blockbuster stories. The first, in The Post, revealed a secret NSA program called PRISM that used data from some of the Internet’s biggest firms. The second, in the Guardian, was a video interview with the source of the information, a former NSA operative from Maryland named Edward Snowden. Poitras worked with two old friends — the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald and The Post’s Barton Gellman — to bring the stories to light.  Although Poitras’s name appeared atop The Post’s story, she is not part of the newspaper’s staff (both she and Gellman, a former staffer, worked under a contract with the paper). Indeed, few in The Post’s newsroom were familiar with Poitras’s work until the NSA story broke in The Post and Guardian late Thursday.


Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Washington Post, Army Pfc. Manning to face pretrial hearing in WikiLeaks case, Ellen Nakashima and Julie Tate, Dec. 15, 2011. Not long after allegedly passing a massive trove of U.S. government secrets to WikiLeaks, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning told an acquaintance on an Internet chat that he just wanted “people to see the truth,” to prompt “worldwide discussion, debates and reforms” over war and foreign policy. Manning has been accused of aiding the enemy, violating the Espionage Act and several lesser charges — enough to send him away for life. Aiding the enemy carries a potential death sentence, but Army officials have said they will not seek it. At the Article 32 hearing, which is likely to last for several days, an investigating officer will determine whether the prosecution has enough evidence to send Manning to trial. It will be up to a convening authority whether to refer the case to a court-martial.  The case centers on hundreds of thousands of government documents that Manning allegedly provided to WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy group that later released them. At left, Pentagon Papers co-author and former Defense Department analyst Daniel Ellsberg shows his support for Manning.

BBC, Bradley Manning: Hero or villain? Mark Mardell (left), Dec. 16, 2011. Private Bradley Manning is of course innocent until proven guilty, although his commander-in-chief doesn't seem to have much doubt that he's broken the law. Pte Manning is the intelligence analyst who US authorities suspect of being behind the hugely embarrassing Wikileaks releases. He was arrested in Iraq last May for illegally downloading material from America's secret Internet network. His appearance in the court room in Fort Meade, Maryland, is under what is known as an article 32 hearing in the military code. It is more than a formality. It will decide whether he will face a court martial and is likely to feature an outline of the arguments on both sides, cross-examination of witnesses and could last up to a week.

Politico, Barack Obama on Bradley Manning: 'He broke the law,' MJ Lee and Abby Philli, April 22, 2011. President Barack Obama’s assertion at a recent California fundraiser that Bradley Manning “broke the law” may have run afoul of presidential protocol, according to legal analysts who have been tracking the case of the Army private charged in the WikiLeaks case. “I have to abide by certain classified information,” Obama said on a video that quickly began to circulate among media outlets Friday. “If I was to release stuff, information that I’m not authorized to release, I’m breaking the law. … We’re a nation of laws. We don’t individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate. … He broke the law.”

CBS News, State Department memo reveals possible cover-ups, halted investigations, John Miller, June 10, 2013. CBS News has uncovered documents that show the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within their ranks. The Diplomatic Security Service, or the DSS, is the State Department's security force, charged with protecting the secretary of state and U.S. ambassadors overseas and with investigating any cases of misconduct on the part of the 70,000 State Department employees worldwide. CBS News' John Miller reports that according to an internal State Department Inspector General's memo, several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off. The memo obtained by CBS News cited eight specific examples. Among them: allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut "engaged in sexual assaults" on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail "engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries" -- a problem the report says was "endemic."

Wayne Madsen, CIA number two resigns hours before Obama announces decision to arm Syrian rebels, Wayne Madsen Report, June 14, 2013 (Subscription only). CIA deputy director Michael Morrell resigned from his post just hours before the Obama White House, through deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, announced that the Obama administration had decided to provide weapons to the Syrian Free Army and its allied groups. Obama's pretext for arming the Al Qaeda-linked guerrillas is that U.S. intelligence concluded, after months of saying there was insufficient proof, that Syria used chemical weapons to kill Syrian civilians.

AP via Washington Post, CIA deputy director retires; defended harsh interrogation techniques, CIA over Benghazi, Staff report, June 13, 2013. CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who defended harsh interrogation techniques and was involved with the fallout after the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, announced his retirement Wednesday. When President Barack Obama named a successor to former CIA Director David Petraeus last January, Morell was passed over in favor of the White House counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan. Morell had been acting director since Petraeus’ resignation. He said he will leave his CIA post Aug. 9. Morell retired after 33 years at the CIA, including two stints as acting director and one as deputy director. Brennan said Morell, 54, will be replaced by Avril Haines, 43, the first woman to hold that position. Haines has been a White House deputy assistant and deputy counsel for national security affairs since 2010. Before that, she was assistant legal adviser for treaty affairs at the State Department, according to a White House statement.

Washington Post, U.S. fears NSA leaker has more classified files, Greg Miller and Sari Horwitz, June 13, 2013. Investigators say findings appear to bolster Edward Snowden’s claim he made off with additional files. Lawmakers call for more disclosures A broad assessment of the damage caused by disclosure of documents on classified intelligence programs has concluded that the former National Security Agency contractor who claimed responsibility for the leaks probably obtained dozens of other sensitive files, U.S. officials said Thursday. The disclosure came as NSA and FBI officials came under new pressure from senior lawmakers to defend the agency’s interpretation of a law that it has used to sweep up the phone records of millions of U.S. citizens, and to declassify material to support NSA Director Keith B. Alexander’s assertion that the surveillance programs have helped to thwart “dozens” of terrorist attacks.
Washington Post, Syrian rebels: Help from U.S. could be too little, too late, Loveday Morris, June 13, 2013. Rebels call for shipments to include heavy weaponry, but the U.S. has not provided details on its assistance. Syrian rebels on Friday described the U.S. decision to provide them with arms as a “late step” and called for shipments to include heavy weaponry capable of tipping the balance of power on the battlefield. The United States has said it would be “responsive to the needs” of the increasingly desperate rebels, but has not given details of what assistance will include.

Fox, IG report says Panetta disclosed sensitive info on bin Laden raid, rep decries 'hypocrisy' June 6, 2013. A top House Republican is accusing the Obama administration of “hypocrisy” after a draft watchdog report claimed former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta disclosed sensitive information on the Usama bin Laden raid to a Hollywood filmmaker -- even as the Justice Department aggressively pursued other security leaks.  Rep. Peter King, R-NY, sharply criticized the White House for letting the Panetta disclosure slide. "There is definitely a hypocrisy here," King fumed. "The administration is cracking down on every leak. But here, they themselves are orchestrating leaks. But here you have the White House cooperating with Hollywood. And as a result of that, we have security breaches." 

Consortium News, Second Thoughts on October Surprise, Robert Parry, June 8, 2013. Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who oversaw two congressional investigations into Ronald Reagan's secret dealings with Iran, says a key piece of evidence was withheld that could have altered his conclusion clearing Reagan's 1980 campaign of allegations that it sabotaged President Jimmy Carter's hostage negotiations with Iran. In a phone interview on Thursday, the Indiana Democrat responded to a document that I had e-mailed him revealing that in 1991 a deputy White House counsel working for then-President George H.W. Bush was notified by the State Department that Reagan's campaign director William Casey had taken a trip to Madrid in relation to the so-called October Surprise issue.

Bilderberg Meeting In the United Kingdom

LDS Freedom Forum, Alex Jones Storms BBC, Confronts Bilderberg Member, Radio host takes over live broadcast, Paul Joseph Watson, June 9, 2013. Alex Jones confronted Bilderberg member and UK Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls shortly before a live BBC broadcast on which Jones was a guest, before Balls was ambushed again in the corridor about breaking the ministerial code by taking part in a secret lobbying meeting. Bilderberg steering committee member and MP Ken Clarke was forced to address the issue during the BBC Sunday Politics show. Treasury official Balls sidestepped the question about breaking the ministerial code, which states that MP’s cannot attend private meetings without disclosing details to the public, by claiming that he was not a minister – an overt lie because Balls swore an oath to uphold that very code when he became a Member of Parliament in 2005. Balls attended Bilderberg meetings before he became Shadow Chancellor. Officials are also supposed to have a secretary on hand making minutes, which is not the case at Bilderberg. Just like the NSA wiretapping issue and innumerable other scandals, illegal activity is being conducted in plain sight at Bilderberg when British officials like Balls and Prime Minister David Cameron attend Bilderberg with no public disclosure.


(20 minutes).

Telegraph (United Kingdom), Bilderberg: Ken Clarke 'forgot' he was a trustee of funding group, Tim Ross, June 10, 2013. Kenneth Clarke has admitted that he may have failed fully to declare his role organising the secretive meetings of the Bilderberg Group of world leaders. The senior minister without portfolio is one of three trustees of the Bilderberg Association, the organisation that funded the conference last week. Mr Clarke told the Commons that he had “forgotten” that the controversial gatherings were paid for from funds raised by the group. He said he was checking his records to see whether he had informed civil servants of his role, as would be expected to avoid potential suggestions of a conflict of interest. Mr Clarke made the disclosure while answering questions over the “private” meeting of 140 of the world’s most powerful executives, politicians, ministers and advisers, which took place at a hotel near Watford last week. The minister, who has been a member of the Bilderberg Group steering committee for 10 years, attended the annual event, along with David Cameron, George Osborne, Ed Balls and Lord Mandelson.

Mediaite, Jesse Ventura Rants On Bradley Manning, IRS, And Suing Navy SEAL’s Widow With A Skeptical Piers Morgan, Josh Feldman, June 3, 2013 (Video). Former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura joined Piers Morgan tonight for a lively discussion ranging from the big scandals in Washington to the trial of Bradley Manning to whether Ventura would finally dip his toes in the presidential water after sitting out for the last two cycles. Ventura bashed the Obama administration for overreach in the IRS and AP scandals, while declaring that public trust in parties is so low, a third party candidate like himself could easily win in 2016.

Mediaite, Ralph Nader Slams Obama Again: ‘Has There Ever Been A Bigger Con Man In White House?’ Andrew Kirell, June 13, 2013 video. Appearing at a 92nd Street Y event with Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman last week, famed activist and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader tore into President Obama for a variety of issues, namely the lack of progress in mandating an increase in the minimum wage. After explaining that he believes the Democratic Party has purposely stalled action on increasing the federally-mandated wage rate, Nader suggested the president has shrugged off the issue for the last five years. This thought led Nader to reiterate a harsh question he posed to Goodman several years ago: “Has there ever been a bigger con man in the White House?” The audience applauded. “The one ingredient you want when you vote for somebody… it’s their moral courage and the fire in the belly,” he added, suggesting that Obama has lacked it. “That’s what makes all the difference in the world.”

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