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“U-2, Brut?”: Baby Face Snowden and the Destabilization of Obama

NSA Surveillance Map, leaked by Snowden prior to Obama's meeting with Merkel.

Baby Face Snowden's candidate of choice

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COMMENT: In the 1930’s, there was a famous American criminal named Baby Face Nelson. In the second decade of this century, we are witnessing the activities of another American criminal of youthful visage–Edward J. Snowden. A career spook, Snowden has, of course, been the source for disclosures about NSA spying on individuals and institutions.

Previously, we noted that Ron Paul backer Snowden decamped to Hong Kong and leaked information about U.S. hacking of Chinese computers just as President Obama was meeting with the Chinese prime minister Xi, embarrassing the President at a sensitive time.

(Users of this website are emphatically encouraged to examine in detail the previous, above-linked posts on this subject.)

Now, Snowden has followed up his Chinese “op” by leaking information about NSA spying on EU members. The most “spied-upon” EU member state is–unsurprisingly–Germany. The latest disclosure comes as Obama was preparing to meet with Angela Merkel of Germany.

The timing of this, on top of the “remarkable coincidence” of Snowden showing up in Hong Kong and leaking embarrassing information as Obama is meeting with Xi, is more than even the most credulous should believe.

As noted in a previous post, this incident strikes us as being remarkably similar to the downing of a U-2 spy plane prior to the Eisenhower/Kruschev summit. In The Guns of November, Part I, we examined information from Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty indicating that the U-2 had been deliberately sabotaged by CIA hardliners to frustrate attempts at improving U.S./Soviet relations. The leaking of the information to down the U-2 was blamed on none other than Lee Harvey Oswald!

“Snowden’s Ride”, to coin a term, has all the earmarks of an intelligence operation, like the U-2 gambit. Central to this is Thiel’s Palantir firm, almost certainly the developer of the PRISM function. As discussed in our last post, the notion that there would be two Silicon Valley software functions with identical names used by NSA/intelligence community is not credible. There would have been litigation.

Also as noted in our last post, we wonder what role may have been played in this by Michael J. Morrell, who brief Dubya on intelligence matters and who was at his side on 9/11. Note that Snowden also worked for CIA, as well as NSA. That “the Company” may be scoring points against a rival agency is also to be considered.

It should come as no surprise that the NSA would target Germany as a “hot spot” for electronic surveillance. An overview of the most important terrorist incidents affecting the United States over the last quarter of a century reveals important evidentiary tributaries leading to Germany:

  • The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 was executed in Germany. The bomb was placed aboard the plane in Germany and the bombers were heavily infiltrated by German intelligence. One or more of the cell of bombers was a German intelligence operative. 
  • The financing for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 came from operatives in Germany.
  • The actual mastermind of the Oklahoma City bombing, according to ATF informant Carol Howe, was Andreas Strassmeir. Strassmeir was a “former” Bundeswehr officer and the son of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s chief of staff. Andreas’ grandfather was one of the charter members of the NSDAP under Hitler. The resemblance between Strassmeir and “John Doe #2” is striking.
  • Not only did the 9/11 hijack conspirators coalesce in Hamburg, but there is strong evidence that German intelligence was involved with the attack. Many of hijacker Mohamed Atta’s associates in South Florida were Germans. Atta was moved around under the cover of the Carl Duisberg Society (Gesellschaft). (See text excerpts below.) In Florida, he was associating with the sons and daughters of prominent German industrialists. (See text excerpts below.) Of interest, also, is the fact that CIA pilots apparently made a “run” to the Bormann ranch. (See text excerpts below.) This sounds like a regular route. In our conversations with Daniel Hopsicker, we have noted that the South Florida aviation milieu had been a focal point of covert operations for decades, dating back to the Second World War. The Bormann ranch was in the three-borders area highlighted in FTR #457. Did the German associates of Mohamed Atta come up the other end of that pipeline?
  • The “vacuum cleaner” activities of NSA/GCHQ have been known for a long time–we have done programs about it dating back many years. The formal, public attack on the ECHELON network began in 1998. That attack came from Germany and Underground Reich-associated elements such as the Free Congress Foundation. 
  • In August of 1998, several things happened almost simultaneously–as the German/EU/Free Congress Foundation/Underground Reich attack on ECHELON/Menwith Hill was gaining momentum, Osama bin Laden stopped using his cell phone and began using couriers for important communication. At this time, German intelligence had the Hamburg cell (of 9/11 hijackers) under electronic surveillance. German intelligence did NOT alert the United States.

“NSA Map Shows Germany Most Spied-on of EU Members”; UPI.com; 6/10/2013.

EXCERPT: While the United States spies on all Euro­pean Union nations, it spies on Ger­many the most, say papers sup­plied by a for­mer employee of the top U.S. spy agency.

The rank­ings of what EU nations are snooped on, and how much, can be seen in a color-coded map of covert National Secu­rity Agency sur­veil­lance activ­i­ties, EUObserver.com reported Monday.

Nations sub­ject to the least spy­ing activ­i­ties are shaded green; those with the most red.

All EU members are various shades of green on the map. Germany is orange.

The map, called Boundless Informant, is among documents released by Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor who says he is the person who this month leaked information about the U.S. metadata collection program known as PRISM. . . .

“History of the Carl Duisberg Society”

EXCERPT: In the 1920’s, Carl Duisberg, General Director of Bayer AG in Germany, envisioned sending German students to the United States on work-study programs. Duisberg was convinced that international practical training was critical to the growth of German industry. Many of the returning trainees later rose to prominent positions at AEG, Bayer, Bosch, Daimler Benz, and Siemens, bringing with them new methods for mass production, new ideas, and new business practices. Following World War II, alumni from the first exchanges founded the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft (CDG) in 1949 to help engineers, businessmen and farmers gain international work experience necessary for the rebuilding of Germany . . . .

Excerpt from the Description for FTR #484

. . . . Daniel also notes that some of Atta’s German associates in Florida were sons and daughters of prominent German industrialists. . . .

Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile by Paul Manning; p. 292.

EXCERPT: . . . A for­mer CIA con­tract pilot, who once flew the run into Paraguay and Argentina to the Bor­mann ranch described the estate as remote, ‘worth your life unless you entered their air space with the right iden­ti­fi­ca­tion codes. . . .


8 comments for ““U-2, Brut?”: Baby Face Snowden and the Destabilization of Obama”

  1. Here’s a story that fall under the category of “who watches the watchers…or at least gives the watchers security clearances?”. Part of the answer appears to be “some random massive contractor with ethical issues that happens to be owned by the same owners of Booz Allen Hamilton and that’s been under investigation since 2011“:

    Watchdog says contractor that performed background check of NSA leaker under investigation
    By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, June 20, 9:04 PM

    WASHINGTON — A government watchdog testified Thursday there may have been problems with a security clearance background check conducted on the 29-year-old federal contractor who disclosed previously secret National Security Agency programs for collecting phone records and Internet data — just as news media disclosed more information about those programs.

    Appearing at a Senate hearing, Patrick McFarland, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general, said USIS, the company that conducted the background investigation of former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden, is now under investigation itself.

    McFarland declined to say what triggered the inquiry of USIS or whether the probe is related to Snowden. But when asked by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., if there were any concerns about the USIS background check on Snowden, McFarland answered: “Yes, we do believe that there may be some problems.”

    Meanwhile, new details emerged about the scope of two recently disclosed NSA programs — one that gathers U.S. phone records and another that is designed to track the use of U.S.-based Internet servers by foreigners with possible links to terrorism.

    Two new documents published Thursday by The Guardian newspaper — one labeled “top secret” and the other “secret” — said NSA can keep copies of intercepted communications from or about U.S. citizens indefinitely if the material contains significant intelligence or evidence of crimes.

    McFarland declined after the Senate hearing to describe to reporters the type of investigation his office is conducting. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said she was told the inquiry is a criminal investigation related “to USIS’ systemic failure to adequately conduct investigations under its contract.”

    “We are limited in what we can say about this investigation because it is an ongoing criminal matter,” said McCaskill, chairwoman of the Senate subcommittee on financial and contracting oversight. “But it is a reminder that background investigations can have real consequences for our national security.”

    McCaskill’s panel conducted the hearing jointly with Tester’s subcommittee on efficiency and effectiveness of federal programs.

    USIS, based in Falls Church, Va., said in a statement that it has never been informed that it is under criminal investigation. USIS received a subpoena from the inspector general’s office in January 2012 for records, the statement said. “USIS complied with that subpoena and has cooperated fully with the government’s civil investigative efforts,” according to the company.

    USIS declined to comment on whether it conducted a background investigation of Snowden. The company said it performs thousands of background investigations each year for OPM and other government agencies. “These investigations are confidential and USIS does not comment on them,” the USIS statement said.

    The background check USIS performed on Snowden was done in 2011 and was part of periodic reinvestigations that are required for employees who hold security clearances, according to McFarland and Michelle Schmitz, the assistant inspector general for investigations at OPM.

    Schmitz said the investigation of USIS commenced later in 2011.

    Booz Allen Hamilton, the company where Snowden was working at the time of the disclosures, fired him for violations of the firm’s code of ethics and firm policy. The company said he had been a Booz Allen employee for less than three months.

    Snowden worked previously at the CIA and probably obtained his security clearance there. But like others who leave the government to join private contractors, he was able to keep his clearance after he left and began working for outside firms.

    Of the 4.9 million people with clearance to access “confidential and secret” government information, 1.1 million, or 21 percent, work for outside contractors, according to a January report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Of the 1.4 million who have the higher “top secret” access, 483,000, or 34 percent, work for contractors.

    OPM’s Federal Investigative Services division performs almost all the background investigations for federal agencies and nearly 75 percent of the investigators who perform background checks are contractors, according to information on the agency’s website.

    At the hearing, McFarland called for much closer oversight of the investigators who conduct background checks. He said that 18 background investigators and record searchers have been criminally convicted since 2006 for fabricating information in background reports.

    McFarland’s office is actively working on 11 fabrication cases and another 36 cases involving background investigators are pending, according to data he provided to the subcommittees.

    Of the 18 investigators who were criminally convicted, 11 were federal employees and seven were contractors. Of the 47 active and pending cases, six involve federal employees and 41 involve contractors, according to McFarland.

    The new documents revealed by The Guardian were signed by Attorney General Eric Holder. They include point-by-point directions on how an NSA employee must work to determine that a person being targeted has not entered the United States. If NSA finds the target has entered the U.S., it will stop gathering phone and Internet data immediately, the documents say.

    Interestingly, even though Snowden passed his background check in 2011 and was an ex-CIA employee, Booz Allen Hamilton reportedly had reserves about him. It’s unclear what discrepancies they found on his resume, but something about his educational claims reportedly did not add up:

    Exclusive: NSA contractor hired Snowden despite concerns about resume discrepancies

    By Mark Hosenball

    WASHINGTON | Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:52pm EDT

    (Reuters) – Hiring screeners at Booz Allen Hamilton, a contractor for the National Security Agency, found possible discrepancies in a resume submitted by Edward Snowden, but the company still employed him, a source with detailed knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.

    Snowden, who disclosed top secret documents about U.S. surveillance of telephone and Internet data after leaving his job as a systems administrator at an NSA facility in Hawaii, was hired this spring after he convinced his screeners that his description of his education was truthful, said the source, who is not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

    It is unclear precisely which element of Snowden’s resume caused personnel officials at Booz Allen Hamilton to raise questions about his background. Also unclear is how he satisfied their concerns.

    Before he was hired by Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden also was screened by USIS, a Virginia-based investigations firm hired separately by the U.S. government to conduct background checks on prospective employees and contractors. Based on reports from firms such as USIS, the NSA decides whether a potential contract worker gets a security clearance.

    During the hearing, Senator John Tester of Montana asked U.S. government personnel officials whether they had “any concerns that Mr. Snowden’s background investigation by USIS … may not have been carried out in an appropriate or thorough manner.”

    “Yes, we do believe that there – there may be some problems,” said Patrick McFarland, inspector general of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. McFarland did not elaborate.


    According to sources familiar with the matter, Snowden, a high school dropout who later passed the high school equivalency test known as the GED, stated on his resume earlier this year he attended computer-related classes at Johns Hopkins University, a Tokyo campus of the University of Maryland and the University of Liverpool in Britain.

    According to the sources, the resume stated that Snowden “estimated” he would receive a master’s degree in computer security from Liverpool sometime this year.

    Some of the educational information listed on the resume did not check out precisely, said the sources, who are not authorized to comment publicly.

    Despite that, Booz Allen Hamilton hired him at an annual salary of $122,000 to work as a contractor for the NSA in Hawaii. Snowden had been on the job there for about four weeks when he traveled to Hong Kong last month and leaked the U.S. government secrets that made him known around the world.

    Tracey Reeves, a spokeswoman for Johns Hopkins, said that the university could find no record that Snowden had taken classes there.

    She added that Snowden might have taken vocational training courses from a private, for-profit entity called Advanced Career Technologies, which operated under the name Computer Career Institute at Johns Hopkins. Reeves said Johns Hopkins ended its relationship with the company in 2009, and that the company appears to have shut down in 2012.

    A spokesman for University of Maryland’s University College division said that records showed that Snowden did attend, in person, a summer session at a campus that the college operates in Asia. He declined to specify the location or provide any information about Snowden’s course work.

    A spokeswoman for the University of Liverpool said in an email that Snowden had registered for an online master’s program in computer security in 2011. But she added that “he is not active in his studies and has not completed the program.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 20, 2013, 8:24 pm
  2. @Pterrafractyl–

    Good find. This doesn’t surprise.

    I noted in my second post on this subject that Snowden didn’t graduate from high school.

    A high school diploma is mandatory for being a national security contractor.

    I don’t know about a GED.

    In any event, this positively reeks of a spook operation.

    Not that the dumb-ass media are likely to figure it out.

    I wouldn’t count on the blogosphere either. Most of them are superficial and, like mainstream journalists, function like a flock of birds.

    When one lands, they all land and when one flies away, they all fly away.

    They never seem to have figured out Assange, whose profound association with Holocaust-denier Joran Jermas (aka “Israel Shamir”) was instrumental in WikiLeaks ending up in Sweden at fascist money-man Carl Lundstrom’s Pirate Bay servers.

    Newer readers/listeners should examnine FTR #’s 732 and 745 for detailed discussion of this.



    Posted by Dave Emory | June 20, 2013, 9:38 pm
  3. The latest drip, drip, drip: GCHQ is doing even more surveillance than the NSA:

    GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world’s communications

    Exclusive: British spy agency collects and stores vast quantities of global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories and calls, and shares them with NSA, latest documents from Edward Snowden reveal

    Ewen MacAskill, Julian Borger, Nick Hopkins, Nick Davies and James Ball
    guardian.co.uk, Friday 21 June 2013 12.23 EDT

    Britain’s spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).

    The sheer scale of the agency’s ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.

    One key innovation has been GCHQ’s ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for some 18 months.

    GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.

    This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user’s access to websites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets.

    The existence of the programme has been disclosed in documents shown to the Guardian by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as part of his attempt to expose what he has called “the largest programme of suspicionless surveillance in human history”.

    “It’s not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight,” Snowden told the Guardian. “They [GCHQ] are worse than the US.”

    However, on Friday a source with knowledge of intelligence argued that the data was collected legally under a system of safeguards, and had provided material that had led to significant breakthroughs in detecting and preventing serious crime.

    Britain’s technical capacity to tap into the cables that carry the world’s communications – referred to in the documents as special source exploitation – has made GCHQ an intelligence superpower.

    By 2010, two years after the project was first trialled, it was able to boast it had the “biggest internet access” of any member of the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

    UK officials could also claim GCHQ “produces larger amounts of metadata than NSA”. (Metadata describes basic information on who has been contacting whom, without detailing the content.)

    By May last year 300 analysts from GCHQ, and 250 from the NSA, had been assigned to sift through the flood of data.

    The Americans were given guidelines for its use, but were told in legal briefings by GCHQ lawyers: “We have a light oversight regime compared with the US”.

    When it came to judging the necessity and proportionality of what they were allowed to look for, would-be American users were told it was “your call”.

    The Guardian understands that a total of 850,000 NSA employees and US private contractors with top secret clearance had access to GCHQ databases.

    The documents reveal that by last year GCHQ was handling 600m “telephone events” each day, had tapped more than 200 fibre-optic cables and was able to process data from at least 46 of them at a time.

    Each of the cables carries data at a rate of 10 gigabits per second, so the tapped cables had the capacity, in theory, to deliver more than 21 petabytes a day – equivalent to sending all the information in all the books in the British Library 192 times every 24 hours.

    And the scale of the programme is constantly increasing as more cables are tapped and GCHQ data storage facilities in the UK and abroad are expanded with the aim of processing terabits (thousands of gigabits) of data at a time.

    For the 2 billion users of the world wide web, Tempora represents a window on to their everyday lives, sucking up every form of communication from the fibre-optic cables that ring the world.

    The NSA has meanwhile opened a second window, in the form of the Prism operation, revealed earlier this month by the Guardian, from which it secured access to the internal systems of global companies that service the internet.

    The GCHQ mass tapping operation has been built up over five years by attaching intercept probes to transatlantic fibre-optic cables where they land on British shores carrying data to western Europe from telephone exchanges and internet servers in north America.

    This was done under secret agreements with commercial companies, described in one document as “intercept partners”.

    The papers seen by the Guardian suggest some companies have been paid for the cost of their co-operation and GCHQ went to great lengths to keep their names secret. They were assigned “sensitive relationship teams” and staff were urged in one internal guidance paper to disguise the origin of “special source” material in their reports for fear that the role of the companies as intercept partners would cause “high-level political fallout”.

    The source with knowledge of intelligence said on Friday the companies were obliged to co-operate in this operation. They are forbidden from revealing the existence of warrants compelling them to allow GCHQ access to the cables.

    “There’s an overarching condition of the licensing of the companies that they have to co-operate in this. Should they decline, we can compel them to do so. They have no choice.”

    The source said that although GCHQ was collecting a “vast haystack of data” what they were looking for was “needles”.

    “Essentially, we have a process that allows us to select a small number of needles in a haystack. We are not looking at every piece of straw. There are certain triggers that allow you to discard or not examine a lot of data so you are just looking at needles. If you had the impression we are reading millions of emails, we are not. There is no intention in this whole programme to use it for looking at UK domestic traffic – British people talking to each other,” the source said.

    He explained that when such “needles” were found a log was made and the interception commissioner could see that log.

    “The criteria are security, terror, organised crime. And economic well-being. There’s an auditing process to go back through the logs and see if it was justified or not. The vast majority of the data is discarded without being looked at … we simply don’t have the resources.”

    However, the legitimacy of the operation is in doubt. According to GCHQ’s legal advice, it was given the go-ahead by applying old law to new technology. The 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) requires the tapping of defined targets to be authorised by a warrant signed by the home secretary or foreign secretary.

    However, an obscure clause allows the foreign secretary to sign a certificate for the interception of broad categories of material, as long as one end of the monitored communications is abroad. But the nature of modern fibre-optic communications means that a proportion of internal UK traffic is relayed abroad and then returns through the cables.

    Parliament passed the Ripa law to allow GCHQ to trawl for information, but it did so 13 years ago with no inkling of the scale on which GCHQ would attempt to exploit the certificates, enabling it to gather and process data regardless of whether it belongs to identified targets.

    The categories of material have included fraud, drug trafficking and terrorism, but the criteria at any one time are secret and are not subject to any public debate. GCHQ’s compliance with the certificates is audited by the agency itself, but the results of those audits are also secret.

    An indication of how broad the dragnet can be was laid bare in advice from GCHQ’s lawyers, who said it would be impossible to list the total number of people targeted because “this would be an infinite list which we couldn’t manage”.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 21, 2013, 12:17 pm
  4. This isn’t really surprising but more of a “signs of the times” fun fact:
    USIS, the former government agency that handles security clearances and was privatized in 1996 and sold to the Carlyle Group in 2007, has its own political action committee.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 21, 2013, 2:27 pm
  5. A correction on my part: USIS wasn’t sold to Carlyle in 2007. It was sold by Carlyle in 2007 to a different private equity firm. Me can’t read!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 26, 2013, 1:21 pm
  6. Ars Technica has a big new piece on Snowden’s online posts on their chat rooms over the years including his time in Switzerland. While it doesn’t look like Snowden’s politics have changed much in recent years (he’s promoting the gold standard in one thread) his attitude towards leakers sure has:

    Ars Technica
    In 2009, Ed Snowden said leakers “should be shot.” Then he became one
    In Internet chat, Snowden opined on travel, short-selling—and national security.

    by Joe Mullin – June 26 2013, 8:00am CST

    d Snowden was 23 years old when he moved to Geneva in 2007. Soon after arriving, he was looking for a taste of home.

    It wasn’t that he was unhappy. Snowden’s life was becoming the adventure he’d been looking for. Moving to Switzerland hadn’t been his first choice—his dream picks were in Asia and Australia—but it certainly wasn’t bad. Hired by the CIA and granted a diplomatic cover, he was a regular old IT guy whose life was elevated by a hint of international intrigue.

    Snowden would soon move into a four-bedroom apartment covered by the agency. He’d blow off parking tickets, citing diplomatic immunity. He’d travel the continent. He befriended an Estonian rock star (“the funniest part is he’s a SUPER NERD”), raced motorcycles in Italy, took in the Muslim call to prayer from his Sarajevo hotel room, and formed opinions about the food and the women in Bosnia, in Romania, in Spain.

    But as his first spring dawned in Switzerland, it must have felt cold, foreign, and expensive. Two days after his arrival in Switzerland, Snowden logged onto #arsificial, a channel on Ars Technica’s public Internet Relay Chat (IRC) server. He’d been frequenting this space for a few months, chatting with whomever happened to be hanging out.

    Snowden logged on to the public IRC chat room with the same username he used across the Web: TheTrueHOOHA. The chat room was a place he would return to on dozens of occasions over his years in Switzerland, and his writings fill in details about the man who may go down as the most famous leaker in US history. Over the years that he hung out in #arsificial, Snowden went from being a fairly insulated American to being a man of the world. He would wax philosophical about money, politics, and in one notable exchange, about his uncompromising views about government leakers.

    Four years later, Snowden took a job with a government contractor for the specific purpose of gathering secret information on domestic spying being done by the National Security Agency (NSA). In May, he hopped a plane to Hong Kong before the NSA knew where he was going. Once there, Snowden began a process of leaking top-secret documents to journalists. Snowden’s first leak confirmed what activists had suspected but couldn’t prove: there was a dragnet government surveillance program collecting information on every American’s phone calls.

    And he could be abrasive. Snowden didn’t short stocks just to make money—he did it because it was the right thing to do. He saw himself as a paladin of the markets, bringing “liquidity” to all. As for those who didn’t agree with him about the rightness of the gold standard or the need to eliminate Social Security, they weren’t just mistaken—they were “retards.”

    Four years ago, Snowden presented an image of always being sure of himself, sometimes to the point of seeming arrogant. He often thought he was the smartest guy in the room, and he let others know it.

    A Ron Paul man and a short-seller

    If Snowden was getting comfortable in Geneva, he was fully at home in #arsificial. In a departure from his nearly 800 posts in other Ars forums, here he spoke bluntly on matters of state. In the months following the 2008 election, he discussed his embrace of a return to the gold standard and his admiration of its highest-profile champion.

    In his more hyperbolic moments, Snowden spoke about the fall of the dollar in near-apocalyptic terms. “It seems like the USD and GBP are both likely to go the way of the zimbabwe dollar,” he suggested in March 2009. “Especially with that cockbag bernanke deciding to magically print 1.2T more dollars.”

    The high unemployment rate that was on the way for the US didn’t phase Snowden; those wringing their hands and seeking conventional Keynesian solutions seemed softheaded to him. Obama was “planning to devalue the currency absolutely as fast as theoretically possible,” he wrote. Rising unemployment was a mere “correction,” a “necessary part of capitalism.”

    During the election, Snowden suggested he could support Obama if he were somehow to join forces with his opponent, John McCain. Snowden saw McCain as an “excellent leader” and “a guy with real values,” unlike Bush. But he wasn’t dreading an Obama presidency. “We need an idealist first and foremost,” he wrote. “Hillary Clinton, I think, would be a pox on the country.”

    Once Obama took office, Snowden groaned about his policies with increasing frequency. Fears that Obama might revive an assault weapons ban didn’t sit well with him as a defender of the Second Amendment. Another sticking point was social security. Snowden was an individualist, even when it was unpopular; he saw little need for a safety net.

    Leakers should be “shot in the balls”

    Snowden may have leaned libertarian on some issues, but he also exhibited strong support for America’s security state apparatus. He didn’t just work for it as a quiet dissident. Four years before he would leak the country’s secrets, Snowden was cheering its actions and insisting that it needed healthy funding. To anyone who questioned US actions in his favored online hangout, he could be derisive.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 26, 2013, 1:25 pm
  7. Laura Poitras, one of the journalists working with Snowden, has a new set of “revelations” reported in Der Spiegel about NSA targeting of EU institutions:

    Der Spiegel
    Attacks from America: NSA Spied on European Union Offices

    By Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid and Holger Stark, June 29, 2013 – 11:21 PM

    America’s NSA intelligence service allegedly targeted the European Union with its spying activities. According to SPIEGEL information, the US placed bugs in the EU representation in Washington and infiltrated its computer network. Cyber attacks were also perpetrated against Brussels in New York and Washington.

    Information obtained by SPIEGEL shows that America’s National Security Agency (NSA) not only conducted online surveillance of European citizens, but also appears to have specifically targeted buildings housing European Union institutions. The information appears in secret documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden that SPIEGEL has in part seen. A “top secret” 2010 document describes how the secret service attacked the EU’s diplomatic representation in Washington.

    The document suggests that in addition to installing bugs in the building in downtown Washington, DC, the EU representation’s computer network was also infiltrated. In this way, the Americans were able to access discussions in EU rooms as well as emails and internal documents on computers.

    The attacks on EU institutions show yet another level in the broad scope of the NSA’s spying activities. For weeks now, new details about Prism and other surveillance programs have been emerging that had been compiled by whistleblower Snowden. Details have also emerged that the British intelligence service GCHQ operates a similar program under the name Tempora with which global telephone and Internet connections are monitored.

    The documents SPIEGEL has seen indicate that the EU representation to the United Nations was attacked in a manner similar to the way surveillance was conducted against its offices in Washington. An NSU document dated September 2010 explicitly names the Europeans as a “location target”

    The documents also indicate the US intelligence service was responsible for an electronic eavesdropping operation in Brussels. A little over five years ago, EU security experts noticed several telephone calls that were apparently targeting the remote maintenance system in the Justus Lipsius Building where the EU Council of Ministers and the European Council is located. The calls were made to numbers that were very close to the one used for the remote administration of the building’s telephone system.

    This latest disclosure has, of course, continued to ruffled weathers:

    EU concern over Der Spiegel claim of US spying

    The head of the European Parliament has demanded “full clarification” from the US over a report that key EU premises in America have been bugged.

    Martin Schulz said that if this was true, it would have a “severe impact” on ties between the EU and the US.

    The report, carried by Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, cites a secret 2010 document alleging that the US spied on EU offices in New York and Washington.

    In a statement on Saturday, Mr Shultz said: “On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regard to these allegations.”

    Der Spiegel also quotes Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn as saying: “If these reports are true, it’s disgusting. The United States would be better off monitoring its secret services rather than its allies.”

    The US government has so far made no public comments on the Spiegel’s report.

    So was this new content from one of the original 41 Power-Point slides that we haven’t seen yet or is it from the thousands of other documents that Wikileaks, China, Russia, and who knows who else might have by now.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 29, 2013, 8:29 pm
  8. And in the latest Snowden-flake, we learn that the US classify Germany as a “third class” partner which puts it in a similar category to that of China, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. No other EU country has that classification:

    U.S. taps half-billion German phone, internet links in month: report

    BERLIN | Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:40am EDT

    (Reuters) – The United States taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month and has classed its biggest European ally as a target similar to China, according to secret U.S. documents quoted by a German newsmagazine.

    The revelations of alleged U.S. surveillance programs based on documents taken by fugitive former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have raised a political furor in the United States and abroad over the balance between privacy rights and national security.

    Exposing the latest details in a string of reputed spying programs, Der Spiegel quoted from an internal NSA document which it said its reporters had seen.

    The document Spiegel cited showed that the United States categorized Germany as a “third-class” partner and that surveillance there was stronger than in any other EU country, similar in extent to China, Iraq or Saudi-Arabia.

    “We can attack the signals of most foreign third-class partners, and we do it too,” Der Spiegel quoted a passage in the NSA document as saying.

    It said the document showed that the NSA monitored phone calls, text messages, emails and internet chat contributions and has saved the metadata – that is, the connections, not the content – at its headquarters.

    On an average day, the NSA monitored about 20 million German phone connections and 10 million internet data sets, rising to 60 million phone connections on busy days, the report said.

    While it had been known from disclosures by Snowden that the United States tapped data in Germany, the extent was previously unclear.

    News of the U.S. cyber-espionage program Prism and the British equivalent Tempora have outraged Germans, who are highly sensitive to government monitoring having lived through the Stasi secret police in the former communist East Germany and with lingering memories of the Gestapo of Hitler’s Nazi regime.

    A Spiegel report on Saturday that the NSA had spied on European Union offices caused outrage among EU policymakers, with some even calling for a suspension to talks for a free trade agreement between Washington and the EU.

    In France, Der Spiegel reported, the United States taps about 2 million connection data a day. Only Canada, Australia, Britain and New Zealand were explicitly exempted from spy attacks.

    And now Germany is preparing to bringing charges against “persons unknown”:

    The Independent
    Germany ready to charge UK and US intelligence over alleged bugging operations

    Outrage grows in Europe over allegations of extensive hacking and bugging operations
    Tony Paterson, Sunday 30 June 2013

    Germany’s Federal Prosecutor’s office said it was preparing to bring charges against British and US intelligence today amid fresh allegations that the services spied far more extensively than thought on German phone and internet traffic and bugged European Union offices in America.

    A report alleging a major and continuous US National Security Agency spying operation in Germany was published by Der Spiegel magazine today, prompting outrage from Berlin MPs still reeling from reports about extensive British surveillance in their country. The German Justice Minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenburger, demanded an immediate explanation and said the behaviour of the intelligence services was “reminiscent of the actions against enemies during the Cold War”. “It defies belief that our friends in the US see the Europeans as their enemies,” she said.

    The leak, which Der Spiegel said came from fugitive ex-CIA analyst Edward Snowden, claimed that the NSA tapped into half a billion German phone calls, emails and SMS messages each month. Reports last week revealed extensive tapping of German phone and internet traffic by British intelligence under its so-called Tempora programme. The information was said to be shared with the NSA.

    A spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor said the office was preparing to bring charges against “persons unknown” in relation to the reports.

    There was also widespread and mounting anger at official European Union level yesterday following disclosures that the NSA had spied on EU computer networks at its offices in New York and Washington and that it had also bugged the premises. Martin Schulz, head of the European Parliament, demanded “full clarification” from the US and said that if the disclosures proved true they would have a severe impact on US-EU ties.

    Considering there’s an election in Germany right now, the Snowden extradition-saga could get really interesting.

    And depending on how the charges against the US and UK proceed, lawsuits against governments that facilitate oppressive spying on innocent civilians might also get really interesting.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 30, 2013, 7:41 pm

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