Tag Archive: edward snowden

Why The Media Ignores Jeremy Hammond While Praising Edward Snowden

hacker hammond

Jeremy Hammond’s hack of Stratfor, a corporate intelligence agency, created global solidarity by revealing how the 1% targets activists worldwide.

From Mint Press News / By Kit O’Connell

The mainstream media has devoted hundreds of articles to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary “Citizenfour,” but it’s not devoted the same level of attention to many other whistleblowers and political prisoners, like Jeremy Hammond, no matter how sensational the facts they revealed.

In November 2013, a federal court sentenced Hammond to 10 years in prison for his part in the hack of Strategic Forecasting, an Austin, Texas-based corporate intelligence agency, also known as Stratfor. Working on behalf of Lulzsec, an infamous subgroup of Anonymous, Hammond leaked 5 million private emails taken from Stratfor to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, a release that came to be known as the Global Intelligence Files, or GI Files.

The emails revealed that Stratfor gathers intelligence on behalf of private corporations while also sharing sensitive information with local and federal law enforcement. For example, the company spied on The Yes Men for Dow Chemical, after the activists publicly humiliated Dow on behalf of survivors of the 1984 Bhopal, India, disaster that killed thousands. At the same time, Stratfor collaborated with the Texas State Troopers to infiltrate Occupy Austin during the first months after the group’s formation in October 2011. (more…)

Beyond Whistleblowing

edFrom Crimethinc.

Citizenfour is just the latest expression of public fascination with the figure of the whistleblower. Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden—the whistleblower defects from within the halls of power to inform us about how power is being misused, delivering forbidden information to the people like the holy fire of Prometheus.

But can the whistleblower save us? Is whistleblowing enough? What limitations are coded into a strategy of social change based around whistleblowing, and what would it take to go beyond them?

Certainly, whistleblowers look good compared to the institutions they expose. Faith in authorities of all stripes is at an all-time low, and for good reason. In a news clip in Citizenfour, we see Obama claim to have ordered an inquiry into the NSA before Snowden’s revelations surfaced, petulantly implying that he was Snowden before Snowden. The President calls cynically for a “fact-based” discussion—when the only useful source of facts has been the illegal leaks of the man he is decrying. It is difficult to imagine a starker contrast between courage and cynicism.

Yet it’s one thing to unmask tyrants—it’s another thing to depose them. (more…)

Dear Chelsea Manning: birthday messages from Edward Snowden, Terry Gilliam and more

chelsea(Blog Editor’s Note: Have you written Chelsea a birthday card yet? It’s not to late. Check out our Political Prisoner Birthday Poster for December here to get her address and more.)

From The Guardian

Yesterday, December 18th, Chelsea Manning – heroine, whistleblower and inmate – turned 27. She has been behind bars for four years and eight months, ever since her arrest for leaking ­classified US documents. There isn’t much prospect that she will be released any time soon. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence, with the earliest possibility of parole being in 2021. She has appealed to Barack Obama for a pardon. It seems unlikely he will grant it.

It is against this gloomy and unpropitious backdrop that leading writers, artists and public figures from around the world are today sending Chelsea birthday greetings. Their contributions include letters, poems, drawings and original paintings. Some are philosophical – yes, that’s you, Slavoj Žižek – others brief messages of goodwill. A few are ­movingly confessional.

All send a powerful reminder: that for millions in the US and beyond, Chelsea Manning is an inspiring moral figure who deserves our continued support. Her leaks, published in 2010, at a time when Manning was unhappily stationed with the US military in Baghdad, revealed the true nature of America’s twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also ­illuminated the gulf between Washington’s private thinking and its public diplomacy.

Edward Snowden sums up the mood of collective ­gratitude: “I thank you now and forever for your extraordinary act of service and I am sorry that it has come with such an unbelievable personal cost. As a result of your courageous act, the American people are more informed about the ­workings of our government as it positions itself for endless war … For this we all thank you. Happy birthday, Chelsea.” (more…)

How the Surveillance State Changes Our Everyday Lives

 “Mass surveillance is the elegant oppression, a panopticon without bars. Its cage is... behind the eyes—in the mind.” Under authority's gaze, many people become smaller, more obedient, less daring.

Under authority’s gaze, many people become smaller, more obedient, less daring.

From Vice/ By Molly Crabapple

George Orwell’s 1984 opens with Winston Smith carving out a pocket of privacy by crouching in a corner of his apartment where the telescreen—and thus Big Brother—can’t see and writing a diary entry. These days, that Stalin-inspired nightmare seems quaint.

We carry our personal telescreens around with us, and take it for granted that if someone wants to watch us, they can.There is nowhere to hide, even in the Hong Kong hotel room where Laura Poitras filmed Edward Snowden talking to Glenn Greenwald about the revelations about the NSA the whistleblower unleashed on the world. At one point in Citizenfour, Poitras’s film about the surveillance state and Snowden, an impatient Snowden yanks the hotel phone’s plug from the wall. All VoIP phones can be bugged, he explains, tossing away the cord. The NSA could know what he ordered from room service.

Much of Citizenfour was shot over the eight days that Poitras and Greenwald spent with Snowden. In contrast to the gray poverty of 1984‘s Oceania, the documentary’s dystopian setting is sleekly modern. Poitras shoots NSA data centers, Occupy Wall Street privacy training sessions, and the posh no-placeness of the business-class hotel. Snowden proves what the two journalists already suspected and, thanks to him, we all now know: The US government is spying on everyone. He then trains them in the cumbersome feints with which they might evade its gaze. (more…)

N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens

nsa_eyeFrom New York Times

WASHINGTON — Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, testified on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners. (more…)

N.S.A. Able to Foil Basic Safeguards of Privacy on Web

nsa-spying-logoFrom New York Times

The National Security Agency is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age, according to newly disclosed documents.

The agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, the documents show.

Many users assume — or have been assured by Internet companies — that their data is safe from prying eyes, including those of the government, and the N.S.A. wants to keep it that way. The agency treats its recent successes in deciphering protected information as among its most closely guarded secrets, restricted to those cleared for a highly classified program code-named Bullrun, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. (more…)

NSA to Fire 90% of System Administrators to Eliminate Future Leaks

nsa-35From Business Insider

The National Security Agency, hit by disclosures of classified data by former contractor Edward Snowden, said Thursday it intends to eliminate about 90 percent of its system administrators to reduce the number of people with access to secret information.

Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, the U.S. spy agency charged with monitoring foreign electronic communications, told a cybersecurity conference in New York City that automating much of the work would improve security.

“What we’re in the process of doing – not fast enough – is reducing our system administrators by about 90 percent,” he said.

The remarks came as the agency is facing scrutiny after Snowden, who had been one of about 1,000 system administrators who help run the agency’s networks, leaked classified details about surveillance programs to the press. (more…)