Update 8: The Guardian publishes a livestream covering Edward Snowden's surveillance disclosures and the international community reacts. (More at the end of the diary)
Cross-posted from Whistleblowing Today.
The Guardian disclosed today the identity of the individual who provided it with information about NSA surveillance. He is Edward Snowden, "a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton" who "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 British newspaper says it has revealed Snowden's identity at his request.<!--more-->
In a videotaped interview with Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, Snowden described his motive for disclosing documents revealed by The Guardian over the past two days. It was a matter of conscience, he said, and a realization that "''I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things.'"
Snowden's description of the government's surveillance activities is chilling.
You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place." - Edward Snowden (in The Guardian)Read more at the Guardian:
Article, Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind revelations of NSA surveillance by Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras.
Q & A (video and transcript) with Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill
Updated below, from Twitter:
MEET OUR SOURCE, in his own words: Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind revelations of NSA surveillance guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun…UPDATE 1:
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 9, 2013
Indeed, the government will do its utmost to make Snowden the story to distract from its own actions. That is SOP in any whistleblower case. With so much at stake in this case, it is especially important to keep the focus where it belongs.
Business Insider reports that Booz Allen Hamilton posted a statement on its website, but the website "appears to be down" or is "'undergoing maintenance.'" Below is the statement, per BI.
Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, has been an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.BI and The Guardian remind us that DNI James Clapper is a former Booz Allen executive. Julian Borger writes:
The current of director of national intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, who issued a stinging attack on the intelligence leaks this weekend, is a former Booz Allen executive. The firm's current vice-chairman, Mike McConnell, was DNI under the George W Bush administration. He worked for the Virginia-based company before taking the job, and returned to the firm after leaving it. The company website says McConnell is responsible for its "rapidly expanding cyber business".There's more about Booz Allen in this Salon article (2007).
James Woolsey, a former CIA director was also a Booz Allen vice-president, and Melissa Hathaway, another former company executive also once worked as the top aide on cybersecurity to McConnell when he was DNI. The company headquarters in the leafy Washington suburb of McLean in northern Virginia, close to CIA headquarters and home to former and current intelligence officers.
With revenues of $3.7 billion in 2005, Booz Allen is one of the nation’s biggest defense and intelligence contractors. Under McConnell’s watch, Booz Allen has been deeply involved in some of the most controversial counterterrorism programs the Bush administration has run, including the infamous Total Information Awareness data-mining scheme. As a key contractor and advisor to the NSA, Booz Allen is almost certainly participating in the agency’s warrantless surveillance of the telephone calls and e-mails of American citizens.
When the Groundbreaker and Trailblazer problems came to light, the Senate suspended the NSA’s independent acquisition authority. In July 2006, the oversight subcommittee of the House intelligence committee issued a blistering critique of the Pentagon’s management of the NSA and other intelligence programs. “Many of the major acquisition programs at the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Security Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency have cost taxpayers billions of dollars in cost overruns and schedule delays,” the bipartisan report concluded. Booz Allen was deeply involved in all three, and as head of the firm’s defense intelligence programs, McConnell would have had direct participation.UPDATE 3
The Washington Post confirmed today that Edward Snowden was the source for its NSA surveillance reporting. Barton Gellman and Aaron Blake write:
Snowden also expressed hope that the NSA surveillance programs would now be open to legal challenge for the first time. Earlier this year, in Amnesty International v. Clapper, the Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit against the mass collection of phone records because the plaintiffs could not prove exactly what the program did or that they were personally subject to surveillance.According to Reuters, "a U.S. intelligence agency" has requested a Justice Department criminal investigation of the disclosure.
“The government can’t reasonably assert the state secrets privilege for a program it has acknowledged. The courts can now allow challenges to be heard on that basis,” Snowden said.
CNN reports (6:19 ET) that the White House will have no comment on the subject today.
Speaking on CNN (Sun. 7:45 pm ET) Daniel Ellsberg, expressed support for the actions of Edward Snowden. "I have no doubt that this [NSA surveillance] violates the Fourth Amendment."
The Pentagon Papers whistleblower said he would have disclosed such a surveillance program if it had existed when he worked as a government contractor. "I think they have everything, said Ellsberg, "and that is a recipe for tyranny in this country."
I was just with Dan Ellsberg as he learned out about Edward Snowden. He called Snowden a hero, said he's been waiting for him for 40 years.— Trevor Timm (@trevortimm) June 9, 2013
A petition for a presidential pardon of Edward Snowdon has been posted online and already has 2,286 signatures (as of writing). H/T to Burned and Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse.
Buzzfeed reports that people who view Snowden as a hero outnumber those who view him as a traitor.
Iceland's Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Parliament, and mari McCarthy, executive director of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, said in a written statement this evening that they are proactively preparing to help Edward Snowden obtain asylum in Iceland, should he request it.
“Whereas IMMI is based in Iceland, and has worked on protections of privacy, furtherance of government transparency, and the protection of whistleblowers, we feel it is our duty to offer to assist and advise Mr. Snowden to the greatest of our ability,” their statement reads. “We are already working on detailing the legal protocols required to apply for asylum, and will over the course of the week be seeking a meeting with the newly appointed interior minister of Iceland, Mrs. Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, to discuss whether an asylum request can be processed in a swift manner, should such an application be made.”[Forbes]
Timothy Lee, at the Washington Post, asks, "Has the US become the type of nation from which you have to seek asylum?"
Apparently. The Hill confirms [8:50 PM ET] that the Justice Department is "in the initial stages of an investigation” according to DOJ spokeswoman Nanda Chitre and urged on by Rep. Peter King (Rep, NY.).
Meanwhile, Michael Moore's website features several articles on Snowden beneath this banner headline:
9:25 PM ET: Barton Gellman (Washington Post) reveals details of the Post's relationship with "Verax," the code name chosen by Edward Snowden, who contacted them before contacting Glenn Greenwald.
"A series of indirect contacts preceded our first direct exchange May 16," Gellman writes. He describes the nerve-wracking experience of trying to communicate under the watchful eye of the NSA's surveillance system. Just before publication of the first Post Story, Gellman contacted Snowden using a new "channel" where Snowden was not expecting him. "Verax" responded that "The police already visited my house [in Hawaii] this morning."
Gellman writes that the Post consulted government officials "about the potential harm to national security prior to publication and decided to reproduce only four of the 41 slides."
The government thus had the means to manipulate coverage of Snowden's disclosures.
Those who have been following this diary though its numerous updates may be interested to know that The Guardian has instituted "Live coverage of the continued fallout from Edward Snowden's revelations."
This morning, CSPAN Radiohas been live broadcasting debate on the NSA surveillance programs by the British House of Commons. It's a very good discussion, and probably better than what we may expect from the U.S. Congress. A key concern expressed has been the perception that the NSA may be circumventing UK privacy safeguards for its own citizens.
There has been little discussion in the US, so far, of the reactions and implications for other countries subjected to NSA surveillance. However, newspapers in other countries indicate that the international community is deeply concerned about the revelations of Edward Snowden.
The Calgary Herald reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel "is in contact with American authorities" about the surveillance issue and will discuss it with President Obama after he arrives in Berlin on June 18.
The European Commission said Monday it was concerned about the impact of such programs on the privacy of EU citizens and said overall problems involving data privacy had already been raised by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding during talks with her U.S. counterparts in April.
"This case shows that a clear legal framework for the protection of personal data is not a luxury or constraint, but a fundamental right," Reding said in a reaction to the case. (Calgary Herald)