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Friday, June 14, 2013

Nothing to hide

When sheep-imitative Americans tell you that they don't care about NSA surveillance because they have nothing to hide, ask why they have drapes over their windows.

The sheepish ones may not be doing anything of interest to the FBI now, but we have no idea what the future will bring. A government that seems acceptable now may turn oppressive later. The NSA has set up the infrastructure for an Orwellian nightmare, and then they tell us that this infrastructure will be used only against foreign terrorists (and Iranians). Maybe you can accept these assurances, but I think it's only a matter of time before totalitarianism seeps in.

We did not vote for this infrastructure. That massive facility in Utah was created without debate, without a public dialogue. The NSA says that everything they do has the approval of Congress, yet congressfolk complain that they can't get straightforward answers from the NSA.

And now, for those who aren't allergic to a bit of foil...
In the past, I've mentioned an eccentric writer named Jon Rappoport. He impressed me in the Reagan era with some good reportage published in the L.A. Weekly, but in later times he...well, let's just say the dude got weird. Annoyingly weird.

His latest essays on the Snowden controversy are in this tradition of weirdness. Even so, I must confess that this stuff is dangerously intriguing. See here and here.

In short and in sum, Rappoport thinks that Ed Snowden has a suspicious bio. And let's face it: He does. Young Snowy segued into the heart of the American intelligence system with unnerving rapidity. No, he didn't go to the prom wearing a cloak and dagger -- but only because he was never formally graduated.
In 2003, at age 19, without a high school diploma, Snowden enlists in the Army. He begins a training program to join the Special Forces. The sequence here is fuzzy. At what point after enlistment can a new soldier start this training program? Does he need to demonstrate some exceptional ability before Special Forces puts him in that program?

Snowden breaks both legs in a training exercise. He’s discharged from the Army. Is that automatic? How about healing and then resuming Army service? Just asking.

If he was accepted in the Special Forces training program because he had special computer skills, then why discharge him simply because he broke both legs?

Circa 2003 (?), Snowden gets a job as a security guard for an NSA facility at the University of Maryland. He specifically wanted to work for NSA? It was just a generic job opening he found out about?

Also in 2003 (?), Snowden shifts jobs. He’s now in the CIA, in IT. He has no high school diploma. He’s a young computer genius?

In 2007, Snowden is sent to Geneva. He’s only 23 years old. The CIA gives him diplomatic cover there. He’s put in charge of maintaining computer-network security. Major job. Obviously, he has access to a very wide range of classified documents. Sound a little odd? Again, just asking. He’s just a kid. Maybe he has his GED by now. Otherwise, he still doesn’t have a high school diploma....
Sorry for such a lengthy quote, but Rappoport's right: Snowy is an oddity. He's a bit like David Lynch's Inland Empire: Admirable and inexplicable.

In a follow-up piece, Rappoport trots out his Big Theory that Snowden has always been a CIA employee, deep cover, and that he hopped on over to the NSA to ratfuck No Such Agency pursuant to an ongoing NSA-CIA turf war.
This was a covert op launched by the CIA against a chief rival, the NSA. NSA, the agency that’s far bigger than the CIA. NSA, the agency that’s been taking over intelligence gathering, that considers itself superior to everybody else in the intelligence field.

The CIA, of course, couldn’t be seen as the NSA leaker. They needed a guy. They needed a guy who could appear to be FROM the NSA, to make things look worse for the NSA and shield the CIA.
I'm not persuaded by this argument. Not at all. Still...

Still, Rappoport has one thing right: Ed is odd.
Snowden's bio reminds me of another fella with odd gaps, leaps, and jumps in it: Barry Obama.
Yeah, it's odd. He's odd, what the fuck ever.

He's dumb as a shill, a plant? He's without any scruples or ethics and knows he's undercutting NSA to CIA benefit?

What's his reward going to be? A palace in China as opposed to Hawaii? He wants to live in dystopia with rivers chock full of dead swine?


I happen to know how secure our system is wrt to security clearances.

My son had the highest clearance. It was obtained after one phone call to me and a visit to next-door neighbor.

It's not like you would think.

I find it curious that James Clapper is a former VP at Booz Hamiliton [late 90s]. Not to mention that Snowden only worked for the contractor for 3 months, yet was able to haul a presumed mother-lode of classified information out the door with a nary a hiccup. The company itself is making 5.86 billion in annual income. And we, American taxpayers, are footing the bill to be spied on.

It's a wonderful world!

Truth is [what little of it exists], the whole surveillance question would not be on the radar without Snowden's disclosure. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop because a number of people have said this is the tip of the iceberg. Wyden and Udall attempted to alert the public 2 years ago, said we'd all be stunned by the over reach. But the story never got traction.

Interesting theory though that this could be a deliberate take down by the CIA, a turf war of some sort. If that's true, the public is again the victim and spectator as the powers-that-be pummel one another. We end up with the bloody nose and a possible visit by the FBI.

We've fallen down the rabbit hole.

I'm impressed that you quoted Rappaport, Joseph. I was going to refer you his examination of the "Snowden Mystique" but decided you'd probably just block my posting for being too outre' (as you so often do).

Congrats for moving up a notch on Andy's open-mindedness scale.
So is Emptywheel down? I know you link her a lot.
an ongoing NSA-CIA turf war.

In my experience, it's more of a friendly rivalry. While my acquaintances at one of those agencies do occasionally refer to "those bastards across the river", they are more likely to use the phrase "the loyal opposition".
My son had the highest clearance. It was obtained after one phone call to me and a visit to next-door neighbor.

A lot of it depends on how complicated your background is. The first time I had a clearance, the amount of checking seems to have been fairly minimal (although this was quite some time ago). I was 22 and my life had been pretty boring.

The last time I had an active clearance, I *know* they crawled pretty far back into some dim recesses of my life, interviewed people overseas, etc.

Some of my acquaintances at the various TLAs get "lifestyle polygraphs" pretty regularly.

A young person, particularly in the military, is probably not got going to face the same sort of investigation as someone older with a more complicated background. There's only so much trouble that a 20 year-old who never left the country can have gotten himself into - and most of it leaves traces that show in criminal background and credit checks.

Besides, now that they have your entire phone/email history how much legwork do you really think they need to do anymore?
Wyden and Udall attempted to alert the public 2 years ago, said we'd all be stunned by the over reach.

I'd take Mark a lot more seriously on this issue if he hadn't voted for telecom immunity in 2008. I guess he figured that he needed to shed his "Boulder liberal" image more than he needed to protect the 4th Amendment.

Still not going to vote for him *ever* again.
I read Rappoport. Sometimes he gets weird.
I read Cannonfire. Sometimes he gets weird.
That's how I learn to think.
And that's why some think I have weird ideas.
Ed's rapid rise to such a seeming position of trust does seem like an unbelievably rapid rise to those of us from an earlier age, when computer tech was in its infancy (if that). Nowadays those 10 years of Ed's, 2003 to 2013, would be more like 30 years back in the 70s or 80s, in regard to rate of "rising from the ranks".
Tech moves so fast these days, I guess only the young can properly keep up.

What puzzles me most now are constant references in the media that what has been revealed so far is "just the tip of an iceberg". We're told that NSA surveils everything - so what the heck else is there?
Joseph; I reiterate; WTF?


NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants | Politics and Law - CNET News
LGF sayiong CNET is wrong:

CNET Says NSA “Admits” Listening to US Phone Calls - But That’s Not What the Video Shows

BUT if you liusten to Nadler he says he was told an analyst could listen to "content" without a warrant. Maybe he (Nadler) misheard, but that's what he says in the hearing.
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