FISA NSA Security

Report: Snowden Copied Files to a Thumb Drive

According to the Los Angeles Times, federal investigators believe Edward Snowden compromised security by copying classified files to a thumb drive. They also claim to know how many documents he copied.

Investigators “know how many documents he downloaded and what server he took them from,” said one official who would not be named while speaking about the ongoing investigation.

Snowden worked as a system administrator, a technical job that gave him wide access to NSA computer networks and presumably a keen understanding of how those networks are monitored for unauthorized downloads. [...]

Officials said they still don’t know how Snowden got access to an order marked “Top Secret” from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or a highly-classified directive from President Obama authorizing a military target list for cyber attacks. Neither document would be widely shared, or normally available to a low-level NSA employee.

If it’s true that Snowden gained access to files that he was not privy to accessing, the charges he is facing could be quite numerous and go far beyond the obvious.

The idea that his actions may increase secrecy and reduce transparency is beginning to seem more plausible as this will likely result in a broad range of new security protocols regarding access to information. And if the Department of Justice allows Google and others to disclose requests for information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), that may be the only instance of increased transparency that results from this.

But while I’m at my most cynical moment — I would ask how many Americans will shrug after they discover that all the hooplah was about collecting information on suspects in countries they can’t find on a map?

The other overlooked element of this story is the disclosure of cyber warfare defense plans which Glenn Greenwald published shortly after the much-hyped story on the NSA’s supposed “direct-access” Prism program. As far as I can tell, those plans have nothing to do with privacy or government transparency and their disclosure will add another dimension to the charges Snowden could be facing.

  • blackdaug

    oopsy….somebody “misread” a powerpoint slide:

    http://www.thenation.com/blog/174783/glenn-greenwalds-epic-botch#axzz2W88yo9Yl

    Oh well, no harm no foul……

    • missliberties

      Yes harm and foul.

  • SlapFat

    I guess I just have an ideological split with this blog and the concept of privacy.

    The NSA is an apolitical organization. So I don’t get at all why people on this blog, both authors and commenters, are falling over themselves to trash Snowden like this. I mean, this NSA monitoring is a serious violation of the 4th Amendment and the attitude here is to lambast, mock, and demonize Snowden? Really strange. Really, really strange.

    This invasive behavior is the kind of stuff that infuriated progressives and Democrats during the Bush and Nixon years so what’s with the defense of it now? Isn’t it totally contrary to respecting the right of others’ privacy? It just doesn’t make any sense and it’s not a partisan issue. It’s an issue of flagrantly unnecessary surveillance.

    Regarding the idea that this will lead to less transparency that really depends. If the public sits around and doesn’t demand anything be done to curtail then NSA then, yeah, I guess that would be true. Maybe even likely. But this is crystal clear: the populace is being extensively monitored. And it’s only going to get more invasive with time unless something is done about it: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/

    People fought back against this kind of lunacy before so there’s precedent. But it starts with asking questions about just what is going on here- reasonable questions, not black helicopter crap. I’ll re-state what I’ve said in other posts: there better goals for the federal government to pursue than this.

    There are media outlets having smart responses to this, for the record: http://www.democracynow.org/2013/6/13/chris_pyle_whistleblower_on_cia_domestic

    • MrDHalen

      People are starting to trash the guy, because his story is falling apart. You can still believe the NSA could be overstepping their bounds, without believing what Snowden has claimed. If he is lying about what the NSA is actually doing, then he weakens the ability of other people to really curtail the agency broad searches.

      Do you believe the NSA serves a legitimate purpose for our nation? Do you believe law enforcement should obtain warrants to pursue possible dangers to the American public?

    • JMAshby

      Yes, the NSA is apolitical. What’s your point? I’m not defending an administration or even an agency, I’m defending government itself.

      A majority of what others, and you, are implying or alleging hinges on taking the word of Greenwald and Snowden over the words of elected officials from both parties, government officials, agency heads, former agency heads, corporations, IT professionals, the president himself, and former agency analysts.

      It’s a conspiracy theory that assumes the entire government is united in lying to you. Is that what you believe? Because that is evidently what Greenwald and Snowden believe.

      Snowden’s motivations are dubious at best, while Greenwald’s motivations are bare for all to see. Evidence suggests neither of them really knew what they had in their hands, otherwise initial reports wouldn’t have been so wildly misleading. And in GG’s case, I wonder how much was an outright fabrication. At some point hyperbole and implication becomes lying.

      A lot of the outrage at Bush was because he ordered a collection of records without a warrant and without oversight. Nothing the NSA is doing currently is done without a court order. Like it or not, it is regularly reauthorized by congress and goes through the foreign intelligence surveillance court.

      Don’t hold your breath waiting on Americans to demand that we stop collecting information on foreign persons for the sake of their privacy. And I doubt many would see eye-to-eye with you on what is “flagrantly unnecessary”

      I doubt would-be victims would agree it’s “flagrantly unnecessary” if something were prevented by the collection of information as authorized by a court order.

      Damned if you do, damned if you don’t protect your citizens from an attack.

      This is far more complicated than can be resolved by simply throwing out these phrases.

      By the way, there are better goals the federal government can pursue, which is why comprehensive immigration reform is close to passing the Senate. It’s not as if we can only do one thing at a time.

      • SlapFat

        So much to debunk with the little whopper you just posted, my friend. Let’s get started.

        “What’s your point?”

        My point is that, as an objective organization that is tasked with operating in reasonable fairness, the NSA doesn’t need to be prized and protected by any demographic, whatever its political leanings, including yours. The way you and Bob are talking about and defending it is generally the same way you sound when you’re defending the President’s policies, and it’s pretty obvious to detect if you regularly follow this blog the way I do. The way you’re covering this doesn’t help anyone, really.

        “….taking the word of Greenwald and Snowden….”

        This blog would really do well to focus on the issue instead of its infatuation with Glenn Greenwald. I get it, you don’t care for him. In many ways I don’t either since he seems to be really into himself in the way alot of “libertarians” are. Ron Paul-riffic, you might say. But this issue involves more than just him. Other outlets besides The Guardian broke this story, like the The Washington Post. Are you going to decry them as well? People on both sides of the aisle in Washington D.C. are raising serious questions about this issue. Here’s one of them: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-06-11/news/os-grayson-stop-snooping-20130611_1_phone-records-grayson-nsa Whether or not you choose to acknowledge that is up to you.

        “It’s a conspiracy theory that assumes the entire government is united in lying to you. Is that what you believe?”

        I’m tempted to call that last little question a fatuous one but I’ll settle for calling it goading. You’re not going to discredit anyone on this issue by resorting to the ad hominem attack of calling them a “conspiracy theorist.” Questioning what’s happening with the National Security Agency is as valid as it necessary. I’ll repost the interview I gave you in my previous comment: http://www.democracynow.org/2013/6/13/chris_pyle_whistleblower_on_cia_domestic

        You think Amy Goodman, a renowned reporter, and Chris Pyle, a former military instructor turned whistle-blower, are “conspiracy theorists” too, Mr. Ashby? I doubt it. So slap whatever label you want on me. I don’t buy into conspiracy theories but I do value protection of civil liberties, privacy, and the value of the 4th Amendment. Inherent in journalism is a rational skepticism. That’s not what I’m picking up from you on this issue.

        “Don’t hold your breath waiting on Americans to demand that we stop collecting information….”

        I never do. I react.

        “I doubt would-be victims would agree it’s ‘flagrantly unnecessary'”

        Most people outside of the U.S. probably would if this was happening where they live. And it kind of is if the NSA is monitoring outside the U.S. Foreign governments don’t engage in this kind of surveillance in Australia. Or Germany. Or Canada. They use their federal powers to focus on universal healthcare and regulation of commerce- valuable endeavors. But governments like China and North Korea do this kind of crap. Should we be like them, even with warrants aplenty?

        “By the way, there are better goals the federal government can pursue….”

        I think that was the sole sentiment you could have gone with for your response. The rest of the comment just kind of self-destructed. You’re a good blogger, Ashby, and I really like this blog. I have for years. But I do find myself disagreeing with it at times. And this is definitely one of them.

        What the NSA is doing is wrong.

        • blackdaug

          “So much to debunk with the little whopper you just posted, my friend. Let’s get started.”
          Yes..lets….
          ” the NSA doesn’t need to be prized and protected by any demographic, whatever its political leanings, including yours.”
          Protected from what? Allegations of wrongdoing, of illegality. Which allegations would that be? You mean the main one? That they (NSA) had unfettered “back door access” to the ten largest internet service providers in the country?
          Not just refuted and denied by all the companies involved, but by the President, Senators with supervisory access to the programs from both sides of the isle…the current and former heads of .the NSA and the CIA, a legion of tech professionals….and redacted by the very Washington Post and now The Guardian that you cite!
          Do you know what redacted means? They changed the story…..in this case to show that the main thrust of the story (once again..since people seem to keep forgetting “That they (NSA) had unfettered “back door access” to the ten largest internet service providers in the country”…… was wrong!

          Do I have to post the links for you, not just from this blog, but from all over the internet…..again!

          “This blog would really do well to focus on the issue instead of its infatuation with Glenn Greenwald….”

          Greenwald wrote the story! The story about an “inside source” who had proof that..once again…say it with me…. “That they (NSA) had unfettered “back door access” to the ten largest internet service providers in the country”.

          So this and the other blogs, and tech sites, who have commented about the inaccuracies that riddled this story from day one, should not comment on the veracity of it’s authors?

          I refuse to believe anyone can be this obtuse.

          They exposed nothing! The only thing they accomplished was to make it so that when real abuse occurs, no one will believe it!
          They are literally the boys who screamed Wolf!

        • JMAshby

          You really expect me to take Alan Grayson seriously?

          They use their federal powers to focus on universal healthcare and regulation of commerce- valuable endeavors.

          And we don’t? Ever heard of Obamacare? Skynet comes online January, 2014.

          You know, I have an interest in getting the facts right. That naturally obliges me to thoroughly debunk stories that are wrong, which this one clearly is.

          And no, no one other than The Guardian and the Post “broke this story.” Unless you’re going to name USA Today in 2006. I’ll give you that.

          And if you’re going to compare America to China, I think I can just stop here. In China they actually do monitor communication without a warrant and they relentlessly censor the internet. In China, they actually do access the servers of Google and the like without going through a court.

          You have bought the hype.

    • mrbrink

      This blog highlights regularly the utterly repugnant wrong doing by truly despicable people in power who are overtly rescinding democratic redress right in front of your face– from the right to organize, to the right to vote, to the right to not have our courts, uterus, jobs and our planet swallowed up by the same barbarian vampire horde.

      But we don’t call it whistle blowing, do we? Maybe that should change. How about this for a headline:

      “Newly Leaked Information Reveals Americans And President Knew Of Terrorist Plot To Sabotage The Courts, The Economy, Foreign Policy, Voting Rights, Civil Rights…”

      How About: “Newly Leaked Whistle Blowers Reveal Women’s Privacy Being Violated Every Fucking Day.”

  • missliberties

    That’s is an astute overservation Bob. All this hoopla will likely make things LESS transparent.

    I honestly am so angry about this.

    I have a question, if the city police issue an order for you arrest, are you supposed to be warned, in an attempt to keep everything fully transparent to the public?

    • MrDHalen

      The Libertarians would say “whoever you wronged, should take steps on their own to correct that wrong.”, no police needed.

      The Anarchist would say “whatever you did wrong, was because you live in a repressive police state and had no choice, so you should be free.”

      The Utopian Dreamer would say “If we get rid of all the weapons and all the secrets, no crimes would happen and there would be no need to arrest you.”

      Our current system isn’t perfect, but adding people to any systems has a way of making them messy.

  • blackdaug

    It’s kind of like if the mailman went nuts and instead of delivering tax returns to peoples houses…started ripping them open and throwing them all over the street.
    He may not be a tax expert, but he could sure do a hell of alot of damage with all that information.
    If he got his hands on our cyber defense info, he may have also accessed some of our offensive capabilities (Stux or programs like it?)….which could mess up a whole range of things.
    Revamping and harding up all these systems will cost millions, and telling the world what we can and cannot do ….incalculable damage.

  • Bill_Andersoot

    Pretty obvious how he did it then. It’s an advanced variation of the robots.txt attack. First you determine where they don’t want you to go, then you figure out how to go there. Restricting access identifies the target.

  • zirgar

    Edward Snowden, is he House Lannister or House Stark?