Archive for the ‘Edward Snowden’ Category

Linguist Noam Chomsky joins University of Arizona faculty – Arizona Daily Star

Renowned linguist Noam Chomsky is joining the University of Arizona faculty this fall and will begin teaching in the spring semester.

Having a scholar of Dr. Chomskys caliber on our campus presents a tremendous opportunity for our students, faculty and staff, and truly speaks to the greatness of this university, said UA President Robert Robbins in a prepared statement.

Chomsky, who has been a guest lecturer and teacher at the UA for about five years, will join the Department of Linguistics in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in a quarter-time appointment as a laureate professor, Robbins said.

He will also serve as an Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice.

Chomskys salary is $62,500 a year, all of which is funded by philanthropic donations, mostly from the Agnese Nelms Haury Program.

And while Chomsky is not a full-time faculty member, John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, expects him to have a full schedule, splitting his time between teaching and public events.

Chomsky is among the most cited scholars in history and has written more than 100 books.

He is considered the father of modern linguistics, and his work has influenced many fields, including cognitive science, philosophy, psychology, computer science, mathematics, childhood education and anthropology.

He is also a powerful voice on sociopolitical issues, including free speech, foreign policy, political engagement, environmental destruction and the rights of indigenous populations, among many other topics.

Hes been a figure on campus since 2012, Jones said. The first talk we had in Centennial Hall, 6,000 showed up for 2,500 seats. We had to scramble to find classrooms (for overflow).

Since then, hes visited Tucson often, including for A Conversation on Privacy, in which the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences invited Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald, co-founding editor of the Intercept; Nuala OConnor, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology; and Edward Snowden, who participated through Skype, to talk about the balance between government surveillance and individual rights.

He wouldnt have come here (permanently) if it hadnt been for the Linguistics Department, Jones said, not only referring to former students who are now at the UA, but the department is also intellectually engaged in the same questions that hes interested in.

Weve very much come to appreciate the intellectual environment and the lifestyle, Chomsky said in a statement. The linguistics department, which is excellent, happens to be full of former students of mine. In general, we felt that the UA would be a good place to work and think and interact with people we like and can work with.

Chomsky worked as a linguistics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1955 then as a professor emeritus.

Teaching undergraduates regularly again was also a big draw, Chomsky said. He hadnt taught undergrads for about 10 years until spring 2016, when he co-taught an elective course on politics and global issues with UA geography professor emeritus Marv Waterstone.

Half of the 500 people who signed for the course were undergraduate students. The other 250 were community members enrolled through the Humanities Seminars Program, Jones said.

I think about the students who are going to be sitting around a dinner table some day, Jones said. And someone will mention Noam Chomsky, and hell say, I took his class! and theyll say, Where? and theyll say, At the U of A.

Chomskys former students and departmental fellows who have also made the move to the UA were just part of his decision to call Tucson home.

We fell in love with Tucson the mountains, the desert, Chomsky said. Tucson has an atmosphere that is peaceful and manageable.

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Linguist Noam Chomsky joins University of Arizona faculty – Arizona Daily Star

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher meets with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: Report – Washington Examiner

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., had a meeting Wednesday with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London at the Ecuadorian Embassy, according to a report on Wednesday.

Charles Johnson, a conservative journalist who joined Rohrabacher and Assange, said the meeting was originally arranged because Assange wants to find an agreement with the U.S. and not live in asylum anymore. Assange has lived in asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy since August 2012.

Rohrabacher’s spokesman Ken Grubbs confirmed to the Daily Caller he was present on the meeting as well.

The Justice Department has expressed interest in pressing charges against Assange for assisting Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, to release classified documents, the Washington Post reported in April. Snowden was granted asylum by Russia.

Last month, Rohrabacher admitted he had previously met with a prosecutor from Moscow to discuss information regarding a Russian fraud case that precluded Congress passing the Magnitsky Act, which imposed U.S. sanctions on Russia regarding human rights abuses.

“I had a meeting with some people, government officials, and they were saying, Would you be willing to accept material on the Magnitsky case from the prosecutors in Moscow? And I said, Sure, I’d be willing to look at it,'” Rohrabacher told The Hill.

Rohrbacher said he disclosed the information he received from the prosecutor with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the U.S. Treasury Department.

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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher meets with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: Report – Washington Examiner

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Oliver Stone on Julian Assange and Edward Snowden (Video) – Truthdig

Editors note: The following video is a clip from a 19-part series filmed at aTruthdig and KPFK co-sponsored eventin Los Angeles recently. The discussion features Oliver Stone, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director, and Robert Scheer, Truthdigs editor in chief. The two talk about The Putin Interviews, a new Showtime series by Stone, as well as the published transcript, for whichScheer wrote the foreword. We are publishing one video per day. This is the 16th installment.

In the clip above, Oliver Stonetalks about WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and whistleblower Edward Snowden, as well as the filmmaker’s struggle to get the movie “Snowden” financed in the United States.

On Thursday, watch the next clip in the series, in which Stone outlines what he considers the “biggest issue” the U.S. faces in the coming years.

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Oliver Stone on Julian Assange and Edward Snowden (Video) – Truthdig

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Martin Shkreli thinks he’ll be president someday – Salon

Do you think Martin Shkreli, aka the Pharma Bro, is destined to become an American president?

If you dont, he certainly does.

Well, at some point Ill be POTUS, Shkreli wroteon his Facebook page ina post published Tuesday. He addedthat conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wouldbe his vice president and alt-right pundit Milo Yiannopoulos wouldbe his press secretary, before going on to list some more unorthodox choices:

Kanye West will be head of the CIA. Stefan Molyneux will be Secretary of State. Kodak Black will be Attorney General. Edward Snowden would be the head of the NSA. Julian Assange: FBI. Kim Kardashian is Fed Chairwoman. Trashy is Surgeon General.

From there, Shkreli predicted defeating a ticket with President Mark Zuckerberg and Vice President Bernie Sanders no earlier than 2024, since he also predicted theyd have to abolish Zuckerbergs Universal Basic Income which passed in 2024.

Shkreli addedthat Young Turks host Cenk Uygar will be sent back to wherever he came from and that Lauren Duca will tragically fall ill from subtweeting too hard if she isnt the First Lady.

Somewhat more ominously, Shkreli also boasted that he would put nuclear weapons in enemies cities, force members of the media to go through training programs and completely slash almost all entitlement programs.

An account purportedly belonging to Yiannopoulos has already liked the status update and said that Im down, while Shkreli added in the comments that OKAY FINE KIM KARDASHIAN WILL BE HEAD OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE.

Whereas President Donald Trump at least had a core of support prior to his career as a politician, Shkreli may now bebest known for raising the price of a life-saving drug by 5000 percent and being convicted of three counts of securities fraud.

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Martin Shkreli thinks he’ll be president someday – Salon

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

‘Edward is a Non-Public Person’: Why Snowden Turned Down a Russian Journalist – Sputnik International

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15:47 15.08.2017(updated 17:14 15.08.2017) Get short URL

World-renown NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who now resides in Russia, refused to let prominent Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner interview him; his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena explains why.

Earlier, Vladimir Posner told the Latvian radio station Baltkom that he’d asked Snowden foran interview butwas refused.

Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, inan interview with RIA Novosti, explained why Edward Snowden refused the proposal.

We talked withVladimir [Pozner], he applied forthe interview several times. But Edward has a strong position onthe issue, he does not grant interviews toanybody anywhere; the Russian media is no exception, Kucherena said.

Kucherena added that Snowden respects Pozner and all Russian journalists butEdward himself is a quiet person unlikemany others inthe public spotlight.

He is non-public person, Kucherena told RIA Novosti.

REUTERS/ Svein Ove Ekornesvaag/NTB Scanpix

He [Snowden] always personally makes decision regarding giving comments. He receives a lot ofinterview proposals fromRussian and foreign journalists. But asyou may notice, he rarely gives interviews, Kucherena added.

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‘Edward is a Non-Public Person’: Why Snowden Turned Down a Russian Journalist – Sputnik International

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Should Vladimir Putin be afraid of German Greens? – American Enterprise Institute

In a striking about-face, Germanys Greens are emerging as the most visible hawks in discussions over the countrys foreign policy, especially regarding Russia. Last month, the party co-chair, Cem zdemir, called for a tightening of sanctions against Russia. Were seeing an escalation in Eastern Ukraine, he explained.

Of Turkish descent himself, he also made a case for more pressure on the regime in Turkey, particularly using economic tools. German investors, he says, need to understand that Turkey is no place for secure investment, because there is no rule of law there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during a news conference at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

For many years, the Greens tune was different. Throughout the 2000s, the partys leader and foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, was a leading European critic of US foreign policy. In 2014, the Greens-EFA group in the European Parliament of which the German Greens are a member tried to nominate Edward Snowden for Nobel Peace Prize. In the same year, the Greens dismissed as irresponsible the calls for a stronger NATO presence on Europes Eastern flank.

To some extent, the Greens long nurtured an internationalist outlook and a distrust of Russia. During Mr. Fischers tenure as foreign minister in the cabinet of Chancellor Gerhard Schrder, Germany took part in NATOs intervention in Kosovo in 1999 and later joined the coalition fighting Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. After leaving the government, Mr. Fischer was also critical of his former boss entanglements with Russia. Just last week, Mr. Schrder, who is also working for the Gazprom-led consortium building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to German, was nominated by the Russian government to join the board of directors of Rosneft.

Whereas few expect Chancellor Angela Merkel to be unseated in the election held on September 24, her coalition partners will shape Germanys and by extension, the EUs posture in its Eastern neighborhood.

Ms. Merkel is already under pressure from CDUs sister party in Bavaria, CSU, to bring the sanctions against Russia to an end. That pressure will only increase if the grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) continues after the election. Quite apart from Mr. Schrders Russian misadvetures, the SPDs former leader and Germanys Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has been long calling for an end to the EUs sanctions. And, on top of that, the partys current leader, the populist Martin Schulz, even rejects NATOs 2% spending target, calling it the wrong goal.

The combination of navet, sanctimony, and crude material interests although in different proportions is not limited to SPD. Unsurprisingly, populists of different stripes, including The Left and the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), are the most reliable allies of the Kremlin. Back in 2015, representatives of The Left even delivered humanitarian assistance to the self-styled authorities of the Donetsk Peoples Republic. Earlier this year, at the Russian Dumas invitation, the AfDs leader Frauke Petry met in Moscow with a range of high-profile parliamentarians.

On the list of Ms. Merkels prospective coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP) flaunt solid classical liberal credentials and a compelling, pro-market agenda at home. Yet, their leader Christian Lindner called recently for a new approach to German-Russian relations, which would recognize the annexation of Crimea as a permanent provisional arrangement. Notwithstanding a small number of critical voices in the party most prominently Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, who currently serves as a Vice-president of European Parliament appeasement of Russia has been a part of FDPs toolbox since Russias attack against Ukraine in 2014.

A coalition between Ms. Merkels Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Greens thus appears to be the most likely, if not the only, path toward keeping Russia at bay in the critical run-up to the Russian presidential election in March 2018. As September 24 approaches, expect the eyes of the Kremlins trolls, hackers, and useful idiots to be set primarily on them as opposed to the long list of Putin Verstehers present in German politics.

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Should Vladimir Putin be afraid of German Greens? – American Enterprise Institute

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August 15, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Pulitzer-Winner James Risen Joins The Intercept And First Look Media – HuffPost

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen, who spent seven years fighting off government efforts to force him to reveal a confidential source, will continue to advocate for the First Amendment as director of the First Look Press Freedom Defense Fund, HuffPost has learned.

Risen will also join The Intercept, the First Look Media news organization launched in 2014 by journalists Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras and backed by billionaire eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar.

At the Intercept, Risen will serve as senior national security correspondent, writing a column based on his own reporting, and help steer the sites investigative work.

I am incredibly excited by this amazing and unique opportunity to combine my journalism with efforts to defend press freedom, Risen said in a statement. I am honored to help lead the fund as both America and the world face unprecedented threats to freedom of the press, while also writing and reporting and helping [Intercept editor-in-chief] Betsy Reed and her incredible team continue to turn The Intercept into one of the most important investigative reporting outlets in the nation.

Risen, 62, was among the most prominent journalists to leave the New York Times last month in the papers latest round of buyouts. Times executive editor Dean Baquet described Risen at the time as one of the giants of national security and investigative reporting.

In nearly two decades at the Times, Risen delved deeply into national security, intelligence, and surveillance matters. He was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team delving into the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and won a second Pulitzer with colleague Eric Lichtblau for their2005 investigation into the National Security Agencys secret domestic spying program.

Risen also battled attempts by both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations to compel him to reveal a confidential source for a botched CIA plot described in his 2006 book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. Risen, whose legal fight finally ended in 2015, has expressed concern that the Obama administration laid the groundwork for the targeting of journalists under President Donald Trump.

There is no journalist better equipped to cover the national security scandals and abuses of the Trump era than Jim Risen, Reed said in a statement.

Were honored and thrilled to have the countrys leading national security journalist bring his vast experience and vision to our team at this critical time, she added.

The Intercept was co-founded by journalists at the forefront of reporting on the disclosures from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and the site has quickly distinguished itself for aggressive coverage of national security issues.

But the site alsocame under firein Junefollowing accusations that its reporters failed to protect contractor Reality Leigh Winner, the alleged source of top secret NSA documentrevealing Russian hacking efforts ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Following an internal review,Reed said that at several points in the editorial process, our practices fell short of the standards to which we hold ourselves for minimizing the risks of source exposure when handling anonymously provided materials.

The company announced last month thatFirst Looks Press Freedom Defense Fund would help provide support for Winners legal defense, a role it intends to play for journalists and whistleblowers in future cases.

First Look Media president Michael Bloom cited Risens first-hand experience in a statement on the companys newly created defense fund role.

Jim is not only a respected journalist who was prepared to sacrifice his own freedom to protect a source, he said, but a very real example of how the press can challenge those in power who misuse laws to fulfill a political agenda.

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Pulitzer-Winner James Risen Joins The Intercept And First Look Media – HuffPost

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Supreme Court Asked to Look at Warrantless NSA Spying Powers – InsideSources

Digital rights advocates asked the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday to review the case of an American convicted with evidence gathered under FISA Section 702 warrantless National Security Agency surveillance authority meant to spy on foreign nationals.

Privacy and digital rights groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a petition Thursday with the nations highest court seeking review of the case ofMohammed Mohamud, an American citizen who was charged in 2012 with planning to car-bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. Information used to prosecute Mohamud was gathered using Section 702 of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act.

Section 702 authorizes NSA to tap the physical infrastructure of internet service providers, like fiber connections, to intercept foreign emails, instant messages, and other communications belonging to foreign nationals as they exit and enter the U.S. But according to NSA, the program also incidentally sweeps up the communications of Americans corresponding with, and until recently, merely even mentioning foreign targets.

NSA is legally barred from searching through Americans communications without a warrant, but that wasnt the case with Mohamud. His emails were intercepted specifically by a program dubbed PRISM, the existence of which was leaked to the press by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. PRISMgives NSA access to communications transmitted over internet edge services like Google, Yahoo, or Facebook.

Mohamud learned after his conviction that his emails were gathered under Section 702 and sought to suppress the evidence, arguing its gathering violated his Fourth Amendment rights against search and seizure without a warrant. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit noted the governments conduct was quite aggressive at times but upheld the search, a move EFF, the Center for Democracy and Technology and New Americas Open Technology Institute call dangerous and unprecedented.

The ruling provides an end-run around the Fourth Amendment, converting sweeping warrantless surveillance directed at foreigners into a tool for spying on Americans, Mark Rumold, a staff attorney for EFF, said Thursday. Section 702 is unlike any surveillance law in our countrys history, it is unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court should take this case to put a stop to this surveillance.

The groups add weight to a Supreme Court petition filed by Mohamuds attorneys in July, and join a long list of battles from the courts to Congress over the legality of Section 702. Wikimedia and the ACLU are suing the government over the use of Section 702 in theFourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Congress has held several hearings this year to debate the laws renewal ahead of its expiration at the end of December.

Section 702 is at the heart of a dispute between Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, the nations top spy chief. Wyden has pressed Coats and his predecessor to provide an estimate of the number of Americans incidentally swept up in Section 702 that both claim is impossible to produce. The senator has further suggested the authority could be used to warrantlessly target Americans directly.

Congresss concerns over Section 702 have become a point of rare bipartisanship for some. Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has fought alongside Wyden to peel back the curtain on Section 702. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham is grilling intelligence officials for information about what Section 702 gathers on lawmakers and other members of government, and if those intercepts can and are used to politically target government officials like former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

In testimony to Congress intelligence chiefs including NSA Director Mike Rogers have admitted Section 702 programs have a history of compliance issues, some highlighted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves more than 99 percent of the governments secret surveillance requests.

The typically intel-friendly court chastised the government for an institutional lack of candor on a very serious Fourth Amendment issue. One such opinion said NSA has engaged in significant overcollection . . . including the content of communications of non-target U.S. persons and persons in the U.S.

As a result, NSA in April suspended a Section 702 practice known as about collection when NSA sweeps up American emails and text messages exchanged with overseas users that simply mention search terms like an email address belonging to a target but isnt to or from a target.

The agency recently told Congress its working on a technical solution to reengage about collection.

All of the pushback comes as intelligence leaders pressure Congress not just to renew Section 702 but implement it permanently. Top Republicans and Democrats have endorsed the idea, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein of California.

In a recent interview, Snowden said using Section 702 to surveil Americans requires the agency to engage in little more than word games. Privacy advocates suspect the loophole created by Section 702 likelyamounts to millions or even hundreds of millions of warrantless interceptionsbelonging to Americans.

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Supreme Court Asked to Look at Warrantless NSA Spying Powers – InsideSources

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Dispatches from Hell Before Breakfast – The Cipher Brief

Mark Kelton Former Deputy Director for Counterintelligence, CIA National Clandestine Service

President Donald Trump is not the first American public figure to go to war with the press, nor is he the most extreme in his views. Even without benefit of Twitter, the antipathy of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman for the Civil War-era Fourth Estate manifested itself in a memorably vituperative stream of quotes. The American press, he asserted, is a shame and a reproach to a civilized peopleWhen a man is too lazy to work and too cowardly to steal, he becomes an editor and manufactures public opinion.

Defamed as insane by the newspapers, Sherman responded in kind, calling his tormenters a set of dirty newspaper scribblers who have the impudence of Satan. In keeping with that theme of eternal damnation, he reacted with undisguised glee on being (erroneously) told one morning that three journalists had been killed by shellfire. Thats good! he said, Now well have dispatches from hell before breakfast.

While he bridled at personal attacks on him, Sherman reserved particular loathing for those whom he described as defamers of the army and publishers of military secrets. Shermans anger over sensitive material appearing in the press had a basis in fact. Indeed, Confederate commander Robert E. Lee cited information gleaned from careful reading of northern newspapers smuggled south as one of his principal sources of intelligence.

I hate newspapermen, Sherman raged, They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are.

Famous, and infamous, for making Georgia howl during his March to the Sea, Sherman was also merciless in dealing with the press. In the course of the 1863 Vicksburg campaign, Sherman took the unheard-of step of court-martialing New York Herald correspondent Thomas Knox for violating his order that any reporters sending out information that might give information and comfort to the enemy would be arrested and treated as spies. Fortunately for Knox, he was only banished from the Army. A conviction for spying could have earned the reporter a death sentence, an outcome that likely would not have much bothered Sherman.

In his fury over the exposure in the press of secret information, Sherman has much in common with American intelligence officers of today, who are trying to protect secrets, and lives, amidst a deluge of news reports fed by leaks of classified information. An early July 2017 U.S. Senate report concluded that the Trump Administration faces an alarming wave of disclosures of classified data, noting that the number of leaks during the first sixth months of the Trump Presidency was seven times greater than those that occurred during the same period of the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The potential consequences of such disclosures for U.S. national security, not least among them the exposure of intelligence sources and methods and a consequent lack of confidence in the ability of the U.S. to protect secrets provided to it by agents and foreign partners alike, demand that the issue of leaks be addressed with urgency. Failure to plug those holes will cripple the ability of the U.S. to collect and protect intelligence that is essential to dealing effectively with such pressing national security issues as ISIS, North Korea, Russia, Iran, and China.

News reports based upon classified information provided by those frequently described as present and former government officials are clearly calculated to maximize the notice those stories garner and, consequently, the damage they inflict on the current Administration. This is not a novel tactic. As President Reagan once quipped, I decided that what I was going to say I wanted to get a lot of attention, so Im going to wait and leak it.

What is new is a palpable decline in professional discipline among some with access to classified information who appear willing to divulge it for political reasons. Irrespective of motivation, however, the leaking of such information is never justified or justifiable. As President Obama made clear, Theres a reason why these programs are classified. The law makes no allowance for the motives driving those who violate their secrecy oaths in exercises in egotism or pique.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo is surely right in asserting that these revelations are partly a result of the worship of leakers. The once clear line between the criminal act of disclosing classified information and appropriate resort to protected whistleblower status has, sometimes with malice aforethought, been blurred.

The glorification of the traitorous acts of Edward Snowden has engendered confusion among broad swaths of the public (and, apparently, in the minds of some officials) as to what constitutes leaking as opposed to whistleblowing. That whistleblower imprimatur has also been ascribed by some to leakers who have chosen to ignore their professional obligations.

A similar degradation in professionalism has shown itself in the eagerness of some in the media to publish classified information with little or no regard to accepted journalistic standards for vetting that material or for the consequences for U.S. national security. The journalistic practice embodied in such legendary American reporters as Ernie Pyle, an approach that was at once appropriately skeptical but not irresponsibly adversarial regarding the conduct of national security activities and policy, seems to be wholly absent in some of his successors.

There being an inherent tension between secrecy and the democratic principles that are the basis of our republic, the press plays a crucial role in educating and informing citizens about what secret organizations do in their name. It is, however, hard to see how the publishing of intelligence that could help in targeting the leader of ISIS; the disclosure of the purported details of a sensitive counterintelligence investigation; or the outing of an under-cover CIA officer; to cite but a few recent examples, serve any higher purpose than acting as social media click bait.

In such an environment, an intelligence officer (or, in my case, a former officer) receives an unsolicited call or email from a reporter with trepidation. This is so because that officer knows such a contact will likely confront him or her with the probability that information about a classified activity, which the officer may have knowledge, has leaked, and that the reporter is attempting to get the officer to speak about information the latter is sworn to protect.

Intelligence officers, particularly those who have had to make an unsolicited approach to an operational target (the cold call of Cold War spy lore), are often amused by reporters obvious use of familiar elicitation techniques, to include appeals to ego and warnings about the need to set the record straight lest the officers actions or intent be erroneously presented. Yet, however superficially amiable the uninvited contact with a reporter, the intelligence officer never views such a call as a friendly act, as it almost invariably portends the exposure of information that can damage national security, can put at risk lives of people who work with U.S. intelligence or, particularly in the age of terror, can potentially endanger that officer and his or her family.

Sherman judged newspapermen the most contemptible race of men that exist. Having had to dispatch officers to explain to agents why the secrets they passed us appeared in the press, and having seen officers names published despite their requests and those of the CIA to both the journalist and paper involved not to do so, I must confess some sympathy for that view. Indeed, dispatches from hell before breakfast could easily describe stories based upon leaks that appear with alarming regularity in my morning newspaper.

In truth, however, Shermans most contemptible race of men are those who violate their sacred oaths by divulging secret information with which they have been entrusted by the same American people they are sworn to protect. In my experience, leak investigations are notoriously difficult to conduct, much less to prosecute. Nonetheless, for the good of the country, the Trump Administration needs to move aggressively to stem the current torrent of leaks. Putting the heads of a few leakers on pikes (figuratively speaking, of course) would be a good place to start.

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Dispatches from Hell Before Breakfast – The Cipher Brief

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Linguist Noam Chomsky joins University of Arizona faculty – Arizona Daily Star

Renowned linguist Noam Chomsky is joining the University of Arizona faculty this fall and will begin teaching in the spring semester. Having a scholar of Dr. Chomskys caliber on our campus presents a tremendous opportunity for our students, faculty and staff, and truly speaks to the greatness of this university, said UA President Robert Robbins in a prepared statement. Chomsky, who has been a guest lecturer and teacher at the UA for about five years, will join the Department of Linguistics in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in a quarter-time appointment as a laureate professor, Robbins said. He will also serve as an Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice. Chomskys salary is $62,500 a year, all of which is funded by philanthropic donations, mostly from the Agnese Nelms Haury Program. And while Chomsky is not a full-time faculty member, John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, expects him to have a full schedule, splitting his time between teaching and public events. Chomsky is among the most cited scholars in history and has written more than 100 books. He is considered the father of modern linguistics, and his work has influenced many fields, including cognitive science, philosophy, psychology, computer science, mathematics, childhood education and anthropology. He is also a powerful voice on sociopolitical issues, including free speech, foreign policy, political engagement, environmental destruction and the rights of indigenous populations, among many other topics. Hes been a figure on campus since 2012, Jones said. The first talk we had in Centennial Hall, 6,000 showed up for 2,500 seats. We had to scramble to find classrooms (for overflow). Since then, hes visited Tucson often, including for A Conversation on Privacy, in which the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences invited Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald, co-founding editor of the Intercept; Nuala OConnor, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology; and Edward Snowden, who participated through Skype, to talk about the balance between government surveillance and individual rights. He wouldnt have come here (permanently) if it hadnt been for the Linguistics Department, Jones said, not only referring to former students who are now at the UA, but the department is also intellectually engaged in the same questions that hes interested in. Weve very much come to appreciate the intellectual environment and the lifestyle, Chomsky said in a statement. The linguistics department, which is excellent, happens to be full of former students of mine. In general, we felt that the UA would be a good place to work and think and interact with people we like and can work with. Chomsky worked as a linguistics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1955 then as a professor emeritus. Teaching undergraduates regularly again was also a big draw, Chomsky said. He hadnt taught undergrads for about 10 years until spring 2016, when he co-taught an elective course on politics and global issues with UA geography professor emeritus Marv Waterstone. Half of the 500 people who signed for the course were undergraduate students. The other 250 were community members enrolled through the Humanities Seminars Program, Jones said. I think about the students who are going to be sitting around a dinner table some day, Jones said. And someone will mention Noam Chomsky, and hell say, I took his class! and theyll say, Where? and theyll say, At the U of A. Chomskys former students and departmental fellows who have also made the move to the UA were just part of his decision to call Tucson home. We fell in love with Tucson the mountains, the desert, Chomsky said. Tucson has an atmosphere that is peaceful and manageable.

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher meets with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: Report – Washington Examiner

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., had a meeting Wednesday with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London at the Ecuadorian Embassy, according to a report on Wednesday. Charles Johnson, a conservative journalist who joined Rohrabacher and Assange, said the meeting was originally arranged because Assange wants to find an agreement with the U.S. and not live in asylum anymore. Assange has lived in asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy since August 2012. Rohrabacher’s spokesman Ken Grubbs confirmed to the Daily Caller he was present on the meeting as well. The Justice Department has expressed interest in pressing charges against Assange for assisting Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, to release classified documents, the Washington Post reported in April. Snowden was granted asylum by Russia. Last month, Rohrabacher admitted he had previously met with a prosecutor from Moscow to discuss information regarding a Russian fraud case that precluded Congress passing the Magnitsky Act, which imposed U.S. sanctions on Russia regarding human rights abuses. “I had a meeting with some people, government officials, and they were saying, Would you be willing to accept material on the Magnitsky case from the prosecutors in Moscow? And I said, Sure, I’d be willing to look at it,'” Rohrabacher told The Hill. Rohrbacher said he disclosed the information he received from the prosecutor with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the U.S. Treasury Department.

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Oliver Stone on Julian Assange and Edward Snowden (Video) – Truthdig

Editors note: The following video is a clip from a 19-part series filmed at aTruthdig and KPFK co-sponsored eventin Los Angeles recently. The discussion features Oliver Stone, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director, and Robert Scheer, Truthdigs editor in chief. The two talk about The Putin Interviews, a new Showtime series by Stone, as well as the published transcript, for whichScheer wrote the foreword. We are publishing one video per day. This is the 16th installment. In the clip above, Oliver Stonetalks about WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and whistleblower Edward Snowden, as well as the filmmaker’s struggle to get the movie “Snowden” financed in the United States. On Thursday, watch the next clip in the series, in which Stone outlines what he considers the “biggest issue” the U.S. faces in the coming years. Posted byNatasha Hakimi Zapata

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Martin Shkreli thinks he’ll be president someday – Salon

Do you think Martin Shkreli, aka the Pharma Bro, is destined to become an American president? If you dont, he certainly does. Well, at some point Ill be POTUS, Shkreli wroteon his Facebook page ina post published Tuesday. He addedthat conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wouldbe his vice president and alt-right pundit Milo Yiannopoulos wouldbe his press secretary, before going on to list some more unorthodox choices: Kanye West will be head of the CIA. Stefan Molyneux will be Secretary of State. Kodak Black will be Attorney General. Edward Snowden would be the head of the NSA. Julian Assange: FBI. Kim Kardashian is Fed Chairwoman. Trashy is Surgeon General. From there, Shkreli predicted defeating a ticket with President Mark Zuckerberg and Vice President Bernie Sanders no earlier than 2024, since he also predicted theyd have to abolish Zuckerbergs Universal Basic Income which passed in 2024. Shkreli addedthat Young Turks host Cenk Uygar will be sent back to wherever he came from and that Lauren Duca will tragically fall ill from subtweeting too hard if she isnt the First Lady. Somewhat more ominously, Shkreli also boasted that he would put nuclear weapons in enemies cities, force members of the media to go through training programs and completely slash almost all entitlement programs. An account purportedly belonging to Yiannopoulos has already liked the status update and said that Im down, while Shkreli added in the comments that OKAY FINE KIM KARDASHIAN WILL BE HEAD OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE. Whereas President Donald Trump at least had a core of support prior to his career as a politician, Shkreli may now bebest known for raising the price of a life-saving drug by 5000 percent and being convicted of three counts of securities fraud.

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

‘Edward is a Non-Public Person’: Why Snowden Turned Down a Russian Journalist – Sputnik International

Life 15:47 15.08.2017(updated 17:14 15.08.2017) Get short URL World-renown NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who now resides in Russia, refused to let prominent Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner interview him; his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena explains why. Earlier, Vladimir Posner told the Latvian radio station Baltkom that he’d asked Snowden foran interview butwas refused. Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, inan interview with RIA Novosti, explained why Edward Snowden refused the proposal. We talked withVladimir [Pozner], he applied forthe interview several times. But Edward has a strong position onthe issue, he does not grant interviews toanybody anywhere; the Russian media is no exception, Kucherena said. Kucherena added that Snowden respects Pozner and all Russian journalists butEdward himself is a quiet person unlikemany others inthe public spotlight. He is non-public person, Kucherena told RIA Novosti. REUTERS/ Svein Ove Ekornesvaag/NTB Scanpix He [Snowden] always personally makes decision regarding giving comments. He receives a lot ofinterview proposals fromRussian and foreign journalists. But asyou may notice, he rarely gives interviews, Kucherena added.

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Should Vladimir Putin be afraid of German Greens? – American Enterprise Institute

In a striking about-face, Germanys Greens are emerging as the most visible hawks in discussions over the countrys foreign policy, especially regarding Russia. Last month, the party co-chair, Cem zdemir, called for a tightening of sanctions against Russia. Were seeing an escalation in Eastern Ukraine, he explained. Of Turkish descent himself, he also made a case for more pressure on the regime in Turkey, particularly using economic tools. German investors, he says, need to understand that Turkey is no place for secure investment, because there is no rule of law there. Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during a news conference at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS For many years, the Greens tune was different. Throughout the 2000s, the partys leader and foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, was a leading European critic of US foreign policy. In 2014, the Greens-EFA group in the European Parliament of which the German Greens are a member tried to nominate Edward Snowden for Nobel Peace Prize. In the same year, the Greens dismissed as irresponsible the calls for a stronger NATO presence on Europes Eastern flank. To some extent, the Greens long nurtured an internationalist outlook and a distrust of Russia. During Mr. Fischers tenure as foreign minister in the cabinet of Chancellor Gerhard Schrder, Germany took part in NATOs intervention in Kosovo in 1999 and later joined the coalition fighting Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. After leaving the government, Mr. Fischer was also critical of his former boss entanglements with Russia. Just last week, Mr. Schrder, who is also working for the Gazprom-led consortium building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to German, was nominated by the Russian government to join the board of directors of Rosneft. Whereas few expect Chancellor Angela Merkel to be unseated in the election held on September 24, her coalition partners will shape Germanys and by extension, the EUs posture in its Eastern neighborhood. Ms. Merkel is already under pressure from CDUs sister party in Bavaria, CSU, to bring the sanctions against Russia to an end. That pressure will only increase if the grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) continues after the election. Quite apart from Mr. Schrders Russian misadvetures, the SPDs former leader and Germanys Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has been long calling for an end to the EUs sanctions. And, on top of that, the partys current leader, the populist Martin Schulz, even rejects NATOs 2% spending target, calling it the wrong goal. The combination of navet, sanctimony, and crude material interests although in different proportions is not limited to SPD. Unsurprisingly, populists of different stripes, including The Left and the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), are the most reliable allies of the Kremlin. Back in 2015, representatives of The Left even delivered humanitarian assistance to the self-styled authorities of the Donetsk Peoples Republic. Earlier this year, at the Russian Dumas invitation, the AfDs leader Frauke Petry met in Moscow with a range of high-profile parliamentarians. On the list of Ms. Merkels prospective coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP) flaunt solid classical liberal credentials and a compelling, pro-market agenda at home. Yet, their leader Christian Lindner called recently for a new approach to German-Russian relations, which would recognize the annexation of Crimea as a permanent provisional arrangement. Notwithstanding a small number of critical voices in the party most prominently Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, who currently serves as a Vice-president of European Parliament appeasement of Russia has been a part of FDPs toolbox since Russias attack against Ukraine in 2014. A coalition between Ms. Merkels Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Greens thus appears to be the most likely, if not the only, path toward keeping Russia at bay in the critical run-up to the Russian presidential election in March 2018. As September 24 approaches, expect the eyes of the Kremlins trolls, hackers, and useful idiots to be set primarily on them as opposed to the long list of Putin Verstehers present in German politics.

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August 15, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Pulitzer-Winner James Risen Joins The Intercept And First Look Media – HuffPost

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen, who spent seven years fighting off government efforts to force him to reveal a confidential source, will continue to advocate for the First Amendment as director of the First Look Press Freedom Defense Fund, HuffPost has learned. Risen will also join The Intercept, the First Look Media news organization launched in 2014 by journalists Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras and backed by billionaire eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar. At the Intercept, Risen will serve as senior national security correspondent, writing a column based on his own reporting, and help steer the sites investigative work. I am incredibly excited by this amazing and unique opportunity to combine my journalism with efforts to defend press freedom, Risen said in a statement. I am honored to help lead the fund as both America and the world face unprecedented threats to freedom of the press, while also writing and reporting and helping [Intercept editor-in-chief] Betsy Reed and her incredible team continue to turn The Intercept into one of the most important investigative reporting outlets in the nation. Risen, 62, was among the most prominent journalists to leave the New York Times last month in the papers latest round of buyouts. Times executive editor Dean Baquet described Risen at the time as one of the giants of national security and investigative reporting. In nearly two decades at the Times, Risen delved deeply into national security, intelligence, and surveillance matters. He was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team delving into the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and won a second Pulitzer with colleague Eric Lichtblau for their2005 investigation into the National Security Agencys secret domestic spying program. Risen also battled attempts by both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations to compel him to reveal a confidential source for a botched CIA plot described in his 2006 book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. Risen, whose legal fight finally ended in 2015, has expressed concern that the Obama administration laid the groundwork for the targeting of journalists under President Donald Trump. There is no journalist better equipped to cover the national security scandals and abuses of the Trump era than Jim Risen, Reed said in a statement. Were honored and thrilled to have the countrys leading national security journalist bring his vast experience and vision to our team at this critical time, she added. The Intercept was co-founded by journalists at the forefront of reporting on the disclosures from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and the site has quickly distinguished itself for aggressive coverage of national security issues. But the site alsocame under firein Junefollowing accusations that its reporters failed to protect contractor Reality Leigh Winner, the alleged source of top secret NSA documentrevealing Russian hacking efforts ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Following an internal review,Reed said that at several points in the editorial process, our practices fell short of the standards to which we hold ourselves for minimizing the risks of source exposure when handling anonymously provided materials. The company announced last month thatFirst Looks Press Freedom Defense Fund would help provide support for Winners legal defense, a role it intends to play for journalists and whistleblowers in future cases. First Look Media president Michael Bloom cited Risens first-hand experience in a statement on the companys newly created defense fund role. Jim is not only a respected journalist who was prepared to sacrifice his own freedom to protect a source, he said, but a very real example of how the press can challenge those in power who misuse laws to fulfill a political agenda. The Morning Email Wake up to the day’s most important news.

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Supreme Court Asked to Look at Warrantless NSA Spying Powers – InsideSources

Digital rights advocates asked the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday to review the case of an American convicted with evidence gathered under FISA Section 702 warrantless National Security Agency surveillance authority meant to spy on foreign nationals. Privacy and digital rights groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a petition Thursday with the nations highest court seeking review of the case ofMohammed Mohamud, an American citizen who was charged in 2012 with planning to car-bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. Information used to prosecute Mohamud was gathered using Section 702 of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act. Section 702 authorizes NSA to tap the physical infrastructure of internet service providers, like fiber connections, to intercept foreign emails, instant messages, and other communications belonging to foreign nationals as they exit and enter the U.S. But according to NSA, the program also incidentally sweeps up the communications of Americans corresponding with, and until recently, merely even mentioning foreign targets. NSA is legally barred from searching through Americans communications without a warrant, but that wasnt the case with Mohamud. His emails were intercepted specifically by a program dubbed PRISM, the existence of which was leaked to the press by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. PRISMgives NSA access to communications transmitted over internet edge services like Google, Yahoo, or Facebook. Mohamud learned after his conviction that his emails were gathered under Section 702 and sought to suppress the evidence, arguing its gathering violated his Fourth Amendment rights against search and seizure without a warrant. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit noted the governments conduct was quite aggressive at times but upheld the search, a move EFF, the Center for Democracy and Technology and New Americas Open Technology Institute call dangerous and unprecedented. The ruling provides an end-run around the Fourth Amendment, converting sweeping warrantless surveillance directed at foreigners into a tool for spying on Americans, Mark Rumold, a staff attorney for EFF, said Thursday. Section 702 is unlike any surveillance law in our countrys history, it is unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court should take this case to put a stop to this surveillance. The groups add weight to a Supreme Court petition filed by Mohamuds attorneys in July, and join a long list of battles from the courts to Congress over the legality of Section 702. Wikimedia and the ACLU are suing the government over the use of Section 702 in theFourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Congress has held several hearings this year to debate the laws renewal ahead of its expiration at the end of December. Section 702 is at the heart of a dispute between Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, the nations top spy chief. Wyden has pressed Coats and his predecessor to provide an estimate of the number of Americans incidentally swept up in Section 702 that both claim is impossible to produce. The senator has further suggested the authority could be used to warrantlessly target Americans directly. Congresss concerns over Section 702 have become a point of rare bipartisanship for some. Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has fought alongside Wyden to peel back the curtain on Section 702. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham is grilling intelligence officials for information about what Section 702 gathers on lawmakers and other members of government, and if those intercepts can and are used to politically target government officials like former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. In testimony to Congress intelligence chiefs including NSA Director Mike Rogers have admitted Section 702 programs have a history of compliance issues, some highlighted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves more than 99 percent of the governments secret surveillance requests. The typically intel-friendly court chastised the government for an institutional lack of candor on a very serious Fourth Amendment issue. One such opinion said NSA has engaged in significant overcollection . . . including the content of communications of non-target U.S. persons and persons in the U.S. As a result, NSA in April suspended a Section 702 practice known as about collection when NSA sweeps up American emails and text messages exchanged with overseas users that simply mention search terms like an email address belonging to a target but isnt to or from a target. The agency recently told Congress its working on a technical solution to reengage about collection. All of the pushback comes as intelligence leaders pressure Congress not just to renew Section 702 but implement it permanently. Top Republicans and Democrats have endorsed the idea, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein of California. In a recent interview, Snowden said using Section 702 to surveil Americans requires the agency to engage in little more than word games. Privacy advocates suspect the loophole created by Section 702 likelyamounts to millions or even hundreds of millions of warrantless interceptionsbelonging to Americans. Follow Giuseppe on Twitter

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Dispatches from Hell Before Breakfast – The Cipher Brief

Mark Kelton Former Deputy Director for Counterintelligence, CIA National Clandestine Service President Donald Trump is not the first American public figure to go to war with the press, nor is he the most extreme in his views. Even without benefit of Twitter, the antipathy of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman for the Civil War-era Fourth Estate manifested itself in a memorably vituperative stream of quotes. The American press, he asserted, is a shame and a reproach to a civilized peopleWhen a man is too lazy to work and too cowardly to steal, he becomes an editor and manufactures public opinion. Defamed as insane by the newspapers, Sherman responded in kind, calling his tormenters a set of dirty newspaper scribblers who have the impudence of Satan. In keeping with that theme of eternal damnation, he reacted with undisguised glee on being (erroneously) told one morning that three journalists had been killed by shellfire. Thats good! he said, Now well have dispatches from hell before breakfast. While he bridled at personal attacks on him, Sherman reserved particular loathing for those whom he described as defamers of the army and publishers of military secrets. Shermans anger over sensitive material appearing in the press had a basis in fact. Indeed, Confederate commander Robert E. Lee cited information gleaned from careful reading of northern newspapers smuggled south as one of his principal sources of intelligence. I hate newspapermen, Sherman raged, They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. Famous, and infamous, for making Georgia howl during his March to the Sea, Sherman was also merciless in dealing with the press. In the course of the 1863 Vicksburg campaign, Sherman took the unheard-of step of court-martialing New York Herald correspondent Thomas Knox for violating his order that any reporters sending out information that might give information and comfort to the enemy would be arrested and treated as spies. Fortunately for Knox, he was only banished from the Army. A conviction for spying could have earned the reporter a death sentence, an outcome that likely would not have much bothered Sherman. In his fury over the exposure in the press of secret information, Sherman has much in common with American intelligence officers of today, who are trying to protect secrets, and lives, amidst a deluge of news reports fed by leaks of classified information. An early July 2017 U.S. Senate report concluded that the Trump Administration faces an alarming wave of disclosures of classified data, noting that the number of leaks during the first sixth months of the Trump Presidency was seven times greater than those that occurred during the same period of the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The potential consequences of such disclosures for U.S. national security, not least among them the exposure of intelligence sources and methods and a consequent lack of confidence in the ability of the U.S. to protect secrets provided to it by agents and foreign partners alike, demand that the issue of leaks be addressed with urgency. Failure to plug those holes will cripple the ability of the U.S. to collect and protect intelligence that is essential to dealing effectively with such pressing national security issues as ISIS, North Korea, Russia, Iran, and China. News reports based upon classified information provided by those frequently described as present and former government officials are clearly calculated to maximize the notice those stories garner and, consequently, the damage they inflict on the current Administration. This is not a novel tactic. As President Reagan once quipped, I decided that what I was going to say I wanted to get a lot of attention, so Im going to wait and leak it. What is new is a palpable decline in professional discipline among some with access to classified information who appear willing to divulge it for political reasons. Irrespective of motivation, however, the leaking of such information is never justified or justifiable. As President Obama made clear, Theres a reason why these programs are classified. The law makes no allowance for the motives driving those who violate their secrecy oaths in exercises in egotism or pique. CIA Director Mike Pompeo is surely right in asserting that these revelations are partly a result of the worship of leakers. The once clear line between the criminal act of disclosing classified information and appropriate resort to protected whistleblower status has, sometimes with malice aforethought, been blurred. The glorification of the traitorous acts of Edward Snowden has engendered confusion among broad swaths of the public (and, apparently, in the minds of some officials) as to what constitutes leaking as opposed to whistleblowing. That whistleblower imprimatur has also been ascribed by some to leakers who have chosen to ignore their professional obligations. A similar degradation in professionalism has shown itself in the eagerness of some in the media to publish classified information with little or no regard to accepted journalistic standards for vetting that material or for the consequences for U.S. national security. The journalistic practice embodied in such legendary American reporters as Ernie Pyle, an approach that was at once appropriately skeptical but not irresponsibly adversarial regarding the conduct of national security activities and policy, seems to be wholly absent in some of his successors. There being an inherent tension between secrecy and the democratic principles that are the basis of our republic, the press plays a crucial role in educating and informing citizens about what secret organizations do in their name. It is, however, hard to see how the publishing of intelligence that could help in targeting the leader of ISIS; the disclosure of the purported details of a sensitive counterintelligence investigation; or the outing of an under-cover CIA officer; to cite but a few recent examples, serve any higher purpose than acting as social media click bait. In such an environment, an intelligence officer (or, in my case, a former officer) receives an unsolicited call or email from a reporter with trepidation. This is so because that officer knows such a contact will likely confront him or her with the probability that information about a classified activity, which the officer may have knowledge, has leaked, and that the reporter is attempting to get the officer to speak about information the latter is sworn to protect. Intelligence officers, particularly those who have had to make an unsolicited approach to an operational target (the cold call of Cold War spy lore), are often amused by reporters obvious use of familiar elicitation techniques, to include appeals to ego and warnings about the need to set the record straight lest the officers actions or intent be erroneously presented. Yet, however superficially amiable the uninvited contact with a reporter, the intelligence officer never views such a call as a friendly act, as it almost invariably portends the exposure of information that can damage national security, can put at risk lives of people who work with U.S. intelligence or, particularly in the age of terror, can potentially endanger that officer and his or her family. Sherman judged newspapermen the most contemptible race of men that exist. Having had to dispatch officers to explain to agents why the secrets they passed us appeared in the press, and having seen officers names published despite their requests and those of the CIA to both the journalist and paper involved not to do so, I must confess some sympathy for that view. Indeed, dispatches from hell before breakfast could easily describe stories based upon leaks that appear with alarming regularity in my morning newspaper. In truth, however, Shermans most contemptible race of men are those who violate their sacred oaths by divulging secret information with which they have been entrusted by the same American people they are sworn to protect. In my experience, leak investigations are notoriously difficult to conduct, much less to prosecute. Nonetheless, for the good of the country, the Trump Administration needs to move aggressively to stem the current torrent of leaks. Putting the heads of a few leakers on pikes (figuratively speaking, of course) would be a good place to start.

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed


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