Snowden Didn’t “Flee to Russia”: Obama Trapped Him There

When Russian President Vladimir Putin granted citizenship to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on Monday, the news revived a long-simmering debate about the propriety of his revelations of U.S. government secrets. At the same time, it prompted reiterations of a widely-embraced falsehood: that Snowden “fled to Russia.”

The disinformation-trafficking wasn’t limited to random people on social media. Among others, The New York TimesThe GuardianABC, Christian Science Monitor and Canada’s CBC all asserted in the past week that Snowden “fled to Russia” in 2013 after revealing that the United States government had created a mass surveillance regime targeting its own citizens, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

What many people don’t realize — and what some people both inside the government and out of it purposefully ignore — is that Snowden wasn’t traveling to Russia, but merely through it.

When he left Hong Kong after meeting with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras and turning over hundreds of thousands of stolen files, Snowden’s ultimate destination was Quito, Ecuador.

It’s important to note that Snowden says that, before leaving, he destroyed his cryptographic keys that provided him access to the files, and didn’t bring any copies of the files with him.

At the time, the Ecuadoran government was providing political asylum to Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange at the country’s London consulate, and Snowden hoped Ecuador would provide him asylum as well.

Snowden’s itinerary was arranged such that he wouldn’t land in countries that would extradite him to the United States. Nor would he cross U.S. airspace along the way. He was to make four flights in all, taking him from Hong Kong to Moscow, then Havana, Cuba; Caracas, Venezuela and finally Quito.

However, upon arriving in Moscow, Snowden was escorted by Russian security officials to an airport conference room, where they informed him that, while he was flying to Moscow, the Obama administration had invalidated his passport.

He’d spend the next 40 days at the Sheremetyevo airport, during which he applied to 27 countries for political asylum. “Not a single one of them was willing to stand up to American pressure,” Snowden wrote in his memoir, Permanent Record, “with some countries refusing outright, and others declaring they were unable to even consider my request until I arrived in their territory — a feat that was impossible.”

Seemingly tired of the spectacle, Putin granted Snowden asylum, and he’s been in Russia ever since. The essential point, however, is that Snowden is in Russia because the Obama administration deliberately trapped him there.

In 2013 and ever since, rabid Snowden detractors have failed to acknowledge how that move by the Obama White House belied its own assertions that Snowden was a traitor who traveled to Moscow with highly valuable intelligence information and was at high risk of turning it over to the Russian government.

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Supreme Court Refuses to Limit Warrantless Surveillance

According to the Supreme Court, the legality of NSA mass surveillance can’t even be legally challenged.

This was the message the Court sent when it refused to take up Jewel v. NSA, allowing an appellate court decision to stand.

The high court’s decision further underscores the futility of depending on federal courts to challenge federal surveillance power. Tenth Amendment Center executive director Micheal Boldin called it “a really bad strategy.”

“We don’t expect it to ever get the job done.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the NSA in 2008 on behalf of Carolyn Jewel and several other AT&T customers in an effort to end dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary people. The EFF based its case on declarations from three NSA whistleblowers, along with other evidence that included documents published by the Washington Post and the Guardian. The evidence showed that the NSA collected communication directly from fiber optic cables. It also revealed a domestic telephone record collection program that the government confirmed in 2013.  Mark Klein worked as an AT&T tech who claimed the communications giant routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA.

In 2015, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White denied the plaintiffs’ challenge saying that it would require “impermissible disclosure of state secret information” The Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the district court opinion, affirming that “state secret privilege” blocked the plaintiff’s efforts to tp prove that their data was intercepted. Unable to prove that, they had no standing to sue.

As EFF put it, the Supreme Court allowed the case to be dismissed because the surveillance program that everybody has known about since Edward Snowden released a trove of documents in 2013 is a “secret.”

 “Yes, you read that right: something we all know is a still officially a “secret” and so cannot be the subject to litigation.”

As the EFF explains, the U.S. government contends that “even if all of the allegations of serious law-breaking and Constitutional violations are true, surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans is exempt from judicial review.”

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AMERICAN PHONE-TRACKING FIRM DEMO’D SURVEILLANCE POWERS BY SPYING ON CIA AND NSA

IN THE MONTHS leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, two obscure American startups met to discuss a potential surveillance partnership that would merge the ability to track the movements of billions of people via their phones with a constant stream of data purchased directly from Twitter. According to Brendon Clark of Anomaly Six — or “A6” — the combination of its cellphone location-tracking technology with the social media surveillance provided by Zignal Labs would permit the U.S. government to effortlessly spy on Russian forces as they amassed along the Ukrainian border, or similarly track Chinese nuclear submarines. To prove that the technology worked, Clark pointed A6’s powers inward, spying on the National Security Agency and CIA, using their own cellphones against them.

Virginia-based Anomaly Six was founded in 2018 by two ex-military intelligence officers and maintains a public presence that is scant to the point of mysterious, its website disclosing nothing about what the firm actually does. But there’s a good chance that A6 knows an immense amount about you. The company is one of many that purchases vast reams of location data, tracking hundreds of millions of people around the world by exploiting a poorly understood fact: Countless common smartphone apps are constantly harvesting your location and relaying it to advertisers, typically without your knowledge or informed consent, relying on disclosures buried in the legalese of the sprawling terms of service that the companies involved count on you never reading. Once your location is beamed to an advertiser, there is currently no law in the United States prohibiting the further sale and resale of that information to firms like Anomaly Six, which are free to sell it to their private sector and governmental clientele. For anyone interested in tracking the daily lives of others, the digital advertising industry is taking care of the grunt work day in and day out — all a third party need do is buy access.

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Counterinsurgency, PSYOPS and the Military Origins of the Internet

As the digital revolution was underway in the mid-nineties, research departments at the CIA and NSA were developing programs to predict the usefulness of the world wide web as a tool for capturing what they dubbed “birds of a feather” formations. That’s when flocks of sparrows make sudden movements together in rhythmical patterns.

They were particularly interested in how these principles would influence the way that people would eventually move together on the burgeoning internet: Would groups and communities move together in the same way as ‘birds of a feather, so that they could be tracked in an organised way? And if their movements could be indexed and recorded, could they be identified later by their digital fingerprints?

To answer these questions, the CIA and NSA established a series of initiatives called Massive Digital Data Systems (MDDS) to directly fund tech entrepreneurs through an inter-university disbursement program. Naming their first unclassified briefing for computer scientists ‘birds of a feather,’ which took place in San Jose in the spring of 1995.

Amongst the first grants provided by the MDDS program to capture the ‘birds of a feather’ theory towards building a massive digital library and indexing system – using the internet as its backbone – were dispersed to two Stanford University PHD’s, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who were making significant headways in the development of web-page ranking technology that would track user movements online.

Those disbursements, together with $4.5 million in grants from a multi-agency consortium including NASA and DARPA, became the seed funding that was used to establish Google.

Eventually MDDS was integrated into DARPA’s global eavesdropping and data-mining activities that would attempt total information awareness over US citizens. Few understand the extent to which Silicon Valley is the alter-ego of Pentagon-land, even fewer realise the impact this has had on the social sphere.   But the story does not begin with Google, nor the military origins of the internet, it goes back much further in time, to the dawn of counterinsurgency and PSYOPs during the second world war.

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How Federal Surveillance and “Parallel Construction” Undermine the Rule of Law

When we talk about NSA spying, most people’s eyes glaze over. They just don’t think it will have any impact on them. After all, the surveillance agency only spies on foreigners and terrorists, right? And if some Americans’ data ends up in NSA databases in the process, well, that doesn’t really matter. It’s the price we pay for security.

But in fact, federal surveillance and the investigative practices it fosters undermines and subverts the fundamental rule of law in the United States.

State and local law enforcement agencies use the reams of data the NSA collects to prosecute Americans. Most of these cases have nothing to do with terrorism or national security. In fact, the vast majority relate to the so-called “war on drugs.” In the process, these state and local cops shred due process, obliterate the Fourth Amendment and make a mockery out of the “rule of law.”

Using a secretive process known as “parallel construction,” police build cases on illegally obtained, warrantless data collected by the NSA and other federal agencies without anybody ever knowing. These investigations take place in complete secrecy with no judicial oversight. Oftentimes, suspects and defense attornies have no idea how police obtained information.

Former NSA technical director William Binney called parallel construction “the most threatening situation to our constitutional republic since the Civil War.”

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The NSA’s Inspector General Opens Investigation Into Allegations of Illegal Spying on Tucker Carlson

The independent watchdog agency which investigates potential wrongdoing by the National Security Agency (NSA) announced on Tuesday morning that it has opened an investigation into “recent allegations that the NSA improperly targeted the communications of a member of the U.S. news media.” Though the oversight unit, the NSA’s Office of the Inspector General, did not specify the journalist in question, the statement leaves no doubt that the investigation pertains to news reports that the identity of Fox News host Tucker Carlson had been improperly “unmasked” and illegally revealed within the intelligence community.

The NSA’s Inspector General, Robert P. Storch, is a long-time Executive Branch functionary. He was first appointed to this position by President Obama in 2016 but failed to receive Senate confirmation. He was then re-appointed by President Trump in 2018 and the Senate then confirmed him. A widely respected bureaucrat in Washington, he also previously served as deputy Inspector General in Obama’s Justice Department, and, prior to that, was a federal prosecutor. It is, to put it mildly, difficult to imagine him opening an investigation into frivolous allegations.

The scandal began when Carlson announced on his show in late June that he had heard from a source inside the government that the NSA was in possession of his communications, as proven by their knowledge of what he was doing. The NSA then issued a meaningless non-denial denial, insisting that the Fox host “has never been an intelligence target of the Agency.” Even Fox’s critics acknowledge the irrelevance of that claim: there are many ways for the NSA to spy on an American citizen without having them be a formal “target” of the agency. In a follow-up interview on Fox, Carlson said he was told by a second source that the NSA had discovered his attempts to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin and viewed leaking of that information as potentially damaging to his reputation.

Corporate media outlets largely sided with the NSA, mocking Carlson for being conspiratorial and even accusing him of fabricating a story. One might think that journalists would have more interest in finding out whether the NSA was abusing their powers to discredit a journalist than cheering the security state for partisan reasons, but one would be wrong. Disdain for Carlson’s claims were widespread in media circles.

But Carlson’s concerns appeared to be at least partially corroborated when Axios’ Jonathan Swan reported that “U.S. government officials learned about Carlson’s efforts to secure the Putin interview.” Though Swan emphasized that none of this meant that the NSA was targeting Carlson for surveillance or even that his communications had been “incidentally” collected — meaning that the NSA read his emails or heard his conversations because he was communicating with one of their targets — their knowledge of Carlson’s activities raised the question of whether Carlson’s identity had been “unmasked” by the agency. As Swan wrote:

In order to know that the texts and emails were Carlson’s, a U.S. government official would likely have to request his identity be unmasked, something that’s only permitted if the unmasking is necessary to understand the intelligence.

When the NSA learns about the communications or activities of an American citizen without having a warrant from the FISA court to spy on that person, they are required by law to engage in “minimization” efforts to protect the privacy of that citizen. In particular, when preparing reports involving such spying, they are required to conceal — to “mask” — the identity of the American about whom they learned information, referring to them only by a generic title sufficient to describe their work or status without revealing their specific identity (e.g., “an American journalist” or “a business executive”).

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NSA Reveals in FOIA Response that the FBI Involved in “Improper Surveillance” of 16,000 Americans

Then on January 6, after one million Trump supporters rallied with President Trump at the Ellipse outside the White House, some 900 individuals went inside the US Capitol. Over 400 have since been arrested, including those who were waved into the US Capitol by the police standing at the exits.

Since January, the Deep State and Democrats will not release videotapes to Republican lawmakers from January 6th inside or outside the US Capitol.

Earlier this week Revolver News published an important piece on the “unindicted co-conspirators” in the Jan. 6 attack who were never charged by the DOJ or FBI for their part in the violence on Jan. 6.

The “unindicted co-conspirators” were frequently the most violent and leaders of the assault on the US Capitol. They are also likely FBI informants.

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