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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

President Obama made a point to note in his speech on Friday that last year in May, weeks before former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks became public, he called for a “more robust public discussion about the balance between security and liberty.”

That discussion became much more robust than he ever planned, as Snowden revealed secret court decisions, classified presentations and schematics that showed America’s surveillance infrastructure had reacted to the terrorist attacks of 2001 with an ever-increasing dragnet that gathered massive amounts of data and presented an unlimited potential for abuse.

The president had responded to those leaks several times since they first emerged, but on Friday he presented the first set of concrete reforms designed to to restore the public’s faith in the intelligence community.

“Those who are troubled by our existing programs are not interested in a repeat of 9/11, and those who defend these programs are not dismissive of civil liberties,” he said. “The challenge is getting the details right, and that’s not simple.”

His most substantive reforms include declassifying some of the decisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which rules on intelligence agencies’ ability to conduct “our most sensitive intelligence activities.”  He also called on Congress to establish a “panel of advocates” to weigh in on behalf of the privacy rights of the public.

The Court will now have to rule on any use of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which allows for bulk collection of metadata that the president points out does not include the content of phone calls or the names of the participants but other metadata, which could be used to identify the participants or otherwise limit their privacy.

“The telephone metadata program under Section 215 was designed to map the communications of terrorists, so we can see who they may be in contact with as quickly as possible,” he said, justifying the practice. “This capability could also prove valuable in a crisis.”

However, the anecdote he used to justify the program — “One of the 9/11 hijackers – Khalid al-Mihdhar – made a phone call from San Diego to a known al Qaeda safehouse in Yemen. NSA saw that call, but could not see that it was coming from an individual already in the United States” — was recently disputed in an article by Lawrence Wright in The New Yorker.

Few critics of the president’s record on civil liberties will be satisfied with reforms that narrow the scope of surveillance — for instance, limiting the so-called “hops” or degrees of separation from a terrorist target that an agency can search to two from three — without drastically unwinding the efforts.

Glenn Greewald — the journalist who first published Snowden’s documents — called the speech a “publicity stunt” before Obama spoke a single word.

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  • Kurt CPI

    Perspective is the key word here, as pointed out in the last paragraph of the article. Law enforcement sees video cameras on every corner, and the recording of that video as a superb tool that enhances their ability to to their job. And when a citizen is assaulted, that video that proves the other guy is not being truthful seems like a pretty good thing.
    People who’s back yards inadvertently fall into the scope of a surveillance camera’s lens have a completely different take on the same exact thing.
    The Snowden situation is perplexing for that reason. Whether he is a villain or a hero is totally subjective with regard to the perspective of the person passing judgment.

    • Mikey7a

      A whistle blower hero, stays, and faces the organization he/she is outing. They turn their evidence over to those who would end an injustice, and bring about reform. Snowden is the exact opposite. Snowden is a cowardly traitor, who sold US out, to the highest bidder, and to a foreign Government, that doesn’t have ANY of our interest at heart.

      Maybe I’m over simplifying the situation, but these are my honest opinions on Snowden. Nothing subjective about it, he hurt his Country, and gets no sympathy, nor leniency from me.

      • daniel bostdorf

        He is no traitor…see my separate post above outlining why…

      • Sand_Cat

        Only an idiot would stay to absorb the public hysteria and full weight of our “National Security” state for the very dubious possibility that anything of substance will be done. You are aware that under current law he could be simply “disappeared,” aren’t you? Those who sit at home in safety and sit in judgment of those who take personal risks to protect what’s left of the Constitution, presuming to say what they should have done if they were “true patriots” are the cowards here.

        • Mikey7a

          Served my Country in the USMC Cat. Don’t think I like being called a coward. Just refuse to stand for anyone who hurts our great Nation. Tea Baggers, Obstructionists, idiots like Limbaugh, and Beck. Snowden did more damage than all of these added together. I’m sorry we disagree on Principle, but again, I’m no coward.

          • Sand_Cat

            Sorry, but Snowden comes nowhere close to the others you mention, in my opinion. He had the courage to take the abuse of almost everyone to try to do something about these abuses, and it was for the most part the abuses themselves that did the damage, not the person who revealed them. Being despised and exiled takes courage, too, whether you care to acknowledge it or not. Guess we’ll have to disagree on this.

    • daniel bostdorf

      He is a hero because Snowden’s loyalty is to the Constitution and Bill of Rights and people of the
      USA…not NSA and and the government and those that condone illegal spying on the
      American people, and shredding the 4th Amendment while doing it…

      • Mikey7a

        Sorry Daniel, but on this subject, we must agree, to disagree. Again, he ran like a coward, and divulged critical Intelligence to our Enemy! I am a moderate, vote mostly Democrat, but on this subject, I stand firm that Snowden hurt America, far more than anything he did, has helped us.

        • daniel bostdorf

          I really respect your feelings on this….that is why we can responsibly disagree without throwing flames here at NM…thank the editors for mainating standards unlike other sites..

          As I stated to a person above:

          What are the “real damages?” Factual based upon data provided by a reputable 3rd party source…

          Can you give me an actual list generated by the NSA/CIA/ FBI or any other provable source?

          Nicely meant! 🙂

  • Dominick Vila

    Snowden disclosure of classified information to foes and friends alike did a lot more than hurt the credibility of the USA, as it confirmed what everyone knew but no one admitted. Part of the fallout, however, revealed what I consider an intelligence vulnerability or limitation. The mega-data gathered by our intelligence agencies, especially the NSA, is not used to prevent attacks, but to find those responsible for attacks. Preventive actions depend more on the ability of the CIA and FBI to identify threats before they happen, than the analytical work performed after the damage has been done.
    The President delivered an excellent speech today, acknowledging the obvious and taking responsibility for things that should have never been revealed. However, he was clear about the fact that surveillance will continue, emphasizing its need to maintain our national security both at home and abroad. In the end, it will be up to Congress to define the measures to be taken to minimize the probability of violating our civil rights while doing everything possible to prevent another 9/11. It would not surprise me if after everything is said and done, this issue ends up in the Supreme Court.

    • daniel bostdorf

      Don’t Agree with Snowden actions harming anyone….the disclosures have led to transparennacy and an explanation of how government sponsored unchecked invasion of global privacy occurred…and this matter has no business in the Supreme Court.

      Unless you are talking about violations of the 4th Amendment by the NSA?

      It is being corrected as best as possible…

      But as the article proposes…Snowden would not believe in the reforms.

    • sigrid28

      Over Christmas break, when I was just twenty, I crossed the English Channel on a ferry. Bundled up in coats and hats, a friend and I foolishly sat on the top deck looking out to sea, listening to the gentle chimes of metal chains locking down deck chairs, enjoying the occasional snapping of flags caught in the wind, the flapping you hear just before gulls coast silently on a breeze, their distant cries.

      My friend, an art student, had out her sketch pad and was drawing a picture, not of a deck chair or a flag or a sea gull but of a metal sieve, the kind you use to drain spaghetti or sift sand on the beach. Her vacation assignment was to draw a sieve from every conceivable angle. At first, an actual metal sieve had served as her model, but by the time we were taking the ferry, it was all in her head, like Plato’s cave. Over a week’s time, she added drawings of the outside of the sieve, the inside; giant sieve, mini-sieve; sieve full of shells and pebbles, cartoon sieve like a cloud raining uniform droplets; a leaky boat, a lousy umbrella; a cave with porous walls, a concave prison.

      The NSA is a small sieve compared to what must pass through it. On a good day, our little sieve must sift through all the sands on a beach; on a bad day, our sieve seems tiny compared to the task of retrieving what we need to be safe from an expanse the size of the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe for this job, a sieve is an absurd idea. What if it is, like my friend’s sieve, a suitable subject for the imagination, a thing full of holes that can be perfected for the job it is required to do if we will only be willing to keep starting new pages in the sketch book.

  • Lynda Groom

    I hope we don’t design reforms based upon what might please Snowden. Snowden is not a hero although in a small way he may have done the nation a service. The man had options and the one he chose caused a great deal of damage and now he has exiled himself that bastion of democracy Russia. The less we care about him the better.

    • daniel bostdorf

      I disagree an doutline reasons why in separate post.

      • Lynda Groom

        Do you believe that his revelations did no damage to the relationship between the United States and its allies? Do you believe that Snowden’s action did not damage the reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world?

        At this time we have no idea what secrets he may have provided to the Chinese and the Russians, and just how dangerous they might be. We have yet to find out what damage to individuals or institutions that his theft may have caused…and we may never.

        Perhaps you don’t consider such issues ‘real damages,’ but dismissing them is disingenuous at best.

        • daniel bostdorf

          Just because you “say its so” does not make it so….now…answer my question pease and I mean all this nicely not a rant or angry….

          What are the “real damages?” Factual based upon data provided by a reputable 3rd party source…

          Can you give me an actual list generated by the NSA/CIA/ FBI or any other provable source?

          Lets have a dialogue based in facts….no speculation..

          🙂 nicvely meant…we need this conversation…

          • Mikey7a

            You cannot be serious? NONE of these organizations are going to make matters much worse than what has already been done, by satisfying people like you, who would leave US defenseless in the Intelligence world. Are you really so naive, as to believe that no one is trying to bring down America? What Snowden has done, has put us behind our enemies, for untold years.

            Yes, you can quote fancy paragraphs, and I’m sure you are better educated than I, but you are very naive Daniel.

          • daniel bostdorf

            Look—I am not name calling you anything ok? Could you give me the same courtesy. I have a college degree that is all…

            If you can’t list me 12 ways this country was harmed, and that these ways are verifiable by some source other than Fox News or Rush Limbaush….then…your statement is pure opinion not based in any fact…that is all I am saying….back up your opinion with facts and then we both can have a serious conversation..

            And you are also entitled to have this opinion….but don’t lecture us here about suppositions you think are real.

            I can, however, back up my opinion from an expert: a member of the Homeland Security Committee Jon Tester.

            here is an article:

            Senator Jon Tester: Actually, Snowden’s leak didn’t damage national security Tester does sit on the Homeland Security Committee, which exercises oversight on the kind of domestic intelligence collection that resumably would be a customer of the NSA. he qualifies as an expert.

            Video and read here:


            and an article here:

            Did Edward Snowden’s leak make Americans less safe? Nope

            read here


          • Mikey7a

            I replied with three distinct ways Snowden has hurt the U.S. in the post above. I do apologize for calling you naive. Every leak of American Intelligence has caused damage in the past. Why you would think this one, will have no consequences, is beyond me. History, is on my side. By the way, I hate Fox News, and Limpballs, and any right wingnut you could name. I just have no love for anyone who would sell out my Country.

          • daniel bostdorf

            Yes—thank you and great post as I replied!

            And I respect your feelings toward Snowden. It is a real feeling.

            Ok “selling out” definition:
            To compromise one’s values and/or aristic vision in order to gain fame and/or monetary profit.

            Snowden did not sell out his values to gain fame or money…He is a loyal patriot. He is a whistleblower He is an informant who exposes wrong doing, illegal or unconstitutional behavior within NSA and the government in the hope of stopping it.” He gave aid and comfort to the American people by exposing the NSA unconstitutional activity. His loyalty is to the Constitution and Bill of Rights and people of the USA…not NSA and and the government who condones illegal spying on the American people.

            And that is where we have respectfully disagree with each other.

            Really appreciate your posts….we get to air out our views….


          • Lynda Groom

            Here are few items you might find interesting….putting aside the the level of hyperbole within.

            From Gen. Keith Alexander, head of NSA stated that Snowden ‘has caused irreversible and significant damge to our country and to our allies.’ That was from his comments of Jun 27, 2013.

            The former No. 2 man at the CIA Michael Morell, Deputy Director stated last Oct ‘I think this is the most serious leak–the most serious compromise of classified information in the history of the U.S. intelligence community.’

            Of the hundreds of document leaked, none was more damaging the classified document the CIA calls the ‘Black Budget.’ It like a playbook, says Morell, revealing where the U.S. spends its money on its intelligence efforts. It would give adversaries and advantage. ‘They could focus their counterintelligence efforts on those places where we’re being successful. And not have to worry as much about those place where we’re not being successful.’ says Morell.

            He further stated that the info leaked will hamper U.S. effots to track and learn about terrorist, taking away an advantage and blunting the war on terror. ‘What Edward Snowden did has put Americans at greater risk because terrorists learn from leaks and they will be more careful, and we will not get the intelligence we would have gotten otherwise.’

            The following is from a piece by Gen. Michael Hayden, former NSA director appointed by Geo Bush, and who served until Feb of 2009.

            ‘Snowden is in a class by himself. Snowden fled to China with several computers worth of data from NSANET, one of the most highly classified and sensitie networks in American intelligence. The damage is potentially so great that NSA has taken one of its most respected senior operations officers off mission tasks to lead the damage assessment effort..

            In general terms, it’s already clear Snowdens betrayal hurts in at least three important ways. 1st, there is the undeniable operational effect of informing adversaries of American intelligence tactics, techniques and procedures. (much like Morell’s comment)

            Hayden goes on to explain economic implications which I will let go for another time. It’s rather subjective, and perhaps not germane to this subject.

            The third great harm of Snowden’s efforts to date is the erosion of confidence in the ability of the United States to do anything discreetly or keep anything secret. Snowden has shown that we’ve fallen short and that the issue may be more systemic rather the isoloated. At least that’s what I would fear if I were a foreign intelligence chief approached by the Americans to do anything of impact.’

            I believe that the good generals last point can’t be glossed over or ignored. We’ve suffered great damage in credibility. The relationship between us and our allies have been harmed as I suggested earlier. Their intelligence agencies can’t, and probably won’t, trust importance intelligence in our hands…at least not anytime soon. Why would they work with a leaking bucket? Snowden has shown that secrets may not be safe with us. Is that damage enough for you???

          • Sand_Cat

            Wow, the head of the NSA says he’s caused “irreversible damage”! What a surprise! A lot of kids with their hands in the cookie jar have no doubt talked of their noble and misunderstood motives. And Nixon told us all how revealing anything about Watergate would damage our national security. How many times in the past do you suppose the phrase “irreversible damage” has been applied to long-forgotten incidents?

          • Lynda Groom

            Of course what the hell would he know? He only runs the agency, and if far more knowledgeable on the subject than any of us.

            I did start my comment in reference to hyperbole, which Gen Alexander may indeed be guilty of. What is more important than his comment is the problem the exposure of our ‘Black Budget’ and all that it covered under that moniker.

            The erosion of confidence by our allies in the ability of our government to hold vital information secret has been damaged. Why would they ever trust us with important information, or possibility put their own agencies in jeopardy by trusting our abilities to keep secrets?

            You are right that the hyperventilated remarks of one man proves little…but that is not really the problem now is it. Perhaps you should give the difficulties associated with that a little more thought.

          • Sand_Cat

            So far as the erosion of confidence in our ability to keep “secret information” goes, if you want to blame some one, try the people who decided to let private firms do background security checks and let private firms take over jobs formerly done by military and intelligence agency personnel, such as, for instance, the one that gave both Edward Snowden and the guy who shot the people at the DC Navy Yard a clean bill of health. Our allies are right to be concerned when congresspeople and senators and news outlets favored by them freely reveal “classified” information when it suits their purposes while being shocked and appalled when someone else does. The whole corrupt bureaucracy is to blame. Perhaps if there hadn’t been the abuses, the Snowdens of the world might be less inclined to reveal them.
            I still say the abuses by the agency are responsible for the problems, not the man who brought them to our attention.

          • Lynda Groom

            I can only assume that you found youself in the dark over NSA activies until Snowden stole the data and ran away to Russia. I that really true?

            Obviously abuse has been taking place for decades as those of us concerned have know for many years. You are tossing a lot of items against the wall to make your case, but you are missing the point entirely.

            Indeed there is plenty of blame to be assigned, but treating Snowden as some sort of badly needed wistleblower is pushing and inaccurate narrative.

          • Sand_Cat

            Actually, yes, I was fully aware that the NSA shows reckless disregard for the law and Constitution, and has since the day it commenced operations, but no one else seemed interested until this happened, not that the latest tempest in a teapot is likely to make much difference. Would it even be possible to shut down NSA if the president wanted to?

            We’ll obviously never agree on this: you say you’re concerned about it, but then lead the lynch mob against the guy who actually tried to do something about it and who at least managed to shake a lot of people out of their “don’t want to know” complacency and start some sort of conversation, short-lived as it’s likely to be.

            I’m sure future whistleblowers are thoroughly encouraged by seeing those “concerned” about wrongdoing react with fury at action trying to expose it. I’ve read that the whistleblower protection laws passed by the feds and states have had almost no effect: pretty much all whistleblowers still get shafted. It’s not hard to see why.

          • Lynda Groom

            I don’t know anyone who believes that the actions of the NSA and other agencies are in the best interest of the country. However, finger pointing and trying to access blame does little of consequence one way or the other to start the nation on the path of correction.

            I’m in no in any way trying to lead the lynch mob against ‘the guy who actually tried to do something about it.’ We obviously have a difference of opinion on the path taken by Mr. Snowden. The man broke several of the very rules he sworn to uphold and not to mention his nondisclosure act term of employment. He stole classified and secret data, fled to two communist countries, and has subsequently made some pretty strange manifestos since his extended stay in Russia began.

            The conversation that I’ve been taking part in is regarding the damage done by Snowden. All of this extended, and off the track, stuff about who’s been doing wrong for decades does not take away from the damage done by Snowden himself. I firmly believe that he should return home, face the consequences of his actions and defend is poor choices. Of course thats just me and I could be wrong.

          • Sand_Cat

            Still haven’t shaken the old “communist” stuff? I would have expected better from someone who usually seems reasonable, but many people appear to have become unhinged by this. Fact of the matter is that people who obey the law and do what they’re told are pretty useless at changing anything, and demanding that someone who took personal risks and will likely pay a heavy price to fight what you say you object to should accept the checklist of actions that you – sitting safe and sound at home – decide for him seems pretty presumptious to me.

          • Lynda Groom

            WTF are you trying to say? Why not try staying on point and addressing the question at hand. Did Snowden cause damage or not? I’ve clearly shown he did and you tried misdirection yet again. It would appear that we’ve reached the end of rational discussion of this point.

        • Sand_Cat

          The damage to relations with our allies was done by the abuses of the NSA, not by their revelation.

      • Mikey7a

        In general terms, it’s already clear Snowden’s betrayal hurts in at least three important ways.

        First, there is the undeniable operational effect of informing adversaries of American intelligence’s tactics, techniques and procedures. Snowden’s disclosures go beyond the “what” of a particular secret or source. He is busily revealing the “how” of American collection.

        The Guardian newspaper’s Glenn Greenwald, far more deserving of the Justice Department’s characterization of a co-conspirator than Fox’s James Rosen ever was, claims that Snowden has documents that comprise “basically the instruction manual for how the NSA is built. … [To prove] what he was saying was true, he had to take … very sensitive, detailed blueprints of how the NSA does what they do.”

        • Mikey7a

          But there is other damage, such as the undeniable economic punishment that will be inflicted on American businesses for simply complying with American law.

          Others, most notably in Europe, will rend their garments in faux shock and outrage that these firms have done this, all the while ignoring that these very same companies, along with their European counterparts, behave the same way when confronted with the lawful demands of European states.

          The real purpose of those complaints is competitive economic advantage, putting added burdens on or even disqualifying American firms competing in Europe for the big data and cloud services that are at the cutting edge of the global IT industry. Or, in the case of France, to slow negotiations on a trans- Atlantic trade agreement that threatens the privileged position of French agriculture, outrage more based on protecting the production of cheese than preventing any alleged violation of privacy.

          • Mikey7a

            The third great harm of Snowden’s efforts to date is the erosion of confidence in the ability of the United States to do anything discreetly or keep anything secret.

            Manning’s torrent of disclosures certainly caused great harm, but there was at least the plausible defense that this was a one-off phenomenon, a regrettable error we’re aggressively correcting.

            Snowden shows that we have fallen short and that the issue may be more systemic rather than isolated. At least that’s what I would fear if I were a foreign intelligence chief approached by the Americans to do anything of import.

          • Mikey7a

            Source? Gen. Michael V. Hayden, a former NSA director who was appointed by President George W. Bush as CIA director in 2006 and served until February 2009, is a principal with the Chertoff Group, a security consulting firm. He serves on the boards of several defense firms and is a distinguished visiting professor at George Mason University.

          • Sand_Cat

            Wow, anything said by someone appointed by that most honorable, competent, and trustworthy of presidents, George W. Bush must be absolutely true, right?

        • daniel bostdorf

          I can, however, back up my opinion from an expert: a member of the Homeland Security Committee Jon Tester.

          here is an article:

          Senator Jon Tester: Actually, Snowden’s leak didn’t damage national security Tester does sit on the Homeland Security Committee, which exercises oversight on the kind of domestic intelligence collection that resumably would be a customer of the NSA. he qualifies as an expert.

          Video and read here:

          and an article here:

          Did Edward Snowden’s leak make Americans less safe? Nope

          read here

      • Guest

        Yours is a very much appreciated reply….very nice…

        I also can back up my opinion from an expert: a member of the Homeland Security Committee Jon Tester.

        here is an article:

        Senator Jon Tester: Actually, Snowden’s leak didn’t damage national security Tester does sit on the Homeland Security Committee, which exercises oversight on the kind of domestic intelligence collection that resumably would be a customer of the NSA. he qualifies as an expert.

        Video and read here:

        and an article here:

        Did Edward Snowden’s leak make Americans less safe? Nope
        read here

        We agree to disagree—and that is the point of participating here at NM….

  • Stephen Cohen

    Snowden needs to be brought before a court and sentenced to death. There is no legal excuse for disclosure of secure information at the expense of our security.

    When a government agency or its personal violates or misuses privacy or the information collected then this should be reported to one or more of the following:
    Congressional oversight committees;
    Attorney General;
    Inspector General;
    U.S. Attorney
    or any Title 3 judge.

    Disclosure to anyone else is treason.

    • daniel bostdorf

      No it is not treason…see comment above…

      • Stephen Cohen

        You are correct, this was an error on my part. I should have said for violation of 18 U.S. Code § 798 – Disclosure of classified information and for violation of 18 USC 793(e) Espionage Act.

        Sorry, my head was into a brief that I am doing before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

        • Sand_Cat

          Not to say I support wholesale disclosure of information classified for reasons other than hiding incompetence or wrongdoing and suppressing dissent, but I believe the Espionage Act was passed and employed almost exclusively to silence and imprison dissenters during the First World War. You as a lawyer should know this.

          So let’s have your educated guess concerning how much of the gigantic quantities of classified information actually protects the security of the United States, the Constitution, and the citizens, as opposed to particular persons or administrations or defense contractors. How much is classified for random or default reasons, or as a result of the paranoia or need to control of those creating it? For a democratic republic, or any representative government, to function as it should, the people need to know what their representatives are doing. The burden of proof needs to be on those who would keep them misinformed or uninformed, NOT on those in favor of disclosure, something apparently long forgotten, or never even considered, by those currently in charge (and I’m not talking about the Obama Administration in particular here).

          • Stephen Cohen

            You are missing the point!
            It makes no difference how much of the material is really used to protect the security of the United States.

            The breach is disclosure.
            As an example: You decide to join the U.S. Army and you sign on the dotted line and are sworn in as a
            member of the U.S. Army. One day later, you decide you made a mistake and decide not to show up for basic training.

            Do you really believe you will not be held to answer and punished? The same is true here. Once you sign that security agreement then you assume criminal liability.

            The court will only look at the following to determine

            Did Mr. Snowden sign the security agreement?

            Did anyone threaten harm to Mr. Snowden or his immediate family which resulted in his disclosure?

            Were the documents that were disclosed protected under Title 18 USC 798 or any other act under Title 18?

            Jonathan Pollard is an American who disclosed information to Israel which is and has been a friend of the United States. He was found guilty and sentenced to life for disclosing.

            Numerous times the Israel government has asked that Pollard be granted a pardon. Presidents George W. Bush, George H. Bush, Bill Clinton and President Obama have all REFUSED to grant a pardon to Pollard.

            The U.S. Government as well as every other government NEVER forgives for illegal breaches of national security.

            Mr. Putin ordered the death of Alexander Litvinenko for disclosing information. Putin didn’t care that Litvinenko was living in London at the time of his death nor did he care about the judicial system in the United Kingdom. He just ordered that he be whacked with polonium. That is the worse way to die. Now that is sending a message to anyone else that wants to disclose secured information.

            Now that raises another issue. Putin is an ex KGB officer who personally believes that anyone that discloses information should be executed.

            At the time Anna Chapman was returned back
            to Russia Putin made a statement that the SVR (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki) officer who disclosed the operation and the names of the Russian spy’s to the United States should be executed.

            Yet, he latter allowed Snowden to stay in Russia for one year. In short, Snowden stay in Russia is subject to Putin’s hate/love relationship with the US. Why do you think Putin only issued Snowden a one year visa?

            Mr. Snowden is screwed no matter how you look at it.

            I am sure Mr. Snowden knows the problems he is facing.

          • Sand_Cat

            No, it is you who are missing the point. This nation was founded by
            lawbreakers; most of its progress in human rights would not have
            happened without lawbreakers. Obama’s speech and those limited reforms
            he proposed are the result of lawbreakers. Do you call George Washington
            and Thomas Jefferson traitors and cowards because they failed to
            present themselves to British authorities for prompt execution or –
            worse – a slower death sentence on a prison ship?
            Should someone who fails to show up for basic training be executed then?

          • Stephen Cohen

            I am sorry to say you still do not get it. I will try and explain it again to you so you get it.

            First there are personal beliefs and what citizens or
            individuals believe is just and proper and what they also believe what is a wrong. I believe you believe what Snowden did was right and justified.

            Then there are laws which were passed by both houses and signed by the President.

            At that point these laws are enforced. They are of course are subject to what our Title 3 judges determine is constitutional under the law.

            The laws regarding Classified information and disclosure of that information has already been held to be valid by our Supreme Court,

            As an example 18 USC 798 Disclosure of classified
            information carries a 10 year sentence for EACH document disclosed. So if Snowden disclosed 10 different secrets he is facing 100 years.

            In the case of Private Manning he was sentenced to 35 years. There is no difference under the criminal system between Snowden and Manning..

            Both did what they claim was right and justified yet Private Manning no matter how many individuals and public organization rallied in his behalf was in fact sentenced to 35 years in custody.

            One man that understands the penalty is Julian Assange from Wikileaks. He is stuck in the
            Ecuadorian Embassy in London with numerous police waiting for him to arrest. He can’t go anywhere and is always subject to what happens when Rafael Correa is replaced in 2017.

            In short, if you do not like a law then you need to contact your congressman or congresswoman and try and have them changed. Until that happens, you and I are stuck with the existing laws.

            Many people believe they have constitutional rights from the original constitution. In most cases
            this is not the current laws.

            Example: In the constitution you have a right to bail. In the Federal System, if your sentence could be more than 10 years, or if you are a flight risk and or you are a danger to society then bail is denied.

            Take a day off and visit your U.S. District court on a
            Monday when the court hears law and motions and you will understand what I am talking about.

            I remember appearing in the Superior Court for a client when the judge was hearing a case of a man who refused to allow the fire marshall to enter his building to do an inspection. The defendant told the judge he had a constitutional right to privacy.

            The judge told the defendant I understand and I am going to give you five days in custody to think about your constitutional rights.

    • daniel bostdorf

      Holder has already spoken on this matter last JULY…

      Edward Snowden Won’t Face Death Penalty: Eric Holder


      • Stephen Cohen

        You are correct

        • daniel bostdorf

          Well—if you are an attorney going to the 9th Circuit—-you would have know this….it was plastered globally LAST JULY!

          I do not believe you are an attorney.

    • Sand_Cat

      How many times must the Constitutional definition and the reason for its inclusion therein be repeated for you to get it?
      Doing something you don’t like does not constitute treason, fortunately.

      • Stephen Cohen

        You have no clue as to the laws in the United States. When an individual signs a security agreement as Mr. Snowden did he is bound to that agreement which includes criminal penalties.

        There is no doubt that if and when Mr. Snowden is held to answer he will face 30 years in incarceration. He will be lucky if he only receives a 20 year sentence..

        How do I come to this conclusion? I have practiced in the U.S. District court for over 30 years and I can tell you when the President get involved as Obama did, you are history.

        The president’s last speech made it blatantly clear that what Mr. Snowden did is unforgivable, The President also made some changes to the policy but made it clear that individuals who breach the security of the US will be held accountable.

        • daniel bostdorf

          He wont be held to answer to anything.

          you are ranting dis-information campaign propaganda. That is all….in effort to kill the messanger ..

          And we certainly know that you are probably an employee or subcontractor or have relations with and intelligence officer of the NSA or intelligence branch.

          And I doubt your credentials as a lawyer as well..

          What Snowden did is an act of a patriotism no matter how you and NSA employees spin it.

          Snowden did not sell out his values to gain fame or money…He is a loyal patriot. He is a whistleblower He is an informant who exposes wrong doing, illegal or unconstitutional behavior within NSA and the
          government in the hope of stopping it.”

          He gave aid and comfort to the American people by exposing the NSA unconstitutional activity. His
          loyalty is to the Constitution and Bill of Rights and people of the USA…not NSA and and the government who condones illegal spying on the American people.

          • Stephen Cohen

            Your superfluous rhetoric will not change the fact that Mr. Snowden has already been indicted by a Grand Jury. All defendants have one thing in common,they believe they are innocent.

            The fact is Mr. Snowden is in my opinion looking at a real sentence of 30 years. If this man got on his
            hands and knees and beg for forgiveness at the time of sentencing consequently,

            I really do not believe a Title 3 judge would reduce his sentence one day.

            The big question is how long Russia is going to allow him to stay. Mr. Snowden’s visa is only good
            for one year. It is just a matter of time before he is brought before Justice.

            Mr. Snowden if he really believed that persons in the government were engaged in wrong doing, then he should have taken this information to one or more of the following:

            Inspector General
            Congressional oversight committees
            The U.S. Department of Justice
            Any U.S. Attorney
            Any Member of Congress

            Each of the above is security cleared for this type of
            information and how to deal with these kinds of problems. One thing you learn early on in law school is: There is no place in the law for self-help.

            Taking the law into your own hands is always against the law. If you question what I am saying
            ask any licensed attorney and you will get the same answers.

          • daniel bostdorf

            Until such time you present your legal credentials….as they say in court….you have no standing…

            Whe you make that claim of authority….then back it up.

            You are a troll.
            You are not a lawyer.
            You are in my opinion a fraud posting here claiming to be a lawyer.

        • Sand_Cat

          Doesn’t make him a traitor. People who throw it about for everything they don’t like are why it’s there in the Constitution.
          And would those changes, inadequate as they are likely to be, even have been considered without Snowden?

  • daniel bostdorf

    This article is about the surveillance reforms. And Jaosn correctly points out this:

    “His defenders insist he wasn’t just trying to spark a debate about privacy vs. secrecy, but “democracy vs. authoritarianism.”

    Authoritarianism is a government or instution expecting or requiring people to obey rules or laws by not allowing personal freedom. it is a political or institutional principle of blind submission to authority, as opposed to individual freedom of thought and action. In government, authoritarianism denotes any political system that concentrates power in the hands of a leader or a small elite that is not constitutionally responsible to the body of the people. (NSA for example) Authoritarian leaders often exercise power arbitrarily and without regard to existing bodies of law, and they usually cannot be replaced by citizens choosing freely among various competitors in elections.

    And part of that “authoritarianism” is the creation of a police state. Police State is a political unit characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures . (can be an essential element of any political system)

    Now—this issue about Snowden.

    Snowden is in absolutely no way a traitor . He is a loyal patriot. He is a whistleblower and to be thanked. A whistleblower is an informant who exposes wrong doing, illegal or unconstitutional behavior within an organization or government in the hope of stopping it.”

    LEGAL Definition of treason: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. (United States Constitution)

    An actual traitor would have to meet the conditions set above in order to be charged or convicted.”

    Snowden waged no war on this country. He gave aid and comfort to the American people by exposing the NSA unconstitutional activity.

    Journalist Glenn Greenwald is dead on target with his view that Snowden is no traitor. Greenwald stated: “the breakdown is do you have primary allegiance to the government… or is your allegiance to the Constitution?”

    Loyalty is to the Constitution and Bill of Rights and people of the USA…not NSA and and the government who condones illegal spying on the American people.

    Unchecked authoritarianism (as Jason article elides to)…leads to facsism in government.

  • daniel bostdorf

    Surveillance reforms….

    • Independent1

      Here’s a little something to ponder:

      Did Snowden get help from the Russians??

      • daniel bostdorf

        Why does this question matter as it relates to wether or not Snowden would be pleased by the reforms? (nicely meant)

        • Independent1

          I think you’re missing the implication – that being, Snowden may have been collecting all the data with guidance from Russia all along, and his run to China and all the searching for a place he could go to was all a diversionary ploy; and that the plan from the beginning was that he would end up in Russia. Some are saying that the information he pulled together was done in a more sophisticated manner than he was expert enough to have pulled off alone – without outside guidance. Which if true, makes the issue of whether or not Snowden would find the reforms to his liking a moot point, in that who cares what a true traitor would think about how our intelligence gathering is reformed?

          • daniel bostdorf

            see my comment above at top…

      • Sand_Cat

        Sorry, but I don’t consider ANY House Republican as a reliable source of information, and most of the Yahoo “news” articles on political issues I’ve read take a decidedly right-wing position on them.
        “Chairman of the Intelligence Committee”? Michelle Bachman proved repeatedly that no intelligence is required to “serve” on that or any other committee in the House.
        Just a recycling of the old Cold-War smear “you’re a communist,” absent any adamantine evidence.
        And Daniel is right: what the NSA did and is doing is wrong, regardless of who “helped” Snowden.

        • Independent1

          I’m afraid we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. I agree completely with everything Steven Cohen has posted on this website. I worked for the NSA for 9 years while I was in the Air Force during the Vietnam war. As a member of the Air Force, I signed the same agreement with the NSA that Snowden probably did, and in signing the agreement it states clearly that disclosure of any NSA classified information is a felony.

          If all Snowden really wanted to do was make the American people aware of the NSA’s information gathering, he didn’t need to continue exposing the NSA’s intelligence gathering secrets by broadcasting to the world that the NSA was also monitoring emails and phone records for foreign leaders – explain to me how you can justify in your mind Snowden embarrassing America to world leaders around the globe. Snowden doing that made it quite clear, to me anyway, that he was lying about his intent on stealing the NSA secret information. Snowden stole the information either for the grandizement of Mr. Snowden, or as a traitor working with the help and for another country.

          In closing, I’d just like you to use some common sense for a minute. Snowden has gotten the majority of clueless Americans to believe that the NSA is actually monitoring their phone calls and emails (actually either reviewing their emails or somehow tapping into their phones). That’s the most absurd idea on the planet.

          Even if the NSA has 50,000 employees, I’d like you to picture for a moment, how those 50,000 employees would select which email to monitor or phone call to listen into, when each day, there are over 2.5 BILLION phone calls made just within the US (that’s not including overseas calls); and approximately 295 BILLION emails.

          Somehow this 50,000 employees magically has to be listening into almost 300 BILLION phone calls and emails each day; a total physical impossibility. Not only that, but a recent article said that they had discovered that the NSA had actually selected about 94 million messages to monitor. That is less than 3% of one day’s worth of calls.

          So I’m going to repeat what I’ve said on this forum several times, the probabliity that any NSA operator is listening in on your, mine or any other American’s phone call or email, is probably as great as any of us winning the PowerBall Lottery.
          UNLESS!!! Unless the NSA has gotten a tip from the CIA or FBI or some police organization that your or my phone calls and messages need to be monitored because they suspect that we are involved in some form of nefarious activity. OR, OR the NSA’s message monitoring equipment has detected suspicious call activity within the metadata it collects.

          One last thing I’d also suggest you consider – the NSA has been doing what it’s doing today for over 7 years and I’ve never seen one case recorded where any American has tried to sue the NSA for privacy infringement or having defrauded them or even known about the monitoring they were doing – and why, because as the courts which have allowed the NSA to keep doing what it’s been doing have found out – the NSA has never used any of the information it has collected for any other purpose other than ensuring the security of over 300 million American citizens.

        • Independent1

          And let me bring up even one more thing you probably will not agree with, I don’t even believe what the NSA is doing is a violation of the 2nd Amendment.
          Remember that the 2nd Amendment says that Americans should be free of UNREASONABLE SEARCHES.
          Let’s talk a little about UNREASONABLE.
          Explain to me if you will, how you can consider the NSA’s objective of trying to provide total security for America from all forms of terrorism and/or other nefarious activity as being UNREASONABLE. I think someone is going to have a hard time convincing the courts that the vast majority of what the NSA is doing is unreasonable.
          If what the NSA is doing is unreasonable, why aren’t Americans outraged by the fact that the border patrol will search their cars and belongings when they reenter the country via car or when Customs searches them when they enter the country via plane or boat. People’s lives generally aren’t at stake during these searches that are only generally intended to prevent people from bringing into the country unauthorized possessions – yet searchs by the border patrol and customs are considered reasonable. So why then are you and other Americans considering searches that are intended to protect possible thousands of Americans lives being considered reasonable and/or unnecessary?
          Searches that are UNREASONABLE, are when a cop may stop someone because they just look suspicious or because of their nationality or race. Or, for example, if the police suddenly break into someone’s home based purely on suspicion with no clear cut evidence or search warrant.
          I think you’re going to find that down the road, the NSA is going to bring out information that shows its surveillance has prevented numerous potential attacks on America. Between 1970 and 2011 there were over 2,600 terrorist like attacks in America (where someone tried to randomly kill people, e.g, like the Boston and Atlanta bombings) about 300 of the attacks resulting in someone being killed – and over 2,500 of those attacks occurred before the Patriot Act was enacted. There were an average of over 80 attacks/yr before the Patriot Act but less than 10 attacks/yr since.

  • daniel bostdorf

    Tech industry: Obama’s NSA reforms ‘insufficient’

    from article: ”
    Technology companies and industry groups
    took President Barack Obama’s speech on U.S. surveillance as a step in
    the right direction, but chided him for not embracing more dramatic
    reforms to protect people’s privacy and the economic interests of
    American companies that generate most of their revenue overseas.”

    read here:

  • daniel bostdorf

    Summary List of Obama’s proposed changes in NSA spy programs:

    6 areas addressed:

    read here:

  • Mikey7a

    Hey Daniel? This might be a bit off topic, but this is my definition of a Police State. I am shocked, that The NM hasn’t covered this story at all. When local Authorities can get away with atrocities like this one, how can we expect our Government to be any better? Here is the URL, with the Not Guilty Verdict…” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

    • daniel bostdorf

      Surveilance in the hands of the people is better than in the hands of the oppressor…

  • daniel bostdorf

    I am constantly asked why and how the NSA abuses occurred.

    Why after 911 we suspended all common rationality and passed the patriot Act….that lead to our current surveillance police state, suspension of 1st, 4th and 5th amendments…

    My answer why this happened.

    We did it. Citizens united…in a different way… we we feaful.

    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself….we didn’t learn that lesson from December 7th 1941…

    Our day of infamy 9-11-2001 led us to shirking our responisbilities to NOT allow fear to control us….NOT to hav ethe terrorists make us run and hide…

    Consider this:

    “Where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you
    saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your
    conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to
    blame? Well, certainly there are those more responsible than others …
    but … truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only
    look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who
    wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which
    conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear
    got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now-High
    Chancellor … He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he
    demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.”

    Bush/Cheney/NSA stolen 2001 election from Gore etc….

    Quote above from movie V For Vendetta

  • Sand_Cat

    It should be noted that Senator Obama voted in favor of the “go-ahead” given the Bush administration to continue illegal wiretapping in the FISA law, and that he has signed renewals of the incredibly mis-named “PATRIOT” act and FISA, thus enshrining John Roberts as the arbiter of our freedoms. Since he has openly demonstrated his contempt for them in open cases before the Supreme Court, what possible good is an advocate for the Constitution to persuade people appointed by him whose decisions are kept secret?

    • daniel bostdorf

      Obama is a moderate Republican of the old school cloth.

      He has been an extreme disappointment (to me and other Democrats I know) as an apologist for the House/Senate military industrial complex mindset. Progressive are simply appalled … especially as it relates to condoning the expansion or at least maintaining the surveeilance police state this planet lives under.

      But think if Romney got in there? Senate goes to GOP?

      Game, set match for Koch brothers and the Karl Rove/Fox Faux News propagandists.

      And you think the surveillance police state is bad now… would have been the collapse of any and all privacy.

      • Sand_Cat

        I am well aware of the alternatives to Obama. That doesn’t justify many of his actions. Actually, I’m not sure I’d even call him “left of center” on most issues. The important point is that he is left of crazy, but that’s still small comfort when considering the long-term survival of our country, assuming it even has a long term.

  • daniel bostdorf

    I am hopeful many here will understand that there is a new national GOP/NSA apologists campaign of disinformation being waged against Snowden. There are even some here who post lies and propaganda in attempt to inflame and dsitract the discussion of this article’s purpose. And there is one pesron who claims to be a lawyer…posted below….that has dubious unfactual and troll like pronouncements as well.

    The disinformation being pushed now?

    That he somehow could not have had had human abilities to expose this NSA abuse alone…. and that he had have to help from Russia.

    Hogwash. He was “the lone whistleblower” in the grassy knoll looking in on the assasination of the 4th Amendment. He just happened to have the keys to NSA’s pandora’s box of highly questionable and potentially unconstitutional programs designed to destroy what is left of the 4th & 5th Amendments of the Constitution.

    And yes-Snowden would not be pleased with Obama’s half hearted reforms…

    Yesterday on the NBC News program “Meet the Press” broadcast ….Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, I repeat a REPUBLICAN, who also happens to be the House
    Intelligence Committee chairman, floated the implied disinformation…

    “Rogers has offered the only public characterization of a
    classified Defense Department report, which he said concluded
    that Snowden, when he was working for the McLean, Virginia-based
    Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. (BAH), downloaded about 1.7 million
    intelligence files …”

    Rogers went on to IMPLY—I repeat IMPLY—with NO facts—just innuendo and disinformation disguised to kill the messengers message and divert attention away from NSA abuses….. that Snowden had help….

    HOWEVER…Rogers stopped short of directly accusing Russia with aiding Snowden.

    Because it is balderdash…

    One someone makes a implied claim with no facts…well….it isn’t factual.

    It sounds like Fox Faux News, Limbaugh and many scores of propagandists out there…

    So–Snowden would also not be pleased with this renewed disinformation campaign against him either…