Michael J. “Mike” Rogers, a Republican Congressman from Michigan, is a traitor and outright liar. One of many examples of this is his claim the NSA is not listening to phone calls.
On Sunday’s (June 16, 2013) “State of the Union” on CNN, Mike Rogers as head of the House Intelligence Committee, insisted that although there have been allegations made to contrary, the National Security Agency isn’t listening in on Americans’ personal communications.
“I can’t tell you how strong we need to make this clear,” Rogers said. “The NSA is not listening to Americans’ phone calls, and it is not monitoring their emails. If it did, it’s illegal. It’s breaking the law.”
Obviously in Mr. Rogers neighborhood, the truth means the opposite. It’s already been revealed that Obama’s NSA has already admitted to listening in on private phone calls of Americans with absolutely no connection to cases being investigated by the NSA. The NSA also probably monitors text and e-mail messages too. But NeoCon liar Mike Rogers lied to bloated Candy Crowley that the NSA doesn’t listen to private conversations.
“I can’t tell you how strong we need to make this clear,” Rogers said. “The NSA is not listening to Americans’ phone calls, and it is not monitoring their emails. If it did, it’s illegal. It’s breaking the law.”
Host Candy Crowley asked Rogers if the intelligence agency still might be recording calls but not listening to them. Rogers replied that this was occurring only in certain circumstances.
“I could go get a warrant on a criminal case, yes, absolutely,” Rogers said. “But that’s very, very different. And I think they think that there’s this mass surveillance of what you’re saying on your phone call and what you’re typing in your emails. That is just not happening. And it’s important, I think, for people to understand because there’s all this misinformation about what these programs are.”
“That’s why I hope coming out and talking about how they’ve disrupted plots in this very narrow, very tight program will show Americans, hey, listen, they protected our privacy,” he continued. “They followed the rule. They have a court order. I mean, they’re doing this right, and it is protecting the United States from terrorist attacks being plotted from overseas. This is an important program to continue.”
Over the past few years, we’ve found that Rep. Mike Rogers has an incredible knack for spewing pure bullshit in defense of whatever he’s supporting, rarely even bothering to make sure his statements are internally consistent. Still, his statements on Meet the Press this weekend take that nonsense to a new high. Rogers goes off on Snowden — who he has already declared “is a traitor” — arguing in favor of the “theft of government property” charges against Snowden by making the following statement:
“He has taken information that does not belong to him — it belongs to the people of the United States.”
Right. This information that “belongs to the people of the United States,” which has been totally hidden from us, was actually finally given to the people of the United States — to whom Rogers admits it belongs — by Snowden. And, for that, he’s a traitor? How, exactly, does that work? By Rogers’ own argument, the information, before Snowden leaked it, was improperly withheld, thanks to people like Rep. Mike Rogers, from the people who own it. Thus, by Rogers’ own logic, isn’t it actually Mike Rogers who is the traitor in that he withheld crucial information that “belongs to the people of the United States”?
Of course, Rogers didn’t stop there. No, no. He continued with his internally inconsistent, and blatantly ridiculous argument by saying that (1) terrorists now know what we’re up to and are changing what they do, and (2) so little information has been revealed that everyone thinks they know what’s happening, but don’t. That makes no sense. If (1) is true, it suggests that the actual details of the program have been revealed and thus wrongdoers now know our methods. But, immediately, he changes course and says that no one really knows what’s going on — in which case he shouldn’t be concerned about terrorists changing what they do, because it shouldn’t stop the successful programs that no one knows about.
We have seen that bad guys overseas — terrorists who are committing and plotting attacks on the United States and our allies — have changed the way they operate. We’ve already seen that. To say that’s not harmful to the national security of the United States, or our safety, is just dead wrong…
[….] This is the problem with having a thousand-piece puzzle, taking three or four pieces, and deciding that you’re now an expert on what that picture looks like. You’re gonna get it wrong. They’re getting it wrong and it’s dangerous.
So, let me get this straight. The revealed information means that reporters only see a few pieces of the puzzle so they’re getting the story “dead wrong.” But… the terrorists, who are reading these stories, are somehow, magically, getting the full picture (the one the reporters are getting dead wrong) and miraculously changing how they act to now avoid NSA surveillance dragnets? How’s that work? Answer: it doesn’t. Rogers is spewing bullshit.
We don’t ask for much from our elected officials, but is it really too much to ask that they make statements that are internally consistent within the brief block of time they open their mouths to yap about some subject on which they’re supposedly “in charge”?
The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is an American hero. Every American should wish we had many more people like him (including Bradley Manning and Julian Assange), not fewer. He is a genuine patriot. He has done far more to bring accountability to government than ANY current Republican Congressman or Senator who sticks his chest out and says he believes in “limited government” and “the Constitution.”
Of course, there are many who hold the exact opposite view, that he is a traitor and not a hero. Such people include conservative commentators, retired military officials, and a number of Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
Trying to understand their objections to the invaluable service Mr. Snowden provided our country, they just don’t make any sense.
Here, in no particular order, are the most pointed arguments his critics have leveled at him:
1. “He’s a high school dropout.” This is just ridiculous, and a blatant personal attack. And this is only said to distract the listener or reader from learning about what it is Snowden really did. If it is wrong to drop out of high school, why didn’t these guys criticize Princess Diana? What about Thomas Edison? Benjamin Franklin? Albert Einstein? All these people dropped out of high school too, and that had no long-term effect on their character now, did it?
2. “He has endangered national security.”
Keep in mind that “national security” is an ambiguous phrase that is nowhere to be found in the Declaration of Independence or our Constitution. It pretty much means whatever a fearmongering, warmongering politician (like Lindsey Graham or John McCain) wants it to mean. In other words, it is a term that can easily be used to manipulate people into giving up their freedom. For over a decade, the American people (probably one of the most gullible in the world) have happily traded their liberty for security. And to quote Benjamin Franklin (one of my favorite Founding Fathers): “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Personally, I would much rather die a free person from terrorists than live under a tyrannical, fascist government that knows my every move.
3. “He has broken the law. He violated his agreement/oath to keep this information secret.”
One must ask a question for the people who make this claim: What if a law is unjust? Were abolitionists wrong to hide slaves just because slavery was the law of the land in America in the 1800s? Was Oskar Schindler wrong to hide Jews just because Adolf Hitler said that to do so was wrong? Was Sophie Scholl wrong in exposing the horrors of the Nazi government with her fellow patriots in the White Rose non-violent resistance group? I do fear that many of the authoritarians calling for Snowden’s head (who essentially believe anything the government says no matter what it does) would support the Nazis and the pro-slavery politicians if they lived in a different time. Obey the powers that be, right guys?
Another question: What about Mr. Snowden’s oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America (specifically the Fourth Amendment, which states that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”)? Turns out Edward was just following this oath and did not forget it, unlike 99.99 % of the other people (it seems) who “take” the oath.
Oh, and the government violated ITS agreement (the Constitution) with the American people first! Why don’t Snowden’s critics stand up for the rule of law? Why is it his defenders who are doing so instead?
UPDATE: June 23, 2013
ACLU to Obama: “We are tired of living in a nation governed by fear”.
Under President Obama, the United States is “a nation governed by fear,” the American Civil Liberties Union says in an open letter that echoes the criticisms Obama has made of George W. Bush’s national security policies.
“We say as Americans that we are tired of seeing liberty sacrificed on the altar of security and having a handful of lawmakers decide what we should and should not know,” the ACLU writes in a statement circulated to grassroots supporters and addressed to Obama. “We are tired of living in a nation governed by fear instead of the principles of freedom and liberty that made this nation great.”
It’s strange to read in light of Obama’s disavowal of Bush. “Too often — our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions,” Obama said in 2009. “Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, we too often set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And in this season of fear, too many of us — Democrats and Republicans; politicians, journalists and citizens — fell silent.”
The ACLU is circulating that statement in response to the Justice Department’s efforts to prosecute Edward Snowden, who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s data collection programs before fleeing to Hong Kong (and now, Russia).
“We stand opposed to any attempt to treat Edward Snowden as a traitor,” the ACLU writes. “Snowden is innocent until proven guilty before a court of law and he must be afforded all of his rights as an American citizen. If he is brought to an American court, he must be afforded every opportunity to defend himself and convince a judge that what he did was justifiable and patriotic, even if he is charged with violating laws that themselves pose a threat to our democracy.”
UPDATE: August 3, 2013
NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been granted one year asylum in Russia.
Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said we “should be grateful” to Snowden for exposing the government’s “massive violation of the Fourth Amendment.”
Napolitano went on to say that “Snowden’s behavior is not always easy to defend,” and added that should the NSA leaker ever return to the U.S., his case would “absolutely” end up in the Supreme Court.
UPDATE: January 2, 2014
Edward Snowden Clemency: The New York Times, The Guardian Urge Obama To Help NSA Whistleblower. . .
The editorial boards of The New York Times and The Guardian published editorials on Wednesday (January 1, 2014), urging the Obama administration to treat Edward Snowden as a whistleblower and offer him some form of clemency.
Seven months ago, the former National Security Administration contractor stole as many as 1.7 million highly classified documents about the U.S. government’s surveillance program and released the information to the press. The files revealed how the NSA forced American technology companies to reveal customer information, often without individual warrants, and how data from global phone and Internet networks was secretly intercepted.
While the release of these documents forced Snowden to flee the U.S. and move to Russia, it also alerted the American public — and many U.S. allies — of the government’s intrusive, unethical and possibly unlawful spying efforts.
Beyond sparking public debate, Snowden’s actions have prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the NSA. The suit aims to force the U.S. government to disclose details of its electronic surveillance program and describe what protections it provides to Americans whose communications are swept up during the search for terrorist suspects, Reuters reported.
Eight major technology companies — including Google, Facebook and Twitter — have also joined forces to call for tighter controls on government surveillance.
In November, the White House rejected a clemency plea from Snowden, and told him to return to the U.S. to face trial.
UPDATE: March 2, 2015
DoD Releases “Evidence” of Snowden’s Damages to National Security… and It’s COMPLETELY Redacted.
Per a Freedom of Information Act Request lawsuit filed by Vice News, the Department of Defense has released a report on the damaging effects of Edward Snowden’s 2013 NSA leaks. The only problem? It’s redacted. Entirely. Not a crumb of evidence was present in the “evidence” the government released.
The “assessment” is made up of multiple reports collectively over 100 pages long and was released by the Defense Intelligence Agency, a wing of the Department of Defense. It was made by two dozen DIA analysts and is fully blocked out, save for several headings. For example:
The redacted reports were constructed from September 2013 to April 2014. According to a declaration signed by the DIA’s FOIA office chair, Aleysia Williams, it was used by DOD “leadership” to “mitigate the harm caused to national security” by Snowden.
David Leatherwood, the DIA’s director of operations, said that to do this, secrecy must be employed (as usual). He alleged:
“To accomplish this goal, the reporting of the task force focuses entirely on identifying the magnitude of the harm. Much of that reporting, for very legitimate reasons, remains classified.”
Further, at a conference on Monday (February 23, 2015), NSA chief Mike Rogers claimed of the Snowden leaks:
“Anyone who thinks this has not had an impact… doesn’t know what they are talking about.”
Since Edward Snowden exposed the expansive spying practices of the federal government, authorities like Rogers have claimed that the former CIA and NSA analyst compromised national security. However, they are yet to provide a single instance of their claims. They have not even been able to prove that the NSA’s bulk data collection has an effect on terrorism whatsoever.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (of the same name as the NSA chair), who had the privilege of reading a different-and apparently less redacted-report last year, insisted,
“[That] report confirms my greatest fears — Snowden’s real acts of betrayal place America’s military men and women at greater risk… Snowden’s actions are likely to have lethal consequences for our troops in the field.”
Rather than focusing on what Snowden’s actions have allegedly done to “troops in the field,” it would be more productive to acknowledge other revelations: America is spying on world leaders, its military has murdered journalists and raped boys in front of their mothers, the CIA botched an attempt to give fake nuclear plans to Iran and later launched a cyber attack while the NSA hacked North Korea long before the Sony scandal. This is but a handful of the egregious crimes committed by the federal government. They have compromised national security and the safety of American troops exponentially more than Snowden’s revelations ever could. They create ill-will and terrorists through corrupt meddling and violence.
The government’s attempts to deflect the realities of its illegal spying are growing increasingly desperate and pathetic. Those at the DIA and DOD have no evidence to offer of their claims but stacks of blacked out pages and the tired talking point that they are “here to help.”
UPDATE: March 4, 2015
Snowden indicates he wants to come home.
NSA whisteblower Edward Snowden’s lawyer says that his client wants to come back to the United States as long as he can receive a fair trial.
Snowden has been in Russia since 2013, living under a three year residency permit after having been granted asylum.
It’s not clear what charges Snowden would face. He apparently won’t come back if he faces espionage charges.
“We’re certainly happy for him to return to the United States to face a court in the very serious charges” he faces, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Tuesday, March 3, 2015.
“So he absolutely can and should return to the United States to face the justice system that will be fair in its judgment of him,” she said. “But he is accused of very serious crimes and should return home to face them.”
Kucherena said Snowden has so far received a guarantee from Attorney General Eric Holder that he will not face the death penalty — but that Snowden also wants a guarantee of a “legal and impartial trial.”
Such a trial, Snowden’s legal advisers have said, would mean he wouldn’t face charges under the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law that was used to charge Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.
Snowden’s lawyer said he’s allowed to travel outside Russia now under a three-year Russian residency permit, but that he believes Snowden would be taken immediately to a U.S. embassy as soon as he leaves the country.
“With a group of lawyers from other countries, we are working on the question of his return to America,” Kucherena said.
The government just slapped former General David Petraeus on the wrist for leaking a couple of sensitive documents to his mistress. Does Snowden hope he will get similar treatment?
It’s hard to see how leaking thousands of NSA documents could be considered anything but espionage. Whether that was his intent or not, Snowden’s actions revealed secrets that the enemy could use to avoid detection. Even many Snowden defenders acknowledge this, but believe he should receive whistleblower protection because ot the importance of the programs he exposed.
The political climate has changed since 2013, with people being less upset about Snowden and angrier at the government for theiir illegal snooping. That may play into some kind of plea deal where Snowden would plead guilty to a lesser charge and perhaps avoid jail time altogether, or receive a minimum sentence.
Would he accept any jail time at all? Or would he take his chances in court? The best guess is that he won’t want to risk a long prison term and will accept a deal only if he can serve his time at a minimum security facility. Otherwise, he’ll stay put, hoping the political winds continue to blow in his favor.
UPDATE: June 2, 2015
Snowden awarded freedom of expression prize in Norway.
Oslo (AFP) – Former security contractor Edward Snowden won a Norwegian prize for freedom of expression Tuesday and received yet another invitation to leave his exile and receive the award in person.
The Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression said the 31-year old fugitive had won the Bjornson Prize — named after a Norwegian Nobel literature laureate — “for his work protecting privacy and for shining a critical light on US surveillance of its citizens and others.”
Snowden, a former analyst at the US National Security Agency, has lived in exile in Russia since 2013 after revealing mass spying programmes by the United States and its allies.
The US administration has branded him a hacker and a traitor who endangered lives by revealing the extent of the NSA spying program.
The academy requested assurances from the Norwegian government that Snowden would not be extradited to the US if he travelled to Norway to receive the 100,000 kroner ($12,700, 11,500 euros) prize money in person on September 5, 2015.
Norway’s justice ministry said it was up to immigration authorities, who indicated they would consider any entry request when and if they received one.
Snowden was awarded Sweden’s Right Livelihood Award in 2014 but chose to accept it by video link rather than leaving his exile in Russia.
He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the second year in a row. The Nobel will be awarded in Oslo on October 9, 2015.
UPDATE: June 23, 2015
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has adopted a resolution calling on member and observer states to improve the protection of whistleblowers. It also urged the US to let Edward Snowden return without fear of criminal prosecution.
The resolution adopted at the council’s meeting on Tuesday called for its member states and observer states to “create an appropriate normative, judicial and institutional framework for the protection of whistleblowers.”
It urged the states’ governments to “enact whistleblower protection laws also covering employees of national security or intelligence services and of private firms working in this field.”
PACE said that the states must also grant asylum to whistleblowers threatened by retaliation in their home countries “as far as possible under national law” if their “disclosures qualify for protection under the principles advocated by the Assembly.”
The 47-nation body upholding human rights and democracy also set up special “guidelines” for staff members on “reporting wrongdoing.”
“The Assembly stresses the importance of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, upholding the right to privacy, freedom of speech and the protection of whistle-blowers, including in the fields of national security and intelligence.”
In a separate paragraph, the resolution called on the US, a PACE observer state, to allow the the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden to “return without fear of criminal prosecution under conditions that would not allow him to raise the public interest defense.” Snowden faces up to 30 years in prison in the US on charges of espionage and theft of government property.
PACE stated that the US 1917 Espionage Act under which he has been charged, does not allow for any form of public interest defense.
Snowden spoke to council members on Tuesday via video-link from asylum in Moscow shortly after the resolution was voted on.
“We need to set an international standard of protection from retaliation which can be made greater by national governments, by institutions, by organizations,” he said.
He noted that the resolution would help whistleblowers around the world. “If you can’t mount a full and effective defense – make the case that you are revealing information in the public interest – you can’t have a fair trial,” he said.
The resolution backed up the May report made by PACE’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights’ rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt.
The issue of whistleblowers’ safety was raised following the disclosures made by Snowden in 2013 concerning mass surveillance and intrusions of privacy carried out by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. Public concern was also raised following charges brought against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who found asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK. He has been residing there for three years, fearing extradition to the United States where he could face espionage charges.
UPDATE: October 5, 2015
Edward Snowden Says He’d Go to Prison to Come Home
Speaking to the BBC, the NSA whistleblower said his lawyers were still awaiting a plea deal from the U.S. government.
Edward Snowden isn’t the spy who came in from the cold, but he might be edging slowly toward the warmth.
In an interview with the BBC, the beloved and reviled whistleblower said he’d presented concessions to the U.S. government in an attempt to return to his home country from Russia. “I’ve volunteered to go to prison with the government many times,” Snowden said, according to The Guardian. (The BBC program is not viewable in the U.S.) What I won’t do is I won’t serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations.”
But his overtures haven’t been met with any concrete plea offers: “We are still waiting for them to call us back.”
Former NSA boss Michael Hayden gave the BBC a typically hardline answer, saying, “If you’re asking me my opinion, he’s going to die in Moscow. He’s not coming home.” But there are signs both sides have softened a bit. Shortly after leaving office, former Attorney General Eric Holder told Michael Isikoff that Snowden had sparked an important discussion about surveillance. Holder seemed to signal the Justice Department might be thinking about some sort of plea deal for Snowden: “I certainly think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with. I think the possibility exists.” However, Holder’s successor Loretta Lynch said the U.S. government hadn’t altered its position.
The position Snowden laid out to the BBC would appear to represent a softer view, too. After Holder’s comments in July, Snowden’s lawyer Ben Wizner applauded Holder for his openness, but rejected even his hypothetical ideas. Wizner said Snowden wouldn’t accept any deal that involved a felony plea and prison time. “Our position is he should not be reporting to prison as a felon and losing his civil rights as a result of his act of conscience,” he said.
In March 2015, former General David Petraeus struck a plea deal with prosecutors in a leak case, derided by many observers as evidence of a double-standard for different kinds of leakers. At the time, another of Snowden’s lawyers, Jesselyn Radack, said her client would accept a similar deal.
The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Snowden’s remarks. While it’s hard to parse these lawyerly statements and bluffs, one could easily read the last few months as having brought the two sides closer together on a possible arrangement. But closer and close enough are not the same thing.
UPDATE: October 29, 2015
European Union tells countries to protect Snowden as human rights defender.
The European Parliament on Thursday (October 29. 2015) voted to encourage its member countries not to extradite Edward Snowden to the U.S., in a decision that the government leaker called a “game-changer.”
The nonbinding resolution, narrowly approved in a 285-281 vote, acts as a symbolic blow to the Obama administration’s calls for Snowden to be returned to the U.S. and face criminal charges that could land him in jail for years.
The resolution calls for the European Union’s 28 member states to “drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender.”
Snowden has spent the last two years holed up in Russia, on the run from U.S. espionage charges filed against him following his theft of vast amounts of secret government documents.
Though he has repeatedly expressed a desire to come back to the U.S., he has refused to do so unless granted a fair trial. Advocates of Snowden say the charges against him make it likely that he would be prevented from fairly giving his side of the story in court, should he return.
In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S.’s position “hasn’t changed a bit.”
“He needs to come back to the United States and face the due process and the judicial process here in the United States,” Kirby said. “That’s been our position from the beginning.
“It’s our belief that the man put U.S. national security in great danger and he needs to be held to account for that.”
Earlier Thursday, a federal appeals court refused to immediately shut down a National Security Agency surveillance program revealed by Snowden in 2013, since it is already due to be wound down later this year.
UPDATE: December 22, 2016
Snowden Responds To Declassified House Report Alleging He Has Ties To Russian Intelligence
On Thursday (December 22, 2016), the House Intelligence Committee released a declassified report into former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden that alleges he has maintained ties with Russian intelligence agencies.
The 37-page report —some of which remains classified—includes a detailed report of his career as a government worker, and how he managed to extract millions of documents from the NSA without being detected by exploiting a vulnerability the agency was unaware of. The exploit itself is redacted in the report.
At the heart of the report is the conclusion that Snowden is not a whistleblower and did harm to national security. Several serious charges are made against the former NSA worker, including a claim he “has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services” since taking asylum in Russia after fleeing the United States.
The report—which lawmakers noted is a “review” and not a formal investigation—cites classified information to support the claim, making the evidence of it unavailable to the public. The document also contains 20 specific accounts of apparent damage Snowden’s actions have caused, but those too have been redacted.
Snowden, who remains in Moscow, took issue with the report. He refuted its claims on Twitter, arguing the document is rife with “ obvious falsehoods.”
The former NSA contractor dismissed the claim he is working with Russian intelligence by attempting to discredit the source of the information.
The House Intelligence Committee’s document points to an NPR interview with Frants Klintsevich, a senator in Russia and deputy chairman of the country’s defense and security committee, in which he claims Snowden has shared intelligence with Russia.
Snowden pointed out that Klintsevich said in that interview audio he was “only speculating.” He also noted earlier this week Klintsevich claimed NATO was behind the assassination of a Russian ambassador in Turkey despite there being no evidence to support the claim, indicating the Russian senator may be making politically motivated claims in both cases.
Many of the charges made in the report were dismissed out of hand by Snowden, who refuted a claim he went to a hacker convention and met Chinese hackers as “ false and insane ” because he “never went to any hacker con during my time in government.” He also dismisses an argument he should have gone to the NSA’s Inspector General George Ellard by noting Ellard was recently removed from his post for retaliating against whistleblowers.
Snowden called the document “an endless parade of falsity so unbelievable it comes across as parody,” but noted it unintentionally exonerates him by documenting his many attempts to report waste, fraud, and abuse to his superiors.
“Bottom line: this report’s core claims are made without evidence, and are often contrary to both common sense and the public record,” Snowden concluded.
UPDATE: September 17, 2019
“Full Interview: Edward Snowden On Trump, Privacy, And Threats To Democracy | The 11th Hour | MSNBC
On the eve of his memoir ‘Permanent Record’ being published, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden talked at length from Moscow with MSNBC’s Brian Williams in an exclusive interview. This is their discussion in its entirety, edited down slightly for clarity.
Aired on 9/17/2019.
UPDATE: March 12, 2021
The REAL Reason Edward Snowden Hasn’t Been Pardoned
General Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, outright lied to Congress when he claimed the NSA does not intercept Americans’ phone calls or online information?
In March 2012, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga, questioned Alexander in response to a Wired.com article that month quoting several ex-NSA staffers describing phone and data surveillance of Americans.
Following is a transcript of the relevant parts of the exchange, which took place during a hearing of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee:
JOHNSON: Does the NSA routinely intercept American citizens’ emails?
JOHNSON: Does the NSA intercept Americans’ cell phone conversations?
JOHNSON: Google searches?
JOHNSON: Text messages?
JOHNSON: Amazon.com orders?
JOHNSON: Bank records?
JOHNSON: What judicial consent is required for NSA to intercept communications and information involving American citizens?
ALEXANDER: Within the United States, that would be the FBI lead. If it were a foreign actor in the United States, the FBI would still have to lead. It could work that with NSA or other intelligence agencies as authorized. But to conduct that kind of collection in the United States it would have to go through a court order, and the court would have to authorize it. We’re not authorized to do it, nor do we do it.
It’s amazing that such an enormous and obvious lie was spoken, for it’s apparent Gen. Alexander thinks we are utter fools.
For 200 years our government has been able to keep us safe while staying true to the values in the Constitution. There’s no reason we need to sacrifice those values now to such a liar and traitor as Gen. Alexander.
During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on March 12, 2013, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper a simple question: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
“No, sir,” Clapper shot back without a pause. “There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.” Why so? Because “in the case of NSA and CIA, there are strictures against tracking American citizens in the United States for foreign intelligence purposes — and that’s what those agencies are set up to do.”
This message, an explanation to Congress of what the executive branch was up to, was crystal clear: Don’t worry, the NSA is not allowed to track Americans — and it’s not going to.
The primary problem with this is that it was not true. It is far past “misleading,” “hedging,” and “evading”; or of being “slippery” and “smooth.” Without question, James Clapper deliberately lied in front of our representative body to cover-up the NSA’s unconstitutional collection of information on American citizens.
One needs to call a spade a spade, and James Clapper is an outright liar and traitor.
UPDATE: July 3, 2013
James Clapper the director of National Intelligence apologized and admitted in June to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee he had previously outright lied before the Congressional committee in March.
So what is the penalty for lying to the Congress of the United States?
TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 47 > § 1001 § 1001. Statements or entries generally (a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully- (1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; (2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or (3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry; shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. -snip- (c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to- (1) administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or (2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.
So the only truthful thing that can be said is. . . James Clapper admitted he committed a felony by lying under oath, but nothing is going to be done about it by the other traitors within the United States Congress.
Until these liars and traitors are held accountable under the full extent of the law, they will continue to do as they please. Not to mention, others will continue to do the same knowing nothing will be done to them.
UPDATE: December 18, 2013
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday said that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has been as harmful to American intelligence gather capabilities as leaker Edward Snowden.
“That Clapper is lying to Congress is probably more injurious to our intelligent capabilities than anything Snowden did,” Paul told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Clapper has damaged the credibility of the entire intelligence apparatus and I’m not sure what to believe anymore when they come to Congress.”
Paul also said he believes Clapper would need to resign to restore confidence in the intelligence community.
“I don’t know how you can have someone in charge over intelligence who has known to lie in a public forum to Congress, to lie without repercussions,” he added. “If the intelligence community says we’re not spying on Americans and they are, and then they say we’re not collecting any data, it’s hard to have confidence in them.”
When asked about the prospect of raising criminal charges against Clapper, Paul said that both Snowden and Clapper broke the law.
“I think the law is the law; they both broke the law and that one shouldn’t get off scot-free,” Paul said.
UPDATE: April 3, 2014
UPDATE: February 10, 2016
James Clapper the treasonous US intelligence chief has acknowledged for the first time that agencies might use a new generation of smart household devices to increase their surveillance capabilities.
As increasing numbers of devices connect to the internet and to one another, the so-called internet of things promises consumers increased convenience – the remotely operated thermostat from Google-owned Nest is a leading example. But as home computing migrates away from the laptop, the tablet and the smartphone, experts warn that the security features on the coming wave of automobiles, dishwashers and alarm systems lag far behind.
James Clapper in testimony submitted to the Senate on Tuesday (February 9, 2016) as part of an assessment of threats facing the United States.
“In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper said.
Clapper did not specifically name any intelligence agency as involved in household-device surveillance. But security experts examining the internet of things take as a given that the US and other surveillance services will intercept the signals the newly networked devices emit, much as they do with those from cellphones. Amateurs are already interested in easily compromised hardware; computer programmer John Matherly’s search engine Shodan indexes thousands of completely unsecured web-connected devices.
Clapper’s admission about the surveillance potential for networked home devices is rare for a US official. But in an overlooked 2012 speech, the then CIA director David Petraeus called the surveillance implications of the internet of things “transformational … particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft”.
During testimony to both the Senate armed services committee and the intelligence panel, Clapper cited Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State as bolstering their online espionage, disinformation, theft, propaganda and data-destruction capabilities. He warned that the US’s ability to correctly attribute the culprits of those actions would probably diminish with “improving offensive tradecraft, the use of proxies, and the creation of cover organizations”.
Clapper suggested that US adversaries had overtaken its online capabilities: “Russia and China continue to have the most sophisticated cyber programs.”
The White House’s new cybersecurity initiative, unveiled on Tuesday (February 9, 2016), pledged increased security for nontraditional networked home devices. It tasked the Department of Homeland Security to “test and certify networked devices within the ‘Internet of Things’.” It did not discuss any tension between the US’s twin cybersecurity and surveillance priorities.
Connected household devices are a potential treasure trove to intelligence agencies seeking unobtrusive ways to listen and watch a target, according to a study that Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society released last week. The study found that the signals explosion represented by the internet of things would overwhelm any privacy benefits by users of commercial encryption – even as Clapper in his testimony again alleged that the growth of encryption was having a “negative effect on intelligence gathering”.
The report’s authors cited a 2001 case in which the FBI had sought to compel a company that makes emergency communications hardware for automobiles – similar by description to OnStar, though the company was not named – to assist agents in Nevada in listening in on conversations in a client’s car.
In February 2015, news reports revealed that microphones on Samsung “smart” televisions were “always on” so as to receive any audio that it could interpret as an instruction.
Now law enforcement and intelligence agencies may start to seek orders compelling Samsung, Google, Mattel, Nest or vendors of other networked devices to push an update or flip a digital switch to intercept the ambient communications of a target.
UPDATE: November 17, 2016
Good Riddance: James Clapper the traitor Resigns as Director of US Intelligence.
The exit of Clapper, who submitted his resignation Wednesday (November 16, 2016) evening, is not a surprise.
A large part of the job of James Clapper, National Intelligence Director, was to lie to the American people and to continually exaggerate certain ‘threats,’ while trying to conceal real problems – most of which are created by US federal agencies. His actions were a political one as a government propaganda mouth piece for the deep state and all its domestic clandestine designs.
This was the man who presided over the US government spying on its citizens and those throughout the world. This scandal was one whose existence Clapper denied, in spite of plain and clear evidence to the contrary.
Edward Snowed had exposed numerous constitutional violations during Clapper’s reign. This man’s exit from the Bush-created position of Director of National Intelligence should be welcomed by everyone who opposes the surveillance state.
It has been under Clapper that the government has been cut free of any checks and balances on its use of technology to violate the privacy of ordinary individuals, yet individuals of extraordinary conscience who blow the whistle on the illegal covert activities of government are prosecuted, victimized, and threatened with execution. I’m referring specifically to Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.
Clapper said that he is happy to resign, and this includes many Americans that share in this happiness. It will be effective in 64 days.
UPDATE: March 14, 2018
James Clapper: Deep State Point Man
As the House Intelligence Committee on Monday (March 12, 2018) announced its findings that there was no collusion between Team Trump and Russia, more evidence of the collusion between Deep State swamp creatures and a disloyal media to undermine the presidency of Donald Trump was also revealed. James Clapper has been exposed as both a perjurer and a criminal leaker of classified information to the press.
The cynicism of Americans regarding integrity and accountability in government grew as swamp thing James Clapper avoided his part of the bog being drained. The statute of limitations for prosecuting his perjury before Congress regarding surveillance of Americans expired on Monday:
Clapper, director of national intelligence from 2010 to 2017, admitted giving “clearly erroneous” testimony about mass surveillance in March 2013, and offered differing explanations for why.
Two criminal statutes that cover lying to Congress have five-year statutes of limitations, establishing a Monday deadline to charge Clapper, who in retirement has emerged as a leading critic of President Trump.
The under-oath untruth was exposed by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who sparked national debate on surveillance policy with leaks to the press.
Many members of Congress, mostly Republicans supportive of new limits on electronic surveillance, called for Clapper to be prosecuted as the deadline neared, saying unpunished perjury jeopardizes the ability of Congress to perform oversight.
“He admitted to lying to Congress and was unremorseful and flippant about it,” Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., told the Washington Examiner. “The integrity of our federal government is at stake because his behavior sets the standard for the entire intelligence community.”
Right now his behavior wouldn’t set the standard for a shoplifter at a convenience store, as this poster child for corruption is revealed by relentless investigative journalist Sara Carter to have leaked classified information to CNN regarding briefings on the Steele dossier to President Obama and then-president-elect Trump – leaks he himself hypocritically condemned.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper allegedly leaked information to CNN early last year regarding the classified briefings given to then President-Elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama on the salacious dossier claiming the Russians had compromising information on the president-elect, according to government sources, who noted the evidence of the leak was collected during the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation.
Clapper, who was one of four senior Obama administration officials to attend the briefing with the presidents, also stated his “profound dismay at the leaks” in an official statement issued in January, 2017 and warned that the leaks were “extremely corrosive and damaging” to national security, according to his press release.
… according to government sources Clapper, who is not mentioned in the report released Monday, had spoken to CNN at roughly the same time Jake Tapper broke the first story regarding the briefings conducted by senior intelligence officials with Trump and Obama on the dossier. Tapper’s story, which published in January 2017, created a snowball effect of allegations in the media that Trump’s campaign had allegedly colluded with the Russians in the 2016 election and that Russia had compromising material on Trump, sources with knowledge of the investigation concluded.
… it was when CNN published the first report that Trump and Obama had been briefed the dossier’s findings that other news agencies began to report on it. The committee found evidence that Clapper, who is now a contributor at CNN, contacted CNN shortly before the story was published by Tapper, Evan Perez, and Jim Sciutto. The story detailed the briefings given to Trump by the senior officials on the contents of the dossier and “gave the dossier legs and news agencies began to publish its contents because it had now become official news,” one congressional source told this reporter. Shortly after CNN published the report, Buzzfeed made the decision to post the entire 35-page dossier and referenced the CNN report in its decision to publish it, according to the website.
This is the same James Clapper who once reassured the Congress that the NSA wasn’t conducting surveillance of the American people. As U.S. News and World Report noted, his resignation didn’t assuage critics, who believe that James Clapper, like other Obama administration personnel, dodged a perjury bullet when he testified before Congress on the issue of NSA surveillance of American citizens.
Some lawmakers reacted to the long-expected resignation announcement from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Thursday by wishing him an eventful retirement, featuring prosecution and possible prison time.
The passage of more than three years hasn’t cooled the insistence in certain quarters that Clapper face charges for an admittedly false statement to Congress in March 2013, when he responded, “No, sir” and “not wittingly” to a question about whether the National Security Agency was collecting “any type of data at all” on millions of Americans.
About three months after making that claim, documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the answer was untruthful and that the NSA was in fact collecting in bulk domestic call records, along with various internet communications.
To his critics, Clapper lied under oath, a crime that threatens effective oversight of the executive branch. In an apology letter to lawmakers, however, Clapper said he gave the “clearly erroneous” answer because he “simply didn’t think of” the call-record collection.
Clapper later told MSNBC he considered the question akin to asking, “When did you stop beating your wife?” and so gave the “least untruthful” answer
Critics who say President-Elect Donald Trump had no right to disparage our good and faithful intelligence servants or to be skeptical of the intelligence they gather might be willing to accept “least untruthful” answers, but others are not:
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper struggles to explain why he told Congress in March that the National Security Agency does not intentionally collect any kind of data on millions of Americans. “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no,'” Clapper told NBC News on Sunday.
Least untruthful? Lying to Congress and the American people is just that, except in Clapper’s mind. And it seems to depend on the meaning of “collect,” a reminder of President Bill Clinton’s defense that charges of his lying depended on the meaning of the word “is.”
Our constitutional republic is being shaken to its foundation by corrupt unelected officials like James Clapper, who conspire to undermine a duly elected president. The only collusion is between these officials and one political party, aided by an agenda-driven media, using foreign sources and a fake dossier to aid one political party at the expense of another.
Jeff Sessions, who plays an attorney general on TV, has let another felon slip through his hands, just as he did with Lois Lerner, a conspirator who used the IRS to target Obama’s political opponents such as the Tea Party and other conservative groups.
This abuse of government power by the unelected Deep State might have been stopped with the prosecution and incarceration of one James Clapper. Every day that a second special counsel investigating this real collusion is not appointed is another day closer to the final transformation of the world’s oldest constitutional republic into a failed banana republic.
Clyde Roger Vinson is a senior federal judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Until May 3, 2013 he was also a member of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA).
Roger Vinson willfully and unlawfully violated the Constitution of the United States by approving the Obama administration’s secret collection of telephone records of millions of Verizon customers. He did so by signing an order requiring Verizon to give the National Security Agency (NSA) telephone records for tens of millions of American customers. The ruling was made by Roger Vinson about a week before he stepped down as a member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA).
Clyde Vinson is clearly a traitor, for he willfully violated federal and foreign intelligence surveillance laws, along with free speech and search-and-seizure protections as provided by the Constitution of the United States.