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Obama Starting to Lose It Over Snowden

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Thanks to Obama’s famed “no drama” coolness, it’s hard to detect when he’s breaking a sweat. But if you look at the substance of his actions, it’s clear the President is losing his famed poise, at least as far as Snowden and the surveillance state revelations are concerned. I’m not sure yet whether his missteps are simply the result of personal obsession, or whether Obama recognizes he’s slipping into lame duck status, and his frustration with his declining power is most evident where he is most stressed, which is on the NSA revelations front.

One sign that Obama is off balance is his unforced errors in dealing with Russia. The bizarre assumption from the get-go seemed to be that Putin would cooperate and hand over Snowden once the Russian leader was prodded a bit. Given the status of US-Russian relations, that was borderline delusional. As Michael Hirsh explained:

In the decade after the Soviet Union’s collapse in late 1991, the United States offered up a lot of poor economic advice — high-minded tinkering by the free-market consultants at the Harvard Institute for International Development, as well as the IMF…

That era of mistrust of America led directly to era of Putin. Since then, despite various attempts at what former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called a “reset” of relations, the U.S. has tended to encourage Russian suspicions by generally treating “Russia as heir to the USSR’s policies and objectives,” Leslie Gelb and Dimitri Simes write in a new article in The National Interest…. “This creates an impression that the West’s top priorities, long after the Cold War, include not merely containing Russia but also transforming it.”

Putin cleared his throat early on and reminded the US that Russia had no extradition treaty with the US and in general did not extradite people. Packing Snowden off because the US asked for him was not on the table. Putin took the position that the Snowden wasn’t worth exploiting for his annoyance value to the US: “It’s like shearing a piglet: a lot of squealing and little wool.”

Notice that that formulation did not foreclose the possibility that Russia might exchange Snowden for individuals in the US that Russia wanted returned, such as ex-KGB agent Oleg Kalugin. 

But no, Obama immediately rejected that possibility, by insisting that Russia was obligated under international law to hand over Snowden (funny how international law is operative when Obama needs it, and not in matters like Kalugin, the force-feeding of Gitmo detainees, or drone murders of children in Pakistan). He also said:

I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker…I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally and the reason is … No. 1, I shouldn’t have to.

No. 2, we’ve got a whole lot of business that we do with China and Russia, and I’m not going to have one case of a suspect who we’re trying to extradite suddenly being elevated to the point where I’ve got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues.

So what’s happened since then? Well, Obama didn’t scramble jets personally, but if you think the diversion of Evo Morales’ plane wasn’t America’s doing, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. And even though Putin had said “no extradition” in the clearest manner possible, Obama wasn’t willing to get the message. I’ve pointed to this passage from Moon of Alabama a couple of times, but it deserves all the attention it can get:

Putin has made it clear from the very beginning that any extradition of Snowden is not going to happen. Fullstop. Russian officials have repeated that again and even today:

Asked by a reporter whether the government’s position had changed, Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies that “Russia has never extradited anyone and never will.”

Is that so difficult to understand? Why then is the U.S. even trying?

It seems that this an Obama personality issue. He personally asked Putin to extradite Snowden even after Putin had publicly (thereby leaving zero chance to later change that decision) said he would not. Now Obama is miffed. How can HE get rebuked by country like Russia?

Two weeks ago, Obama phoned Putin and asked him to send Snowden back to the U.S., but Putin refused, according to one official who was briefed on the call. Following that perceived rebuke, the Obama team doubled down on its new policy to show the Russian government the cold shoulder.

“The Snowden affair is definitely affecting U.S.-Russia relations, no question. When you make it clear that something is very important to the U.S. and we are asking for cooperation and that request is rejected, that rejection is going to have an impact on the broader relationship,” said Samuel Charap, senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “There’s only so many times you can thumb your nose at a U.S. president and not expect consequences. When the president himself has gotten involved personally and been rebuffed, the rule book kind of goes out the window.”

Ahh – the rule book is out of the window. Screw public diplomacy. Just don’t care how the world sees the U.S.. It is all about Obama miffed that Putin is “thumbing his nose” at him. Who is this President of the Russian Federation that dares to do so to King Obama of the United States?

Apparently Obama forgot Russia still has nukes.

Now that Obama has found out that he can’t push Putin around, it looks like the US is trying to offer up enough people Russia wants for them to turn over Snowden (hat tip Deontos):

Screen shot 2013-08-01 at 5.16.35 AM

But having downed the Morales plane, and after the developments of the last two weeks (more on that shortly), Obama has made his desperation to get Snowden abundantly clear. Moreover, perversely, dragging out any negotiations would make Snowden MORE valuable, as in the drip drip drip of continuing revelations (which are now under the Guardian and Greenwald’s control) will make the security state’s official powerlessness even more frustrating. So Putin is in the catbird seat. He can keep rejecting offers from the US and see how much they up the ante.

Now, while Snowden has come to assume undue symbolic importance (as in the real game has now moved to Greenwald and the Guardian, access to Snowden is nice to have but not necessary for the disclosures to continue), objectively, the Administration actually is already in a tough spot on this issue. NC readers have been unduly skeptical of the idea that the narrow defeat of the Amash amendment last week, which would have leashed and collared the security state, was kabuki. The Amash amendment would prohibit funds in the underlying appropriations bill for from use by the NSA for “collecting telephone and other records from anyone who is not the subject of an investigation.” The vote was 205 to 217.

This was a seismic event. Remember, that thanks to the pay to play system in both parties, the leadership in the House wields far more control over its members than it did 25 years ago. The leadership of both parties and the intelligence committee in the House opposed the amendment and whipped against it. The NSA’s Keith Alexander gave a classified briefing to members to tell representatives in no uncertain terms how awful the consequences of voting through the amendment would be. The White House issued a statement urging rejection of the amendment. I’m told no one in the House can recall a previous case of an Administration weighing in against an amendment. Members of the defense community made dire warnings in the media of how damaging passage would be to American interests. As one Congressional staffer told me, “They broke arms to get the votes on this.”

Shortly after the vote, Alan Grayson invited members to a session scheduled for the morning of Wednesday, July 31, in which Greenwald would testify via video link. Richard Clarke, the chairman of the Counter-terrorism Security Group and a member of the National Security Group, was also scheduled to participate. Within 24 hours of Grayson announcing the meeting, which got the expected considerable interest from members, Clarke withdrew. He initially claimed to have developed a scheduling conflict, but it became clear he’d gotten the Elizabeth Warren treatment from the Administration, of being offered an undisclosed goodie (not of monetary value, but of participation in an insider process) and he was told that participating in this session would preclude his involvement in the other initiative.

But that monkey wrench apparently wasn’t sufficient. The prospect of having Greenwald and other whistleblowers develop a direct relationship with members of Congress, who had just barely been kept on the reservation, was too threatening to Obama. Jane Hamsher tells us the denouement:

President Obama has historically considered the Hill some lower bardo of hell. One of the major complaints of congressional Democrats has always been that the President does not consult them or include them in shaping his legislative agenda, let alone stop by for a chin wag.

So imagine everyone’s surprise when the President suddenly announced he was coming to the Hill today to meet with all the Democrats – right before the August recess begins.

Coincidentally, this forced Alan Grayson to cancel the hearing on NSA activity scheduled for today, at which the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald was to testify. Grayson’s bipartisan hearing was organized to give critics of the NSA’s sweeping surveillance programs a chance to air their concerns, and stem the tide of “constant misleading information” coming from the intelligence community, per Grayson.

Specifically, the suddenly scheduled meeting was with the so-called Democratic Caucus. It not only directly conflicted with the Greenwald session, but given that this Congressional session ends Friday, it was impossible to reschedule it for later this week (as in no rooms were available). I’m told that Obama’s gambit is obvious to everyone on the Hill.

So consider what has happened: we have a sitting President who is treating a journalist as a personal threat and is going to extreme lengths to stymie him providing testimony to Congress. That of course has not deterred Greenwald. One of the points of the testimony Wednesday (technically, not a hearing) was for Greenwald to rebut statements made by Obama, James Clapper, and Keith Alexander that the NSA programs were limited:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

If you have not yet seen the latest Greenwald release on Xkeyscore, time to catch up. The critical sections:

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden….

The files shed light on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10.

“I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email”.

US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden’s assertion: “He’s lying. It’s impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.”

But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.

XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA’s “widest reaching” system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”, including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.

Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing “real-time” interception of an individual’s internet activity.

As damaging as these revelations are, the NSA’s and now Obama’s refusals to deal honestly with Congress and stonewalling by impeding access to Greenwald (which Congresscritters are convinced of even though Obama can play faux innocent) are on the verge of backfiring. Recall that what brought Nixon down in Watergate and damaged Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky affair were not the events but the cover-up.

Here, the NSA and Administration seem unable to grok that Greenwald has the goods and he is going to proceed methodically with his releases of information. If the NSA knows what Snowden downloaded (as they assert they do) they should be well aware of what he can publish. Yet they persist in telling bald-faced lies that Greenwald is able to swat back with the NSA’s own materials.

The officialdom seems constitutionally unable to recognize that they can’t halt the process that is underway, short of, say, blowing up the Guardian or launching a coup (as in I am confident that both Greenwald and Snowden have gotten copies of critical materials into enough hands at the Guardian that the publication of documents would proceed even if something were to either of them). The surveillance state seem incapable of grasping that they might not win this fight, and if they don’t make an effort to get on this bus, they really could wind up under it.

Grayson’s hearing will take place in September. Obama’s delaying tactics, which will push the confab into fall prime time, might prove to be another own goal. Stay tuned.

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230 comments

  1. Bobito

    Can’t defend the undefendable and still pretend to be anything other than the leader of a police state.

    1. Matthew G. Saroff

      Note, what follows is ironic sarcasm, which is intended to convey the exact opposite of that is said.

      Read it that way:

      Don’t you understand, this is Obama’s eleventy dimensional chess!

      He is really trying to keep this in the news so that we everything about the NSA comes out, and we can have an open and transparent discussion about civil rights and privacy
      –End of snark–

      I really do not understand why the vehemence of his Jihad against whistle blowers.

      1. ScottS

        I’m not sure why people are so cynical about Obama’s proclivity for playing 11-dimensional chess. Isn’t the fact that he’s playing the game against his own party, against his own ethnicity, against his own class, and against his own country evidence enough that he’s playing a far more complicated game than most?

        Though it does boil down to selling out, which isn’t as hard to follow as rationalizing it.

        1. Code Name D

          /sarcasem on

          There pony-rainbowers go again, refusing to give Obama his due. He is playing 11 thousand dimentional chess. That is how smart he is.

          /sarcasem off

  2. profoundlogic

    How ironic that an average person like Snowden (certainly not average in the character category) could be such a remarkable thorn in Obama’s side. Snowden has taught us all a valuable lesson in the value of truth.

    Interesting to watch how the credibility trap continues to grow for Obama. As you mention, it may not be the abuses themselves that result in the big O’s undoing, but the ensuing cover-up and lies.

    “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.”

    John Kenneth Galbraith

    1. from Mexico

      This certainly can’t be said within the US, but outside the US Obama is pretty rapidly shaping up to be the new Pol Pot, the new Idi Amin.

      Snowden, on the other hand, is rapidly shaping up as being someone more like the resistors who stood up to the Nazi juggernaut.

      1. MRW

        The people advising Obama aren’t interested in America. They are only interested in Israel. And Israel has a national, strategic, and economic interest in keeping the security state functioning with the public-private relationships that its defense contractors, security contractors, and telephonic partners provide them. For example, it is inconceivable that the utility AT&T, in its pre-breakup days, would have routed all call record data through an Israeli (foreign) government-backed company for billing of US customers. Now, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, et cetera, do. Further, General Keith Alexander has outsourced US strategic interests to private contractors outside US jurisdiction that cannot be curtailed or controlled directly by US law, or the quaint notion of the express wishes of the American people. They can only be curtailed or controlled by Alexander himself, and as James Bamford pointed out this past month, Alexander as the head of Cyber Command has his own army, navy, and air force that is not under the direct control of the US President.

        1. Jimbo

          “The people advising Obama aren’t interested in America. They are only interested in Israellam.”

          Fixed it for you. And who do think you’re kidding anyhow? Our CIA director, a Muslim convert, referred to Jerusalem as “Al Quds.”

          1. Jimbo

            “The people advising Obama aren’t interested in America. They are only interested in Islam.”

            Actually, their interest is neo-feudalism as an end. Islam is the means.

            1. Yonatan

              Are you doubting Jimbo’s veracity? Can’t you see it makes perfect sense that he would convert in order to work for the socialist Moose-limb Obama.

        2. JCC

          “The people advising Obama aren’t interested in America. They are only interested in Israel.”

          I wouldn’t be overly concerned about whether it’s Israel or Freedonia. The people advising Obama are interested in money, profit, power and nothing else. If it wasn’t Israel, it would be some other country.

          NAZI Germany comes to mind:

          http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/08/01/how-six-months-before-the-second-world-war-britain-gave-hitler-9-million-in-gold-that-belonged-to-another-country/

      1. from Mexico

        Wow!

        Fifty percent of congress-persons leave congress to go to work on “K” Street as lobbyists, with an average increase in pay of 1,452%.

        And yet juxtaposed to this we still find folks with “simple integrity,” as West goes on to explain:

        And yet in the end we do have a significant number of fellow citizens who just want to be decent. I think it’s just fundamentally a moral and spiritual issue. When you look at the words of Bradley Manning and Snowden and others, they really talk about conscience; they really talk about trying to do what’s right regardless of the consequences. And that really is in the end an issue of integrity… It’s a matter of them being willing to sacrifice and being willing to disclose truths that they know could lead toward their destruction of their lives.

        –CORNEL WEST

        What West said reminded me of something Susan Neiman wrote:

        Moral Clarity – Facing Gallows

        Are there moral laws that bind everyone—wherever they come from, whatever they believe? The greatest philosopher of modern times walked up to this question and turned sideways, refusing to answer directly. Instead, Immanuel Kant reached for a parable.

        Imagine, he says, a man who claims temptation overwhelms him whenever he passes what the 18th century discretely referred to as “a certain house”. No matter what he tells himself beforehand, when he reaches the whorehouse he has to go in. He’d like to be prudent, he’d like to be faithful; perhaps he thinks sex is one thing that doesn’t belong on the market. But no tie of love, no fear of disease or shame is stronger than the claims of the flesh. Can we understand him? Easily, says Kant. But what if a gallows were installed before the whorehouse on which he will be hung immediately after emerging from its sin-sating depths? Suddenly he discovers he can withstand temptation very nicely, thank you. For however bright ordinary desires may be—for sex or wealth or any other form of mortal pleasure—all of them pale before the desire for life itself. No life, no consumption: all the sweets of the world put together cannot weigh against that.

        Let the same man be summoned before an unjust ruler, and given a choice. The ruler intends to execute an innocent subject fallen afoul of his regime, but the semblance of law demands the appearance of just procedures. Someone will write a letter denouncing the innocent, bearing false witness to a capital crime. Our roue is asked to do it. Should he refuse, the ruler will make sure he is executed himself.

        As in the first case, Kant thinks it’s easy to imagine being in this fellow’s shoes. But unlike the first case, we suddenly waver: we do not know what we would do. Kant always emphasized the limits of knowledge, and one of the things we never know for certain is the inside of our souls. None of us is so righteous as to be sure not to crumble in the face of death or torture. Most of us probably would. But all of us know what we should do: refuse to write the letter though it cost our own lives. And all of us know that we could do just that—whether or not we would totter in the end. In this moment, says Kant, we know our own freedom, in a breath of awe and wonder. Not pleasure but justice can move human beings to deeds that overcome the strongest of animal desires, the love of life itself. And contemplating this is as dizzying as contemplating the heavens above us: with this kind of power, we are as infinite as they are.

        [....]

        [We should never] be urged to live rightly because it’s in our self-interest to do so. Such arguments leave us helpless whenever morality and self-interest part company; in the times when they don’t, we don’t need morality to move us.

        So how do you answer the skeptic who asks why he should be moral? Kant says you do it by talking about heroes: those who risk their lives rather than resign themselves to injustice. “Here virtue is worth so much because it costs so much.”

        [....]

        “What’s absolute, ” says Cornel West, “is what I’m willing to die for.”

        http://www.einsteinforum.de/fileadmin/einsteinforum/downloads/victims_neiman.pdf

        1. Chris Rogers

          @ from Mexico,

          Good insight from Kant and many thanks for sharing.

          I am reminded though that in the movie “V for Vendetta” the heroine is held captive by the man of the Guido Fawkes mask – our hero, during weeks of torture, Evie refuses to give up her friends, knowing full well they, and most likely herself, would be killed regardless of the outcome.

          The end of that particular scene, when Evie believes its better to die, than betray, is the moment she’s overcome by all human emotion, love of life, love of freedom and a love of all that’s good in humanity.

          Its a very powerful movie despite being based on a comic, and one regular posters should view or review again – particularly given the fascist trends so evident in the USA and UK presently – its a good dystopian warning that offers hope.

        2. Mitchell

          Thank you for the Kant parable… I’ve never heard it and might never have (unless I ever get through my to-read list to study him, not likely). Its beautiful.

    2. Danb

      I’d like to say it’s Obama et al who are average, but that, too, is a stretch. They are, however, an ironic gaggle.

    3. TimH

      More the value of having hard evidence that is very difficult to argue against, then letting the administration repeatedly impeach itself denying details.

    4. nonclassical

      …Snowden is bushbama version of bushcheney’s WikiLeaks…

      we, the American people, must be thankful for both…and contrast within, to LIES…

  3. b

    a. Thanks for quoting me.

    b. “If the NSA knows what Snowden downloaded (as they assert they do) they should be well aware of what he can publish. ”

    I believe they do NOT know what he downloaded. Unless the NSA has a very diligent access and logging system (which for efficiency reasons does not make sense) a sysadmin like Snowden can delete the traces of access he had to a machine or file. The NSA does not know what Snowden got.

    In yesterdays hearing the NSA robot said they did not know yet how Snowden did what he did. If that is true they can not know what he has.

    (The NSA does not even know if he left a bug in the system or some kind of time bomb like virus. It will take month for them to be sure that their systems are not corrupted. Quite mess in that data shop.)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks for paying a visit!

      Well, even if they feel compelled to lie, their actions still are remarkably nonsensical (or as you said re Obama, arrogant). If they don’t know what he has, they should assume the worst. And they aren’t acting that way (well they are in their desperation to get him, but with the info having gone to Greenwald, that horse has left the barn and is in the next county) as least in terms of what they’ve been saying to Congress.

      1. Bob

        My thoughts would be that that is the exact reason they are so extremely obsessed with getting him. They want him so they can put the screws to him to find out what Greenwald has so they can know what needs to covered up. Right now they don’t know how much of their a** is hanging out.

          1. Antifa

            It’s important to note that Snowden was hired in the role of “infrastructure analyst” at Booz Allen. They advertised for someone to fill that role and Snowden was an absolute catch for them. He could do awesome things on the keyboard, according to those who knew him.

            What does an infrastructure analyst do? Test the system. Put on a black hat for the good of the company and see where the weaknesses in the network and security protocols are. To do that, he or she has to be able to get in and out AND cover their tracks, just as an expert outside hacker would do.

            Edward had the run of the place, and a thumb drive, for three months, and only left when he was completely satisfied. He had his way with them.

            So no, there is no real way short of peeling Edward’s skin off to discover exactly where he went and what he took from Booz Allen and the NSA. The blowhards in Congress and the bureaucrats atop the NSA have no idea.

            If Snowden is taken or disappeared, the NSA will then treat anyone who publishes the rest of his material similarly, no matter where they live or what nation they are a citizen of. The gloves are off to save their secrets, and their own asses.

            1. john

              A monster wants to be seen as anything but.

              And from what we can see through occasional small piecing glimpses we catch of them, they surely are monsters.

            2. hunkerdown

              That’s escalation. If discretion in releases doesn’t buy any indulgence, their next disgruntled infrastructure analyst might not be bothered to exercise it. Training documents and presentations are one thing to have exposed, but there are crown jewels, such as sources and methods, cipher details, keying material, source code, and email server contents, that once disclosed could irreparably damage billions of dollars in black ops investments throughout DoD and might even be fatal to the agency (and, though we may hope to find the teachable moment, probably to the discloser as well).

          2. Richard Kline

            What Antifa said, but some what differently, and then more. Snowden is a two-level problem for the NSA.

            The first and highest level problem is _how_ Snowden knows what he knows. That is, what he knows about how the NSA’s data gathering operates systemically, and how it’s internal structures work; just as Antifa remarks. Snowden BEAT that system, in that he got in, got data, got out, and they didn’t know until he told the world. Now, Ed Snowden has publicly promised not to reveal this kind of ‘structural knowledge,’ because in principal that could harm ‘real national security’ as opposed to the obscene simulacra of that concept which is the workaday perception in the minds of the Securacrats and the ultimate insiders of Permanent Washington. But who knows how Ed will feel months or years from now? Or if the Russkis will worm it out of him; “We have ways . . . .” goes the thinking. Ed Snowden walking free and unafraid is more dangerous to the NSA as of today than an armed nuclear missle in flight given what he knows of their big iron and little bugs. Getting him back before he squawks anything of that ‘structural knowledge’ is Mission One for them, and hence for the President. Greenwald & Co. may very well _not_ have much if any damaging components of such ‘structural knowledge’ since Ed said he was keeping mum on that. So there may still be time, from the securecrats’ standpoint. Obama is stalling for time therefore, hoping to figure some way of getting Snowden out of circulation before the ‘iron’ gets shopped, deliberately or inadvertently. Or at least until the NSA can reconfigure internally on the hurry-up to keep themselves from getting hoovered via Ed’s keys should they come out. That has to be a worry against simply assassianting Snowden too: he could have a ‘dead man drop’ of those keys. Don’t be surprised if he hasn’t left them a message to that effect which neither he nor the securecrats have chose to make public.

            Snowden also presents a second-level problem for the President even more than the NSA in _what_ he knows. I can think of at least two potential reveals, or two-and-a-half, which would get Barack Obama and his main crew in an all night stew to defense, delay, and deny. Just guessing, but when Greenwald says ‘bigger to come,’ this is where I go.

            1) We me find out that the NSA has systematically snooped on every member of Congress since long since, and in particular monitors all communications of those thought to be ‘politically unsound’ such as Grayson, McDermott, Rand Paul, or, yes, Amash. Folks who might actually take a call from *cough* _Julian Assange_, or ‘an agent of a foreign power,’ or ‘an Islamofascist sympathizer’ who might try to funnel data to said Congressperson which proved embarassing or worse to the Prez and the securecrats. I mean, what is the _highest_ value domestic intel out there for those who RUN the security state? Com-taps on dissenters; as always, ever. So that at least the securecrats know what’s coming before it’s out. Or better (from their viewpoint) can catch someone from the other team showing a little too much of their hand. Or, maybe as sweet, can get something incriminating, or at least indiscreet, on said member of Congress to break their arm on a critical vote. If Congress thought Greenwald was about to spill _that_ kind of snopping program via telelink to the whole Democratic Caucaus of the House, I can definitely see Barack Obama getting his skinny ass plunked in front of the screen between two flags on the hurry-up.

            2) It is very telling that despite the international shennanigens of the NSA already revealed we have heard nothing from the Near East, and absolutely not a whisper of Israel. Now, this is an area of perceived ‘national security [sic],’ and so Snowden may just not be going there. But that strikes me as ridiculous, since we know that Israel and the US are interlocked at the basal ganglia level on intell and black op wire-work in the Near East. Much of that is dirty work, and not a little of it might have nothing to do with mad bombers and much to do with heads of state. I suspect one reveal to come would be that the US systematically snoops all internal communications at the head of state and Defense Ministry level of every country bordering Israel—and runs this by Israeli filters. Not ‘direct sharing’ but simply allowing Israel to glean most everything obtained while the US ‘looks the other way.’ Consider that: the US effectively bugs all military and state communications in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and all else, and lets Israel have a look in passing. Can you imagine Obama and the NSA being in an epileptic froth to try to get out in front of something like THAT? They may not know if Ed Snowden can prove it, but it seems highly likely that the US-NSA is doing this, so they have to believe that Snowden _could_ reveal it. And them are Big Potatos. Even if Ed got Dead, they could still upset quite a few pretty apple carts if they got rolling.

            2.5) A further reveal which might be available to Snowden would be if he had evidence that the NSA wasn’t just scanning transmission data in other countries, specifically in the Near East, but was actively _falsifying transmission data WHICH DID NOT EXIST_. It seems highly likey that they US is doing this, both on its own and in collusion with Israel. This, for instance, is specifically the counter-charge that Hezbollah made when suspicious phone data records in Lebanon were produced to impute that Hezbolla could or did orchestrate the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The issue of falsfied transmission records has come up in other instances as well. This, again, treads closer to ‘national security [sic]‘ but at the same time is completely bogus info that at least is used to mislead international justice bodies and the American Congress, but which, far worse, could easily be used as a pretext for military action. “We caught them plotting ON THE PHONE (*hahahahaha* who’ll ever know?).” The concept that the NSA could fake records of discussions in other countries and that military action could be launched in consequence of such black-op fakes should send a chill down every spine. I could see Snowden revealing something like that. And THAT kind of reveal would hit like a .40 Magnum round taking out the right testical of the NSA. Again, the NSA very likely does this kind of thing, so they have to assume that Snowden could know and might chose to reveal it. Hence the frenzy.

            This is a GREAAAAAAAAAAT show, I’ve gotta say . . . Information wants to be free, and freedom wants to be informed. It’s only the unfreedom salesmen who have a problem with that . . . .

          3. Richard Kline

            And now we have a hurry-up ‘closure’ of US embassies throughout the ‘Terror Belt’ because “we’ve gotten an electronic intercept.” Just as Congress is getting serious about reining in the NSA, who does said intercepting. Y’know, the same Congress which went all criticality on BO’s tokhus over an attack on the US embassy in Libya; where there was no intercept; sort of.

            F is for Fake. This is why Obama is stalling for time, to produce faked ‘factoids’ on the ground to ward off Congressional oversight of the NSA. “We can’t joggle their elbows now, Congressman, there’s _lives_ at stake!” *Ickk* We have no evidence of any action other than the word of the NSA that they got an intercept. Somewhere. From someone. Which could be quite readily faked.

      2. Code Name D

        If you forgive the pop-sociology, what they are doing is actually quite predictable. To Obama – this is a publicity problem, nothing more. It’s Wikileaks all over again, laving it to the grunts and cubical-drones from the press core to clean up the mess while Obama focuses on more important maters.

        But I suspect there may be some very different thinking going on here over at the NSA. This is NOT a security operation, but something else entirely. I have argued on my own blog that NSA is more like a deep-data broker. GE has gone on a media blitz promoting deep-data as the next big thing, and GE apparently has significant connections to NSA. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

        In other words, this is more a market agenda, rather than a security agenda. And the data being collected by NSA is not really intended for security, which is likely why they believe NSA is not violating the law. But rather they are collecting information with the intent of giving corporations the privilege of data-mining the data-stores for what ever agenda they wish to bring. It has accord to me that this may be just another approach to selling role-on deodorant.

        Privacy rights in this regard are already non-existent. But corporations have been under pressure by consumers to tighten up privacy policies. One possible true function for NSA is to be a means of bypassing these restrictions, allowing corporations to claim they have tight privacy policies while secretly mining the data behind the NSA security curtain. This may also be about industrial espionage as well, with NSA pulling for US corporations against competition from Europe, China, and India.

        All speculation of course. So perhaps I should go and take my anti-conspiracy theorist medications before I find connection to 911.

        1. LucyLulu

          You have company in your tin-foil conspiracy theory beliefs. I have the same suspicions as you. I wouldn’t discount that the NSA continues to operate as a security organization but no reason it can’t be a dual function entity. If it’s not doing the commercial work itself, it’s working in cooperation with companies that are. The public/private partnerships that Obama touts at work.

          We have reports of private organizations doing similar work already, such as Endgame, allegedly working in cooperation with Uncle Sam. As revealed by Anonymous a couple years ago, for a mere cool $2.5 million, a company can purchase 25 exploits from Endgame, exploits which are no longer limited to crashing networks and stealing data but now can do actual physical damage.

        2. Winston Smith

          So you have realized that the US is not a
          denocracy, but a neo fascist duopoly.
          I took the ‘red pill’ years ago myself,glad others
          are too.

    2. HeadlessInDC

      Snowden seems to have looked quite far into the future in planning this unraveling of the onion. Thus, were I him, and given that he claimed he could have accessed Obama himself, I would have. And I’ll bet Snowden has some cache of personal dirt that, if he loses all hope in some just results coming out of his sacrifice, will be exposed in a Hail Mary, last second takedown of whomever he has decided would give the greatest return…

      1. Scott

        Not Snowden, but Greenwald.

        I would speculate that all the drip, drip, drip of disclosure was all Greenwald’s idea. He’s incredibly aware of how the media works, and what it would take to keep the publics interest long enough to hopefully make a difference.

        1. Antifa

          I wonder if Snowden might test Putin by standing innocently by while Greenwald or the Guardian keeps releasing more damaging info, saying, “Hey, I’m not the one releasing this stuff. They are.”

          Thus keeping his promise to Putin to stop releasing damaging info about the USA as the price for refugee status in Russia. Technically.

          Poking the Russian bear is risky.

          1. willibro

            That assumes, of course, that Putin’s public statements about not “inflicting damage to our American partners” were anything but pro-forma/diplomatic ass-covering. Under the current circumstances, he can point to the same excuse as Snowden: “Dude, horse is already out of the barn, I’m not riding it anymore.”

      2. Kurt Sperry

        This is a real possibility. One can safely assume that Snowden mentioning that he could access even the President’s private email communications was a very deliberate and very blunt signal, a shot across the bow. If he could have done so and made a point of mentioning it, surely he was canny enough to actually do so. Even if he didn’t do so, it seems likely the head spooks believe that he might have. The desperation hangs thick in the air here doesn’t it? The Morales fiasco, the incredibly clumsy handling of the whole thing, the unforced errors, it all points to panicky, sweaty fear being the driver of the administration’s response.

        They (or Obama) evidently think he may have some real dirt, the kind that could pose a real or even existential threat to them.

        Let us all fervently wish that is in fact the case. I want to see Obama and the US security state twisting in the wind, exposed, helpless and just waiting for the next bombshell to hit. “Looking back” can be cathartic.

        1. Jeff W

          some real dirt

          As I said in this comment a little over two weeks ago, Edward Snowden himself said, in his first interview, in answer to a question about what he “didn’t end up doing,” said,

          Anyone in the positions of access with the technical capabilities that I had could suck out secrets, pass them on the open market to Russia; they always have an open door as we do. I had access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all over the world. The locations of every station, we have what their missions are and so forth.

          That’s a pretty clear statement of what he actually had access to. That to me is even more of “a shot across the bow.”

          Of course, what’s not clear to us (or, judging from the fascinating comments above, even to the NSA, which, in itself, would account for the air of desperation on the part of the administration) is whether or not he actually took that information regarding rosters, missions, station locations—his denial seems to be more aimed at how he did not seek to profit from what he had access to—although I would say, as I suspect you would, that he is definitely canny enough to have done so.

          I took his statement

          I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail.

          more as an indication of just how pervasive and completely without controls the surveillance actually is; his phrase “if had a personal e-mail” indicated (to me) that his ability to wiretap the President was purely for purposes of illustration. But, if, in fact, no one knows what Snowden took, even that comment might be, as you say, “a very deliberate and very blunt signal.”

        2. Dee

          What a scrumptious thought–the insurance salesman in chief wrathful that his pet system might be used to expose nasty little things he thought were hidden!

    3. Ms G

      If NSA can’t even figure out what Snowden downloaded from NSA’s systems, then isn’t that Exhibit 1 for how NSA is nothing but a giant web of keystone snoopers? And that any claim that NSA is “protecting America” from “bad enemies” is a total crock.

      (I don’t mean to suggest that we don’t have plenty of other evidence that NSA seems to exist in order to spy and collect data on US citizens who might threaten the Pax Kleptocratica.)

    4. Kassandra

      I’ve ehard they can’t even find their OWN emails. So the package may already have opened.
      In any event, their “surveillance” certainly didn’t stop the Tsarnov brothers…..or whoever…..

  4. Jim Haygood

    XKeyscore’s ultimate justification is summarized in the concluding sentence of the NSA’s statement:

    “These types of programs allow us to collect the information that enables us to perform our missions successfully – to defend the nation and to protect US and allied troops abroad.

    Got that? If you don’t blindly support the NSA, then you don’t support the troops.

    Or to state the case in the opposite sense, until the m*****f****** troops are brought home — every bleeding one of them — permanent war means permanent surveillance under de facto martial law.

    To stop the NSA, stop the war(s).

    1. Cocomaan

      Find me a single person in a powerful position in Washington DC that endorses peace.

      I haven’t found too many.

    2. citizendave

      To echo that idea, a marriage between privacy and security will be doomed to failure because of irreconcilable differences.

      As long as we have permanent war, Defense will want the kind of security NSA tries to provide.

      The best way, or the only way, to reduce the desire for security is to work for peace.

      The USA is responsible for a big part of the permanent state of war.

      To protect our privacy we must persuade the USA to stand down from our permanent state of war.

      Until we achieve peace, our right to privacy will be like the ideal expressed in our founding documents, that all people are created equal. It turns out that equality is a goal, not a fact. The fact of our privacy in the past was a function of the lack of technology. It appears it will be necessary to work to establish actual privacy the way we have worked to establish actual equality.

      1. kimsarah

        In peace or war, all this meta-data must have some value on the black market, with so many unscrupulous private contractors potentially having access to much of it.

        Start following the money, and we might find out how much this NSA program is costing the taxpayer, and who has ownership and political connections to the private companies operating it.

        It then becomes obvious why the biggest blowhards like Feinstein and Rogers are its biggest defenders.

        1. DaveAlaska

          kimsarah,
          Booz Allen Hamilton for one has insidious threads connecting it to America’s power-elites from several presidential administrations beginning with GHW Bush’s. The Carlyle Group hedge fund owns 2/3 of BAH. Check out the board members and try to fathom the depth of foreign policy intrigue emanating from that toxic mix alone. The AIPAC nexus with the Beltway is another profound horror to the autonomy of this nation.
          We are not only lost, we are owned by the power mongers of the world.

    1. Pokey

      No one so stunningly unqualified to be an executive could be an inept politician, but until he started flailing around in his Snowden hissy, it’s hard to think of any issue or principle that made a difference to him. The king of empty rhetoric is as pathetic as he is pompous. But he is probably better than Romney or McCranky (by 2008) would have been in his office.

      1. redleg

        It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it… anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.
        –Douglas Adams

  5. Synopticist

    I’m just loving this story.

    Obama can’t understand that full spectrum dominance doesn’t apply when his nightmare whistleblower is safely tucked away in Moscow. Even Bush would have got his head around that fact. Just imagine the uproar if Bush had forced down Morales’ plane.

    (I think this contributes to the internal debate about what Obama is like as a man within out own NC sphere. Rather than the evil Manchurian candidate who knew what he was doing all along, which is what I might call the “Lambert View”, this shows that he’s actually just a fairly inept politician and negotiator.)

    Anyway, I’d like to point out another marginal influence here, and that’s the situation in Syria. Putin knows that Obama’s and the securicrat’s “arm Al qaeda’s bitches in the clearly non-moderate FSA” policy is wildly unpopular, and that strengthens his hand somewhat. He can shove Obama around a bit more than he would otherwise be able to do without arousing the bi-partisan ire that a Russian president normally would.

    1. nonclassical

      ..everyone who really believes it was bushbama who pulled that trigger (sidetracking the plane) raise their hands…

    2. Crazy Horse

      We shouldn’t take our eye off the ball here. The civil war in Syria is a war between the US/Europe and Russia. The prize: continued Gazprom monopoly control of Europe’s natural gas supply vs. a pipeline through Syria to moving gas from Qatar and Saudi Arabia directly to Europe, potentially bypassing Russian controlled routes.

      The US is perfectly willing to arm and support al-Qaida “freedom fighters” to achieve its ends. After all, this is just business. And Putin will keep a nasty dictator in power as long as necessary to achieve Russia’s strategic goals.

      In a personal showdown between a KGB hard case who’s idea of a campaign poster is a picture of himself riding horseback with his shirt off and the Banksters Boy Toy, who do you think will come out on top?

      Looks like we’ve already seen the preview of that movie.

      1. nardami

        Actually, there is Iran-Iraq-Syrian pipeline deal that has been agreed upon which would link Iran’s south fields to Europe via an undersea stretch into Greece which is what adds a new wrinkle to the old plot. Of course Israel would benefit (BONUS POINTS***) as a transit point for the US position in the pipeline plans and subsequent interst in what happens in Syria. That Assad would win an election by a landslide if held tomorrow is of no importance.
        http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-04-230713.html

  6. Dan Kervick

    I suspect that you are right in attributing some of this to Obama’s frustration over his loss of personal power and prestige. He is also showing pique over the Democrats’ unwillingness to rubber stamp his preference for old crony Larry Summers.

    The Morales affair was totally unhinged, risking the resurrection of 100 years of bitterness over gringo political domination, all to to catch one programmer.

    So in the end I think this is about more than Obama’s personal feelings. The spooks and thugs manning the 12-year regime of GWOT abuse and overstepping are now seeing the possibility of the end of the road, with the blown-up careers and prison sentences the unraveling will bring. They know what Snowden knows, and Obama must be under intense pressure to keep the lid on it all.

    I’m worried that Obama might lash out militarily at tsomething to reassert presidential and state authority.

    1. Francois T

      Dan,
      The very fact that Obama is pushing for a spectacular failure (Barry Ritholz expression) like Larry Summers is proof positive that he totally lost it.

      1. Malmo

        Exactly. The Summers push defies all political logic short of one becoming completely unhinged.

      2. Dan Kervick

        I don’t think that in itself would show he had lost it. Politicians routinely opt for the usual established party hacks and insiders to fill big positions. Lots of people in the old guard are friends of Summers, and that’s just government as usual. But Obama’s willingness to start shredding US foreign policy priorities and relationships in a mad pursuit of one lone whistle-blower seems different.

        1. Malmo

          Right. And I think he’ll go with Yellen at the end of the day. This trial balloon isn’t going over with anyone, including his own party. Not the time for a lightning rod trail balloon, much less one that he needlessly appoints, who could very well be rejected.

          1. CB

            Don’t underestimate Obama’s capacity to cut off his nose to spit his face. Egomaniacs will do that from time to time.

      3. Patricia

        Over the last 3-4 years, the people at the top have become increasingly careless of image, making less and less effort to bring consistent messaging/cover. I think Obama has been assuming, after long dirty work built on top of Shrub’s admin on top of Bush Sr on top of…., that the whole oligarchy thing is sewed up tight. Gift-wrapped global empire with an NSA bow.

        I’m sure Obama knew there would be pushback but I suspect he planned that it would appear after he left office. Instead, his filth is being globally exposed while he is yet in office, against his wishes, and he’s indulging narcissistic rage, which only further exposes him, ripping off his suave sophisticated image. There have been hints of his malice before, but not like this. He might not yet recognize what he’s doing, or he is so angry that he doesn’t care, but surely the people around him are aware and know it matters, at least a little bit.

        It must not be easy to be Obama, with his combination of empty-suitism, narcissism, pressure to perform for the oligarchs, (likely) vague threats of blackmail via NSA, etc.

        I am delighted.

        But the oligarchy is well-established, with/without Obama or Summers. Obama’s work is nearly finished, right? If he goes off the deep end and doesn’t collect all his reward, who will care? There is a pre-selected cadre of people “qualified” to run the country, and they’ll pull from it. Voila.

        1. from Mexico

          Patricia says:

          But the oligarchy is well-established, with/without Obama or Summers. Obama’s work is nearly finished, right? If he goes off the deep end and doesn’t collect all his reward, who will care? There is a pre-selected cadre of people “qualified” to run the country, and they’ll pull from it. Voila.

          The dream of global domination runs like a thread through Western civilization, starting with the Spanish Habsburgs in the 16th century and continuing with Napoleon and Hitler. Many people, such as Jonathan Schell writing in The Unconquerable World, believe the current neocon project for world domination will end just like the others did.

          I’ve always admired the following passage from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace:

          All historians are agreed that the external activity of states and nations in their conflicts with one another finds expression in wars, and that the political power of states and nations increases or diminishes in direct proportion to success or defeat in war….

          An army suffers a defeat, and at once a people loses its rights in proportion to the magnitude of the defeat, and if its army suffers complete defeat, the nation is completely subjugated.

          So it has been (according to history) from earliest times to the present day. All Napoleon’s wars serve to confirm that rule. In proportion to the defeat of the Austrian armies, Austria loses its rights and the rights and powers of France increase. The victories of the French at Jena and Auerstadt destroy the independent existence of Prussia.

          But suddenly in 1812, the French win a victory near Moscow, Moscow is taken, and after that, with no further battles, it is not Russia that ceases to exist, but the French army of six hundred thousand, and then Napoleonic France itself…

          The victory did not bring the usual results because the peasants Karp and Vlas (who after the French had evacuated Moscow came in their carts to plunder the town and in generally personally failed to manifest any heroic feelings) and the whole vast multitudes of others like them, did not bring their hay to Moscow for the high prices offered them, but burnt it instead…

          [T]he cudgel of the people’s war was raised with all its menacing and majestic might, without regard for anyone’s taste, or for the rules, or for anything else, but with obtuse simplicity and utter efficacy it rose and fell, belaboring the French till the whole invasion was extirpated.

          1. Patricia

            The eternal dream of the greedy as a recurring nightmare for general humanity. How I hope Schnell is correct! Well, of course, he IS correct but let it be so before too many parts of the precious globe go down with it.

            “[T]he cudgel of the people’s war was raised with all its menacing and majestic might, without regard for anyone’s taste, or for the rules, or for anything else, but with obtuse simplicity and utter efficacy it rose and fell, belaboring the French till the whole invasion was extirpated.”

            I wish it would require only a battle or two (with attendant fall-out) but I fear the destruction will be even messier than usual, once we begin. This rendition of empire is genuinely global and with much more at its disposal than the earlier ones. We have much cruel history to make, in a series of successive break-downs across many different cultures, multiplied by nations.

            The simple clear response makes sense to me. A series of efficient slices through the baroque wirings that many people have been tracing with care and clarity for a long time now. Snap, crackle, whoosh. Repeat.

            The Russian authors are my favorites, with their relentless honesty about human fragility in the face of ethical dilemma. I have little trust in the quality of human heart and mind, yet there are always some who are remarkably clear and sturdy. May there be enough in the necessary places!

      4. Anon

        Why do you think that the push for Summers is the least bit sincere? The very fact that Summers’ personality can generate such pique in almost any forum demonstrates just how credible his candidacy is. He strikes me as uniquely positioned- an upper level economist so thoroughly offensive to both the left and right that almost any credible alternative will sail through the wake…of his bilge, to abuse the metaphor.

        Of course Yellen is better qualified. Of course she’ll be elected. But having Summers as the putative alternate serves to discredit any of her potential detractors, leaving them looking like misogynists and economic cranks.
        And this, I suspect is the point. The most material difference in Yellen’s and Summers’ perspectives is the broader economic benefit of QE. In this regard, I’m in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Summers that QE hasn’t been demonstrated an unalloyed good. If he is the face of policy skeptics, particularly while markets serially hit all time highs (today, included) then no deeper public consideration of the policy is necessary, right?

        1. ohmyheck

          Hhmmm…. Snark or 11th-dimensionally chess explanation?

          A poll perhaps? Let voters decide.

    2. molehill

      America’s ГУОТ installed Obama and they will uninstall him if he doesn’t restore the blissful ignorance of the subject population. It’s Snowden or Obama, it’s that simple. If Snowden is returned, his former employers will torture him to death. They have a sinking feeling that Snowden is not a lone wolf.

      If Obama doesn’t stop the drip-drip-drip it’s going to loosen the massive foundation of unacknowledged crime that props up this regime. The family jewels are not secure. The regime has had 50 years. Now their time is running out.

      1. Cache Is King

        I just read the news that Russia granted conditional asylum to Snowden and so I popped off a message of thanks to the nearest Russian consulate by way of fax.

        The fact that I don’t give a rat’s ass anymore whether the CIA, NSA, DIA or DICK monitored that is of blindingly significant import.

        When the people you are oppressing begin to lose the fear of telling you to shove it, the beginning of the end is in sight. I just don’t care anymore. Just an average guy who has had enough.

        That should be something to shake the foundations if anyone at HQ is REALLY paying attention.

          1. nonclassical

            …I stated during bushit, that IF (Cheney-”Project for a new american century” fascists) turn U.S. into Israel, I’m leaving…and we are well on our way…

            seems easier now, as we know who benefitted (Israeli fascists) from 911 to guess why the coverups…anyone reading inimitable Robert Fisk’s seminal work,
            “The Great War For Civilization”, will recognize Israeli-anti-Palestinian propaganda at work in U.S….

            and condition associated with those who have nothing to lose…

            which was once the rationale for U.S. “middle-class”…

    3. Brooklin Bridge

      The spooks and thugs manning the 12-year regime of GWOT abuse and overstepping are now seeing the possibility of the end of the road, with the blown-up careers and prison sentences the unraveling will bring.

      Prison sentences? Alas, wishful thinking. Ain’t gonna happen. The multi tiered justice system – that protects those at the top – is a much bigger, much more deeply entrenched phenomenon than simply Obama or the NSA.

      1. Hugo Stiglitz

        I thought the same thing. The only hope though might be if Snowden did in fact get some real dirt on various high-level string pullers in many areas, Wall Street, K-Street, Congress, regulatory agencies, and of course, those within the world of spooks. This is possible, and they have no idea what sort of dirt he might have.
        One danger though to Snowden is if someone wants that information released since he has clearly stated that it all goes public if anything happens to him.

    4. Ms G

      Maybe more than impeachment what is called for with Obama is involuntary admission to a secure psych ward on the basis that he is now an obvious danger to himself and others (including entire countries and continents).

      The Democratic leadership should get him in a room and do an intervention with orderlies in the wings in case BHO starts wigging out.

  7. jdw

    “International law REQUIRES that you return to us that guy who knows about all the laws we’re breaking!”

    1. Francois T

      The translation of this event should be obvious: Putin is sending a reply to Obama

      “Look Obuster, yo been trying to diss me? Take that!”

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      His lawyer is not doing him any favors by saying that. Snowden is safest in that transit zone. Would have been better to keep alive the idea he is there as long as possible.

        1. Francois T

          The article

          Edward Snowden left Sheremetyevo Airport after receiving temporary asylum for one year in Russia, ending the fugitive whistle-blower’s monthlong confinement in the transit zone, his Moscow-based lawyer said.

          Snowden, who arrived from Hong Kong on June 23, departed the airport in a taxi and headed for a “safe location” that won’t be disclosed, Anatoly Kucherena said in an interview by phone. The fugitive American left Sheremetyevo “under the care” of WikiLeaks’s legal adviser Sarah Harrison, the anti-secrecy group said on its Twitter Inc. account.

          The 30-year-old former U.S. contractor, whose efforts to reach a haven in Latin America have been blocked by the U.S. and its European allies, applied for 12-month renewable refugee status in Russia on July 16. The document issued by the Federal Migration Service yesterday allows him to travel freely in Russia without leaving the country.

          Snowden, who exposed classified U.S. programs that collect telephone and Internet data, has been seeking asylum around the world as American authorities press for his return to face prosecution. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the Russian government last month that Snowden won’t be tortured or face the death penalty if he is returned to the U.S.

          While Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have indicated they’d be willing to accept him, Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the U.S. of stranding Snowden in Moscow by putting pressure on other countries to deny him refuge and prevent his travel through their airspace.

          WikiLeaks said Snowden’s welfare has been “continuously monitored” by its staff since he arrived in Hong Kong, according to the statement.

          To contact the reporters on this story: Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net; Ekaterina Shatalova in Moscow at eshatalova@bloomberg.net

          1. Malmo

            Am wondering if Obama views Snowden as better dead than alive? Curious what the intelligence community thinks too. May guess is that the latter prefers him dead. If they (the intelligence community) want him eliminated it would be easy as opening a can of corn for them. The fallout would affect Obama in a more magnified way than them also, since “them” is largely unaccountable to anyone to begin with. Hell, rogues within any of these intelligence agencies might be hatching unilateral plans to snuff him out as I type this. Mother wit tells me they and the more legitimate and closely monitored employees might be in an unknown contest to see who gets him first, and who accomplihes the deed in the most creative way.

            1. Fairy God Farther

              Geenwald has already made plain that the juiciest bits have been seeded widely. Anything happens to either one of them and it will make Watergate revelations look like reporting Sunday school attendance.

              Snowden/Greenwald may look vulnerable but they have the entire corrupt security establishment by the short and curly and everyone knows it.

              I would give anything to see how these bastards sweat in the private moments of terror.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorHAL

                LOL, “all the juiciest bits have been sent around in case something happens to him”. That’s a laugh. For that to be a threat to this totalitarian fascist elite we would have to have functioning institutions and laws in place. We do not. When the head of one of the largest agencies stands before Congress and blatantly perjures himself and absolutely NOTHING happens, there is only one conclusion to draw. Sad as that may be.
                As Travis Bickle said “someday a REAL rain is gonna come and wash this scum away”
                (Note to NSA: I am searching for a “pressure cooker” because I need a good way to cook up some lentils. I thought maybe some brown sugar and a little bacon would help the taste. Is that OK?)

                1. hunkerdown

                  It would have to be one helluva reveal to cause American Exceptionalists to lose their faith. Like finding the mummified corpse of Jesus Christ stashed in Mecca helluva, or some high-ranking official in a compromising position with a photogenic brown boy helluva (but not *too* brown, of course, this being America and all). The sort of helluva that makes competitive partisans’ jaws drop in a shift of perspective and a recognition that escapist partisanship doesn’t lead anywhere good.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Yves, “His lawyer is not doing him any favors by saying that. Snowden is safest in that transit zone. Would have been better to keep alive the idea he is there as long as possible.”

        I understand the potential utility and safety in misdirection, but I don’t understand how he would be “safer” (or what precisely this implies safe from) known to be in a tiny geographic area than in somewhere unknown within the geographically largest country on Earth. If the danger is a hit, I guess maybe he was safer in the airport transit area (?), but assuming the Russians have the ability to conceal Snowden’s whereabouts from the US spooks, the logistics of interdicting him in transit to South America has gone from extremely difficult to essentially impossible. He could be any plane, train, boat, bus or car, military or civilian leaving Russia at any point bound for any other point now. And as such is immeasurably safer from forced repatriation. Or so it seems to me.

    3. urt

      Snowden is safe as a babe in arms. Maybe you can pull an Abbottabad raid on hapless Pakistani punchinellos. Does anybody think that the US can pull that on Putin? Russia has twice as many nukes as the US, and unlike the USG, their security apparat is competent. Putin has 30 IQ points on Obama and the disparity persists all the way down the ladder because intelligent Americans opt for private-sector freebooting. A hail-mary attempt to snatch Snowden would be Obama’s Operation Eagle Claw. No really, make Putin’s day, give him a chance to put some would-be assassin on TV, bowing like POW in Nam.

      1. from Mexico

        Here’s a really great video clip which juxtaposes Obama with Putin. There are video fillers in between the two speeches for dramatic effect, but here are the two speeches:

        OBAMA: I want to make sure the people understand that drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. For the most part they have been very precise, precision strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates.

        PUTIN: The military budget of the United States is 25 times ours. That signifies that their house is their fortress.

        Clever. Very clever.

        It means that we too must build a strong and resistant house, because we can see what is going on in the world. We know what is going on.

        Our comrade, Mr. Wolf, knows who to eat. He devours other countries, heedless. He has no intention of listening to anyone.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9qJE_rPvEgE&t=3803

      2. Synopticist

        Yes, I totally agree. Snowden will be snugly tucked up in an FSB safehouse somewhere, sleeping like a baby. Unless the Russians want them to know, there’s zero chance any western intel agencies will have the slightest idea where he is.

        Had Washington just pretended it was no big deal and let him get to Latin America, they could have picked him up at their pleasure. Easy. Ha ha. Looooosers.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, Putin’s official position is Snowden is a nuisance that got dumped in his lap. Security at airports is tight. The Ecuadorian ambassador was denied access to the transit zone early on. Security cameras too.

          So now Snowden has a year in Russia. He presumably needs to leave. Now TPTB will be trying to figure out where he is and will be aggressively monitoring flights that could take him to Latin America.

          The point is his lawyer was not just public but apparently made the announcement as soon as he had the info. If that pattern continues (“Snowden has gotten transit papers to Venezuela” or “Snowden gets Bolivian passport”) it’s more info for the US intel guys to go after him. His lawyer appears to have announced that Snowden will be leaving IN ADVANCE OF HIS DEPARTURE. That will give the intel guys a big head’s up and they will go into escalated monitorings of departures from the transit area. This is a big opportunity for them to locate Snowden and start tracking him.

          If Snowden is to stay alive longer term, the less that is known about his status, the better. If you don’t think the US has agents in Moscow who are capable of taking him out and dressing it up to look like a suicide or accident, you are smoking something strong. And if the official Russian position is that Snowden is a nuisance, they can’t offer him shelter or protection (certainly not visible). His most sensible move would be an Assange, to go live in the embassy of one of the countries that offered him asylum. The US would not dare mess with him at an embassy. That is the only place I can think of where he’d remain safe.

          Now Moscow probably had to say something at some point, but that’s different from Snowden’s supposedly own lawyer saying it.

          So shorter: Snowden’s lawyer announcing that Snowden was leaving the transit zone in advance was an unnecessary revelation. It served Putin, not Snowden (recall how the US tried to use HK’s “well too late, he left” statement to accuse HK of trying to stymie the US). So we now know that Snowden’s most important advisor in Russia is not really on his side (not that this is any surprise, but this is more visible than it ought to be).

          1. Kurt Sperry

            I’m not clear on the chronology, but if the lawyer’s announcement was made prior to Snowden leaving the transit area, sure this tracking scenario might might be plausible. Do we have any definitive evidence that such is in fact the case? I kind of doubt the Russians would do things in that order unless their intent was to use Snowden or a decoy as a honey trap to smoke out assets trying to physically track his movements by tailing him, which I assume the Russian spooks would be pretty prepared to make difficult to say the least.

            I guess I’m just not buying that American intelligence assets could successfully tail Snowden within Russia even assuming they definitively knew what vehicle he was in leaving the airport. All they’d need do is drive him to a safe building and have ten windowless vans leave the building at the same time in different directions in the dead of night and watch what happens, have each van go to a separate secure building then repeat the exercise again x10. Once his location is lost there is no hope of ever picking up the trail again by surveillance. The only way the Americans could ever hope to discover his whereabouts is through a high placed leak in the Russian spy apparatus, and again like the Morales plane fiasco, the leak source could be sniffed out by putting out differing false stories to various operatives and watching which story was acted upon by the Americans. All pretty rudimentary spycraft I would assume.

            Or maybe I’m missing something obvious here with this hip shot analysis.

            1. hunkerdown

              If he were to profoundly change his identity and completely sever all connection to his former life, become reclusive, maybe go into organic farming or something like that, he’d be very difficult but not impossible to track down.

              Remember that the Administration probably has a FISA court decision authorizing spying on everything Snowden does by now, as it would be terrifically easy to claim probable cause. Therefore, the NSA, no doubt freshly offended by the sting of desertion, may have turned up every possible collection feed in Moscow, London and Rio and assembled a large team to find him by any means necessary. It only takes one call to a “known selector” to get pulled in.

              (Meanwhile at the Kremlin, Putin picks up his secure phone and asks Assad how he’s doing, if he needs anything…)

          2. Ms G

            It is also possible that Snowden’s team are not a bunch of total incompetents and are skilled in the arts of diversionary tactics and such. For Snowden to have gotten this far (in his disclosures and geographically speaking) it would appear that he has some rather skilled people on his side.

            In any event. All this blow-by-blow speculation is just kremlinology and beside the point.

          3. LucyLulu

            Snowden as ‘nuisance’ may be Putin’s official position but I’m as unconvinced Putin finds him annoying as I am that Putin doesn’t want more revelations. Putin is enjoying the hell out of watching Obama and the US squirming. He’d like nothing better than to see TPTB in US make some more forced errors and rouse up rebellion by the people, anything that will weaken the power of Russia’s long-time #1 competitor.

            If Putin really thought Snowden was a nuisance, he’d have sent him packing already, off to Venezuela or someplace, not given him one year asylum and a job at Russian Facebook…… sticking that knife in and twisting some more. Remember, there’s a big difference between Russia and Bolivia, Putin and Morales. NATO airspace be damned, if Snowden was on a Russian jet headed to Havana, does anybody really think that Obama would dare try to divert THAT plane?

      3. rut

        \Well sure, crack US operatives could have killed Snowden no problem, only their superspy in Russia, Ryan Fogle 007, got caught with a bagful of money and a wig and funny-nose glasses and got his ass PiNGed. Guess they’ll have to give the hit contract to Miss Goodthighs and The Detainer.

  8. RBHoughton

    Agreed the Amash amendment vote suggests the representatives are beginning to squirm. The tide appears to have turned.

    The President still has a trick up his sleeve. Whispers of something ground-breaking in the Israel / Palestine trouble are starting to appear. The hinted terms appear to satisfy political and economic concerns whilst overlooking historical facts and propriety but, heh, that’s our way. A settlement would get him out of a hole and free-up choices of future action.

    1. Jim Haygood

      That’s the first ‘I’ of the 4-I program:

      Impeach
      Indict
      Incriminate
      Incarcerate

      Nuremberg, Mr. Constitutional Law Professor!

      1. Crazy Horse

        Are there any Congresswhores willing to bring a motion of impeachment? Not even the party of NO seems interested. Without oral sex in the White House office of the President there is no basis for impeachment.

        International terrorism and assignation.

        Facilitating the largest theft in the history of the world.

        Ignoring the 4th Amendment of the Constitution.

        What president wouldn’t do the same?

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Our system is now rotten to the core. All three branches. You’ll be waiting a long time for anything even remotely resembling “justice” by the Federal government to happen to a sitting US president.

  9. from Mexico

    Yves said:

    The Amash amendment would prohibit funds in the underlying appropriations bill for from use by the NSA for “collecting telephone and other records from anyone who is not the subject of an investigation.” The vote was 205 to 217.

    I wonder, though, if cutting off funding to the deep state works anymore. Congress tried this with Reagan, and I think pretty much everyone knows what happened:

    New evidence has surfaced linking the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to the introduction of crack cocaine into Black neighborhoods with drug profits used to fund the CIA-backed Nicaraguan Contra army in the early 1980s….

    According to a series of groundbreaking reports by the San Jose Mercury News, for the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring, comprised of CIA and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents and informants, sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles.

    http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/National_News_2/Secret_ties_between_CIA_drugs_revealed_2625.shtml

    There is almost universal consensus here in Mexico that these practices have not stopped, that the US deep state is very much partnered up with Mexico’s leading drug capo, Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, better known as “Chapo” Guzmán.

    Which brings us to a debate about the nature of Nazism. There are two competing schools of thought. One holds that Nazism was merely fascism on steroids, that it was just an advanced form of state capitalism. C. Wright Mills was a proponent of this school:

    War gives National Socialism not only glory but a stabilization of its power; to industry it gives profits, conquers foreign markets and accumulates booty capital…. The Nazis used the knowledge and ruthlessness possessed by big industry; big industry used the antidemocracy, antiunionism, and violence of the Nazis. They are not too unhappy together.

    http://www.wbenjamin.org/Behemoth.html

    The other school holds that Nazism, although it started out as fascism, with its all-powerful “police empire” transmogrified into something very different, a Frankenstein that not even its creators could control. Noam Chomsky and Hannah Arendt are proponents of this school:

    National institutions resisted throughout the brutality and megalomania of imperialist aspirations, and bourgeois attempts to use the state and its instruments of violence for its own economic purposes were always only half successful. This changed when the German bourgeoisie staked everything on the Hitler movement and aspired to rule with the help of the mob, but then it turned out to be too late. The bourgeoisie succeeded in destroying the nation-state but won a Pyrrhic victory; the mob proved quite capable of taking care of politics by itself and liquidated the bourgeoisie along with all other classes and institutions.

    –HANNAH ARENDT, The Origins of Totalitarianism

    1. gazooks

      Excellent observation on the unlikelihood that the Amash amendment would effectively stymie the continued funding of whatever NSA initiates as ‘required’ surveillance.

      And as you suggest, the poppy fields in Afghanistan are ablaze with record new promise for covert accountants at the Treasury’s ESF to funnel billion$ when and if required.

      Congressional kabuki is but smoke and mirrors for public pacification.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      I’m one who’s convinced the Amash vote was pure kabuki, that the close count was merely political cover for marginal incumbents. And even if the fix had failed, it would’ve been pushed thru again and again until they got it “right”, under threat of martial law — just like Wall Street’s bailouts. Failing that, no one can seriously doubt that Obama would’ve simply ignored it just as he ignores the Constitution, international law, and fundamental morality.

      We have the best democracy money can buy; it ain’t broke, it’s fixed. For anyone who thinks otherwise I have an entire catalog of bridges-to-nowhere for sale.

      There are brief moments when I feel deeply sorry for Obama, captive to immense power and trapped so tightly in his snakeskin of dissonance, a victim of his own gaslighting. Considering the “Better Bargain” for the middle class, a cynical rip-off of the New Deal, it must be excruciating to persistently project an entirely false persona and a false platform on a global scale. And aside from the lying, it must be torture to murder his own conscience as he murders children. Those moments of empathy are brief, however.

      Sting “Murder by Numbers”

      Once that you’ve decided on a killing
      First you make a stone of your heart
      And if you find that your hands are still willing
      Then you can turn a murder into art

      It’s murder by numbers, one, two, three
      It’s as easy to learn as your ABC
      Murder by numbers, one, two, three
      It’s as easy to learn as your ABC

      Now if you have a taste for this experience
      And you’re flushed with your very first success
      Then you must try a twosome or a threesome
      And you’ll find your conscience bothers you much less

      Because murder is like anything you take to
      It’s a habit-forming need for more and more

      Now you can join the ranks of the illustrious
      In history’s great dark hall of fame
      All our greatest killers were industrious
      At least the ones that we all know by name

      But you can reach the top of your profession
      If you become the leader of the land
      For murder is the sport of the elected
      And you don’t need to lift a finger of your hand

    3. nobody

      There is a third school of thought, albeit rather small and… positively insane? Pynchon, though, seems to have investigated similar tracks.

      L.S.: You are writing in your book that Hitler’s party was a front organization for a religious cult that was embodied by the Thule society. What was the core belief of that secret society and where did it came from?

      G.P.: All is religion. All history is a reflection of the battle that spiritual forces wage against one another on other planes. It is not economics –and least of all the survival instinct (whatever that is)— that drives history, but the quest for power, and power in its elaborate institutional manifestations is a form of (psychical) space that utterly transcends the relationship of production and distribution, let alone the basic dynamics of the wolf pack, or the more elaborate political economy of the beehive.

      Power is a purely human suggestion. Suggested by whom? That is the question. The NSDAP thus appeared to have been a front for some kind of nebula of Austro-German magi, dark initiates, and troubling literati (Dietrich Eckhart comes to mind), with very plausible extra-Teutonic ramifications of which we know next to nothing. Hitler came to be inducted in a lodge of this network, endowed as he seemed with a supernatural gift of inflaming oratory.

      This is a theme that I am still studying, but from what I gathered, the adepts of the Thule Gesellschaft communed around the belief of being the blood heirs of a breed that seeks redemption / salvation / metempsychosis in some kind of eighth realm away from this earth, which is the shoddy creation of a lesser God — the archangel of the Hebrews, Jehovah. It all sounds positively insane to post-modern ears, but it should be taken very seriously, I think.

      http://www.larsschall.com/2012/06/10/the-business-as-usual-behind-the-slaughter/

      http://www.amazon.com/Conjuring-Hitler-Guido-Giacomo-Preparata/dp/074532181X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375377735&sr=8-1&keywords=Guido+Giacomo+Preparata

      1. TimR

        And there is also Dave Emory’s speculation (spitfirelist.com), to the effect that Snowden/Greenwald et al may be a German intel operation of some sort… And/or that Greenwald/Snowden are connected to what Emory calls the “Underground Reich,” elements that have continuity with Nazi Germany.

        Seems to be a minority view, but Emory is a sharp guy from what I can tell, so I don’t dismiss it out of hand.

      2. Max Headroom

        I would suggest, if you haven’t already done so, spend some time with commentators on Jakob Boehme’s mystical revelations. While not too well known today, he had a huge impact on German thinking for centuries after his death in 1624.

        Boehme wrote that there is an inevitable clash of polarities in the manifested universe, good versus evil being the most notable. Human beings are not good or evil, he wrote, we are a battlefield upon which good and evil enter into combat.

    4. Downunderer

      I’m glad to see you reminding people about Iran-Contra and the Mercury News “Dark Alliance” series that exposed the CIA-crack connection. Although some of the good guys – like the reporter himself, Gary Webb – are dead, other parties involved, and their successors, are still active.

      Webb might be also, but with his career and private life in tatters after being attacked by every major American daily for his reports, he committed suicide. He was one of those very determined suicides who needed *two* shots to the head to finish the job. Which made some of us a bit suspicious, because so many interesting people seem to die young and in interesting ways.

      Like the recent death of Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings in a car that performed some interesting feats said to be quite uncharactreristic of his usual driving. The fatal crash happened soon after he had expressed fear about official actions in response to a big story he was working on.

      From a story in Huffpo: “The peculiar circumstances of journalist Michael Hastings’ death in Los Angeles last week have unleashed a wave of conspiracy theories.

      Now there’s another theory to contribute to the paranoia: According to a prominent security analyst, technology exists that could’ve allowed someone to hack his car.

      Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke told The Huffington Post that what is known about the single-vehicle crash is “consistent with a car cyber attack. Clarke said, “There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers” — including the United States — know how to remotely seize control of a car.” ” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/michael-hastings-car-hacked_n_3492339.html

      But so far I haven’t seen anyone link this with the even more recent sudden death of young hacker Barnaby Jack, whose specialty was exactly this – taking command of computerized machinery, even at a distance. From the Guardian:

      “Jack became well-known in 2010 after hacking an ATM so it would spit out money at the Black Hat hacking convention in Las Vegas. He received further acclaim last year by showing how an insulin pump is vulnerable to a hack that would allow a hacker to dispense a fatal dosage of insulin from 300ft away.

      He was due to present his latest research on hacking implanted medical devices at this year’s Black Hat convention on Thursday. Jack was set to show how he could hack into pacemakers and implanted defibrillators from 30ft away. That slot is now being used as a time to commemorate his life and work. ” http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jul/29/barnaby-jack-hacker-cause-of-death

      We may never know what is true and what is false, what is coincidence and what is connected. Perhaps Jack had no knowledge of car hacking and nothing to say about the death of the Rolling Stone reporter. But there are certainly more interesting dots out there to connect than are usually pointed to. So I enjoyed seeing your reminder of some undead events from the Reagan era that so many people no longer think about.

  10. Fannie Axelrod

    Snowden has stuff on the Banks. Stuff we already know, but if hero Snowden reveals it, panic in the kleptocracy!

  11. TK421

    Great analysis, Yves. Obama seems to see himself as some sort of miracle consensus-builder, who can get people to do things they normally wouldn’t through the sheer force of his specialness. Hence his continued obsession with getting Republicans to do something they are congenitally opposed to doing, raising taxes. And now Putin refuses to agree to a del as well. What’s the fun in being a charismatic leader if no one will bow down to your charisma?

    1. from Mexico

      I don’t think it’s ever been entirely about charisma. As Scott Noble points out:

      There was an interesting sort of unspoken debate that occurred between Walter Lippmann and Harold Laswell in the aftermath of WWI. Lippmann advocated the “manufacture of consent”, which he regarded as a more humane and effective means of managing the public consciousness than brute force. Laswell, on the other hand, recommended a blending of the old and new: media control would be paramount, but selected acts of covert violence would also be necessary. It is Laswell’s vision that ultimately won the day.

      http://v-radioblog.blogspot.mx/2010/09/v-radio-interview-with-scott-noble.html

      And as Christian Parenti notes in Lockdown America, when Jimmy Carter unleashed the war on working people in America, which every successive president has escalated, this required an uptick not just in propaganda, but also in violence:

      William Julius Wilson has noted that, while urban poverty is old, mass joblessness is not… When work disappears, social organization breaks down. The second wave of the criminal justice crackdown is fundamentally about controlling the newly “deregulated” populations created by economic restructuring.

      I think the state capitalists might have misplayed their hand. They obviously put Obama in office to defang black rage, which has been at the forefront of progressive politics for the last 50 years. But I think maybe this sent a subliminal message to white America: that the poor, blacks and Hispanics would no longer be the only fodder needed for the neoliberal project. No longer would the victims of neoliberalism be only “those people who deserved it,” but would now include the lower- and middle-middle classes as well, regardless of color, in a post-racial America. Ignoring the creeping police state was easy as long as its victims were “the other.” But it’s not so easy to ignore any more.

      And as the official Report on Violence in America concluded:

      Force and violence are likely to be successful techniques of social control and persuasion when they have wide popular support.

    2. Synopticist

      That’s Obama alright. The miracle third way consensus builder, who has no idea what to do once his opponents refuse to be charmed by him.

    3. Cynthia

      Boo hoo, so the White House is butt-hurt that Russia did not roll over and play lap-dog. Fact is, Russia is a super-power in her own right and is not dependent on massive U.S. foreign aid. Therefore, it can exercise it’s own independent thought and reasoning.

      It took a lot of courage to tell the American people they were being spied on by their own government. No one in this administration would ever be that forthright with us. All that rambling talk about transparency was just rhetoric. It took Mr. Snowden to inform us what was really occurring.

    4. Emma

      Reply to TK421

      It’s almost like Obama is playing at Macbeth, encircled by his coven of crazies with an unchecked ambition transforming him into a monster, and the castle, into the Unequal Secrets Association.
      The US government (under Bush too) has been way too pre-occupied with following US citizens and the RoW as opposed to actually leading, so that Americans have little trust anymore, the country has lost ground abroad (much to Putins delight), and so-called US democracy is almost perceived like a farcical – albeit “market-friendly” regime.
      Albert Hirschman proposed two types of responses for citizens to choose from in such a scenario: the exit or the voice option.
      My concern is that it is too late for either just as it was for the Bounty mutineers who failed to find their lost paradise.

  12. timotheus

    Agree that the Amash amendment’s threat to NSA moolah was a key part of the full-court panic that ensued. They can pass all sorts of nice-sounding new rules (note snoopmeister Feinstein’s hilarious promise yesterday to institute some), all of which will mean diddly after Obama reinterprets them. But if they take away actual money, it’s gotta hurt since the whole game is to keep the billions pouring in.

    Another astute point is that an ongoing cover-up and steady stream of lies is going to damage Obama at least as seriously as the initial scandal. Greenwald completely depantsed Cong. Rogers yesterday using NSA dox with a well-timed rebuttal of R’s latest hissy-fit.

    More fun than Cirque de Soleil.

    1. from Mexico

      This is another great conundrum of American politics. How can a reactionary dinosaur like Feinstein, just a little bit to the right of Attila the Hun, hail from a putatively “liberal” state like California?

      How could the Huntington Beach mentality, as revealed in one of yesterday’s links, have come to prevail on a state-wide level?

      1. Bruno Marr

        Look, California may appear ‘Liberal’, but elected Arnold gubner,(DiFi is also a state-wide elector). The fact is, the state is so large and diverse that money and celebrity are key elements in state-wide races. People here just don’t pay close enough attention; DiFi has moved increasingly to the Right with age (she’s ~80). But Californians overwhelmingly voted her in to office–she’s got a full term to go and then will probably retire. [A more vunerable candidate may be Pelosi. Her District is essentially San Francisco (an area easily canvassed). Though she won 72% of the vote in 2012; sentiment could change in 2014.

        1. San Fernando

          California is defense contractors, but the idea to suffocate the public domain started decades ago. Screeching about property taxes is one thing, but know your enemy – the financial mobsters are relentlessly attacking, they hope to make transit workers earn burger king wages as one shining example. I suppose a well coiffed jackhole who came up with coupons needs a fine motor car and millions in rewards,
          Cali brings the austerity, preserve the perverse division in wealth. Clueless that people are dying in hellhole state prisons.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        California is not liberal. It’s most visible parts (San Francisco, Hollywood, to some degree, Silicon Valley) are. Look at Prop 9.

        Central Valley is deeply conservative. Pasadena Republicans are conservative and powerful. It is more socially liberal than the South because some of the wealthy parts are magnets to the creative classes, which skew diverse and liberal, but even that does not good too deep. Lots of liberal hypocrites in Marin, for instance, liberal socially but neoliberal economically.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘But if they take away actual money, it’s gotta hurt since the whole game is to keep the billions pouring in.’

      ‘Multiple streams of income’ has always been the spooks’ modus operandi:: disclosed funding; black budget funding; and ‘enterpreneurial’ revenue such as heroin trafficking.

      Any meaningful budget cut would bring a surge in drug supply, both to narcotize the sheeple and to support vital intelligence operations. Hell, they might even bring back LSD.

      1. Hugo Stiglitz

        I think the profits from front running various markets would dwarf anything they could get from high risk drug trafficking.

        1. hunkerdown

          100% speculation, but it’s a fun thought: what if among Snowden’s get-out-of-jail-free cards there is a chain of support tickets or suchlike proving that systems are in place for good boys and girls to receive realtime notification of their choice of selectors, no questions asked?

          To the stock market’s designated patsies, that would be every bit as devastating as a neutron bomb.

  13. XO

    This entire imbroglio is, indeed, a crack in the façade of the US as a nation governed by the people.

    That said, most people couldn’t care less, as they are faced with more immediate issues (issues that might be less dramatic if they understood exactly why these developments are dangerous to their perceived lifestyles).

  14. Optimader

    “…I believe they do NOT know what he downloaded. Unless the NSA has a very diligent access and logging system (which for efficiency reasons does not make sense) a sysadmin like Snowden can delete the traces of access he had to a machine or file. The NSA does not know what Snowden got.
    …”

    They dont know, Hayden concedes that point, and thats why they are completely discombobbled at Leaky Shipyards (NSA) . Hayden says between the lines that it throws an entire younger generations (snowdens) values into suspicion and this is the most (effective) talent pool for performing this type of work ( call it hacking/ database aggregtion). In spite of the seemingly infinite resources they (state security apparatus) are scared shtlss. As hayden put it, and i paraphrase: manning was just dribs and drabs of information –not particularly strategic but the potential of a snowden to push over the kettle of fish is monumental be ause it is the operationl details of the backroom potentially. He concedes he (read:NSA) has no idea of the extent of information about ways and means that is out of the bag.

    Reminds me of Jurrasic Park, sinking under its own inability to control complexity and human fa tors simultaneously.

    Excuse tbe crappy iphone typing

    1. Lambert Strether

      I like that Hayden summary; boils down to they can’t trust the hacker proles anymore, which an interesting reading. What link are you paraphrasing?

      * * *

      On the iPhone, no need to apologize. The keyboards on mobile devices are designed to make people stupid, and I mean that literally. After all, if people can write efficiently, that’s a gateway drug to critical thinking. Can’t have that.

  15. Paul Tioxon

    YVES SAID: Recall that what brought Nixon down in Watergate and damaged Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky affair were not the events but the cover-up.
    ……………………………………….

    Please, no one, get your hopes up over some sort of Obama crucifixion over a “COVER UP”. No Yves, I don’t remember the cover up being the problem, it was the crimes and the enactment of a real police state, and not the fevered tea party version fear of a Black Planet variety. Nixon vs Clinton, involved cover ups. One was being caught with a police state, a coup run out of the White House with dead college students at Kent and Jackson State the other was being caught cheating on his wife. Clinton got impeached, but he wasn’t thrown out of office by members of the leadership of both political parties in concert with nearly all other elected officials in DC.

    The legacy of the Obama administration, and not him personally, will likely be the codification for the purpose of legally institutionalizing an emergency set of powers enacted during a bona fide threat, a clear and present danger to the US and its people. But that was a dozen years ago and the threat is gone, and so too should the emergency powers. The military stands down when wars are over and so should the NSA. What we are seeing are the terms of the peace and the fight over the NSA’s willful extension of warrantless powers in times of peace. The Utah data center can be seen as more military Keynesian activity, a job creator, the problem is that it can so easily be turned against the people as a whole, and not just a small list of enemies who may or may not be planning to blow up a bridge or amusement park. The precedent of emergency powers during a time like 9/11 is the damage that can be done. It is the creeping extension of even some of these powers beyond the times the are reasonably needed. We don’t need to be subjected to the level of government secret surveillance for any reason right now. The NSA’s would like to institutionalize its operational reach much like the Pentagon institutionalized itself beyond the end of WWII. This needs to be beat back as far as it can. The new Utah data center would be a better medical data repository for the people of America so public health research can mine for better ways to deliver health care, not spy on us we talk, text and stream from Netflix.

    1. Lambert Strether

      “legally institutionalizing an emergency set of powers”

      I believe the term of art for that is a “state of exception” (Ausnahmezustand), a concept originated by Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt:

      Schmitt will forever be associated with the notion of a “state of exception,” which as he put it was the essential characteristic of every modern state. “Sovereign is he who controls the exception,” Schmitt writes. But theory cannot be divorced entirely from practice. It was Schmitt who, as the crown jurist of the new Nazi regime, provided the essential road map for Gleichschaltung – the leveling of opposition within Germany’s vast bureaucracy – and it was he who provided the legal tools used to transform the Weimar democracy into the Nazi nightmare that followed it. The experience of America in the period after 9/11 bears some noteworthy parallels to the Schmitt-Benjamin dialogue. America has not, of course, transformed itself into anything approaching a totalitarian state. On the other hand, the American executive in this period did make clever use of Schmittian theories—quietly suspending much of the Constitution through invocation of war-time presidential powers, while arguing publicly that the president’s commander-in-chief powers displaced Congress and the Courts.

      “In this period”? Up to the present moment.

      Schmitt’s work is hugely contested, so experts please weigh in.

      * * *

      I suppose “the state of exception” becomes the rule, after awhile. For example, AFAIK, there are deadlines in the ObamaCare legislation expressed as hard dates. But Obama says “Nope, can’t meet them” and everybody blithely goes on their way. Why’d we pass the legislation, anyhow? Why not rip off the facade and rule by decree? That would solve gridlock!

      1. Paul Tioxon

        The Federal bureaucracy, especially after WWII, was so big, no one was managing it because it was too big to manage, given the formal organizational capacity of the government and the state of the art technology of the time. Daniel Ellsberg writes in his book, “SECRETS” p. 32, that with his PhD in economics from Harvard he was studying how the White House under Kennedy could command and control the nuclear behemoth. Under Eisenhower, the authority to initiate nuclear attacks was delegated under circumstances. He reported this to Kennedy who continued the practice, as did Johnson.

        What is relevant to note from this was that the Pacific Command’s 4 star officers also DELEGATED AUTHORITY TO INITIATE NUCLEAR ATTACKS, multiplying the number of fingers on the nuclear button from the original, commander in chief, to major theater commanders, who then in turn delegated to their commanders. And they wonder how Snowden or Manning, such lowly functionaries got so close to power? If nuclear war is spread out that thinly, how diffuse can a bunch of phone or internet records be spread? It’s not like either of those two will start a nuclear war? The brass has always passed the buck(re-hypothecation?), it just stops at the Oval Office.

        When the Huston Plan was signed and operational, the police state began in earnest with the full complicity of the President. The FBI, CIA, NSA and Military Intelligence were all present and worked on the plan. This plan began the unified command of secret surveillance, from mail openings to telephone calls, to spying, break ins to steal documents, such as Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s sessions. Infiltration of groups, in particular the left wing, student, peace movement, anti-war, dissident intellectuals and public figures as well as notable media figures and high ranking elected officials from the Senate. Detention camps, interrogations, smear campaigns etc etc all at Nixon’s instance and gladly provided by the same people today whose secrecy is the very nature of their organization. It took further Senate investigations to begin to get their arms around this mess, including the creation of the FISA court. With Nixon, it was one man who swung open the vault of power and put the NSA, the CIA, the FBI and the Pentagon operational authority to run amok in the United States and to treat to citizenry as enemy combatants. They didn’t wait for a Gitmo, they just shot people down here and there as the pleased. The Huston Plan was cancelled about a week after it went operational, due to the FBI claiming territorial rights to wage this campaign on domestic territory, telling the other groups to back across the Rubicon and stay there. But, of course, as found out soon enough, the power to illegally spy is granted by the secrecy of the operational status of the intelligence community. The Church Committee of the US Senate tells the story of “the reason of state” was clandestinely practiced before Nixon gathered the intelligence community together in his office for the Huston Plan, and has continued after Nixon. The Iran Contra trials brought the CIA’s “Enterprise”, the off the shelf, black opps, self supporting by business revenue to conduct off the books foreign policy, outside of the reach of the recently formed Select Committee on Intelligence and congressional oversight in budgeting. It took the Twin Towers to come crashing down to let loose not only the dogs of war of the faceless force of Ghost Wars. The sun is setting on the Patriot Act, and it should go into the history books where it belongs with no foes to fight.
        …………………………………

        From the US Senate Select Committee On Inteligence:
        Hearings Vol 2 Huston Plan Sept 23, 24 25 1975 p.1

        http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/churchcommittee.html

        The hearing will please come to order.
        The end of our involvement in Vietnam brought to a close a tragic
        and turbulent chapter in American history. In Southeast Asia, well
        over 50,000 American soldiers lost their lives.
        Here at home, massive antiwar demonstrations filled the streets. At
        Kent State and Jackson State, college students were shot down as they
        protested the policies of their Government.
        Just as the country was obsessed by Vietnam, so too the White House
        became transfixed by the wave of domestic protest that swept the
        country. On June 5, 1970, President Nixon called in J. Edgar Hoover
        of the FBI, Richard Helms of the CIA, and others from the military
        intelligence agencies. He charged them with getting better information
        on domestic dissenters, and directed them to determine whether
        they were subject to foreign influence.
        After a series of meetings throughout June 1970, a special report
        was prepared for the President. It set forth several options which
        ranged from the innocuous to the extreme, from doing nothing to
        violating the civil liberties of American citizens. In a memorandum,
        White House aide Tom Charles Huston recommended the extreme options to the President.

        These recommendations have become known
        as the Huston plan. The President approved the plan, and it was sent
        to the FBI, the CIA, and the military intelligence agencies for implementation.
        Some provisions of the plan were clearly unconstitutional; others
        violated Federal statutes. As the distinguished American journalist
        Theodore White has observed, the Huston plan would have permitted
        Federal authorities to reach “all the way to every mailbox, every college
        camous, every telenhone. every home.”
        Five days after the President approved the plan, he revoked it at
        the insistence of the FBI Director and the Attorney General-to the dismay of those CIA, NSA, and FBI representatives who had helped Huston develop it.

        All this is a part of the public record, thanks to Senator Sam Ervin’s
        hearings on Watergate. Yet, the matter does not rest here. Our investigations
        have revealed that the Huston plan itself was only an episode
        in the lawlessness which preceded and followed its brief existence.
        First, we have discovered that unlawful mail openings were being
        conducted long before the President was asked to authorize them in
        June 1970. The President and Mr. Huston, it appears, were deceived
        by the intelligence officials.
        Second even though the President revoked his approval of the
        Huston plan, the intelligence agencies paid no heed to the revocation.
        Instead, they continued the very practices for which they had sought
        presidential authority, expanding some of them and reinstating others
        which had been abolished years before. As in the case of the shellfish
        toxin, the decision of the President seemed to matter little.
        Finally, the Huston plan, as we now know, must be viewed as but
        one episode in a continuous effort by the intelligence agencies to secure
        the sanction of higher authority for expanded surveillance at home
        and abroad.
        As these hearings will reveal, the leaders of the CIA and individuals within the FBI continued to seek official blessing for the very wrongs
        envisaged in the Huston plan.
        We open this public inquiry to reveal these dangers, and to begin the
        task of countering the erosion of our freedoms as American citizens.
        Senator Tower?
        Senator TowER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
        Mr. Chairman, I think the hearings that we are about to undertake
        raise some of the fundamental issues that exist in an open society
        governed by the Constitution which guarantees certain basic rights to
        its citizenry.

        1. LucyLulu

          Thanks, Paul. Interesting but scary excerpt from the Church Committee Report.

          I had wondered if the Congressional Intelligence Committees were kept fully appraised of activities. Finding out that not 50 terrorist attacks were averted, as initially reported to Congress, but now only one, only further highlights that the NSA is being less than truthful with the body charged with their oversight.

          “Testifying before the Senate on Wednesday, National Security Agency Deputy Director John Inglis conceded that the bulk collection of phone records of millions of Americans under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act has been key in stopping only one terror plot — not the dozens officials had previously said.”

          http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/1/nsa_confirms_dragnet_phone_records_collection

    2. flit

      Maybe emergency rule worked in the days of orchestrated mass hysteria, but it was and is ICCPR-illegal, contravening Article 4 and General Comments governing rights derogation, and therefore the supreme law of the land.) This ought to come up this fall, if they get to it (the HRC has got an awful lot to cover.) It won’t get the state off the hook for torture, murder or persecution of Moslems.

  16. Cocomaan

    You know, with all this information at their fingertips, it’s highly suspicious that the NSA did not see something like the financial crisis coming our way.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Or they arbitraged the massive quantity of inside information they clearly possess.

      So much cleaner than running coke for batshit winger generals and drug lords in Latin America!

      1. optimader

        Along the lines of the Cold War I have my suspicion that we are again witnessing that great divergence of technological innovation outstripping the policy wisdom/judgment of the personalities in the bureaucratic infrastructure.

        Coming out of WWII a technology paradigm shift –the ability to build endgame weapons and delivery systems/infrastructure occurred.
        At the same time, notably Dean Acheson, interpreted fundamentally flawed intelligence in a manner to justify engaging the development of the technology, and set us of a permanent military/industrial-congressional district corporate fodder program. Building weapons to counter what was at the time a largely phantom military threat (post war USSR) that invariably obliged their nuke countermeasures scale up in a classic self-reinforcing loop.

        Fast forward today… Again, a new technological paradigm shift, this time in the field of digital computing/storage/communications/ guided weapons/drone surveillance etc etc..

        The technological promise of an incredibly comprehensive and complex Death-Star for the State bureaucracy is being delivered, and its turning out that maybe there’s not so much to show in the efficacy dept relative to the alleged stated purpose (“protecting us from external terrorist threats”?). Conversely, a lot more evidence that it’s activities are, ironically, a source of external threat creation, while our suspicions are simultaneously being validated that the underlying agenda is an insidious control/ management of our domestic population to serve the State and the financial oligarchy that it dances to the tune of, rather than the other way around.

        This time I think the disconnect of the awesome technological capability and the judgment/wisdom/ability in the State bureaucracy to appropriately(constitutionally) control this Death-Star it is creating is up for grabs.

        The fact that the State cant even manage those who should be trusted knob-twisters suggests it is out of its grasp. Again Hayden conceding that the NSA is dependent on a younger generation of techie employees who are now suspiciously considered loose canons puts it in one hell of a dilemma that I doubt they have a flip tab in the Death-Star manual to consult for a tidy solution.

        It would be interesting to see the uptick in Tums sales to the 20755 zip code.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Only about 300-400 people in the world understood CDOs at the time the crisis was germinating. and they were central. You didn’t understand the role of CDOs and how CDS worked, you would not have seen it coming.

      Plust it’s an elite thing. The Harvard/Chicago/Wharton/NY Fed/Treasury types kept believing they’d beaten the crisis back and they did for three acute phases. You could see that after Bear, they went into Mission Accomplished mode.

      Finance is boring and certain parts are hard (needs to be difficult enough to deter the rubes from figuring it out). Took me a year after the crisis to get cooperative moles to explain CDOs and I had understood they were significant and I’m finance literate and had been looking hard for every bit of info on them. This was after the CDO business was a steaming hulk. People were reluctant to talk even then for fear of screwing up future employment. I don’t see how you would have gotten anyone literate to help in the runup to the crisis. They were too busy making money.

    3. Crazy Horse

      Well, somebody had to gather the information that enabled massive option puts on the airlines prior to the 911 World Trade Center attacks. And after all, what good is information if you can’t use it to make a buck? Just another of the little anomalies around 911 that have been conveniently swept under the rug.

      Makes you wonder how much of the data from NSA internet spying finds its way into the hands of outstanding corporate “people” like Goldman Sucks and JPM? Lot of value in knowing the moves of your opponent in advance, whether it is in war or its close relative, business.

  17. Breton turtle soup

    XKeyscore or Exquis Corps?
    Maybe Princess Casamassima will commission les artistes to throw a party and create a pitcha.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Dos XKey, bro.

      I don’t always hack peoples’ emails. But when I do, I prefer Dos Xkey.

      Stay paranoid, my friends.

      1. Breton turtle soup

        My dear Mr H., The Princess sends word that she is watching your back and that you are too exquisite for words. She would like to convey far more than a six pack of Corona Extra in your direction, but she knows the mails cannot be relied upon. Therefore she sends champagne. It’s better for les nerfs, banishes fear, and one can’t cry in it. So her pages confirm. All the best.

  18. TC

    “…but if you think the diversion of Evo Morales’ plane wasn’t America’s doing, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.”

    I’ll take that bridge and go with an imperialist NATO organization more or less run by the CIA and MI-6. These bankrupt pigs are gunning for total war and Snowden is specially made to help the cause! Putin’s “shearing a piglet: a lot of squealing and little wool” recognizes a [bankrupt] Anglo-American establishment trying its level best to push for total war and Russia’s unwillingness to be insulted by such vile stupidity as this Snowden is helping cultivate in the public mind. Putin’s use of the word “piglet,” though, is interesting. Evidently, he knows what Russia is dealing with.

    This Snowden thing is a classic British operation, girl, desperately attempting to pit the U.S. against Russia and China. F that! How about we instead park a couple nuclear armed submarines in the English channel and begin the debate over which European capital the U.S. should turn into a parking lot–London or Paris … or both–this nobly venturing to prevent WWIII by knocking out the legs holding up modern day Venice? Short of leveling these two capitals (and for good measure Amsterdam, too–another Venetian stronghold), seize the Fed, turn it into a Hamiltonian national bank providing credit for build out of a physical economy worthy the 21st century, and Snowden will enter into his well-earned obscurity as agent provocateur, while a bankrupt ruling class simply fades away without success at causing a whole lot of trouble, the likes of which, truly, no bankrupt casino is worth dying for, nor destroying the greatest republic ever to be organized in all of known history…

  19. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    Of course, when one of our spies breaks the law overseas, by kidnapping and sending an Italian to Egypt to be tortured, for instance…everything is different.

    Retired CIA agent Robert Seldon Lady, convicted in absentia in Italy for a rendition/kidnapping operation, is picked up in Panama on an Interpol warrant, hits the news for a day, and then is allowed to fly back to the U.S. where he disappears — and despite the Edward Snowden case, the Washington media doesn’t even blink.

    Hypocrisy, American-style!
    ~

  20. docg

    I happen to believe that, in the wake of 9/11, the US government has an obligation to collect any information that could forestall future terrorist attacks. (Whether the NSA went too far in that direction and is in violation of the 4th Amendment, will ultimately be decided, I imagine, by the Supreme Court.)

    Nevertheless, it seems clear that both Snowden and Manning were justified in their actions, largely on the basis of the Nuremberg laws, as Daniel Ellsberg has reminded us. In both cases there was good reason to believe the US was acting illegally and unethically and, as established at Nuremberg, simply following orders is no excuse. So regardless of whether their actions were technically illegal (which they appear to be), they were imo nevertheless justified according to the higher principle established at Nuremberg. I would really like to see Obama pardon Manning on that basis.

    That said, and despite my sympathy and support for Snowden in doing what he felt to be the right thing, I must say he created a royal mess for himself when he decided to take off for Hong Kong, and then Russia. Now that his application has been accepted, one can only ask what sort of work he’ll be doing to support himself in the coming year.

    And since his expertize is hacking, and since he also has an intimate knowledge of the entire NSA info gathering apparatus, especially its most sophisticated encryption methods (as he himself has asserted) one can expect all sorts of pressure being brought to bear on him to “cooperate” with Russian intelligence. In other words, unless he is extremely careful, he could be “elevated” from the status of whistle blower to that of Russian espionage agent.

    I imagine this is a role he would definitely resist — but the problem is that it would be extremely difficult to convince anyone, least of all the US Justice Dept., that he was NOT operating as a turncoat, aka traitor.

    I really think the guy is now confronted with a terrible dilemma. And my advice to him would be to simply give up, return to the US and try to make a case based on the Nuremberg principle. If he remains in Russia there will always be the question of what, exactly, he might be doing there. Sad to say.

    And Putin’s denials won’t help.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Are you, Jeffrey Toobin, and Melissa Harris-Perry comparing notes, offering Snowden lawyerly advice? After Julian Assange’s experience (the honey trap) and the kangaroo court Manning verdict, I trust Snowden is smart enough to ignore such nonsense.

      docg: “…it would be extremely difficult to convince anyone, least of all the US Justice Dept., that he was NOT operating as a turncoat, aka traitor.”

      HA! Is that an attempt at humor?

      “Yeah, c’mon back, Eddie. We’re sure you had the best intentions. Trust us. You’ll get a fair trial. We already promised in writing not to torture or kill you; what are you afraid of?”

    2. from Mexico

      Snowden should “return to the US and try to make a case based on the Nuremberg principle”?

      So Snowden could end up just like Manning? And put an end to the drama and suspense, the Chinese drip torture and seeing Obama make a damned fool of himself?

      Surely you jest.

      1. docg

        I’m not thinking of what would be best for him in material terms, because it’s pretty clear that he’s an idealist. The dilemma I was referring to would be a moral dilemma.

        I think he got himself in to a terrible moral fix precisely by doing what he felt to be “the right thing,” which is ironic.

        So now, depending on what Putin decides, he could be faced with the choice of returning home to serve serious jail time or remaining in Russia to do for the Russians what he once did for the NSA. And as far as Putin is concerned, putting him in that position might be too tempting to resist.

    3. Cream Filled Center

      The only “Nuremberg principle” Snowden should be aware of is, if he is returned to the US, he better have the “Goering principle” safely tucked into his cheek.

      If you’re going to wind up dead anyway, why do it after you’ve been water boarded 200 times?

      1. docg

        It’ll be interesting to see whether Putin helps Snowden get to Venezuela, Ecuador or Cuba, which would definitely be his best bet. Or whether he keeps him for himself. If he does remain in Russia, I’d think it would be very difficult for him to survive there without cooperating with the Russian authorities. I hope I’m wrong. Maybe Putin is better than that.

      2. psychohistorian

        I don’t think people are giving Snowden enough respect.

        I think he knows he has chosen an interesting way to commit suicide, and like Aaron Swartz, he hopes his life makes a difference in our world.

        Of course Yves, he would have been safer in the transit zone but the play had to change acts to keep the consciousness level up. On top of some well planned and executed bit diddling, he is playing the data release for all its worth.

        Are there any who believe that eventually all that Snowden has will be released? I would argue that that genie will not go back into the bottle and it has yet to be seen if the movement this truth showing is creating will take on enough momentum to bring down our current “government”…..it would not burnish Obama’s image if that were to occur.

        However this plays out, I am all over nominating Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize like Manning. Might as well try and get it to those who really deserve it.

        I hope we have a chance to build a better world than the wreck we are being handed by the plutocracy intent on destroying everyone’s home for their control and enjoyment.

  21. Gerard Pierce

    It’s oly a metaphor, but the operative idea comes from the prisons and the streets – with 9-11, the US got punked. That’s an idea that has a lot more meaning and emotional charge than most people acknowledge.

    The result is that the neo-cons and war-makers were able to take charge of large parts of US policy and large parts of the US government. (Can you spell Homeland Security?) These same people are neurotically sensitive to any new challenges to US power.

    Fifteen years worth of failed or f#cked up military adventures have left these people in a state of emotional fragility. And a collapsing economy has not done much to improve their mental state.

    The ones who are not foaming at the mouth are allied with outfits like the Chertoff group and working hard to make as much money as they can while supporting their shared ideology in the background.

    And Obama is their whipping boy.

    1. curlydan

      I’d say we got punked, but what I think drives a lot of policy now is not a challenge to US power, but a fear by the Presidents/Congres that it might happen again _on their watch_.

      We are spending billions, killing 000s, violating the privacy of millions because the Chief Executives are incredibly sensitive to _3,000_ lives possibly being lost again.

      We could spend similar $$ just on healthcare and save a lot more than 3,000 lives every year, but no one gets that. Al Queada is a little threat. The threat to a politician’s reputation, though, is huge.

  22. allcoppedout

    I’ve lost clue where one could go with the truth now. I doubt Snowden has much of it, but good luck to him. On Schmidt there is much fascinating work on how the Nazis were conjured up. Machiavelli was on about states of exception too. Gramsci for that matter. Socialism of all kinds except maybe the Swedish model reaches a point when the night of the long knives takes place – but so does he current klepto-economic-rent TINA dross.
    Given that even Germany doesn’t really work I conclude we are in a state of exception. They have poverty in work there. The history of change is one of forced change.

    We don’t look at restricting and controlling leadership much these days, odd considering we have the technology to do it for the first time.

  23. Steve Roberts

    Great recap article.

    If Snowden is free to move about Russia and he has some support within the Russian government to hide his movements, isn’t going to be overly difficult to get him on a plane to South America. The NSA / CIA can’t monitor every passenger on every flight out of Russia, the Ukraine or maybe even Belerus. If something happens to him in Russia, it would create massive international upheaval PLUS it would mean all of his information is automatically published onto the internet / Wikileaks type release. The US government would be stupid to take such actions.

    1. ohmyheck

      I simply do not understand why so many people think Snowden should leave Russia. Check out Russia’s northeast coast of The Black Sea. It is quite lovely there, and the weather is equally fine. It is called “The Russian Riviera”.

      He should make alternative options in case his 1-year pass is not extended, but people act like all of Russia = Siberia.

      The Russians can keep Snowden safe much better than any of the other countries who have offered him asykum.

  24. Arnold Lockshin

    Bravo for Russia! Refused to cede Snowden to the royal, arrogant highnesses in the U.S.
    Arnold Lockshin, Moscow – in forced political asylum from the US since 1986.

    1. Cynthia

      It really makes the U.S. mad that it cannot pull the strings of Russia like a puppet, they can’t threaten them economically like they can Ecuador, or other small countries so they just have to fume and fuss. Snowden showed citizens how vulnerable they were to an overreaching government and this does not sit well with the bureaucrats or warhawks.

  25. washunate

    Another fantastic piece.

    The list of apologies that Democrats owe to George Bush just keeps on growing.

    1. Cynthia

      Seems to me that this is where the “Occupy Wall Street” movement should be intersecting with “The Tea Party” movement. Can we get together and fight the Government-Corporate monster, or are we too busy hating each other as directed by our lying snooping puppet masters and their media lackeys?

      1. washunate

        Agreed. To me, that’s what was so valuable about the occupy protests. They showed beyond any shadow of a doubt that it was Democrats at the heart of enabling the police state and all the oppression and racism and unconstitutionality it entails.

        It’s also what I enjoyed so much about the Dem pundit temper tantrums around people like Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald.

        That reminds me, this is another delicious angle of what is making the Obots so pissed. Greenwald is still beating them. The Dem pundits even now making this personal about Greenwald and Snowden rather than about the story are helping to drag out the story while revealing their own irrelevance when it comes to discussing substantive matters.

      2. wendy davis

        One would hope so, Cynthia. I dunno where the two different Tea Parties intersect with Libertarians, but I run into a lot of folks at FDL who endorse Naomi Wolf’s theory that Snowden (and I guess Greenwald) is/was a ‘limited hangout plant’ or enraged that both, being Libertarians, are protecting corporate business interests by *not* publishing everything possible, and *not* calling for the NSA and related secutiry state acroynms to be abolished, but instead ‘reformed’ or calling for ‘debates’ on the same.

        Vexing to say the least. Should either of them risk more than they have? I reckon it’s up to the 99% to decide how to shut it all down; they’ve given, and are still giving us plenty of evidence of how far this government is willing to go to control us, and enable massive numbers of contractors to use the information for their own fun, profit, extortion, trade deal pressuring…whatever.

  26. Jerry

    I watched a documentary on NSA from the time around 9/11. NSA had been collecting info on the men involved in the attack for over a year previous. They knew addresses (California), cars purchased, etc. A month before the attached, these guys moved to within two miles of the NSA building and were purchasing their final supplies at discount stores. The PROBLEM, the FBI and CIA needed the information but “it is not NSA’s policy to share any information with any outside agency, person, etc Period!!”
    So forward to 2013, how is NSA protecting us from terrorist if the NSA continues to have the NO SHARE policy? Maybe that is why they cannot come up with any credible evidence that gathering this information has prevented any attack…Also if the NSA is not doing this, then why are the NSA gathering all this information on US Citizens….and others????

    1. nonclassical

      Jerry…noone remembers “Able-Danger”…or Sybil Edmonds, or Collen Rowley, or
      Alan “Buzzy” Krongard, or building 7, or missing video cameras at Pentagon, or
      911 Commission report without even one paragraph of witness testimony..

      what’s to hide??

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The documentary was the 9/11 Commission Report. Some snark, but the basic gist of the Commission was the bureaucracies were too large and too unwieldy. When Cheney was giving direct orders after the 9/11 attacks, they functioned as rules were tossed and the political appointees bothered to do their job, but short of Presidential pressure and direct demands, the bureaucracies could never bring issues to the top as each wing didn’t trust each other and wanted to make big splashes when they did move to justify their budgets and gain promotions.

      Also, I seem to recall a sense that certain agencies were compromised and other agencies didn’t want to see Russians taking credit for their work on international terrorism.

  27. Jess

    Nice discussion here, but my take is:

    Anybody who thinks the NSA is going to stop collecting all this data and using it for nefarious purposes — including blackmail and the disappearing or murder of protest leaders — just because Congress passes some law is delusional. The essence of a police state is the police/executive branch/military doing whatever they want, leaving legislative bodies or judicial entities functionally irrelevant and just for show.

    1. Emma

      It will be interesting to see if Congress genuinely do something to stop the NSA and its overreach in the months to come.
      If not, Congress should be known as the National Security Party…..

    2. Hugo Stiglitz

      I completely agree. Nothing short of completely dismantling the NSA, all its physical assets, thorough investigations and prosecutions of high ranking officials, confiscation of associated contractors, etc. will stop these maniacs from doing what they do. They do not need government funding or any fig leaf of legitimacy to continue operations. They might well keep going even after the American empire has collapsed in ruin.

  28. Steve Roberts

    Let’s just say for the sake of argument that Snowden finds his way onto a ship sailing under a Russian flag and is headed to the Caribbean / South America. Is Obama really willing to stop and board a Russian ship in international waters to search it and find out if Snowden is on it?

      1. Steve Roberts

        In that scenario they refused airspace which is perfectly legal. Boarding a ship in international waters would be a major escalation.

    1. Cynthia

      What people seem to be missing is that Snowden spent a month at Moscow airport because the USA voided his passport while he was en-route to South America. Once he landed, he could go no further. As it happens, Russia is a big enough player to stand up to the American government’s bullying — and of course, it is ironic that one country (with a history of internal oppression) is now cast into the role of hero by sheltering a refugee from another country whose long-time motto has been “the land of the free”.

      As for the secrets Snowden revealed: they are not plans for bombs or military orders of battle. Rather, they demonstrate that Americans are now deeply ensnared in the folds of a military/espionage/corporate complex, where new technology makes it that much easier to sidestep and negate Constitutional rights. He did not sell these “secrets” for personal gain; he placed himself in personal peril because of them. That is the classic definition of “hero”.

      1. Hugo Stiglitz

        To quote the group Anonymous, “When exposing crimes becomes a criminal act, you are ruled by criminals.”

  29. Sandwichman

    John Poindexter and Robert Gates… Iran-Contra… Total Information Awareness… Mujahideen… the “Reagan Doctrine”…

    Lying to Congress?

    John Poindexter: “Found guilty of 2 counts of false statements, 2 of obstructing Congress, and conspiracy. Given 6 months in prison for each count, to be served concurrently.”

    Robert Gates: “Testified falsely about when he first learned about the Diversion (received a report on it during the summer of 1986 from CIA official Richard Kerr ["Gates claimed that he did not recall the meeting."]). Also helped prepare Casey’s false testimony.”

    Poindexter appointed head of the “Information Awareness Office” in February 2002. Gates was appointed Secretary of Defense by George W. Bush in 2006 and retained in that position by President Obama.

    http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2013/07/are-those-nsa-contract-spooks-really.html

  30. Hugh

    Obama retains and will retain to the end of his Presidency vast and often unconstitutional powers. He is currently rebelling against or seeking to forestall a lame duck status which is already upon him. This was already beginning to hit before Snowden with the Administration’s spying scandals involving the AP and FOX, the trumped up IRS scandals not so much. But Snowden accelerated the lame duck process by six to twelve months. Obama even with a compliant media failed to direct attention away from his massive spying programs and make it all about Snowden. His approval ratings went into negative territory. Hence Obama’s attempts to regain control of the conversation and his sudden but fairly clumsy “interest” in the US economy and the “plight” of the middle class he has done so much to destroy. And Obama’s very real anger toward Snowden who managed to do this to him.

    As I said at the start, Obama still has vast, unchecked powers, and we still live in a kleptocracy. The NSA is not going to ditch or modify its vast, intrusive spying of us. The rich and elites are not going to stop or reduce their looting of us. Rather the damage done to Obama is to his perceived power in the political pantomime vis-à-vis the Congress, the Republicans, and foreign leaders.

    I can see no substantial curtailing of the NSA and the security state’s powers. The August recess is upon us. That gives a month for public anger to abate. Once back, there would months more of committee meetings and dithering. Any legislation that did make it to the floor could be done in by the leadership in the House as with the Amash amendment or with the filibuster in the Senate. Any bill that might make it through this guanlet would likely be only cosmetic, and might still face a Presidential veto. Another possible, although I think less likely, route would be to name a joke commission to look into the matter. This could easily kick the can down the road a year, end in finding nothing and suggest some minor reforms to the FISA court which would probably go nowhere.

    1. Cynthia

      I believe that this is all about the huge civil unrest, which the Upper Class know full well is on the horizon. Every protester will be branded as a “Domestic Terrorist.”

      It stuns me that no one within mainstream media have spoken about this program being implemented as a method of control and as a means of gathering evidence to use in courtrooms as protesters are charged with civil unrest. All information will be used to show a “pattern” and will be used to track down everyone associated with the arrested protester in an attempt to entice friends and associates of the accused protester to become an informant and to testify against the protester in court.

      Every step, every court appearance over the past 10 years is not so much to implement justice but to create legal precedents and in preparation for thousands of protesters being arrested as the economy continues to crumble.

      The futurists with government recognized as far back as 1980 (when Free Trade was introduced) that there was no way that the US Capitalists could honor the promises made to the working class since the end of WWII. Free Trade allowed the Capitalists the unfettered ability to move all assets and wealth offshore and out of reach to anyone wanting to sue in lieu of broken promises and loss of pensions, etc.

      1. hunkerdown

        All information will be used to show a “pattern”

        Sure enough. The XKEYSCORE slides are particularly informative. XKEYSCORE is apparently very much like Facebook graph search on ALL THE THINGS.

  31. Roger Bigod

    I raised the issue of kabuki re the Amash Amendment. Clearly the vote was an enormous setback for the Surveillance State, an “unwelcome surprise” as we diplomats like to say.

    My congressman’s vote is still a mystery. He’s an impressive guy in many ways — worked his way through college and medical school, successful family practice, chain of fast food restaurants, popular with constituents in a safe Republican district. The only part of the Bill of Rights he’s enthusiastic about is the 2nd Amendment.. But he voted for the Amash Amendment. There’s no reason for him to go against the leadership, so I wonder if he got a dispensation. The only reasons I can see for him to vote that way are (1) worry that beyond some point surveillance would be electoral cyanide, (2) recognition that as a member of the Outer Party he and others in his position are easy targets of blackmail.

    There are some other mysteries in the Snowden revelations. With the massive surveillance, it should have been easy to unravel the drug trade. This suggests a large involvement by the government. The other obvious target is the financial system. Transactions may be encrypted, but any M&A activity will leave a huge footprint of phone calls, travels to company headquarters, involvement of law and accounting firms. All it would take is one junior analyst to run some social network analysis. I’m cynical enough to believe that all those thousands of underlings were as pure as the driven Snowden.

    1. Jess

      Your assessments regarding blackmail, the drug trade, and financial activity would appear to be dead on.

      Guess I’ll be seeing you soon in the Gulag.

  32. dSquib

    Obama is more perturbed about losing the semblance of running a “tight ship” than any national security concerns. Or probably any imperial concerns, for that matter. I think he’s a thoroughly superficial person in all aspects. Say what you will about imperialism, it requires an affirmative belief.

    There’s Obama, and there’s McCain, Graham, Schumer and so on. These people are addicts. They disturb me more than Obama, who for his basic lack of character I don’t think has the appetite for the long haul of imperial service. They scare me, because they are terrified at the faintest whiff of decline in status, America’s or their own. They and Obama WILL do something really, really big and stupid, I just hope it’s to their own ruin and not everyone else’s.

  33. Sandwichman

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Iran-Contra affair involved illegal activity and cover-up of that illegal activity engaged in by intelligence agency officials to circumvent “safeguards” against infringements on “the rights of Americans to engage in political activity free from government surveillance” that were enacted by Congress in response to the findings of the Church Committee of extensive illegal activities by the CIA, including COINTELPRO. And here we go again… and again… and again.

    The report is concerned primarily with the FBI’s COINTELPRO counter-intelligence campaign, but also discusses the CIA’s Operation CHAOS, whereby the CIA engaged in domestic intelligence work in violation of the CIA charter. Other agencies including the NSA and Army Intelligence are also discussed. Illegal electronic surveillance, mail opening, infiltration of dissident groups, “black bag” break-in jobs, media manipulation, IRS targeting, and the intense campaign waged against Martin Luther King, Jr. are all subjects of this report. The overriding theme is the violation of the rights of Americans as identified in the U.S. Constitution.

    It should be noted that the activities that eventually morphed into Iran/Contra commenced with covert arms supplies to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan PRIOR TO (and in the view of some, helping to precipitate) the Soviet invasion.

    In addition to convicted felon John Poindexter’s role in establishing the Total Information Awareness program that was supposedly defunded by Congress but actually continued with “classified” funding to renamed components, the retention as Secretary of Defense by Obama of Bush appointee Robert Gates needs to be viewed in the context of Gates’s “disquieting” activity and testimony during the Iran/Contra affair and subsequent investigation.

    From Chapter 16, “Robert Gates,” of the Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Conta Matters, Lawrence E. Walsh:

    Kerr told Independent Counsel that he did not recall Gates referring to other rumors of a diversion at this meeting. The Select Committees’ report of the interview did not contain the statement that Gates was aware of “rumors” of a diversion, but it did state that Gates told Kerr to “keep him informed.” Accordingly, the evidence was clear that Gates’s statements concerning his initial awareness of the diversion were wrong: Kerr brought him the information from Allen over a month earlier than Gates admitted. This would have been material because it suggested that the CIA continued to support North’s activities without informing North’s superiors or investigating. By October, when Gates claimed he first remembered hearing of the diversion, Casey ordered an inquiry and later made a report to Poindexter; but, by then, the Hasenfus aircraft had been shot down and Casey and Gates were beginning to cover.

    Gates’s defense was that he did not recall the Kerr meeting. To say the least, this was disquieting. He had been told by a very senior officer that two of President Reagan’s personal priorities were in danger — not something an ambitious deputy director of central intelligence would likely forget. Allen was acting as a whistle-blower in a difficult situation. His concern was for the safety of the hostages and the success of the efforts of the President. His information suggested serious malfeasance by Government officials involved in a clandestine and highly sensitive operation. Even though Gates may have believed Allen to be excessively concerned, could such an expression of concern be forgotten, particularly after it had been corroborated within a few weeks? Logically, Gates could ignore or forget the Allen report only if he already knew of the diversion and he knew that Casey and Poindexter knew of the diversion. Gates also was on the distribution list for highly reliable intelligence that should have informed him of the pricing dispute among Kangarlu, Ghorbanifar, and the U.S. Government, although it did not refer specifically to any diversion of funds. Gates claimed that he rarely reviewed the intelligence. North testified that he did not discuss the diversion with Gates or in Gates’s presence. Gates also never met with Richard Secord, whom Gates was aware of only as a “private benefactor” (the CIA’s term for non-Government donors to the contras) by July 1986.

    Notwithstanding Independent Counsel’s disbelief of Gates, Independent Counsel was not confident that Kerr’s testimony, without the support of another witness to his conversation with Gates, would be enough to charge Gates with perjury or false statements for his testimony concerning the timing of his knowledge of the diversion. …

    The evidence established that Gates was exposed to information about North’s connections to the private resupply operation that would have raised concern in the minds of most reasonable persons about the propriety of a Government officer having such an operational role. Fiers and Cannistraro believed that Gates was aware of North’s operational role. The question was whether there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Gates deliberately lied in denying knowledge of North’s operational activities. A case would have depended on the testimony of Poindexter. Fiers would not testify that he supplied Gates with the details of North’s activities. In the end, Independent Counsel concluded that the question was too close to justify the commitment of resources.

    There was conclusive evidence that in October 1986, following the Hasenfus shootdown, Clair George and Alan Fiers obstructed two congressional inquiries. Gates attended meetings where the CIA’s response to these inquiries was discussed. None of the evidence, however, links Gates to any specific act of obstruction.

    Read the Church Committee report, vol. 2. Read the Walsh Independent Counsel’s report.

  34. Downunderer

    Over the past several months NC has become my favorite news source, both for its selection of the most important current events and the presence of the most worthwhile commenters. Many thanks!

    It is also a great relief to find that not everyone has forgotten the long history of the present power groups and their abuses. What a contrast to the remarkably tiny scope of awareness the mainstream media promotes (in between celebrity scandals and sports). It is a good shock to the system to suddenly feel less alone.

  35. ScottS

    At the risk of Godwinning, Obama is a lot like Hitler. Good at speeches, bad at military strategy. You can’t have it all, I suppose.

    Maybe he’ll become a landscape painter when he retires.

  36. Bernard

    wow, what a website. thanks to all who give their two cents. i do think Snowden’s leaving announcement by Wikileaks was an incredibly stupid gift to the NSA. just hope Snowden and Greenwald can blackmail themselves into safety., which i doubt. power corrupts and we have seen how badly. Snowden will be easy prey in Russia once Putin no longer wants him as a “tease”. that’s the sad part. and watch the US grab Snowden the first chance, anytime, anyplace, anywhere. The Empire will not be stopped until it crashes down.

    the urge to silence/kill Snowden will not stop until Snowden is no longer a threat. with his capacity to rat on the NSA/Crooks of the Empire, it is just a matter of time before. the whole concept of Obama/the US respecting any concept of “legality” is pure fancy. such a flight into a nether world.

    watching and listening to the actions being debated is why i love what is being said/referred to in websites/ here. i don’t think Wikileaks people are too smart to begin with, if Assange’s ego is any clue of what kind of people. they don’t plan out very far ahead.

    it is rare to see such truth spoken about such blatant criminalities. such an oasis i don’t find hardly anywhere else. thanks again

  37. tulsatime

    With all the signs of frayed temper and no patience from the WH, I keep wondering if they could be that open about being pissed off? The whole reaction to Snowden has seemed very unmanaged, like barely restrained panic, especially after the Moralles jet incident. I can see where some of the foil-wearing types get ideas for their double-tripple secret agent hallucinations now.

    The Russian badgering has been the most laughable part so far, but perhaps that is for domestic consumtion. If there is really no more back channel effort going on than that, we are in a very bad way. The emperor seems to be getting some very bad advice, or the good advice is going out the window. We will know in a few years when the books come out.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s a good synopsis of what is bothering me. Obama and the US are looking frazzled. One incident might be a replay of the Kissenger cultivating the image that Nixon was nuts (as in might do reckless, crazy things, as in drop the Big One) but this is clearly not strategic and if it’s posturing, it’s awfully lame. And yes, the Obama call to Putin looked like either super misplaced ego or back channels had broken down, neither of which is good.

    2. Thor's Hammer

      Two bad there isn’t a Las Vegas bookie line on worldwide terror alerts. Perfect statistical correlation between the need to scare the sheeple before an election and the timing of Orange Alerts back when Cheney was running things.

      Of course things were easy for Cheney, what with a digital Osama bin Laden on call whenever needed after the digital version and a vaguely similar body double replaced the one who died in December of 2001.

      It’s a pity that the Chosen One has to deal with a real live Snowden who has prepared a deadman switch ready to trigger if Obomber should try something as rash as putting out a contract on him.

      1. Jeff W

        Perfect statistical correlation between the need to scare the sheeple before an election and the timing of Orange Alerts back when Cheney was running things.

        I was thinking the same thing and right on cue—“U.S. issues global travel alert, to close embassies due to al Qaeda threat.”

        “It’s not the cynicism, it’s the reality.” (in homage to Mr Moto in Danger Island [1939])

  38. Hugh

    Obama is notorious for his lack of poise in private meetings. He is famously hostile to anyone who disagrees with him. He is a classic little tin god of academia, encouraged in a small, insular environment to think he’s god’s gift to everything. I’ve heard more than one academic call this president “a brilliant Constitutional scholar” — this president who has done more to undermine the First Amendment than all other presidents in the past 100 years combined. Obama hasn’t lost it, he never had it.

  39. tongorad

    Obama is merely re-branded status quo.
    It took Obama’s historic presidency to kill any momentum for political change, probably for generations.
    To be honest, I regard his supporters with outright disgust and even hatred. It’s hard to imagine finding any common ground with anyone so easily compromised.

  40. kimsarah

    Imagine if even some of this meta-data has any value on the black market, sold perhaps by an unscrupulous private contractor.

    One wonders how much this program has cost taxpayers, and the identity of the principal owners and political connections of said contractors.

    May help explain why our patriotic blowhards who are the program’s biggest defenders — like Schumer, Frankenfeinstein and Rogers (and now McCain) — are in such a tizzy.
    Still, Barry is not one to lose his cool, and he knows better than to further fuel any divisions with Russia or acts of desperation to capture that little speck called Snowden. Barry may need to take a little vacation, forget about all this, and see if it naturally resolves itself later in the fall.

  41. Tom Denman

    Yves, I’d like to offer an alternative hypothesis:

    If Mr. Putin holds true to his previous statement that Russia would only grant Edward Snowden asylum if he agrees to cease releasing classified information as long as he is a guest in that country, that would presumably mean that there will be no new disclosures while Snowden remains safe and in Russia.

    Each time The Guardian publishes a new revelation, the movement within Congress to reign in the NSA gathers additional force. So what the White House needs now is for the moment to be broken, and there is no better way to do so than to stop the publication of new information. And at what better time to do so than at the start of the month long congressional summer recess?

    Given that what Mr. Obama says he wants is often (usually?) the opposite of what he really wants, I wonder if he was at all upset at the prospect of a moratorium on Snowden leaks, since it will give him plenty of time to divert the news media’s attention to something else.

    If this sounds like a conspiracy theory, just think of the White House’s long history of staged opposition to G.O.P. polcies.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      We’ll see if it’s true but I doubt it.

      As I indicated, Snowden is not longer running this show. Greenwald and the Guardian are. Snowden gave the docs to Greenwald (he’s indicated he has something on the order of 100x what he has released).

      So all Putin can do is have Snowden stop giving new video footage or other types of interviews. He can’t stop the releases. I’m sure he knew that. This was a deliberate empty concession (as in “see I did everything I could, what more do you want me to do?”). Snowden’s participation is now a mere “nice to have” item.

      1. wendy davis

        Yves, this comment doesn’t belong under yours, but I haven’t known where to put it; sorry.

        For two days after I’d seen Glenn Greenwald tweet rather confusingly that Obomba had decided to meet with Dems on the hill at the same time as the Grayson hearings featuring critics of the NSA programs, and ‘it was cancelled’, I wondered *which one* were being cancelled, and kept checking
        Grayson’s House website for any information. I also checked his twitter page: nothing. Finally he posted the cancellation at his website, nothin’ on twitter but piles of self-congratulatory…well…crap.

        Why didn’t he jusst hold the hearings? They often are just for the cameras, few attendees, no? To me, it was akin to his fundraising over having seen several chapters of the TPP negotiated texts, then saying he couldn’t possibly say what he’d seen without risking X,Y,Z. Too cute in my book, especially pretending that no one had told him until *after he’d read them* that he would be in deep trouble if he spilled the beans.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Late to this.

          Obama called a meeting of the Democratic Caucus, basically all the Dems in the House. A command performance. It meant no Dems would attend Grayson’s session (which was not formally a hearing, since Greenwald was not testifying in person).

          Obama may ALSO have taken Grayson’s room. And all other rooms were booked from then to the end of session on Friday.

  42. bob

    This whole episode is littered with very serious, very smart people doing extremely stupid things.

    Are they that serious, or smart? Over and over the answer is no.

    One man ran off with the keys to the kingdom, or so we’re not really supposed to believe.

    How can you argue for a security state that has no security?

    How do you argue against a security state from a Moscow transit zone?

    G3 in the middle is the most painful part. Saying he left the porn industry is high comedy.

  43. Dingo

    As PCR suggests, all the NSA has to do now is create some sort of false flag terror, and all will fall in line to maintain the Stasi state

  44. Z54

    Boy, that Slick Oily sure is one arrogant a**hole! He’s even worse than Tricky Dick and Ronnie Raygun!

  45. rapier

    A side issue has fascinated me but few others, yet. That being this exposes the entire project which is run mostly by contractors as a counter intelligence black hole. There must be dozens of real spies and sellers of information for profit in place. Or maybe I should say who were in place.

    I am guessing the day Snowden appeared all focus turned inward. Everyone with access to the information became a subject of Prism. It is perfectly obvious that this was not done prior to Snowden or Snowden would not have happened. You can’t have hundreds or thousands or loosely vetted contractors at play in these giant databases without them leaking like sieves.

    Boze Allen and all have now become far far worse places to work. All there are now suspect, which is always the sad reality of spies. It isn’t all fun and games. All there now know every digital trace of them is under constant monitoring and will be till they die or the system collapses.

  46. Raj

    I’m sure Putin has forced Obama to make a choice. Snowden versus Syria. You can’t have both. Putin can deliver Snowden, no problem. He wants the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to withdraw support of the Syrian rebels. Obama’s problem is he may not be able to get the others to withdraw even if he wants to. It’s a significant challenge…and the clock is ticking.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I don’t think the U.S. making a choice is in the interests of Russia. The U.S. behaving petulantly is the interest of Russia and Russian commerce. If Obama can be seen as cool and decisive, Obama is the best salesmen for U.S. arm sales. Russia has their own weapons systems which work and are designed to work against NATO. Russia would love to have access to 3rd World Markets in the same manner the Chinese have been able to grow.

      The U.S. hegemony would break up fast creating new markets through faltering not horse trading, so what if the Syria base closes? Russia might make a deal with the Turks with the way EU is going. They might have a rough history, but its a new century and new relationship might be the pitch that would work. Pretty soon Russian boats might not go to Syria, but Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and even Spain desperate for money might say, “hey, pay us a docking fee and you can have the old base.”

  47. NotTimothyGeithner

    Snowden isn’t the source of the President’s current frustrations (an understatement to be sure.).

    I think the President considers himself to be a messianic figure. He may not articulate it as such, but he didn’t mimic Lincoln’s funeral train for his inaugeral by chance. Obama sees himself as the white-washed* post-Civil War Lincoln. In 2012, Democrats pushed a message that Obama would be really good if he had a second term, and I think many Democrats believed this. This message implies Obama has been crummy in his first term, and I think Obama’s real issue is that there isn’t a massive outpouring of love for him. Snowden is a big event, but the failure of gun control, the lack of response to pursuing right wing immigration policies, the continuing bad economy, rising healthcare costs (slowing increases isn’t good enough; they needed to go down), and the long term consequences of our disasterous foreign and economic policies were going to focus on the President at some point. He would be asked questions about his past actions because he wasn’t good enough, and Obama is far too arrogant to grasp that much of his support was merely anti-Clinton in ’08 and anti-Romney in ’12.

    Obama is making it about Snowden because he can use it as an excuse for that he has been Bill Clinton without the personality and intelligence and the techboom to save him.

    *I like Lincoln, but I am referring to the temple in Washington. It largely ignores the devastation during his Presidency and his own mistakes.

  48. Bud

    If they don’t really know what Snowden’s got, and he claims he could access virtually any communication, it’s an interesting speculation whether some of what he’s got is phone conversations, etc., which were thought to be scrambled and/or private and are not.

    Perhaps that would be more threatening to the PTB than specific details about programs which made acquisition of that kind of information possible in the first instance.

    And the only way they could learn that is directly from Snowden — with thumbscrews if necessary. It’s assumed Snowden turned over everything to the Guardian. That isn’t necessarily certain. It is only certainly uncertain.

  49. km4

    Obama Meets Security Advisors Over “Most Specific, Credible Terrorist Threat In Years”; US Forces On Alert | Zero Hedge http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-08-03/obama-meets-security-advisors-over-most-specific-credible-terrorist-threat-years-us-

    km4
    Vote up!
    112
    Vote down!
    -3
    Obama Starting to Lose It Over Snowden http://po.st/q3IcnJ he just lost Germany http://goo.gl/zcPLd2 Germany nixes surveillance pact with US, Britain so create a side show to keep the fear card alive and well ;-)

  50. duped eternally

    sorry, ma’am but greenwald is an enemy intelligence officer, assange and snowden assets or full officers as well. you said it yourself, the president has made this into a persional vendetta…

    the split appears to be along the lines of anglosphere/rockefeller/rothschild/teutonic overlords and the bolsheviks in israel.

    see ***gordon duff**, jim dean, preston james on veterans today dot com. this is the voice of the patriotic american armed forces (military intelligence. check out mike harris’ radio show on the rense radio network. just today an active duty marine general called israel an apartheid state, unsustainable and living in a dream world. mike harris has now 3 million listeners a day and we all love freedom and justice for all.

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