Snowden Revelations and NSA
Obama must be fuming like a pile of something in the pristine Oval Office today as he hears of the latest Edward-Snowden revelations. You can just imagine him sitting there saying to an imaginary spy behind the door of Russia something that would go like: “Come out and take it, you dirty, yellow-bellied rat, or I'll give it to you through the door!", a true Cagney tough guy (although the line is misquoted half the time by poor rate actors and imitators). No offence Mr. President. But anyhow, the scene would be perfect Hollywood action, and I’m sure a movie will hit the screens before the year is out. Maybe we could turn the whole world on its head and rather than having an actor that turns President of the US, we could have a President turn actor in Hollywood: “…and starring B. Obama in his very own role”.
The Snowden affair looks as if it will be keeping us interested for months to come as new revelations are made that he actually started downloading secret documents while he was working at Dell Inc. as far back as April 2012, which is a year prior to the date that he had officially announced. Although, one might well question the truth that comes from anyone these days. Is it true? Is it a lie? Is it what he did or is it what some would like to make us believe? Will the fact that he lied discredit him? Will the fact that he downloaded secret documents while working for Dell discredit the good that he might have been seen to do blowing the whistle on the state surveillance? There are too many subsidiary parameters and not enough calculations being made and the result is an unknown equation that even the best couldn’t fathom out right now.
It was in 2009 that Edward Snowden began working for Dell Inc. His contract ran until earlier this year, when he was transferred and assigned to the National Security Agency as a contractor in March, in the United States and also in Japan.
The information was revealed by an anonymous source that only spoke on that proviso. It was stated that while working at Dell Inc. Snowden downloaded information regarding the National Security Agency, the eavesdroppingand surveillance programs that they were running and left an electronic footprint after having accessed the files. He also downloaded information regarding fiber-optic cables, transoceanic cables and statistics regarding internet traffic and also related to communication over the internet.
The US government has announced ‘special measures’ that will be taken to stop unauthorized people from downloading documents to which they would normally have no access. What? You mean, Mr. President that that wasn’t done before? There seem to have been a whole string of events that have enabled Snowden to end up where he is today. But, they seem far too unlikely for them all to have happened in a chain that went off in reaction. Imagine the scenario: Snowden is employed by Dell, downloads documents, gets hired by the contractor to the NSA and accesses top-secret material without any vetting having taken place and no surveillance. Nice, but unlikely; or revealing of the failings of the NSA.
According to Reuters, Snowden seems to have written in 2010 on an internet forum called Ars Technica under the name ‘The True HooHA’. He wrote: “It really concerns me how little this sort of corporate behavior bothers those outside of technology circles” (regarding the technology companies and IT firms that provided the US government with information and allowed departments to access private data of individuals). He went on to state: “Society really seems to have developed an unquestioning obedience towards spooky types”.
Apparently, few have delved into Snowden’s stint at Dell Inc. and most concentration and focus has been on the contractor for whom Snowden was working while he was at the NSA: Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. Although, perhaps if the NSA were spending less time listening into our own boring and anecdotal communications via Skype,Google and Facebook, they might be able to concentrate on the really good stuff. I think we should all sit down and apply the Tinkerbell Effect. Things only exist if we believe that they do, like the Fiat system and the value of money. It only has a value because we allow it to have, because we believe that it is valuable. If we all stop believing that the NSA is powerful, then they won’t exist anymore. Fairy magic! I can see the pixies running from the NSA right now.
We commonly call Snowden a whistleblower. But, was he really one? It seems doubtful since legally the definition of a whistleblower is one that reveals actions that are illegal by a body or a state and that are provided to the public. What Snowden did was reveal what was legally made possible by the US state in the name of security and in the fight against terrorism. He revealed nothing that was being done illegally by the country, only what was unknown by the public, but legal. Whistleblowing reveals corruption, wrong-doing, mismanagement and illegality. Snowden is no whistleblower.
But in the light of revelations also about the fact that the NSA kept hold of telephone conversations of 3, 000 US citizens from February 2012 (despite being ordered to destroy them) means that we have more information still to come on the NSA. Information that has been released shows today that the NSA audit mentions that there were 2, 776 violations of the code of conduct of the NSA. For example, if you dialed 020 for the US area code the computer system picked it up as +20 or the international dialing code for Egypt and your calls became immediately logged and recorded.
What was the objective of the revelation and what will be the effect on people today with regard to Edward Snowden? Does this mean that we shall see Snowden as a scheming ‘dirty rat’? Did he plan this long before and get taken on at the NSA in that objective? Or is that what some would have us believe? If it were true for one moment, then the first question that springs to mind is: why did the National Security Agency not manage to carry out adequate surveillance on Edward Snowden? The Prism program was listening in to everyone in the world and his wife. One thing is certain Edward Snowden has created a ‘true HooHA’.
But, was it impossible for the eavesdroppers to get hold of what Snowden was looking for? Rather dubious? Unquestioning obedience to spooky types!
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