Comes now again, Edward Snowden, and once again makes this story about him and not about the U.S. Government, and when he doesn't do that sufficiently, Glenn Greenwald does it for him:
The second question, from The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, read as follows: "How many sets of the documents you disclosed did you make, and how many different people have them? If anything happens to you, do they still exist?"
And even that fat, wet, right-over-the-plate slow pitch was too much for the batter:
Snowden stopped short of answering the question directly.
"All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me," he wrote. "Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped."
Which is pretty much what Greenwald has been promising since this story first broke and the republic did not fall upon the revelation that the government is spying on people, maybe even its own people. As Josh Marshall said:
the one interesting and significant thing to come out of this Snowden live chat is his focus on what is technically possible within the NSA vs whatever policy restrictions are in place to protect privacy, constitutional protections for US citizens and so forth. It’s not even totally clear, reading these answers, how much Snowden and his nemeses within the Intel Community are even disagreeing about how things work.
This, I think, is what JMM is talking about:
"US Persons do enjoy limited policy protections (and again, it's important to understand that policy protection is no protection - policy is a one-way ratchet that only loosens) and one very weak technical protection - a near-the-front-end filter at our ingestion points. The filter is constantly out of date, is set at what is euphemistically referred to as the 'widest allowable aperture,' and can be stripped out at any time. Even with the filter, US comms get ingested, and even more so as soon as they leave the border. Your protected communications shouldn't stop being protected communications just because of the IP they're tagged with… More fundamentally, the 'US Persons' protection in general is a distraction from the power and danger of this system. Suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it's only victimizing 95% of the world instead of 100%. Our founders did not write that 'We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all US Persons are created equal.'"or this:
"More detail on how direct NSA's accesses are is coming, but in general, the reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, etc analyst has access to query raw SIGINT databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want," Snowden wrote. "Phone number, email, user id, cell phone handset id (IMEI), and so on - it's all the same. The restrictions against this are policy based, not technically based, and can change at any time. Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications. For at least GCHQ, the number of audited queries is only 5% of those performed."
I've no doubt there's a lot of "power and danger" in this system. The question is: how do you eradicate that, without eradicating the system? Google, Yahoo, Bing, Apple, all have this information, too; not to mention Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, etc. As I said before, the idea that The Phone Company knows more about us than anyone else goes back at least to 1967, which, if I'm doing my math right, is about 17 years before Our Heroic Snitch was born. It's certainly a few decades earlier than the Revolution of the Intertubes. Everything old really is new again.
So, yes, the government can hoover up this information. The salient question is: do they? We can't take away their power to get the information; we can only seek to limit their desire to get that information, or at least limit their willingness to do so. Of course the limitations are policy based; that technological genie ain't goin' back in that bottle. We are back where we started: do we trust the government not to violate our privacy?
Because if we don't, what the hell are we gonna do about it? Except go off the grid and disconnect from all the communications conveniences of this modern world which most of us seem to think are so essential to our well-being. Certainly Mr. Snowden imagines these communications devices are the thing that's keeping him alive.
In other words, given the state of the world, limited policy protections are the best we can ever hope for. Maybe that explains why Glenn Greenwald is still fanning the flames for more revelations to come out that will finally persuade the world to think like Glenn Greenwald.
Or like a cheap spy novel; there doesn't seem to be much difference.
And where the hell are the rest of those documents? Are you going to tell us again how a government spied on foreign dignitaries at an international meeting within its borders? O, the humanities!
By the way, that line from the "Founding Fathers" is in the Declaration of Independence, not the U.S. Constitution. We have a long-standing legal and civil tradition of not treating non-citizens quite the same way we we treat U.S. citizens. And yes, we spy on both of them, but from different justifications and with different policy and legal limitations. And frankly:
Suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it's only victimizing 95% of the world instead of 100%.
Maybe not, but nobody put you, a private contractor hired to perform a specific task, in charge of U.S. foreign, legal, or national security policy. That decision, in other words, is slightly above your pay grade. And if you don't like it and you want to expose it, come back to America and face the consequences of your crime; make your stand in a court of law, present your defense to a jury of your peers, and persuade them, your fellow citizens, that you are right and the government is wrong.
Until then, you're just a coward; and a putz.