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Sun Jun 1, 2014, 10:01 AM

 

An attempt to get the facts straight on the release of the Snowden email by the NSA

Here is my attempt to summarize the events surrounding the released email from Snowden to NSA lawyers. Please correct me if I have made a mistake (as I often do).

Prior to the release of the email, Snowden claimed that in emails to NSA lawyers, he was "raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities.” According to Snowden, one specific concern was that some high officials in the NSA believed that classified executive orders could override federal law. In the email the NSA released, Snowden asked NSA lawyers about this very issue. Specifically, he asked about training materials which seemed to him to contradict the principle that federal law overrides executive orders. Someone from the NSA’s Office of General Council responded that executive orders do not override federal law, which makes it look like Snowden’s concern was satisfied.

But Snowden also claims that he expressed his concern about the NSA’s understanding of its legal authorities in correspondence “with the Signals Intelligence Directorate’s Office of Compliance, which believed that a classified executive order could take precedence over an act of Congress . . .” We are not in a position to know if that claim is true. Hopefully, the NSA will release more emails (assuming they exist), but I doubt the NSA would want the public to know that some high NSA official believed that executive orders could override federal law and that Snowden questioned that belief. So we end up in a strange situation. If Snowden is lying, there are no additional emails to release, but we have no way of knowing that there are none. And if Snowden is telling the truth, then the NSA probably won’t release the emails that would vindicate him. Either way, we may well end up being left in the dark.

Personally, I doubt that Snowden is lying about corresponding with the Signals Directorate’s Office of Compliance about this issue. But I am not in a position to know for sure.

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Arrow 39 replies Author Time Post
Reply An attempt to get the facts straight on the release of the Snowden email by the NSA (Original post)
Vattel Jun 2014 OP
Control-Z Jun 2014 #1
Luminous Animal Jun 2014 #2
Control-Z Jun 2014 #5
Luminous Animal Jun 2014 #7
msanthrope Jun 2014 #13
Luminous Animal Jun 2014 #3
Vattel Jun 2014 #6
Luminous Animal Jun 2014 #8
Blue_Tires Jun 2014 #10
Luminous Animal Jun 2014 #15
Blue_Tires Jun 2014 #19
Luminous Animal Jun 2014 #25
grasswire Jun 2014 #4
Luminous Animal Jun 2014 #9
Leme Jun 2014 #11
grasswire Jun 2014 #12
Leme Jun 2014 #17
msanthrope Jun 2014 #14
Vattel Jun 2014 #21
msanthrope Jun 2014 #23
Vattel Jun 2014 #24
msanthrope Jun 2014 #26
Vattel Jun 2014 #27
msanthrope Jun 2014 #29
Vattel Jun 2014 #30
msanthrope Jun 2014 #32
Vattel Jun 2014 #37
msanthrope Jun 2014 #38
Vattel Jun 2014 #39
joshcryer Jun 2014 #16
grasswire Jun 2014 #18
joshcryer Jun 2014 #20
grasswire Jun 2014 #35
joshcryer Jun 2014 #36
Vattel Jun 2014 #22
joshcryer Jun 2014 #33
truedelphi Jun 2014 #28
Luminous Animal Jun 2014 #34
randome Jun 2014 #31

Response to Vattel (Original post)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 11:12 AM

1. Has there been any discussion about

whether Snowden has his own copies of the correspondence?

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Response to Control-Z (Reply #1)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 11:18 AM

2. Quite a bit but not a very intelligent discussion.

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Response to Luminous Animal (Reply #2)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 11:29 AM

5. Does he have them, do you know?

Or is someone holding them for him possibly? If he has them, wouldn't making then public help to settle some arguments?

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Response to Control-Z (Reply #5)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 11:32 AM

7. I don't think he has ever had them.

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Response to Control-Z (Reply #1)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:31 PM

13. There are those of us who simply do not find it credible that in his stealing, he

 

forgot to take evidence of his "whistleblowing."

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Response to Vattel (Original post)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 11:22 AM

3. That is a good summary.

And here is my theory as to why Snowden did not download his emails...

I don' think Snowden originally intended to seek asylum. If you have read the book, the decision to leave his hotel and seek a safe house in Hong Kong was made at the last minute with assistance from human rights attorneys that he had never met or spoken to before.

He didn't take the emails because he never anticipated his current position.

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Response to Luminous Animal (Reply #3)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 11:32 AM

6. You might well be correct.

 

But Snowden has not claimed that he explored all the ordinary whistle-blower channels, or that he would be shielded by whistleblower laws. He knew his goals required him to go public, and he knew that the emails in question wouldn't help him avoid prosecution or conviction under the Espionage Act. So he might have seen no urgency in preserving them.

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Response to Vattel (Reply #6)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 11:33 AM

8. Exactly!

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Response to Luminous Animal (Reply #3)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:16 PM

10. If he wasn't originally planning to seek asylum

somewhere, that was a shocking lack of foresight or even common sense...

What exactly did he think was going to happen once he lifted the last files and took an extended sick leave?

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #10)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:38 PM

15. Based on his 1st interview when he revealed his identity,

and also reading the book, I think he expected to be arrested. I don't think he meant to seek asylum, at all. And thus his line about not hiding from justice.

When the press descended on Hong Kong, 3 human rights attorney's based in Hong Kong, volunteered their services. Snowden accepted and he was taken to a safe house. I believe that is when the strategy of asylum was hatched.

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Response to Luminous Animal (Reply #15)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:56 PM

19. I'd loved to have overheard that conversation

with the three human rights attorneys and how that ended up with a flight bound for Moscow...

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #19)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 01:17 PM

25. He was not "bound for Moscow". Moscow was a layover to elsewhere...

Last edited Sun Jun 1, 2014, 01:51 PM - Edit history (1)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/24/us-usa-security-reconstruction-idUSBRE95N1CA20130624

This Reuters article is pretty good.

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Response to Vattel (Original post)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 11:23 AM

4. sounds likely to me.

I suspect that Snowden has copies, and has baited NSA. I suspect that this email was the least damaging to NSA and that's why they "found" it.

Snowden is in the catbird seat. There's nothing they can do aside of assassination. But he already had considered that possibility and was willing to take the risk for love of country.

edit to add: I doubt he has hard copies with him. They're probably stashed somewhere.

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Response to Vattel (Original post)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:07 PM

9. Kick.

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Response to Vattel (Original post)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:23 PM

11. The NSA might release more emails if they have them

 

whether Snowden has them or not. Just to get ahead of the story.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
but I think the BIG story... NSA surveillance, is not being covered.

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Response to Leme (Reply #11)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:31 PM

12. if they don't know what documents he took...

....they might be better be more afraid of what he COULD release.

The great preponderance of the documents has NOT been released, some of it because it would be too harmful in some way. Lawyers and journalists have culled that stuff out.

But it's still there, in someone's hands.

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Response to grasswire (Reply #12)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:46 PM

17. we know it is somewhere, if sent by internet

 

it may be encrypted... but it is somewhere. Unless the phone company deleted it. Or someone hacked the phone company and deleted it.

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Response to Vattel (Original post)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:37 PM

14. No. That's not a good summary. Where in your timeline did ES meet with GG and then steal

 

documents?

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Response to msanthrope (Reply #14)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:58 PM

21. I am not trying to summarize the whole Snowden saga.

 

Just part of it. Do you at least think that what I do include in my summary is accurate?

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Response to Vattel (Reply #21)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 01:03 PM

23. No. nt

 

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Response to msanthrope (Reply #23)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 01:05 PM

24. What did I say that is false?

 

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Response to Vattel (Reply #24)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 01:29 PM

26. Now you are moving the goalposts...in your OP, you use the word "mistaken." Now you are

 

using the word "false." I'd prefer to comment on the former.

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Response to msanthrope (Reply #26)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 01:38 PM

27. Okay, what did I say in my OP that is mistaken?

 

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Response to Vattel (Reply #27)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 01:48 PM

29. You are mistaken in presuming that Snowden is telling you the truth in "why"

 

he sent the email, and you have presented this uncritically as a "fact." Thus...you are not focusing on facts so much as subjective explanations for actions.

It would be more useful if you simply listed when actions took place, and then began a conversation about "why."

But that's not very helpful to ES.

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Response to msanthrope (Reply #29)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 01:55 PM

30. I'm not finding the part where I made such a claim.

 

Could you quote me please?

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Response to Vattel (Reply #30)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 02:11 PM

32. Every single time you wrote "Snowden claims." Thus, you focus not on facts

 

but on claims. Why not list facts? Start with actions.

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Response to msanthrope (Reply #32)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 06:48 PM

37. I didn't say that his claims are true.

 

It is a fact that he made those claims.

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Response to Vattel (Reply #37)

Mon Jun 2, 2014, 09:41 AM

38. Again--you focus on claims, not on facts. Why not list facts? nt

 

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Response to msanthrope (Reply #38)

Mon Jun 2, 2014, 11:36 AM

39. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are joking.

 

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Response to Vattel (Original post)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:40 PM

16. The NSA will release the emails in a timely fashion.

They will time it in a way to discredit Snowden.

We know Snowden did not bring up specific concerns because he's not in jail. He had to have brought up vague queries.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #16)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:49 PM

18. they can't discredit him now

Dream on.

Oh, they could fabricate something, or assassinate him.

He still would have achieved his goal of starting a national conversation.

I doubt they want to make him a martyr.

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Response to grasswire (Reply #18)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 12:57 PM

20. There has been no conversation or reform.

Are you kidding me?

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #20)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 03:33 PM

35. ridiculous.

You're talking about it, I'm talking about it, the media, the Internet, the networks are talking about it, Congress is acting to restrain the NSA........yada yada yada.

Because of Snowden.

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Response to grasswire (Reply #35)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 04:16 PM

36. It's a pointless diversion, no one is serious.

It's checkbook journalism at it's finest. Pure punditry, personal attacks, no true civic discussion. We have fools falling for the narrative actually saying Wyden, the guy who actually broke the story, has less integrity than equivocating Snowden.

This is not substantive, we all agree the NSA needs to be checked (I'm on record to abolish it, until terrorism is as dangerous as walking down the street it's not an actual civil issue the government should bother with).

But we are doing nothing to check it. And why? Because we're too distracted "discussing." All the while clicks ramp up on profit ventures designed specifically to make money on outrage.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #16)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 01:00 PM

22. Whether top NSA officials believed

 

that classified executive orders could override federal law is a pretty specific concern. Why do you think raising such a concern would have landed him in jail?

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Response to Vattel (Reply #22)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 02:20 PM

33. The implication is that the NSA put EO above law.

If he said "I believe mass data collection by PRISM is illegal," he goes straight to jail, as he was not privy to that information.

It's simple deduction. If he said anything specific he goes to jail. There was nothing specific.

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Response to Vattel (Original post)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 01:44 PM

28. Consider this:

I happen to regard many of merrily's statements highly, including this one:

DU'er "merrily" --
Yes, leaking does lead to making secret govt conduct an issue and yes that is due to actions of the govt.



he was not careful to limit his leaks only to things he thought were wrong.



Greenwald has said otherwise, that Snowden gave them to journalists he believed could, better than he could, evaluate because they have more experience doing that. And Greenwald has described his own process very carefully.

I am not saying Greenwald is correct. I am saying there is more than one version of your claim that Snowden was negligent.

And I have yet to see anything posted here that proves that anyone got information damaging to the US that they did not already have, other than the general populace. Every poster I've asked for a link on the China story--and I have asked three so far--has disappeared from the thread after I made the request.

However, on balance, I would rather have had the disclosures than not, even if some info leaked to nations and groups that have their own intel outfits.

I have no brief for Snowden or Greenwald. I not only do not know what their motives were, I don't care. It's irrelevant to me. I challenge stuff posted here only because I never like propaganda and resist it when I see it. The disclosures and the acts and omissions of my government, acting on my dime, however, are very relevant to me.
####

An individual over at "emptywheel.net" is doing credible (and incedible!) work on the Snowden issue, and that site should be a must read for anyone sorting through the issues:
http://www.emptywheel.net/2014/05/30/snowden-a-classified-executive-order/


http://www.emptywheel.net/2014/05/29/snowdens-emailed-question-addresses-one-abuse-revealed-by-his-leaks/

http://www.emptywheel.net/2014/05/29/nsas-training-programs-are-a-mess/

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Response to truedelphi (Reply #28)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 02:42 PM

34. That individual is Marcy Wheeler and yes, she is doing great work on Snowden and the NSA.

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Response to Vattel (Original post)

Sun Jun 1, 2014, 02:01 PM

31. I think Snowden gave his copies of correspondence to Sasquatch...

 

...who piloted them to the Moon in a U.F.O. captained by Elvis.

For those who think he's simply 'biding his time' (you didn't say that, Vattel), I predict severe disappointment 'whiplash' the longer this goes on.
[hr][font color="blue"][center]The truth doesn’t always set you free.
Sometimes it builds a bigger cage around the one you’re already in.
[/center][/font][hr]

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