June 10, 2013

Chinese conspiracy theorizing

A friend writes:
Obama meets with Chinese leader. Cyber attacks by China is on the menu for discussion. Days before, Obama is hit with repeated scandals about SIGINT from leaked documents. His credibility on the topic is at its nadir right now. But it must be a coincidence, because we know things like that never happen.
And the leaker comes forward. He defects to hong kong (china?). 

Interesting. One angle to test this notion is:. Did his girlfriend go with him to Hong Kong? Is she Chinese?
None of the articles say, mention her name etc.  
For all the paranoia around what the US govt might do it is amazing that the press hasn't explored this angle (what foreign govts might do). 
This could well be the score of a lifetime for chinese intelligence.  
Perhaps that's why michelle stayed home - the US govt knew this was going on and she didn't see the need to be humiliated along with her husband.  
If the govt can't acknowledge prism, it would doubly follow they can't acknowledge the chinese operation to turn a high school dropout on the NSA team.

Having worked in Big Data almost 30 years before anybody came up with that name, my impression is that it's still not what you know, it's who you know.

79 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eh? I like a good conspiracy theory, but I don't get this one. If the Chinese had turned the leaker about the secret surveillance program, they could have done a lot more with him than use him to embarrass the president.

Anonymous said...

"Turned" isn't black and white.

A compromised operative still has his/her own beliefs about what's right and wrong.

Humiliating the POTUS before a major international summit, removing his negotiating leverage and putting him on the defensive would be considered a pretty big intelligence win for a foreign power, would it not?

peterike said...

The ultimate hole in any security plan is social engineering. Somebody somewhere knows the passwords, and if you can find that person and flip him, you're in, no matter what safeguards are in place.

I haven't read very much about this, but this Snowden guy seemed like a good, naive little Liberal, all excited that things would change when the Lightworker became President.

In fact, things just got much, much worse (wow, surprise) and Snowden got his feelings hurt, or something.

Anyway, I don't want to knock the guy. I'm glad he did what he did. But I do think more is going on here.

Chinese girlfriend? Well he lived in Hawaii which is 4% Chinese. Snowden seems a bit of an idiot savant, and probably socially inept. Send a little Chinese hottie his way to play him, and he'd fall for it in a minute.

peterike said...

Woops, maybe no Chinese girlfriend angle. The Telegraph reports a neighbor saying: "His girlfriend was, I'd say, in her 20s with blonde hair."

Anonymous said...

I have often thought that the Chinese would want to exacerbate racial tensions in the US as well as fund grievance mongering as a method of weakening the US ability to resist the rise of Chinese Hegemony.

What better way to increase racial tension than when a half black man is in the Presidency?

Anonymous said...

Again this isn't really a conspiracy theory. I don't get how conspiracy theorist like those who congregate here don't get that. This would be called intelligence operations. Furthermore, what evidence is there that Obama really cares about the hacking. The real conspiracy would be that Obama leaked this himself in order to let him off the hook from playing hardball in defense of Americna interests something he obviously abhors.

Anonymous said...

If anything the Chinese are probally terrified about what google has turned over to the US about their and their children's search habits.

Chubby Ape said...

This is something I hadn't thought of but is very intriguing. I'd also add that the establishment "newspaper of record" media outlets seem to have fallen out of love with Google in just the last few months. There's an interesting shift going on and factions seem to be forming up for and against the Big Data snooping machine.

Steve Sailer said...

"His girlfriend was, I'd say, in her 20s with blonde hair."

Okay, forget the Chinese conspiracy theory. Let's go with the Russian conspiracy theory!

dearieme said...

I suppose this all means that the Powers That Be have ample evidence to show that Zimmerman should not have been charged with murdering Trayvon wotsisname.

Not that that'll do Zimmerman any good.

Anonymous said...

Snowden, Richwine, wonderfully descriptive names of late.

peterike said...

Okay, forget the Chinese conspiracy theory. Let's go with the Russian conspiracy theory!

Damn you Sailer, I was just about to say the same thing!

We know from the World's Hottest Spy story some years back that the Russians like to use hotties as spies. It would be awesome if his girlfriend's name turns out to be Natasha.

Anonymous said...

If anything the Chinese are probally terrified about what google has turned over to the US about their and their children's search habits.

Yeah, because the TPTB in the US and the Western World have such good control over the Chinese media that it would be easy to let the average Chinese person know just what their leaders are up to.

candid_observer said...

I found this quote from Snowden:

‘‘Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector. Anywhere,’’ Snowden said in a video on the Guardian’s website. ‘‘I, sitting at my desk, had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal email.’’

Call me naive, but I find this possibility pretty shocking. I guess I had always thought that government snooping on an email would require in effect multiple permissions from various authorities in order to be implemented.

Can it really be that just some random guy at his terminal (and one has to believe that there are 100s or 1000s who enjoy the access Snowden was granted) can decide, for whatever reason, that he's going to snoop into somebody's personal email?

That had better not be true. It makes me doubt whether Snowden is entirely on the level when he describes what he knows. But if he's telling the truth, many heads need to roll.

Anonymous said...

OK, here's what I don't get about Snowden.

He starts out as a community college guy with a GED, then to Army washout, to security guard for the NSC, then suddenly he's doing IT work for the CIA in Geneva under diplomatic cover?

That's quite a trajectory. Maybe's he's super smart and super motivated, or maybe he got a lot of help along the way, help from a country crawling with super smart IT talent.

A guy with dreams of being a Special Forces warrior suddenly reduced to security guard work might harbor some pretty big grudges against his country.

candid_observer said...

Following up on my previous comment, if what Snowden says about his ability to access anyone's email is true, then it is practically an invitation for a genuine conspiracy.

Only one guy out of perhaps thousands needs to be compromised in order to get access to anyone's email. How hard would that be to pull off for an outside person or organization with a strong incentive to do so?

Anonymous said...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-09/gazprom-s-demise-could-topple-putin.html

Russian Enron?

NOTA said...

Candid:

It would be intresting to know how closely monitored the system is. My guess is trying to get data on, say, Nancy Pelosi will get you in trouble very quickly. But the less monitoring there is of that system, the more the data is likely to be being used freelance to settle scores or influence politics or whatever.

What it looks like to me is that this massive amount of data is being collected, and that this data is sitting around on some contractors' computers waiting for a request, at which point it's pulled up and used. And the employers of that contractor promise that they are following all the relevant laws about accessing the data, though this involves both court orders and legal decisions and arguments that are classified, so it's not like you can check. And if the law is broken and this comes out in public, then presumably the whistleblower will go to prison, but nobody else will fae any inconvenience. So you can totally 100% trust that they are following the laws there.

Anonymous said...

Check out how the chinese prepared for Jinping's visit to India
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/world/asia/where-china-meets-india-push-comes-to-shove.html

Orthodox said...

Westerners always think the Chinese are so smart. Great investors, great at education, great at spying. On and on. I live in China and yes, Chinese are smart, but they are also Chinese. They have different ideas about things work. (Americans similarly have idiotic ideas about China, transferring American minority relations to the Tibetans or Uighurs)

Look at their media and what they censor. Bloomberg ran a report on Xi Jinping's family last year. Nothing in the article was negative to an American, but it mentioned some of his family is wealthy. Bloomberg is blocked in China now because of that story. If they had this guy turned, they would have him pull up dirt on say, CEO's of companies they want to acquire. Or the politicians who can block foreign mergers. Or any dirt on the admissions office at Harvard. You know, important things.

Absolom Humblebug said...

From my experience in this field, the instant that you program a selector into one of the databases, it is flagged by CI. If you do not have express authorization, you are immediately subject to investigation. If the selector belongs to an US citizen, and you do not have express authorization, you will be arrested almost immediately for violation of USSID 18. But maybe things are different in the Prism shop.
All that being said, I would definitely not count out the possibility of a Chinese turn operation. The suspected spy was a civilian technical specialist, with a slightly unstable background and obvious social weaknesses. A classic target. And who in his right mind seeks asylum in China? Unless he already has open arms ready to welcome him there, Hong Kong I think would be the worst place to seek sanctuary.

Chisum said...

The Chinese prepared Jinping's visit to India in May by sending a bunch of soldiers over the border and raising the chinese flag on indian / disputed territory.
Prime Minister Singh did not dare to uninvite Jinping - now that's what I call diplomacy!
So many coincidences lately.
Did you also notice how North Korea out of the blue offered talks with South Korea while Jinping was meeting the president?

Absolom Humblebug said...

"We know from the World's Hottest Spy story some years back that the Russians like to use hotties as spies."
If only the US would start using hotties as spies, who knows where we'd be? Instead, it seems to me all CIA officers must either be humorless and unengaging former SF types or chubby white B school grads who wear fanny packs and drink diet coke. Horrible conversationalists and not much to look at.

Orthodox said...

Can it really be that just some random guy at his terminal (and one has to believe that there are 100s or 1000s who enjoy the access Snowden was granted) can decide, for whatever reason, that he's going to snoop into somebody's personal email?

From what he's said and what I've gathered from other whistle blowers, he could give you special attention in the data collection, since it may only require checking a box. They pull everything from Verizon and Yahoo, but maybe for an individual, you just pull it up and check off boxes to increase passive surveillance.

There would have to be some controls on how the data is accessed, even if I'm purely cynical, I assume that the NSA wants to pay analysts to find terrorists and not read the emails and phone conversations of porn stars (like SEC agents would).

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts from an ex-CIA recruit post 9/11 (i'm not an old-timer):

1. Though it is a very small sample size, it is quite interesting to note the profile of the type that seem to have 'issues' in a SCI environment over the last 3-4 years. Manning, Snowden, (and even the GCHQ analyst who mysteriously died via 'suicide' in his apartment - no leaks that we know regarding this one). All three were somewhat tech-oriented, 'geeks/nerds', who did not cope well with the cultures of either their current or prior agencies. I am not surprised that Snowden (DST) remarked he didn't feel comfortable or had issues about how case officers (NCS) in his time in Geneva tried to obtain a particular asset during his time at CIA. Similarly the dead GCHQ analyst originally worked at SIS/MI6 I believe and hated the culture there before moving to a 'geekier' IC element. We all know Manning's issues.

2. The IC does a very poor job in screening candidates for suitability. It uses inaccurate methods designed to 'CYA' and mitigate responsibility (such as the polygraph) as a blunt tool and the security offices of various IC agencies are more concerned with black/white 'rules and regs' compared to really analyzing the suitability of a candidate for a particular IC element.

During another leak a couple of years ago, the first thing Clapper at DNI said was to add questions to the poly and increase the frequency of it. This is security theatre, designed to CYA for the SIS-level execs.

You will see more and more leaks from the IC going forward due to too many people having TS/SCI (if we include TS, Secret the number gets into the millions) i believe, an expansion of the IC in terms of number of employees and expanded contractor base, and poor screening methods focused on trivial issues and fear.

3. Forget inter-agency rivalry, even inside CIA, you have very distinct cultures that clash often and different types of people (and their backgrounds) among the different divisions. DI analysts are quite different from your NCS core collector who are very different from your DST and support staff (this includes polygraphers) employee. We already know (as other blogs like Half-Sigma) that tech-oriented individuals have a more naive-idealistic view of the world. That is a much different profile than your average NCS officer running assets. It is interesting that Snowden noted the beginning of his disillusionment was his time stationed in Geneva.

4. CIA in particular attracts a more 'liberal' type than DIA, FBI, or NSA. I know there are 12 other IC-elements but I wanted to compare the big 4. Of the four, I'm willing to bet that Langley votes more D than the other 3 agencies I mentioned. Given that Obama was looked at as a 'hope and change' figure, I wonder if more disillusioned sub-35 employees in the future will slowly leak info.

6. Could he have been turned by China? Possibly, don't know enough. Perhaps not to directly give info but to damage US credibility. At this time I think some in washington would rather that he was turned by China compared to doing out of pure ideology on his own. Because if it is based on pure ideology, that is very hard to screen for in the current IC employee base and could pop up anytime.

I think he went to HK due to its proximity to Hawaii, 1st world conditions with enough westerners to feel comfortable, under strong military protection from a power that doesn't kowtow to the US. I think the timing of the release was just him really trying to emphasize that our domestic surveillance programs are of such magnitude that we shouldn't be lecturing others regarding it.

I am curious what steve's relatives in 'northern VA' think about the changing culture at CIA withen the employee ranks and how this trend has effected the chance for leaks (From 0SS to 70's where it drew from a more narrower type of candidate) to the post 90's/00's where all sorts of types joined.

Anonymous said...

The clueless anchors and John Miller on CBS morning show were wondering why Snowden sought refuge in China since China has an extradition treaty with the US.

NLA said...

The other day Instapundit was quoting an email he got from an IT businessman who said this scandal could really hurt the businesses working with NSA, so it's not just about embarrassing the President. In fact, if this were a Chinese intel operation, I'd guess this is more about hurting the most respected companies in the strongest sector of the US economy.

Whiskey said...

Having worked in IT, in the building/architecture side of things, as well as the analysis part, I can attest there are trade-offs between useability and security. A perfectly secure system is nearly unuseable. One that is highly useable is nearly perfectly insecure.

So yes, the idea that the Russians, Chinese, Pakistanis, Saudis, Iranians, and North Koreans would hack this system and get for their own consumption and analysis all Americans personal data is a foregone conclusion. It is likely ALREADY happening. No more than grocery chains and bookstore chains and department stores and credit card processors can keep data secure and protected, can the US government using the same technology and people keep things secure.

I was part of a team bidding for improvements of the LAPD internal information system. Logons were tracked with audit trails, certain users could see nearly everything and others could not and needed workflow permission -- aim to stop selling celebrity busts/encounters to the tabloids for quick cash. HOWEVER, there was a major problem with people spoofing other logons, and the habit of using post-it-notes with passwords and logons on terminals. Biometric identifiers were proposed but those can be spoofed as well.

Whiskey said...

Let me add, I am familiar with the type of person the leaker is. Young, willing to work brutal hours, gifted in technology, idealistic and naive, prone to worship various Non-White leaders (because they've seen it on TV), getting most of their attitudes from TV/Movies about how society works.

Yes of course the guy was an Obama supporter. Who found his God was just a man, and a corrupt and inept one at that. These guys MAKE the whole system run.

They are cheap, and as Steve has said Zuck and others want even cheaper H1-Bs, who are a whole other security risk. These guys are idealistic and naive. And the system depends on them. Think Rahm, or Valerie Jarrett, or Eric Holder, or Kamala Harris can do more than turn on their devices?

No. They need guys like this who invariably turn on them when they find the gap between their beliefs and reality.

Anonymous said...

The Chinese were probably letting the administration know that they are more vulnerable than the Chinese are.

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/06/10/germany-to-deport-eu-citizens/

Anonymous said...

OT: The BBC has a blog piece on the Martin-Zimmerman affair which is open to reader comments.

iStevers may wish to have their say...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22824531

Anonymous said...

Who runs advertising?

http://www.antiwhitemedia.com/2013/03/black-alpha-leader-lavishes-praise-on.html

http://www.antiwhitemedia.com/2013/04/white-dolt-tries-to-get-mommy-to-help.html

Corn said...

I've read Snowden wants to seek asylum in Iceland. Maybe I'm just a rube, but why didn't he just fly to Iceland then? I'm not saying he betrayed us to the Chinese, but the flight to Hong Kong sure makes one wonder if an honorable act of whistleblowing isn't tainted with treason or espionage.

Anonymous said...

Snowden apparently was making $200,000 a year as a 29 year old working for Booz Allen Hamilton, which literally gets 98% of its revenue from the government (cf http://investors.boozallen.com/glance.cfm).

Was Snowden exceptionally talented and skilled, or is this normal among intelligence community contractor pay scales? They say he was a system administrator, which is generally a mundane IT position that doesn't pay close to 200K in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

That had better not be true. It makes me doubt whether Snowden is entirely on the level when he describes what he knows. But if he's telling the truth, many heads need to roll.

I'd imagine it would go something like this... It may be true of analysts whose main job is to conduct queries. But, each query is logged and verified by others as to discourage unlawful queries.

jody said...

one thing to ponder. he feels safer under the chinese government than under the US government.

he had his choice of nations to flee to and picked china. not canada, not australia, not the UK, not germany, not france.

the enemy of my enemy is my friend. wonder if his short list consisted exclusively of russia or china.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious how this might intersect with Chinese government majority owned communications entities like Huawei and ZTE who have been trying desperately to get into the US market.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the whole thing is simple a way to undermine confidence in U.S. internet companies.

Anonymous said...

This was going on in one form or another since the late 90s. Data centers at popular internet portals and online mail repositories all had black boxes that nobody was supposed to know about and nobody was supposed to ask about.

The problem was that collecting EVERYTHING would effectively double the bandwidth utilization of the data center... one copy for the real user, and a second copy (maybe compressed) off to be stored elsewhere. So collecting and archiving "all of it" is a relatively recent development.

Anonymous said...

An anti-conspiracy-minded comment - is there anyone more likely than whites to self-sacrifice for the greater good? WWII-era Japanese, maybe? Who else?

hbd chick said...

"Did his girlfriend go with him to Hong Kong?"

the girlfriend didn't go to hong kong with him. i read that before snowden left for hk, he explained to his girlfriend that he'd be gone for a couple of weeks on business -- and that he wasn't very specific with her, but that wasn't unusual for him, nor did she find that strange, because of the sort of work that he did.

Anonymous said...

Westerners always think the Chinese are so smart. Great investors, great at education, great at spying. On and on. I live in China and yes, Chinese are smart, but they are also Chinese.

Who is smarter, Westerners or the Chinese?

hbd chick said...

Former CIA Officer: Intel Considering NSA Whistleblower 'Potential Chinese Espionage'

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

As someone who might possibly have a tangential working understanding of telecom billing, the most interesting thing I've read about all of this was posted here a few days ago

Amdocs, an Israeli company, handles billing for most of the major phone companies in America, which means they know who placed calls to whom, when, and for how long. They should be classified as a foreign intelligence gathering organization, but of course they are not.

Eff me, is it even safe to post that???

Alice said...

Someone could easily be a tool of the PRC without ever knowing they are. There are many examples of US citizens going to prison because of the trouble their social engineered friendship caused without ever being able to admit to themselves that the friendship was a hoax, and they themselves were just a mark.

We shall see perhaps. Or maybe not. Puzzles inside puzzles. Don't trust your eyes on this stuff.

The IC likes using Booz Allen and SAIC and the like for the same reason the military likes using contractors: plausible deniability and more cya opportunities for the govt agency.

But if he really wants to look like ellsberg he is going to have to cough up actual examples of actual violations and abuses by his colleagues. Can he? Or is that being withheld for a future chess move?

Svigor said...

Sailer bait: Patriots just signed Tebow.

Svigor said...

Not that that'll do Zimmerman any good.

To G. Zimmerman: if your lawyer works in the prosecuting DA's jurisdiction, fire him immediately and get someone else, from another jurisdiction. I suspect he does; he was quoted today in a British paper (Telegraph?) to the effect that he wants to divorce Zim from all the politics swirling around this case. Probably because he has lunch with the DA and the judge on a regular basis. He should be hanging all the politics around the prosecution's neck and characterizing the case as a show trial. All he needs to do is find one white or hispanic man with some balls (one who isn't afraid of blacks) to put on the jury and Zim's acquitted.

Svigor said...

We know from the World's Hottest Spy story some years back that the Russians like to use hotties as spies. It would be awesome if his girlfriend's name turns out to be Natasha.

Protip: the better the agency, the hotter the spies. Everyone with any sense at all knows to use attractive agents. Which probably puts American agents at the bottom of the barrel.

d said...

@Anonymous 6/10/13, 9:09 AM,

Do you speak English?

@Corn,

I'm with you. Going to China was bizarre. I do think this was a Chinese job.

BTW, the Chinese are going to build a shipping canal in Nicaragua, to compete with the Panama Canal. This is in our own damn back yard.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2013/0610/Nicaragua-rushes-to-fulfill-its-canal-dreams-with-a-hand-from-China

Maybe this latest humiliation has something to do with this, as well?

Dave Pinsen said...

"The IC likes using Booz Allen and SAIC and the like for the same reason the military likes using contractors: plausible deniability and more cya opportunities for the govt agency."

It also lets politicians claim that they reduced the number of government employees.

Svigor said...

Eff me, is it even safe to post that???

It's common knowledge in Stormfront type circles, at least since 2002.

Anonymous said...

We are all Osamas now. Cell phone info sure got him.

Btw, shouldn't we be allowed to listen in on the calls of politicians and bureaucrats since they have power over us?

If they can listen in on us because we might be potential terrorists, why can't we listen in on them as potential tyrants?

Glossy said...

I just watched Snowden's interview. He's a very smart guy. Definitely above 130 IQ. I was even more impressed by how calm he was. And he seemed sincere.

I think one has to be very naive to be shocked by his revelations. Of course everything is being recorded. Storage space is cheap and morality is subject to the lowest-common-denominator rule. His actions won't decrease surveillance one bit. It's hard to imagine them having any long-term consequences at all.

Watercooler Jones said...

I don't know guys, I happen to like blonde Chinese... and don't get me started on Lebanese blonde...

ATBOTL said...

"It's common knowledge in Stormfront type circles, at least since 2002."

So many things that the people who turn their noses up at "Stormfront types" are like that.

Anonymous said...

"Edward Snowden: Exhibit A for How Washington Blows Money on Contractors"

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/06/edward-snowden-exhibit-a-for-how-washington-blows-money-on-contractors/276714/

"No matter how you feel about Edward Snowden's decision to dish on the government's spying habits, there's at least one issue all of us can agree to be outraged over: his salary. Before hightailing it Hong Kong, the 29-year-old had a plum $200,000-a-year job as a Honolulu-based government-contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton, helping the National Security Agency run its surveillance operation. This for a fairly low-level professional with a GED. Here, meanwhile, is how Snowden described his pre-leak lifestyle to The Guardian:

"[Y]ou can get up everyday, go to work, you can collect your large paycheck for relatively little work against the public interest, and go to sleep at night after watching your shows."

Low stress. High pay. As long as your conscience doesn't get in the way, it's apparently good to be a cog in our national-security apparatus.

There's a frustrating reason for that. Over the years, the government has outsourced huge chunks of its operations wholesale to private contractors like Booz Allen, particularly in the realm of intelligence gathering. And it's costing Washington untold billions every year."

Matt said...

People who wonder "why Hong Kong?" would do well to look at this map:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HNL_Destinations_January_2013.png

Every available nonstop flight is to an Asian, Australian, or North American destination. It's possible that he'd have loved to go to Iceland, but knew that he didn't have that luxury. I sure wouldn't have wanted to have a layover if I were him.

wren said...

Maybe it's more Brazil than 1984.

wren said...

I'm fantasizing that Justice Roberts or Chris Christie or someone will hold a press conference and tell everyone that they were blackmailed by Obama over something they thought was completely private...

In non-fantasyland ZeroHedge has a very good post tying Booz Allen to the Saudis.

NOTA said...

There is some kind of special extra-strength tribal blindness involved, when you see a revelation that your government is massively spying on its citizens, with essentially no oversight beyond the good intentions of the people running the spy agencies, and your conclusion is "this must be a Chinese plot." WTF?

This is like some inner city politician getting caught embezzling money from the school budget, and trying to get sympathy among the city residents because Whitey's trying to send him to jail. The problem isn't China here--it's the US government, which is massively spying on us all the time. Trying to turn this into us vs the Chinese, or the French, or the Israelis, or the Muslims, is idiotic.

Do we want our government spying on us? Is it even possible to effectively push back on this stuff? What else is our government doing to US citizens in secret, and how would we find out? These are very important questions that have nothing at all to do with China.

NOTA said...

Matt:

Why not fly to Iceland before the leak took place?

OSS said...

Given that Obama was looked at as a 'hope and change' figure, I wonder if more disillusioned sub-35 employees in the future will slowly leak info.

While Obama has been a huge disappointment for many young people, I think we'll see about the same rate of people committing 'treason'. It takes an unusual combination of balls, conscientiousness and being slightly off, mentally speaking, to do what Binnet, the Greek guy and Snowden have done.

Anonymous said...

All the information about you that exists in these databases constitutes another You, an AI representation that has a life of its own.


Chad Scoville called it a Media Doppler:

http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=614


You have been cloned, and as it evolves over time, your clone takes on multiple forms.

Anonymous said...

Forget who watches the watchmen. What I don't understand is how people expect to use computers for all this, and not have some computer guys in the backroom, admins like this guy, database admins, backup admins, or even QA testing guys who can often see big chunks of whatever the stuff is in unencrypted form... because they have to in order to make things work.

Sure end-users of the system, analysts using the system, probably have a lot of checks that are built into the end-user application. And as much work is probably done with synthetic data as possible. But when a disk or database has gone bad and someone has to fix it or bring a new database online... well, you can't work on what you can't see.

Sure, you can spread things around, compartmentalize, but some computer guy, somewhere, has to bring it all together, if nothing else to test and debug the program (we don't want to be returning the _wrong_ data now, do we?)

Whisky is right: "A perfectly secure system is nearly unuseable.". So I guess the intel community hires guys like this who they hope are going to work out well and not abuse things...

Mr. Anon said...

"Alice said...

The IC likes using Booz Allen and SAIC and the like for the same reason the military likes using contractors: plausible deniability and more cya opportunities for the govt agency."

You forgot an important one - perhaps the most important. The government officials who throw that business to contractors can then retire from their (relatively low paying) GS or SES job, and get hired into an executive position with the contractor.

Thomas Verblan said...

I say this NSA monitoring of internet, and especially telephone, has been going on much longer than people realize. I think the NSA has been parsing telephone calls for metadata since the 1980's.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

The clueless anchors and John Miller on CBS morning show were wondering why Snowden sought refuge in China since China has an extradition treaty with the US."

Perhaps Snowden was less concerned with extradition than he was with extrordinary rendition, which - I imagine - is much more likely in a NATO or third-world country than it would be in a place under Chinese jurisdiction.

Anonymous said...

Cell phones constantly emit location data when they're on, even if you're not using the phone, and this data is probably stored as well. So they can basically trace your physical movement over your entire life.

Anonymous said...

It might have been pointed out above, but Hong Kong does have an extradition treaty with the US. It was negotiated by the Clinton Administration before the Handover in 1997.

Also, while Hong Kongers have shown admirable bravery protesting incursions by Beijing into their internal affairs, the territory's freedom is becoming more and more curtailed.

In other words, this guy ain't all that bright.

Which actually proves his case.

E. Snowden said...

Meet my girlfriend, Lindsay Mills.

Anonymous said...

Hong Kong just sounds cool and would make a better location for the film version. Then the final scene could be him in Iceland walking away across the volcanic rock as the camera pans away.

The film would suck if it was all in Iceland. What type of cool chase scenes could you have in Iceland?

Harry Baldwin said...

Instead, it seems to me all CIA officers must either be humorless and unengaging former SF types or chubby white B school grads who wear fanny packs and drink diet coke.

Among the general public, is a middle-aged white guy wearing a fanny pack written off as a clueless dweeb or as someone possibly carrying a concealed weapon? Many of us in the CCW community hope it's the former.

Geoff Matthews said...

The girlfriend is "an acrobatic pole dancer", according to this news article.

http://news.yahoo.com/edward-snowdens-girlfriend-lost-sea-122653663--abc-news-topstories.html

I'm trying to figure out the difference between that and a stripper.

Geoff Matthews said...

As long as we're throwing out safer destinations than Hong Kong, why not France? They seem content to take in our murderers, and they'd love a chance to thumb their noses at the US government in this case.

soho said...

When I was employed in the USA; our Director had said; "There is no Free Lunch" anywhere, I had figured this out independently way back. "You got Freedom to do whatever you want in the USA becoz its so vast, and people seek Privacy"; I had just figured out that their is a very Big Brother in the USA.

"You can Run; But cannot Hide".

"As important as it may be towards Secuirty, it is a Bad Policy".

Its all Karma as they say in India.

Anonymous said...

"NSA Leaker's Six-Figure Pay Should Spark Debate: Why Are Federal Workers Being Replaced With Pricier Contractors?"

http://www.forbes.com/sites/johngoglia/2013/06/10/leakers-six-figure-salary-should-also-force-public-debate-why-are-lower-cost-federal-employees-being-replaced-with-so-many-higher-priced-contractors/

"It was not Edward Snowden’s intent to spark a debate on the high price of replacing federal employees with government contractors. But it should. Why is a 29-year-old high school drop-out making more as a low-level contractor than any senior manager in the federal government short of the President himself, and a very few other special category employees?

At a reported annual salary of $200,000, Mr. Snowden was making more than the highest-paid federal senior executive, more than District Court Judges ($174,000) or U.S. Court of Appeals Judges ($184,500), more than Congressmen and Senators and more even than the House and Senate Majority Leaders ($193,400). Even Supreme Court Justices and Vice-President Biden barely make more than Mr. Snowden earned as an IT contractor.

Revolving Door

Everyone who has worked in the federal government over the last few decades has seen a steady shrinkage in the number of federal employees, with many of them replaced by government contractors at a higher rate of pay than the employees they replaced. In the agencies I’m most familiar with, the NTSB and FAA, it was not unusual for government workers to retire from federal service on a Friday and show up at work on Monday – as contract employees, often sitting in their same chairs, at their same desks, doing their same jobs – except at a higher pay."

Anonymous said...

the 29-year-old had a plum $200,000-a-year job

It was actually about $120K to him. That can be about right for a dev ops wrangler that has to deal with filers, routers, security, and a broad range of hardware and software.

Generally the government is lousy at hiring and retaining technical talent, so they very often farm that out to contractors.

Anonymous said...

"Among the general public, is a middle-aged white guy wearing a fanny pack written off as a clueless dweeb or as someone possibly carrying a concealed weapon?"

I generally assume "weapon" unless the guy is clearly a dweeb.