So James Bamford has a huge profile out of Snowden with GIANT pictures that freeze your screen, as all the cool magazines have now.
Fortunately, other people like Yishai Schwart at The New Republic and Michael Kelley at Business Insider have written excellent articles debunking this sychophantic fluff piece, this information-free propaganda.
Kelley has stuck to his guns about the issue he fastened onto from the beginning, the funny business having to do with when Snowden gave away documents to the journalists -- and whether he held some back. Bamford inadvertently adds to the store of what Kelley can dissect, and it's great.
I went to the trouble to go to a book store to find Bamford's The Puzzle Palace (it's only available for read-only in the public library), expecting at least I'd get an outline of the issues, but it was so boring and didactic I didn't buy it. I will get to it someday. But having also heard him speak, I see that he's really just an ideologue, stuck in the 1960s.
He claims he is only driven to research his motives? Baloney. He never does. Because they are all fine and perfectly harmonious with Bamford's own "stick it to the Man" stuff.
Here's a man who took *nine months* to get his appointment with Snowden (!) -- even as a ferocious cheer-leader and 100% like-minded cadre. Yet the terms and modalities of the meeting were swirling in mystery about which he had little curiosity, despite having met with KGB agents for stories in the past. Yet he concludes that the charge of coooperation with the Russians has "no valid evidence" on the basis of nothing at all but ideology.
He makes reference to Snowden's "minders" but never admits that they are FSB or Russian or who they are. Shameful.
My one hope is that articles like these will help the teams of CIA agents or NSA agents who I hope are trying to track Snowden get some clues.
So...that hotel that overlooks the Stalin vysotki? Hmm. The Hotel Kosmos? Get out your Google maps and work it. It would have to be a hotel on the outskirts outside of the Ring Road that looks on to the Foreign Ministry or Moscow University or some of these other vysotki (the Hotel Ukraina).
Another clue, which we've been waiting for more than a year to get, which I asked about the first day! The make of his glasses is Burberry. They are broken -- the nose pad is missing on the left side, and it makes them askew. That means sooner or later, he has to get them fixed. If he's on a budget, maybe he'll try to get the same pair fixed. So watch the eyeglass stores in Moscow, especially those with Burberry. Watch to see if mail comes in to Burberry -- maybe he'll mail order it. Odd that he hasn't yet.
He also mentions that he has been spotted and greeted by people in computer stores. So he must keep shopping at them out of habit and obsession -- stalk them, and maybe he'll turn up. Not THAT many in Moscow.
I was surprised to hear Bamford say there was a team ""meeting everyday" to figure out how to catch him. Good! God speed.
I'd work on that lamp, if I were you. This is a lamp in the hotel where supposedly they met -- with the view on the vysotki. But I actually think it's the Hotel Metropol, where Bamford stayed.
He says at one point that Snowden came to meet him -- but not at his own hotel, another one, Hotel National. But that hotel is more modern and doesn't have lamps like this. So get to work on those lamps, guys!
I don't have time for this now, but you can see, Metropol is a promising possibility -- I just stuck in two lamps from two rooms in Metropol -- they have different styles in different rooms. Get to work, guys.
So Bamford has a TOUCHING naivite regarding "only three sets" of copies.
I guess he never factors in the 3 or 6 or more "technical helpers" with sticky fingers like Jacob Appelbaum. There are likely more than a dozen sets out now, by my reckoning, if you count also all those Germans, plus the New York Times, plus Pro Publica, the Guardian, and the Washington post AND all their tech helpers. LOTS. TOO MANY.
One of the goofiest things is this:
Before he made off with the documents, he tried to leave a trail of digital bread crumbs so investigators could determine which documents he copied and took and which he just “touched.” That way, he hoped, the agency would see that his motive was whistle-blowing and not spying for a foreign government.
This is completely disingenuous. Why do that when you're stealing stuff? This is fake. Snowden then bitches that they didn't find the bread crumbs anyway.
“I think they think there’s a smoking gun in there that would be the death of them all politically,” Snowden says. “The fact that the government’s investigation failed—that they don’t know what was taken and that they keep throwing out these ridiculous huge numbers—implies to me that somewhere in their damage assessment they must have seen something that was like, ‘Holy shit.’ And they think it’s still out there.”
But I suspect Snowden doesn't know what he's taken, either. He claims that he "took" some things and "touched" others and the government therefore has this fake number of "1.7 million" because they don't know the difference.
Um, well, "touching" a file could mean copying it too. Reading it is copying it, perhaps. I'd like to hear more about the technical aspects, but it sounds bogus.
And here Bamford leaves open the biggest hole in his argument, when he tells us this:
But independent of my visit to Snowden, I was given unrestricted access to his cache of documents in various locations. And going through this archive using a sophisticated digital search tool, I could not find some of the documents that have made their way into public view, leading me to conclude that there must be a second leaker somewhere.
So wait. That means Bamford could tell us definitively -- if he got UNRESTRICTED ACCESS to this cache HOW MANY OF THEM THERE ARE. Like, 200,000 or 100,000 or 1.7 million. That would show if you had UNRESTRICTED access. If you had to search with key words, it would show "searching X documents" and you'd know.
But he doesn't tell us that total. He could have said "I know 1.7 million is bogus because I saw the actual total but I'm not telling you."
That means he didn't see a total number or didn't pay attention. So he doesn't know. He can't be sure he was given ALL of them anyway!
Bamford uses this uncertainty to open up the "second leaker" concept:
And there’s another prospect that further complicates matters: Some of the revelations attributed to Snowden may not in fact have come from him but from another leaker spilling secrets under Snowden’s name. Snowden himself adamantly refuses to address this possibility on the record. Some have even raised doubts about whether the infamous revelation that the NSA was tapping German chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, long attributed to Snowden, came from his trough.
But we know for a fact some things didn't come from him, because when Appelbaum leaked the catalogue of NSA spy gadgets like the device that can get into the Cisco router, Greenwald said it wasn't a Snowden document. It was published in Germany. Since Snowden won't tell us, we have to conclude this is a Russian caper. Snowden is either the decoy to hide the fact of the mole, wittingly or unwittingly, therefore what he took is only part of the story, and his claim that he doesn't show anything to the Russians is irrelevant, because he's an exploited "umbrella". Or he's in on it from the beginning.
I think we can be fairly certain they don't know what they took, because there are certain documents -- like the one mentioning spying on human rights groups or Israel -- that would have come out much earlier when they still have more attention than they do now -- IF they had found them.
Bamford thinks it's a "nightmare" only for the NSA that the NSA doesn't know what they took, but it's equally so for the stealers, because they can and apparently are being exploited by moles.
Poitras won't answer questions about this prospect of the second leaker, which raises the intriguing question of whether SHE is the Russian spy working with WikiLeaks and using Snowden as a patsy.
But no matter, it's all part of the "national conversation" bullshit supposedly about our civil liberties.
Bamford notes, "Just of the Army, Snowden landed a job as a security guard at a top-secret facility that required him to get a high-level security clearance."
HOW DID HE DO THAT!!!
I wish we could get a lot more curiosity about this!
An now, this gem:
Another concern for Snowden is what he calls NSA fatigue—the public becoming numb to disclosures of mass surveillance, just as it becomes inured to news of battle deaths during a war. “One death is a tragedy, and a million is a statistic,” he says, mordantly quoting Stalin. “Just as the violation of Angela Merkel’s rights is a massive scandal and the violation of 80 million Germans is a nonstory.”
Well, let me tell you why it's a non-story! Because there isn't any "violation of 80 millions Germans' rights"! THAT is the problem. There is no evidence even of Merkel's case, let alone the 79.99 million others!
I guess I can't complain in the end. Because these fatuous and self-serving article can't help dropping clues -- clues that smarter and more honest journalists like Kelley willing to tackle all the patent bullshit in this narrative can pick up and mine for truth. So keep it coming. I have no doubt that in the end, the facade will crack and we will get the real story -- which will likely be about Russia, a Russian mole, WikiLeaks, and hackers -- and not the innocence of Snowden.