BY CATHERINE A. FITZPATRICK
Someone's got it in for me, they're planting stories in the press / Whoever it is I wish they'd cut it out quick but when they will I can only guess /
Idiot Wind - Bob Dylan
UPDATED 8/13/2013 with additional conflicting narratives that have come out from Peter Maass portrait of Laura Poitras in the New York Times Magazine and also to add information gleaned from Snowden's girlfriend's (now deleted) blog showing the convergence of various hackers in Hawaii at the time Snowden was there.
An episode that sticks out for me in the story of how Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jacob Appelbaum came to get in touch with Edward Snowden, write about him, and spill his secrets is the furious response Greenwald has to Walter Pincus' articles containing his findings and questions on the connections between WikiLeaks and Snowden and Greenwald's role.
Pincus' article tracks with the sense a number of us have who have been following these radical activists long before the Snowden story broke that these people all knew each other long before, and collaborated much closer than they admit to bring about the Snowden defection to Russia.
In fact, I've been following them for years, long before the Snowden story, and I was the only one to cover critically the appearance of Poitras, Appelbaum and William Binney, their celebrated NSA "whistleblower" of last year's (2012) talk circuit.
It's my conviction, too, that they all have known each other a long time, and that if they hadn't found Snowden, or recruited him, they'd have to invent him. And maybe they did -- the fable he tells -- and which Greenwald repeats -- about the "direct access" between IT companies' servers and the NSA is, in my view, one of the greatest active measures of our time against the United States. It's an active measure that fits into a whole series of attacks by anarchist hacker movements related to Anonymous, WikiLeaks and Occupy who have either been used by Russian and Chinese intelligence or have colluded with them from the beginning, as I describe in this long time-line.
Sure, my basis for these contentions is basically just a hunch based on tracking how these people behave or a long period of time, but it's based on repeated experience of seeing how they operate; how they edge-case and obfuscate and distract about their motives and actions. I always feel with these people that it's like playing Monopoly when you're kids, and you invent all these extra rules, like "if you roll the dice and ding my hotel on Boardwalk, you have to pay me $100 in damages" -- and then endless arguments about whether the dice really came near the hotel, or whether it was really $100 you agreed on.
Walter Pincus' contention that Greenwald had a prior relationship with WikiLeaks and his story had essentially been "previewed" or shaped by them came from two things -- a video interview with Julian Assange on Democracy Now! on May 29 2013 before Greenwald's story came out -- which was also about Stellar Wind and how the NSA purportedly invades privacy -- and a story that he saw on WikiLeaks' website by Greenwald about the NSA.
Greenwald flew at him like a bat out of hell with corrections to what he implied were outrageous errors -- in fact Assange had been talking about the NSA's eavesdropping programs in the past and (supposedly) didn't have the information about PRISM (yet); and Greenwald first published his piece on Salon.com, and WikiLeaks' blog just reprinted it later, which is why it appeared as if it came from them.
But these aren't substantive corrections; they're the sort of technical error that Greenwald thrives on discovering to distract from a reader's catching him out in the bigger picture of his seeming collusion.
And the reason they aren't substantive is because indeed, Appelbaum and Poitras did indeed prefigure (that's the word I'd use) the Edward Snowden story with ex-NSA employee William Binney more than a year previously in New York at the Whitney Museum (I was there and blogged it and it was also online, along with interviews with Democracy Now!) at a "Surveillance Teach-in". And Greenwald has indeed shilled for WikiLeaks for years, and not been honest about admitting that both Poitras and Appelbaum had radical histories of anti-government activist that led to US agents stopping them at borders for questioning.
You can view Binney as a trial run or a stress test or a beta and you can view Snowden as 2.0; but the fact is, they are written from the same code.
Greenwald succeeded in stirring up an uproar and getting the tech and lefty media echo chamber to make that uproar even more fierce against Pincus, who was associated long ago with the CIA and hated by the "progressives" and libertarians. (They made it seem as if it was some outrageous crime against journalistic ethics that he took awhile to research and respond to the attacks with some corrections, but it was within a few days). But this shouldn't distract from the essential truths that Pincus was stumbling on and all of these things bear re-examination.
Why is it important to show that these people in fact knew each other in the past, and collaborated on this story earlier than we knew and aren't telling us everything? Well, not only to show that if they lie about this thing, they could be lying about the entire NSA story (and I believe they are); but we can see more clearly the deeper activist agenda they have and the larger plot involving WikiLeaks assault on America, with Russian help.
As I explained in my long timeline, the purpose is to weaken and discredit America as a champion of Internet freedom; to claim that it is a hypocrite and not true to its ideals; to act as if it is no different than the surveillance states of Russia and China; and to make it seem as if the "sovereign Internet" plans of these authoritarian governments then are justified due to the discreditation of both US commercial and government involvement in the World Wide Web.
So here are the topics that all bear re-visiting on the Snowden story and further investigation:
GLENN GREENWALD'S RELATIONSHIP TO WIKILEAKS
Glenn did not just discover WikiLeaks when he worked with Appelbaum this year to handle the Snowden story, and that's why his neuralgic reaction to Pincus' claim that he was published directly by WikiLeaks is so silly.
Glenn is a long-time supporter of WikiLeaks, directly and repeatedly in touch with Julian Assange. For example, in March 2010, he wrote an article in which he said:
I spoke this morning at length with Julian Assange, the Australian citizen who is WikiLeaks’ Editor, regarding the increasingly aggressive war being waged against WikiLeaks by numerous government agencies, including the Pentagon.
Many people didn't really tune into Assange until November 2010, when he leaked the State Department cables; the war cables didn't get as much attention in the mainstream media although the anti-war and leftist media covered them. Likely Greenwald goes back further than March 2010, but I believe this is his first major defense.
Greenwald also published a major piece in support of Manning on the second anniversary of his incarceration on May 31, 2012.
GLENN GREENWALD'S RELATIONSHIP TO JACOB APPELBAUM
In early November 2010, Glenn also wrote about the people who were being harassed at the border for their support of WikiLeaks -- he wrote about hackers David House and Jacob Appelbaum. He notes that Appelbaum addressed him openly on Twitter about how his equipment wasn't returned after border searchers. (Appelbaum openly supported and fund-raised for WikiLeaks when he took Assange's place at a hacker's conference, and is widely believed to have been deeply involved in WikiLeaks, which had its start in the use of the circumvention software named Tor which Appelbaum develops and whose non-profit organization he heads.)
In 2010, Greenwald also got into an epic fight with Wired over their spilling of a chat log between Manning and the hacker Adrian Lamo, who turned out to be an FBI information -- he had become alarmed at the kinds of secrets Manning was going to spill when he was contacted by him (they had mutual contacts in the MIT hackers' community), and he decided to report him to the FBI. Greenwald mounted the same sort of savage and hysterical attack on Keven Poulsen, Wired editor (no angel he; a former indicted hacker from the phone phreakers era) over what he felt was disloyalty and endangerment of Manning and also incomplete disclosure of the full texts of the IRC channel chat logs, which he felt was damning. Poulsen said at the time that full disclosure had not been made merely to protect features of Manning's private life like his transgender status and ultimately ended up publishing the whole thing.
(See, if you're going to get into a fight with hackers or over hacking, bring your own trusted hacker to the fight; that was poor Walter Pincus' biggest mistake.)
Said Lamo at the time:
Unfortunately, the appearance of that source turned out to be suspiciously convenient. Described in the Salon article as "a well-known hacker of the Tor Project who has known Lamo for years," Appelbaum has other associations - namely as a high-level volunteer for Wikileaks.org, who has personally met with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (who started the site with documents stolen via the above-mentioned Tor Project) and has been tracked to the same location as Assange as recently as this year. And it's clear that Assange and Appelbaum share a huge vested interest in trying to discredit me and exonerate Manning, with Assange even allegedly sending Wikileaks.org lawyers to try to defend Manning.
See, Glenn failed to do this little thing -- explain in his Salon story that Appelbaum wasn't just the Tor guy but was a huge WikiLeaks supporter -- and as many believe, engineer/helper/encryption maven/whatever. Greenwald then said rather unconvincingly that he just didn't know that about Appelbaum, he just hadn't read the news. As always with Greenwald when he literalizes and edge-cases like this, there's little you can do. Everyone else following this topic knew about Jake -- he says he didn't. Oh, well.
It's awfully similar to the way that Glenn didn't really explain in his angry rebuttal to Pincus that he really had no call getting so angry about being accused of publishing on WikiLeaks blog because good Lord, he's been stumping for WikiLeaks constantly since 2010, from their lips to his ear. And it's awfully similar to the way that Glenn's story about the way in which he first heard from Snowden has some kinks in it or his omission of crucial information about Poitas (see below).
Greenwald has long been a close contact supporter of Appelbaum; last April 2012, he tweeted support of his Democracy Now! "prefigure" video (as I call it) about the NSA.
WIRED BREAKS STORY OF NSA EAVESDROPPING
James Bamford of Wired broke the story of a new facility being built in Utah and the Stellar Wind program in March 2012. It would be interesting to see if he ever dealt with Appelbaum or Poitras but maybe not, given possible antagonism between Kevin Poulsen, Wired editor, and Appelbaum over the Manning/Lamo chat logs that "betrayed the hacker movement". And wouldn't it be funny if this grave breach of our national security was rooted only in a pissing match and turf war over a couple of haxxors?
I remember when the story came out, and it didn't really get much attention beyond the nerd pack. But he does mention William Binney -- who is about to make his Democracy Now! debut the next month and be featured even on the mainstream nytimes.com then in August 2012.
GREENWALD'S RELATIONSHIP WITH LAURA POITRAS
It's not known when Greenwald actually first met or contacted Poitras. But his first big article about her suffering in "40 border detentions and searches" came in April 2012 (remember that date).
This was an uproar on the left and libertarian blogs, and film-makers even signed an appeal on her behalf.
But just as Greenwald had failed to tell his readers in the Wired epic clash that his hacker friend Appelbaum worked for WikiLeaks (he claimed he didn't know yet), so Greenwald failed to tell his readers why Poitras was being stopped at the border, really -- not because of her criticism of the US government, but for an incident involving allegations that she knew about an ambush of US troops while embedded with insurgents in Iraq covering the war, but didn't tell them.
This story has been around and the Weekly Standard covered it, and there is also a book chapter mentioning the ambush and the effort to positively identity Poitras, which failed. US troops involved remained convinced she was the one on the ridge filming them for her movie My Country, My Country.
Ever since, this MacArthur genius award fellow and Pop Tech speaker and beloved film-maker of the anti-war movement has been stopped at the border, yes, because the US government continues its investigation of this and other incidents.
I don't know whether the New York Times didn't know of these allegations in August 2012, when they published her tendentious film on William Binney, "The Program," on the nytimes.com site as an "op-ed piece". But this film also -- to use my word -- "prefigures" the Greenwald story of Snowden.
Important contradiction: The Weekly Standard notes that Laura Poitras denies being on the roof at all before the ambush. But in her interview with Maass, now Poitras says she accompanied the family of the doctor she was filming up to the roof several times. Now she admits she was on the roof. Maass tries to frame this story to her advantage by saying that Iraqi troops, backed by US troops, raided a mosque. Of course, terrorists misused mosques to hide in all the time, and bombed mosques as well in the Iraq war and still do. Whether or not the US committed a wrong here can't distract from the question of whether Poitras knew of the ambush or not.
LAURA POITRAS' ASSOCIATION WITH WIKILEAKS, HACKER AND CRYPTO PARTY MOVEMENTS
Peter Maass praises Poitras' skills in defeating surveillance from US government agencies she has actively opposed as a radical film-maker. She learned these skills, as she recounts it, from Jacob Appelbaum, developer of Tor, the circumvention software originally developed by the US Navy which has been involved in a number of controversies. Appelbaum has also been wanted for questioning by the WikiLeaks grand jury after he openly took Assange's place at the HOPE hacker conference and actively worked for WL.
Poitras appears to be the person seated here at the right who attended a Crypto Party, i.e. an event arranged by a hackers' movement to teach activists to encrypt as can be seen from this picture by Daniil Vasilyev.
A week before Glenn Greenwald's story broke and then Gellman's story appeared, Assange gave an interview to Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! about the Stellar Wind program at NSA. Pincus felt that the story line was so similar -- the evil NSA eavesdropping on all our email and telephone communications -- that he described this as a "preview' of Greenwald's story -- as if Assange knew about Glenn's story and was plotting with him and this constituted proof.
I think Greenwald, Appelbaum, and Poitras (or any one or two out of the three) alerted Assange to the big story of Snowden about to break. How could they not? Maybe Greenwald and Poitras aren't especially close to Assange but Appelbaum is, and he'd also have the chops to make encrypted comms with him to reach Assange's comfort level. He'd also want to vet Snowden through Assange to avoid all of them getting burned, I should think. After all, while we think of these people as constantly winning in their struggle with America, they're paranoid and playing victim all the time and imagine they'll be stung at any moment. How could they be sure he's the real deal?
I believe the proof of authenticity was a quest given to Snowden to get an example of bugged communications that the hackers Appelbaum or Assange would know about or suspect, to see if Snowden would a) get the goods and b) help their side out. When Snowden tells Poitras and Appelbaum in the Der Spiegel article about "the suspected hacker's girlfriend" whose cell phone abroad was ostensibly snooped on, I think that is the story; that's the quest he had to fulfill. That suspected hacker is either Appelbaum himself, and the girlfriend is a friend who is a girl in Boston (a story he tells in his Berlin speech of July 25, 2013 where he's anxiously trying to line up narratives to match his digital footprint), or someone like Quinn Norton, the ex-girlfriend of suspected hacker Aaron Swartz -- or perhaps someone else in this circle. I was told this was a manual hack and not a Stellar Wind scrape, but no matter; the quest trophy is similar to the one Bradley Manning brought to Assange in the form of an Iceland cable that showed Assange was under surveillance.
Since Greenwald has bent over backward so hard to discount ANY connection between Assange and his "prefigurement" story and his own work, it's worth looking at closely:
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, let’s look at this phenomena from two aspects. Don’t be deceived by what appears to be small maneuvers by the Department of Justice to go after AP, to go after Rosen, to go after us, etc. We have over here the bulk surveillance industry run by the National Security Agency that already has all these records. It has them all already. The National Security Agency—and this has come out in one court case after another—was involved in a project called Stellar Wind to collect all the calling records of the United States, every record of everyone calling everyone over years. And the result of that lay out the entire community and political structure, based upon who people are friends with. You can infer that by who calls who, and what the status is by the relative flow of calls around the country, to suck out the entire community structure of the United States. That has already been done. Those calling records already enter into the national security complex.
What we’re talking about here are mechanisms to use that information in a court case, and therefore it has to be clean. This is the dirty team; this is the clean team. And so, these are maneuvers to pull people into court cases that will become public to set a deterrent against national security journalism. And the most pernicious aspect of that is the abuse of the Espionage Act and other mechanisms to try and conflate the activities of a source with the activities of a journalist or a publisher, and to try and say that whenever a journalist deals with a source, they’re in fact engaged in a conspiracy. And if there’s an allegation—of course, allegations can be very easily made, placed on the table, just invented from thin air—that a source’s behavior affects national security and is therefore espionage, and therefore, extend that allegation over to the journalist and to the source—and to the publisher. In the case of Rosen, they have done that in order to get at Rosen’s emails and other records, to then back reflect onto the source or onto other sources. You know, it is simply a disgrace. It is unethical conduct. It is politically worrying conduct. It is chilling conduct. And it is—why is it being done? Because they believe they can get away with it. It is part of advancing the frontier of the national security state to roll on over the First Amendment and every other traditionally accepted U.S. value.
Note how Assange strives to get us to look away from the IRS or AP story, ultimately, and look at the larger NSA picture (because that would be personally about Obama and his Administration and WikiLeaks has always gone through these shenanigans to appear as if they are not attacking Obama, but the security state actually built under Bush).
The problem of "conflating a source with a journalist" is of course the very problem Greenwald now faces regarding Snowden.
I could add as an aside that the claim of "sucking the community structure out of the US" (which I believe to be a gross exageration) is something actually foretold by The Sims Online and Second Life, which I always try to explain are testing grounds for hacker movements and Big IT and anyone else who shows up anonymously. The "balloon connections" invented by Will Wright, inventor of the Sims (which he's still tinkering with in other settings) made vivid the whole social tree of everyone online in that world; map-tracking of avatars online in Second Life and then later the proximity data scraped by the short-lived SL Watch also accomplished the same thing of showing how everyone related to everyone else, and how often and how close. These sparked huge outrages about privacy violations in these communities and while people laugh at virtual world problems, in fact we inhabitants of these worlds were the first completely digitalized people (at least as far as our avatars went) who got to see first-hand what it would be like living in the Panopticon we're getting today in real life on the Internet at large.
So -- sure, Greenwald has the alibi that Assange is talking about the sort of larger issue of privacy and the Panopticon that I myself might discuss or Evgeny Morozov or anybody, and it's not really a preview of Snowden. Except, well, it is. We know it in our hearts.
THE DISCREPANCIES IN THE STORY OF HOW GREENWALD FIRST CONTACTED SNOWDEN
There are at least five different version of this story and they bear a close analysis, even if it's boring, because they contain important clues, working backwards:
1. May 2013
The Guardian reports that Snowden arrived in Hong Kong (still underground) on May 20, 2013. In his angry rebuttal to Walter Pincus, Greenwald rages in typical accusatory fashion as quoted in Sargent's June 24 story:
“Anybody who wants to accuse me or anyone at the Guardian of aiding and abetting Snowden has the obligation to point to any specific evidence to support that accusation,” Greenwald told me. “Otherwise they’re just spouting reckless innuendo.”
“We had early conversations about setting up encryption, so we worked early on to set that up,” Greenwald says. “We didn’t work on any documents. I didn’t even know Edward Snowden’s name or where he worked until after he was in Hong Kong with the documents. Anyone who is claiming that somehow I worked with him to get those documents or helped him is just lying.”
Well, maybe people thought that because he said that he was in touch with Snowden in February in the other version of the story; but Greenwald's response to the confrontation from people on Twitter was merely to call them names.
The blogger The People's View is one of those who assiduosly makes timelines and asks questions about when Greenwald knew Snowden and what did he know about him because the story seems to vary.
2. February 2013
In a tweet arguing with Joseph Weisenthal, Executive Editor of Business Insider (@TheStalwart) on Twitter confronting him about timeline issues, Glenn wrote:
Glenn apparently felt upstaged by Bart Gellman, who worked with Laura Poitras on a separate story for the Washington Post on Snowden.
The reason this timing matters is because people began to wonder, once they heard the revelation from Snowden in his June 24 interview with the South China Morning Post that he had deliberately joined Booz, Allen in order to "hack moar," as the kids say, whether Greenwald knew about this plot and was in on it.
And the people confronting Glenn on this are not exactly conservatives or neocons; here's a Hillary supporter and Twitter developer, Zach Green, who asks:
Indeed. Glenn says February; Booz Allen themselves confirmed that Snowden started working for them as an NSA contractor in March 2013.
Greenwald's response to Green for daring to ask this question is to accuse him of "drooling level imbecility" and others pile on to explain that of course Glenn was only trying to set up comms with a stranger who claimed he had a stash of docs.
By June 24th, Greg Sargent of the Washington Post helped smooth out these discrepancies for Greenwald (and for Washpo, which had backed his story and then had to go through multiple correction cycles on the PRISM slides and the "direct access" issue) by saying that he didn't even know his name when he first heard from Snowden (although he neglected to say that in his first renditions of this story).
3. December 2012
He emailed me back in December of last year, anonymously, and said something along the lines of “I and a few other people have some things that you’d be interested in. The problem is we can only communicate with you by encrypted email, so do you have PGP encryption?” I answered him and said “I’ll do it in the next couple of days and then you can email me back.” And he emailed in a few days and said “Did you do it yet?” and I said, “No, I haven’t done it yet,” and then he sent me step-by-step instructions — encryption for idiots, basically.
At this point I still didn’t know who he was or what he had. I frequently get people saying, “I have a huge thing for you,” and the vast majority of the time it turns out to be bullshit. So I didn’t prioritize it, but after a couple of days he wrote me back, and I still hadn’t done it. Then he made me a step-by-step video that he posted on YouTube about how to install and use PGP encryption. But I still didn’t do it, and so then he got frustrated and went to Laura Poitras, who he knew I had worked with and was friends with, because she does have encryption, and he said, “I’m going to give this stuff to you and then get Glenn involved.”
So I almost lost one of the biggest leaks in national-security history because I didn’t bother to install encryption.
4. November 2012
In his interview with Peter Maass for the New York Times Magazine, Greenwald now places the time of this first contact with Snowden "more than six months before" his contact with him in person in Hong Kong in May 2013, i.e. November 2012 or even earlier.
Of course, Glenn gets furious when people nail him on this discrepancy because he can explain it away by saying the email contact from Snowden in December 2012 (possibly under a pseudonymn) (or earlier, as he is now telling Maass) and the handing of the documents from Hong Kong in May 2013 were really two different things, or stages in the same process of first trying to vet Snowden and see if he was useful and authentic.
But it is important to note that he tells the story differently, emphasizing different things and to probe further -- is it November or December or even earlier? And how can we establish this outside the circular loop of Greenwald and the other close-knit circle closely guarding this secret?
Greenwald said Snowden made him a training video and uploaded it to Youtube. Where is it? Can Greenwald provide a link? What was the date of its upload?
So naturally I've been scouring all the PGP how-tos uploaded seven months ago or six months ago that might fit the timeline (did Snowden learn languages?), but there are lots of them and one can't be sure which low-view video could be his (and he may have removed it by now. Somebody could methodically study that, but it occurred to me that Snowden could also avoid having to repeat the wheel and leave clues about himself online by using someone else's training video, oh, Jacob Appelbaum's, for example, in his surveillance workshop of April 28, 2012 in New York. That might not be a for-dummies enough explanation (I'd have to study it more) but there it is. Somewhere, there is (was) a PGP training video with Snowden's fingerprints.
Let's pause for a sec and wonder how Greenwald, so enamored of WikiLeaks and reporting natsec stuff all the time, wouldn't have a PGP, but that's what he says.
So this "different version" in a sense "tracks' because it's involves Snowden, a first-time contact who is frustrated, Poitras is involved, then they come back to Greenwald later. Still -- it all bears scrutiny.
5. March or April 2013
Now you'll see why I've put this out of order, because here's yet another version from Michael Calderone of Huffington Post that you can now understand could be later because of the initial flub on the PGP.
Or not necessarily PGP but Tor or something even more elaborate because it wasn't just some email but loads of files.
Greenwald set up the encryption software and began speaking directly with Snowden in late March or early April, he said.
But see, these date stamps don't satisfy everybody, because then there's this, from Greenwald speaking to the New Yorker:
As Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists who broke the story, pointed out on “Morning Joe” today, this wasn’t a WikiLeaks-style data dump. “[Snowden] spent months meticulously studying every document,” Greenwald said. “He didn’t just upload them to the Internet.”
But Snowden didn't get his job at Booz, Allen where he could go back to serious NSA hacking until March 2013. So he had like...month. Not months.
Unless he started hoarding stuff while working as the NSA contractor at Dell. BTW, what connection does Dell have to the NSA?
THE PGP KEYS
Naturally, the hordes of script kiddies out there in the IRC channels like little busy hornets are always available to crowd-source and look at stuff like this and even turn against their own when they feel like somebody's story just doesn't add up. That is, even people who are four-square against the NSA and are for hacking the hell out of anything might turn on Greenwald if they were on the Wired side of the epic fight (or Wired itself). Wired's story about the NSA's new hive was overshadowed, big-time, by Snowden via Greenwald. That's why I think we may live to see the day of the great Wired takedown of Greenwald. Don't forget Greenwald (and Snowden above all) were exposed as mistaken/ignorant about tech in their "direct access" story from the PRISM slides.
But what these kids look for then is the dates the PGP keys appear out there in cyberspace. And here's the unfailing Cryptome story about all that which I also parse here, asking if Michael Vario is a persona or sock puppet for Snowden or what that's all about. But just as surely as Snowden was shown creating keys in March and May 2013, so @kapora of all people was busy telling us about how such things can get spoofed. Oh, well. Somewhere, on some server -- just like the Ars Technica readers had saved Edward Snowden's chats from 2007-2009 (!) -- there are more Snowden digital footprints and we will eventually find out more about his troubled crisis of conscious period following 2009.
SNOWDEN AND APPELBAUM IN HAWAII
Naturally, since Jacob Appelbaum went to Hawaii in April 2012 and again in April 2013 to celebrate his birthday, right when Edward Snowden was also there, we're all wondering. LibertyLynx broke this story from a reliable source who had noticed the "alibi video" Jake desperately made in Berlin trying to explain the reason for something he feared NSA analysts might have noticed -- that he was in Hawaii in April 2013 when Snowden was also there (and I could add - in April 2012 when Snowden was already there, too).
And it's important to know (because some newspapers are muddled on this and Pincus tripped on this and then Greenwald whacked him) that Snowden goes back to March 2012 in Hawaii. Talking Points Memo fetched that out of his girlfriend's blog -- and I saw her blog before she deleted it and it was definitely there as a timeline she described (and you can still find her blog in the Wayback Machine).
Snowden first came to Hawaii to work for Dell. Then he left Dell to go to Booz Allen Hamilton where he worked less than three months as BAH tells us in a terse statement on their web site after these events.
The Times is the only source I've seen (correct me if I'm wrong) that posits a segue between Dell and BAH where his hacking for the ultimate great revelation starts at Dell, and gives him reason then to move to BAH.
In what may have been his last job for Dell in Hawaii, he was responsible for the security of “Windows infrastructure” in the Pacific, he wrote, according to people who have seen his résumé. He had enough access there to start making contacts with journalists in January and February about disclosing delicate information. His work for Dell may also have enabled him to see that he would have even more access at Booz Allen
Somewhere in the numerous Appelbaum videos online, somebody might someday find some "windows infrastructure" help-desking (naturally Appelbaum loathes Windows) or some clue that will tie them together more intimately in Hawaii. For now, it's only same state, same time, but we don't know if Jake passed through Honolulu to talk to his future WikiLeaks protege Ed in April 2012 or April 2013.
Of course, the essence of hackers is to be online and be anonymous and "exist in cyberspace". But for virtual worlders, they do in fact spend a lot of time in meet-ups and conferences and hackathons and teach-ins and whatnot, and that's what has to be studied. December 2012 at 29c3 (the Chaos Communications Club conference) is when Appelbaum openly recruited government programmers to "leave the dark side" and come join his chaos club...
From Snowden's girlfriend's now-deleted blog, we also have an indication that Edward flew somewhere in March 2013 for a week or so "on business". To Maui, 100 miles away, to see Jacob Appelbaum and other hackers at the Spring Break of Code? An even that Appelbaum first described as a birthday gift for a vacation that he spent with 20 of his friends, but is described by other people at the Spring Break of Code as an event they organized in January to encourage young coders intereset in privacy encryption. If they are separate events, they intersect, but maybe they aren't. Snowden may have also flown to the mainland, possibly for BHA training at this time -- this is March-April 2013 before he fled Hawaii to Hong Kong.
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS FOUNDATION
Many Internet sleuths make much of the fact that the one place where you can find Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and WikiLeaks all in one place is the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a relatively new outfit built out of old networks (of the same Mitch Kapor-founded Electronic Frontier Foundation gang and their front groups).
Yes, surprise, surprise, these folks, spearheaded by Gramps, as I've called the Grateful Dead's John Perry Barlow in several heated debates in person, raised a bunch of dough to help out WikiLeaks, whose coffers were emptying out in the past year because they had trouble getting payment providers after PayPal and MasterCard and such blocked them.
But this isn't a smoking gun so much as a gun that was due to go off in the first act years ago, as Chekhov would say. These people have long been working together before, as we've seen. They grace the masthead of this operation with various other lesser known hacker types because they felt that flush from their victory defeating SOPA/PIPA and CISPA -- legislation to regulate intellectual property and cybersecurity and privacy, of all things -- they should move on to bigger projects like tackling the security state more ambitiously with WikiLeaks.
One could ask questions about in which form FPF, a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization raises money to WikiLeaks, and whether it is going to Assange's private entity, which is a for-profit business that is not a 501-c-3 equivalent overseas. They could be in violation of charity law if they are not exercising expenditure responsibility and keeping to nonprofit activity.
Of course, there are other operations that do this work and probably have even more political clout, like Access, which has the ubiquitous former Googler (and former White House tech official and former just about everything else) Andrew McLoughlin.
I pointed out they weren't very transparent about their funding in a number of tussles with their people, and now I see they do have a funding page where surprise, surprise, it's a family foundation and Google.
They're also leading the charge on the NSA issue -- who knew?! And there is an entire network of these organizations, and they literally get millions from the Soros Foundations and other "progressives".
CONNECTION BETWEEN POITRAS AND APPELBAUM
These two were likely in Iraq together; she was there in 2004-2005 (when the ambush incident happened); Appelbaum was there in 2005 (which he brags about endlessly; he ran with the rebels and carried an AK47 himself).
We can't prove they ran into each other, but Laura refers to Appelbaum as her friend who helps her with encryption stuff at the time on several occasions.
Did you immediately know what was the best, most secure protocol to go about it?
I actually did. I have a lot of experience because I’ve been working with — as you note in your thing, I’ve done filming with WikiLeaks, I know Jacob Appelbaum. I already had encryption keys but what he was asking for was beyond what I was using in terms of security and anonymity.
How did it proceed from there?
So that’s where I’m not going into a lot of details, but sort of ongoing correspondence. I didn’t know, I didn’t have any biographical details or where he worked, had no idea. He made claims and said he had documentation. At that point it was all completely theoretical, but I had a feeling it was legit.
You know what jumps out here? The "I've done filming with WikiLeaks". Because her film on Binney posted on the Times doesn't seem like a WikiLeaks project and doesn't mention WikiLeaks; I don't know what she means, actually (before Snowden). And even with Snowden, her first interview with him doesn't make him a WikiLeaks "brand" or "mascot" -- it's her show, and Greenwald's show up to that point. This point bears more study.
Then there's the major interview with Snowden that Poitras and Appelbaum do without Greenwald, for Der Spiegel, in which Appelbaum tells this story:
"In mid-May, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras contacted me," Appelbaum said. "She told me she was in contact with a possible anonymous National Security Agency (NSA) source who had agreed to be interviewed by her."
"She was in the process of putting questions together and thought that asking some specific technical questions was an important part of the source verification process. One of the goals was to determine whether we were really dealing with an NSA whistleblower. I had deep concerns of COINTELPRO-style entrapment. We sent our securely encrypted questions to our source. I had no knowledge of Edward Snowden's identity before he was revealed to the world in Hong Kong. He also didn't know who I was. I expected that when the anonymity was removed, we would find a man in his sixties."
So there are still loose ends to tie up -- lots of them -- but one dog that hasn't barked is MacAskill. Who is he? That man has quite the low-impact online footprint! He's with the Guardian in Washington, and was in the hotel in New York with Poitras and Greenwald when all of this was going down.
1 June Guardian journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill and documentary maker Laura Poitras fly from New York to Hong Kong. They meet Snowden in a Kowloon hotel after he identifies himself with a Rubik's cube and begin a week of interviews with their source.
HACKERS CONVERGE ON HONG KONG
To come -- the other hackers who also were in Hong Kong at the time of Poitras, Appelbaum and Snowden; they may include Christine Corbett, a scientist and friend of Appelbaum and MIT hackers who was also at the Hawaii Spring Break of Code with Appelbaum.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
Poitras and Appelbaum were due in New York City in June 2013 at PS1 to do another happening like the one they had done at the Whitney in April 2012. They didn't show. They cancelled. Others, including Thomas Drake came in their place. I don't know why; I speculated openly on Twitter whether it was because they knew they might start facing a lot of questions about the timeline with Snowden.
Well, actually, now we do know why, because Appelbaum has decided to become an immigrant in Germany and apply for a resident permit, as he announced in his recent speech at the Technische Universitat in Munich. He believes US authorities will ask questions about his presence in Hawaii at the time Snowden was there and his ongoing support of WikiLeaks which has now culminated in a defection to Moscow. And Poitras has said she also fears returning to the US since her involvement in the Snowden story.
Now everything's a little upside down, as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped
What's good is bad what's bad is good you'll find out when you reach the top
You're on the bottom.I noticed at the ceremony, your corrupt ways had finally made you blind
I can't remember your face anymore, your mouth has changed your eyes don't look