In May, when Glenn Greenwald's book No Place to Hide came out on the 13th, within four days, a blogger named Aegis (K.M. Gallagher) discovered that "Cincinnatus" -- a pseudonym that Edward Snowden used to contact Greenwald -- was someone who was tied to Runa Sandvik (@runasand), then a staff member at Tor Project. It turned out that Cincinnatus -- of all people! -- had organized a Crypto Party in Oahu, Hawaii, and had invited Runa as a speaker.
That let us know that Runa had been in touch with Snowden before he joined Booz, Allen, Hamilton, and before he stole the bulk of his NSA documents.
It had always been my hypothesis that people within the hackers' movement, at Tor or EFF or WikiLeaks or all three or somewhere, were indeed in touch with Snowden long before the journalists Glenn Greenwald and Bart Gelman, and had prompted Snowden with a wishlist of what he should steal, and that he took the job at BHA specifically to steal more, because what he had had access to before that wasn't good enough.
When the revelation that Cinncinatus was Snowden came out, Runa Sandvik spun the story mightily, first in Wired, then in her own column in Forbes. The gullible geek public bought the carefully-constructed narrative -- that Sandvik didn't know much about the guy, that she didn't think much of it, that she was going on vacation anyway, and so on -- and gosh, wasn't Snowden just so awesome, teaching his fellow human beings crypto.
It seems an awfully funny coincidence that Runa just happened to be going on vacation then -- and got there on December 7 for the December 11 Crypto Party and then stayed some undetermined time after that. And then in June 2013, got to take a vacation again from her generous bosses.
Go visit the botanical garden, they said. It will be fun, they said. There are no mosquitos, they said.— Runa A. Sandvik (@runasand) December 7, 2012
So those two tweets on the 7th and 8th and then -- silence for 9 days -- no tweets -- well, she's on vacation. Then on vacation *again* just six months later -- generous bosses!
My vacation is officially over, now on the Greyhound to DC. Going to catch up on email, news, and other things tomorrow.— Runa A. Sandvik (@runasand) June 9, 2013
How did Snowden pick out Sandvik?
In her Forbes piece, Sandvik says that Snowden found her via a Reddit thread.
Reddit? Really, Edward? This was an AMA thread with five Tor people speaking -- Karen Reilly, the outreach person is mentioned first in the list, then Runa, then others: "People currently answering questions, in addition to Karen and myself, are Roger Dingledine (arma-tor), Nick Mathewson (nickm_tor), Jacob Appelbaum (ioerror), and Erinn Clark (sakhalin)."
So we're to believe that Snowden, a typical arrogant male geek, went to the second woman in the list, and not to Roger Dingledine, who is the most famous in this group, who was in the Navy and was one of the original developers of Tor. That would mean he was roughly Snowden's peer, once having worked in the military -- Snowden may have been discharged from the military after breaking both legs while in army training, but he was in the NSA, with signals intelligence, which has always been closely associated with the Navy. Then there was Appelbaum, in age and hacker cred also a peer of Snowden's -- why didn't he go to him? Why did he pick out Runa from this list?
Snowden would have read about Tor and would know exactly who did what. Why Runa, the "outreach and support" person?
There must have been some other reason he contacted her, or picked her out. Perhaps he read her Forbes articles? Or this is entirely made up?
I pointed out that Runa's trip to Moscow in April 2014, before Greenwald's book came out, may have been induced by a need to line up the story with him. She arrived April 29, 2014. She tore off the RFIDs on her Norwegian passport so she couldn't be tracked.
How did she know what was in Greenwald's book, which hadn't come out yet? Well, it was supposed to come out in April, I remember distinctly the announcement on Amazon.com and the pre-orders. It got shifted. Likely some early copies got out for reviews. Likely someone in the chain somehow leaked some things in it and she heard about it. Somehow, it happened.
Maybe that wasnt her reason for going to Moscow, but we're really going to believe that after meeting Snowden in Honolulu in December 2012 and never telling us until it is exposed accidently, she's going to tell us the truth about what she did in Moscow in April?
It was also a funny coincidence, but it wasn't her first contact with Moscow -- she had been in an online conference on November 27, 2012 shortly before her meeting with Snowden in Honolulu, that was a sort of Crypto Party, although more like a panel discussion, organized by Andrei Soldatov at the Sakharov Center in Moscow.
It's my belief that Sandvik nevertheless contacted Snowden during the April trip to accomplish something that had to be accomplished in person -- perhaps exchanging new keys in person so that no trail would show up. Or perhaps discussing the "narrative" to explain away the Crypto Party.
When everyone began looking for the Oahu Crypto Party at the time, the trail was deleted -- the entire Crypt Party web site was "down". That seemed more than coincidental. And nothing much could be found about it, anyway.
There was a mirror site, but it showed only Cincinnatus as a speaker, and Runa Sandvik, and all the other topics were left blank as to speakers. Funny, no other speakers listed then, or later! Twenty people came, but we have no idea who the other 17 were, other than Snowden, his girlfriend, and Sandvik.
Lindsay Mills, Snowden's girlfriend, was said to take a video, but Runa said in her interview with Wired that the audio turned out to be bad, and it wasn't used. If Lindsay ever put it on her blog, it's gone now. In fact, her blog post for that day is missing from Archive.org. And there's nothing in September that sounds like any CryptoParty.
I've never doubted for a moment that the geeks at Archive.org have had Snowden's back, and they make sure that Lindsay's diary, and the Crypto Party website, and other things, just don't show any Snowden trial anymore, even if there was a snapshot that day. They are not trustworthy stewards of the Internet, as they protect their own from scrutiny.
If you dig around, however, you can find the ubiquitous Pipermail chat from the group, and find that interestingly, Snowden/Cinncinnatus had a message -- some words of advice - to someone who reported that the entire Crypto Party was under attack. That attack was in May 2013, and Snowden, though he was getting ready to finish pulling off his heist and flee to Hong Kong and then Moscow, found time on May 13, 2013 -- just four days before his last day at BHA, and four-five days before his flight to Hong Kong -- to give advice about recaptcha.
Of course, the "Oahu CryptoParty" might have been someone other than Snowden, but I don't think so. That's because no one other than Snowden is ever mentioned -- and now it is defunct, since he fled.
You can find on the mirror site that there were a grand total of two meetings shown on the Oahu CryptoParty list for 2012, which isn't under "North America" in case you were looking there, but under "Oceania" because Hawaii is in the Pacific Ocean. So there was a CryptoParty on September 30, 2012, and December 11, 2012. Then there was one scheduled for February 23, 2013 -- although nothing has been turned up about it.
The person who ran it September 30, 2012 may simply have been a different person. In fact, likely it was, as Snowden acted as if this was his first Crypto Party. Asher Wolf sent him advice as it if were, and the taped "benedictions" from other Crypto Party celebrities. But maybe it was Snowden.
There's reference to both the Japanese CryptoParty in Nagoya and the Oahu Crypto Party being formed at the same time. As Snowden was in Tokyo in 2012 before coming to Hawaii in April 2012, maybe he founded both? Or knew both members in each place?
@CryptoNagoya still exists, although hasn't posted since January 2013.
Did Snowden start a CryptoParty while in Tokyo? His time there is sketchy -- he was studying at a computer school once affiliated with Johnson Hopkins, "a private, for-profit entity called Advanced Career Technologies, which operated under the name Computer Career Institute at Johns Hopkins."
There was once an @OahuCryptoParty Twitter account -- but it is now "suspended" -- meaning it could be suspended for violation of the rules -- or suspended if Twitter managers suspect it has been hacked or compromised -- or again, because Twitter geeks have Snowden's back, they might suspend an account that might tell something about him -- especially if the feds came looking for it.
I believe @OahuCryptoParty *is* Snowden, and it's awfully interesting to see who talks to this account, when you look through the Twitter feed -- the whole gang:
o Jacob Appelbaum @ioerror - who was brought in by Laura Poitras to help with the comms of the Snowden heist, but who seems to have been elbowed aside by Greenwald, who used Micah Lee to help him learn Tails and Tor -- Micah was the one who sent the package to Greenwald May 11, not Jacob, as I and others once thought (Micah Lee later described all this in a strange tell-all article -- strange, as there was no need to tell all -- but I will return to this in another post.)
@OahuCryptoParty There are two outstanding patches for Thunderbird and that is basically it. It is all documented on the TorBirdy trac/wiki.— Jacob Appelbaum (@ioerror) January 3, 2013
@OahuCryptoParty If you can help us get the patches through the review process, we'd really appreciate it!— Jacob Appelbaum (@ioerror) January 3, 2013
So there's Appelbaum, talking to Snowden, @OahuCryptoParty, in January 2013.
o Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing.net and founder of Electronic Frontier Foundation
@OahuCryptoParty Fabulous! BTW, the sequel, HOMELAND, is out on Feb 5!— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) December 29, 2012
Probably what that was about was @OahuCryptoParty saying something like "I loved your book Little Brother" -- Homeland was the sequel.
o Parker Higgins (@xor) of Electronic Frontier Foundation -- who made a point in a Twit discussion with me to assure me that he never went to Oahu then in December 2012, and implied that he wasn't at the Spring Break of Code, and therefore wasn't the one to give Snowden the sticker.
His blog about CryptoParties was used by Snowden/Cincinnatus in his invitation, and they had an exchange about it on Twitter back in December 2012:
Yet when I asked him on Twitter whether he was there, he claimed that "the first he heard of it" was from Cryptome's blog in May 2014.
@catfitz sooooo what makes this an EFF CryptoParty? First I'd heard of it was on Cryptome— Parker Higgins (@xor) May 17, 2014
But he's not telling the truth, because in fact Parker Higgins communicated with @OahuCryptoParty on December 10, 2012, a day before the CryptoParty in Oahu, as we can see in this tweet also shown above.
That tweet even sounds as if a biography of him was sought because he was going to be a speaker -- the link in the tweet is to his biography.
So what if he went earlier? There was an earlier CryptoParty in September -- did he go to that one and give Snowden the sticker there?
@OahuCryptoParty wish I could be out there for the party! Good luck guys.— Parker Higgins (@xor) December 10, 2012
@OahuCryptoParty (true story: I just looked into the cost of flying there just for Mon-Thurs of this week. Too crazy.)— Parker Higgins (@xor) December 10, 2012
@OahuCryptoParty wow, did those really cross in the air? Impressive timing. I may be back on Oahu in Feb or so, maybe I could visit again?— Parker Higgins (@xor) December 10, 2012
"Back in Oahu"? Then he was there, already. When? Did he meet Snowden?
Was he booked then to speak in February? Did he meet Snowden?
o Griffin Boyce (@abitidum) an associate of Appelbaum in Tor involved in the hacker movement.
@OahuCryptoParty *snicker*— Griffin Boyce (@abditum) December 2, 2012
What joke was Griffin snickering at?
That BlueCoat equipment is found in Syria? And...like that's the main reason Assad is slaughtering people, this Western company?! (It's a particular geek affectation to fuss about Western companies dealing with tyrants instead of the tyrants themselves.) It wouldn't have anything to do with Putin proving Assad with $1 billion in armaments and political backing, now would it?
Plus some other people:
A Russian with pro-Putin views against Ukraine, constantly tweeting about Assange, WikiLeaks, anti-American conspiracy theories like implying "the US created Bin Ladn" which things like this old 1993 article by Robert Fisk on Bin Ladn that if anything, indicates Saudi backing. Hilariously, BinLadn is quoted as saying "'Personally neither I nor my brothers saw evidence of American help."
This Russian woman is married to a man named Alexander Senko, and they both moved to London. They're artists. Why is @OahuCryptoParty in her tweet cc's, and who is she disparaging, Assange or Morozov?
Funny, then this whole cast of characters shows up on a "privacy geek tour" in August 2014.
They go and make a pilgrimage to Snowden's old house:
Um, hilarity ensues.
So some/all of these people know more than they are saying about "Oahu CryptoParty" but interestingly, Snowden -- if that was who ran it -- had a message on the chat only a few days before he bolted for Hong Kong, on May 13, 2013. (His last day at BHA was May 17, he flew out May 18 and arrived May 19, from all accounts.)
Here it is in case it gets deleted:
Interesting that Snowden/Cincinnatus was still at his CryptoParty post at that late date. That suggests, well, more involvement than just some one-time CryptoParty. Some people think the Oahu CryptoParty didn't even exist, but was made up as a cover for Runa Sandvik and Snowden to meet in real life, perhaps to plan dark nets to hide all that stolen NSA loot, perhaps to exchange keys, so that no trail would be left anywhere. Or, whatever.
Runa was so defensive when asked about Hawaii, back in February. Remember this amazing thread? Edward Lucas and I were denounced for writing that perhaps Jacob Appelbaum had met Snowden in Hawaii. He denied it then later but we don't know if in fact some other comrade of his met with Snowden -- and it turns out that Runa Sandvik had in December! And certainly Appelbaum -- and the other Spring Breakers -- overlapped for a time. There was an enormous back and forth on this with Appelbaum accusing Lucas of not fact-checking his book and merely because he linked to Streetwise Professor's blog -- which in fact was speculative. Appelbaum accused us falsely of libel.
Streetwise's theory was that Snowden in fact went to Appelbaum first, as a coder. And we've just seen that Sandwik -- who actually was the very first to be in contact with Snowden out of all the Snowdenistas, in person -- claims that Snowden bypassed Appelbaum in the Reddit thread and headed for her. Of course, we don't know that in fact they didn't meet years earlier...
So, it was more than fine to speculate about any Snowden liaisons during the Spring Break of Code, it was hardly the crazy and libelous thing Appelbaum implied -- at a time that we didn't know yet about Runa's meeting! -- and truly, it didn't matter if this was on another island as they could hop to the other one.
And what's operative about all this is that drilling on the SBOC, we got hostile responses by people *who knew there was a CryptoParty run by Snowden in December 2012*. Who know Runa had already met with Snowden by then (!). And yet they pretended we were libelous liars.
And these are all people who talked to @OahuCryptoParty -- likely Snowden, too -- in January 2013.
Just too many coincidences here.
Oh, and this:
@dickc The beautiful and surf-rich beaches of Oahu!— Moxie Marlinspike (@moxie) July 6, 2012
Perhaps this fellow was at the Oahu CryptoParty and might know something:
@OahuCryptoParty I don't have a topic, however it be cool to stop by and check it out!— austenito (@austenito) December 3, 2012
He never mentioned it again and I don't think he went. He has not responded to an inquiry.
This guy asked when Cincinnatus might be on Maui -- which Lindsay writes about them visiting on her diary/blog:
And was Snowden indicating he'd come back to Japan for the Nagoya CryptoParty? (Nagoya is about 4 hours from Tokyo, and I don't know how common it is for people to move between both.)
And he continued to discuss the details with whomever was running the @OahuCryptoParty account:
@OahuCryptoParty 3 or 4 of us are going to rent a room, I'm covering how to install/run Tor and Pidgin/OTR. Just basics.— Nagoya CryptoParty (@CryptoNagoya) January 14, 2013
The reality is, @OahuCryptoParty continued past December 2012 and the famous meet-up with Runa Sandvik, into at least February 2013:
The Hi-Capacity people might know something about this. Although for some reason, the CryptoParty isn't mentioned on their Calendar for December 2012. Finally, it's interesting to see what pictures on Twitter that @OahuCryptoParty had, which are gone from Twitter but still preserved here. They include an add for the Berlin CryptoParty
-- a child drawing a picture of a Nyan cat, and a picture of the dead body of Kareem Fakhrawi tortured to death with no mercy, in Bahrain, not visible there but visible at the link (warning: graphic).
The cause of human rights in Bahrain is one that leftists/progressives/anarchists often pick up because they can use it to bash the US, since the US can be shown to be hypocritical by propping up this oppressive government.
Then there's Jason Axelson -- that was who I thought was behind Cincinnatus in the first place, although it turned out he wasn't, although involved in Hi Capacity.
Jason, who is @bostonvaulter on Twitter is a Hawaii-based Software developer. Jason, like Austen, strikes me as one of those coders who works all day intensively, and doesn't blab and politik the way @ioerror and some of the others do. At any rate, he isn't talking about whatever he knows about Snowden. He's never once mentioned him, or crypto, on his Twitter feed. He cared to retweet the event about the 3D Christmas ornaments, and upcoming events about HiCap, but not the CryptoParty.
Here's a meeting at Box Jelly in February 2013, the space behind Fishcake where the CryptoParty was held, but no Snowden. I somehow concluded awhile ago after canvassing the Maker parties in Tokyo that Snowden wasn't part of the Maker/Hackerspace set although naturally he fit in with the CryptoParty crowd. Happy to be corrected.
Finally, there's a reason Parker goes to Hawaii a lot. His wealthy parents own an estate there, he mentions it on Instagram:
And then it turns out his parents have been in the papers regarding Obama's stay at this very estate. They are large donors to the Democratic Party and also support various liberal and leftist causes; his mother is on the board of the Natural Resources Defence Council.
Parker went on vacation to this home at least twice in the last year, and perhaps invited his posse of friends over when they all went to see Snowden's former home, which is like visiting Elvis' ranch for them.
He said he would be "back" to @OahuCryptoParty as if he had already met him and already been there to see him. Again, was he at the September 30, 2012 CryptoParty? Did he befriend Snowden there or in some other way, perhaps there were mutual acquaintances?
One Sandvik met Snowden, did they stay in touch with him and were they involved in his plot to take down the NSA?
Parker has nothing but scorn for the NSA; see his stunt flying a blimp over the NSA facility in Utah
He is an avid fan of CryptoParties and has run the one in San Franisco himself. Is it possible that he helped with the Oaha one?
I've always wondere if there was some hideaway, some helper, some secret place that Snowden and Lindsay could have gone to when they moved out of their house on May 1, or earlier, but before they went to the new house - of which we don't have a single picture -- and the picture of Lindsay and Snowden "carpet-dancing" is in fact taken in their old home, as I will prove in my next post.
And maybe that was Parker's family's estate. It might even be that he had friends over there or let them stay there, and the parents were none the wiser as they were based in California and only there some times during the year, evidently.
Once again I marvel at someone who is so wealthy and privileged, who is busy trying to take livelihoods away from artists with his ferocious battle against copyright. He never shuts up about it, purveying numerous falsehoods all day and all week claiming that piracy actually helps artists "get the word out."
The encryption that could have served to protect digital content on line is sneered at and derided by Parker and EFF -- such strong encryption can only exist for their privacy -- even as they spend their lives spilling their details out on social media.