I started jotting notes to make a timeline matching Snowden leaks with world events and their advantage to Russia -- but I just didn't have the time to do the research. This job should be done. There are now various lists and timelines of Snowden's leaked documents out there you can use. I thought I'd post these notes now to get people thinking along these lines.
John Schindler debated the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer (who else!) on this issue of "damage" tonight. The Snowdenistas claim there is no damage. Schindler, formerly of the NSA, quite rightly explains that the NSA is not going to stand up and paint a fresh target on his back and give the enemy MORE information about how badly hurt and vulnerable we are. Duh.
I've been making that point for years about Cablegate. How many millions of times have I heard that there isn't "proof" that there was any harm to individuals done by Cablegate. I would make the point -- no, my colleagues hurt by this will not be standing up and painting a target on their backs so you can hit them AGAIN. I noticed how one man, an Azeri democracy activist, got absolutely SAVAGED by the Snowdenistas, accusing him of the WORST things merely becuase he was mentioned in cables, harassed, and claimed asylum here on that basis. Shame on them! These cases are now CLASSFIED. I know more -- and no, I'm not going to tell you -- because, as I just said, why paint targets on people and their families?!
Alexa O'Brien, the Manning scribe and fangirl, is especially horrible on this point. Eli Lake debated her once on this. But really, the point has to be burned in: these unethical people who have stolen files are hardly the ones to define damage for us.
Jameel obviously anticipated that answer re: damage and was ready for the next round. He says, "Oh, but even in classified settings, briefed persons don't learn about damage."
Schindler says that's patently false, but doesn't bite on the provocation -- which is what this is. It's merely another lawyerly way of posing the same question.
What is Schindler supposed to say? "I didn't tell you that secret thing you wanted directly the first time, now you're going to try another way and sure, now I'll tell you, since you asked a different way."
Because obviously, to reveal that you were given information on damages to national security in a classified briefing in Congress is to reveal the classified information -- derp.
What, he thinks it's a routine matter to come out of a classified briefing in Congress and say, "Oh, here's what we were in fact told in this secret briefing."
Why is this so hard? Why do they keep getting away with this nonsensical, indefensible bullshit?!
Of course there's damage, as any idiot can see looking at relations with Europe. Germany, for starters. And um, no, it's not about the countries being "mad," it's about tendentious exposure of practices in a deliberately provocative light with intent to harm. And that working.
In fact, all we know is that Jacob Appelbaum says he had Merkel's phone in a list in a document from Snowden -- we don't know if in fact that proves the NSA did bug her phone -- and we don't know what she said. Sure, that got her mad, but she should compare and contrast her situation to that of Victoria Nuland of the State Department, bugged by the Russians, the content of whose conversation got leaked by Russian intelligence on YouTube. Life is about choices, America is better than the Russian. Want to have a third way? Ok, but appreciate which is better, America or Russia.
Who can dispute that German-US relations are worse and tattered maybe beyond repair? And yet it was absolutely right to spy on them and not put them in five eyes -- some of them are too chummy with Putin. They can't have that third way they seek that involves in fact greater chumminess with the Kremlin than us.
Yet this is the kind of idiot article you see on this -- the same people undermining copyright and demanding "liberation" and absence of the rule of law for 10 years -- surprise, surprise -- are the ones embracing Snowden and buying his bullshit.
Let's see now. Gates revealed that the French were doing bad things, grabbing commercial data as bad as the Chinese.
So he revealed that in a bid to deter it. Good!
The Chinese do bad things, hacking into our business, media, government to steal secrets and economic data.
We then hack back to try to deter them and get a jump on them. Obviously, we have no need of their economic data except in so far as we need to see what they're stealing for us.
So Snowden reveals our techniques for doing that. Great! That's called being a traitor.
Nope, I'm not seeing any moral equivalence here.
I'm seeing that Ed is a felon.
And Masnick is profoundly ethically challenged, as per usual.
What I think has to be done in these debates to get to the third round with Jameel is immediately challenge him on the Jamshid Muhtorov case. He thinks this is a terrible case; it's actually a good case. So go right to the mat with him on that because he will not look good justifying turning the other way when a man is caught chatting jihad with jihadists and gets them money and equipment -- especially when the one thing the Snowdenistas keep doing (Saul Alinsky style) is to keep pretending that despite all the snooping, the NSA/FBI/Boston police couldn't predict and stop the Tsarnaevs.
BTW, the Tsarnaev case has the same root problem as the Snowden case: the Russians.
Second, we need to shift this debate around. The Snowdenistas keep asking for proof of damage to the country. But we need to say we need proof of damage to Americans. They don't have any. A year into it, and they have nothing -- oh, except this threat from Greenwald to name victims' names.
In any event, I'm not in the classified loop, and I actually don't have a competent way of telling what "damage" is to a country unilaterally or bilaterally, i.e. which missiles were described where or which methods of tapping Al Qaeda got described, etc. but I can use common sense.
Where have our relations but deliberately harmed so that we are undermined in our foreign policy? That's common sense.
More intricately, where has Putin succeeded in gaining propaganda and political advantage while the world was preoccupied with Snowden leaks?
So, here are a few samples of what such a chart would look like, below.
See what I mean?
Date: 27 February 2014
Topic: Yahoo Webcam Interception
News Article: Optic Nerve: Millions of Yahoo Webcams Targeted by GCHQ
Leak: Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.
Response: "We were not aware of, nor would we condone, this reported activity," said a [Yahoo] spokeswoman. "This report, if true, represents a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy that is completely unacceptable, and we strongly call on the world's governments to reform surveillance law consistent with the principles we outlined in December."
[NSA] "A key part of the protections that apply to both US persons and citizens of other countries is the mandate that information be in support of a valid foreign intelligence requirement, and comply with US Attorney General-approved procedures to protect privacy rights. Those procedures govern the acquisition, use, and retention of information about US persons."
Authors: Spencer Ackerman and James Ball
Russian Events: 27 February 2014 - Masked men in military uniform (actually Russian troops) seize parliament and government buildings in Simferopol and start Russian invasion of the Crimea.
Damage: By picking an emotional and sensitive issue -- a high percentage of the use cases for Yahoo webcam is related to sex -- this revelation could ensure maximum shock and anger value; also by invoking 1.8 million affected, it could add to the narrative of "massive surveillance". Yahoo, struggling with email and group woes but on an acquisition spree, was angered but business did not seem to suffer.
Date: March 29, 2014
A 'Puppet in Putin's Hands,' Snowden Paved Way to Ukraine Crisis by Pawel Zalewski. Snowden is used by Putin in order to scupper the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, particularly on the sale of shale gas that cuts into Russia's market of gas deliveries to Europe.
Date: March 18, 2014
Leak: The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.
Response: In a statement, Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, declined to comment on “specific alleged intelligence activities.” Speaking generally, she said that “new or emerging threats” are “often hidden within the large and complex system of modern global communications, and the United States must consequently collect signals intelligence in bulk in certain circumstances in order to identify these threats.”
Authors: Bart Gellman and Ashkan Soltani
Russian Events: President Putin's speech in the Kremlin about the forcible annexation of the Crimea.
Damage: Distraction from the damage Putin is doing in grabbing Crimea
Well, sadly, you get the idea. There's loads more...