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Bless him for telling us what had been suspect for so many years.

There is no illusion of privacy anymore, even if a company jams ads down your throat.

If things need to be private, you need to be taking extreme precautions.

The big question is what Russia has to gain from this. Is it just to troll the US?
Perhaps you weren't alive or old enough to pay attention back when Russia ballet dancers/athletes/et. al. would come to the U. S. for the Russian Nutcracker Ballet tour, then ask for asylum. Or maybe your country-that-is-not-the-US didn't make a big deal of it, but it would be all over the news about how some ballet performer seeks asylum from The Evil Empire(tm). Of course the person would seek asylum in the U. S., The World's Choice for Freedom(R).

And now Russia has a chance to turn those tables on the U. S.? I'm kind of disappointed that it took them this long to execute the obvious play.

Maybe because they don't really have a story for why anyone would want to move there, other than running afoul of the same state security organizations that Russia is already opposed to.

It's not exactly a huge draw for anyone who does NOT have those unusual security concerns.

It’s harder to only make a moral argument in the case of America which is generally richer than Russia.

Why would anyone go to Russia apart from some moral consideration, given that Russian has nothing else to offer? I think that’s a pretty valid argument in certain circles.

Russia is super cheap for americans and there are many beautiful women. You can live for $500/mo. If you’re ok with the culture whatever nest egg you have can last a lot longer.
Has anyone on this thread seriously discussed leaving the US with their partner, based at least in part on the growth and aggressiveness of its domestic security services?
During the peak of red scare, McCarthyism it quite likely there were people who left because such concerns, so it possible.

Plenty of people from the tech world have had unpleasant experience with US security apparatus, leaving them hesitant take a job in the states. The maintainer of curl project comes to mind notably

Actually, E.F. Codd, who developed the concept of a relational database, moved out of the country. I believe this was less that he feared personal repercussions than that he found the whole business obnoxious.
It’s an easy PR win. The US behaves like a petulant child, and Russia can come off like the benevolent country protecting freedom. That seems like an extremely easy decision to make.
Pardon Snowden and Assange. Let all the dirt about all the high level people come out no matter how dark dirty or ugly they are, only then does US can start to establish some legitimacy on the world stage.
Something tells me that the high level people wouldn't like that.
Yep. Obama didn’t even pardon Manning. He only commuted her sentence. The difference being that pardoning removes it from your record while commuted is just “time served.”
As much as I liked Obama, his government would take any chance at spying on others.
As a senator, Obama missed around half his votes due to campaigning. During 2008, he missed close to 2/3.

But he made sure to be back in Washington in July to vote for the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to retroactively give immunity to AT&T for cooperating with a massive illegal wiretapping operation for the secret services. That was the point where I knew where Obama would stand on mass surveillance.

Congress is like the only job where you can take off as much time as you like and use it to apply for a better job.
Congress also gets to decide their own salary hikes.

political jobs were meant to is how sports was a century back.

Being a pro was actively frowned on in many competitions, you were supposed to play part time and still excel.

Political office never paid well, most politicians had farms and other businesses to keep them afloat. Presidents were famously responsible for hosting functions at the White house, some died broke . Also travelling between d.c and your home state was a significant effort for many so extended breaks was needed.

The rules made sense then , they don't now, however given congress makes laws and it's own rules not much can be done to fix it without constitutional amendments.

Congress gets to decide salary for the next congress.
Limiting it to the next congress doesn’t help when they’re career politicians and just get re-elected.
I mean... it helps, because they can't simply pocket the treasury outright. There is presumably some limit where the voters wouldn't stand for it.

The fact that incumbents are generally reelected does certainly weaken the mechanism.

yeah of course not, but then US just going to destroy their brand and image on the world stage, more and more country will start to move away from US.
I don't trust they wouldn't find a way to still lock them up (note that pardons only apply to federal-level cases, not state)

I also don't feel the current administration (or future ones that prescribe to Trump Doctrine) would even entertain the idea, being that hardcore military support is a large part of their narrative.

Pardon him _and_ make him general auditor of NSA operations ;) Didn’t he prove his patriotism? (I’m half joking because I know management certainly requires a network of connections and long-established friendships he doesn’t have).
> Russia can come off like the benevolent country protecting freedom.

Not even the most devoted partisan can claim this was a straight face. Russia kills journalists that speak against Putin, poison political opposition, and paint with microwave radiation any diplomat misguided enough to attempt a dialogue.

It's a mafia state, pure and simple.

Yes, but mafia states do PR so that they aren't recognized as clearly as mafia states.
Yes, and if you are a citizen of a free country that defects to a mafia state to help in their PR efforts, such an action should be called out for what it is.
HN contrarians don't wanna hear that - they routinely gobble up the narrative that the US is less free than Russia and other autocracies.

  > they routinely gobble up the narrative that the US is less free than Russia and other autocracies
I have seen little or no evidence to support this contention, and plenty that does not support it.

There are certainly periodic discussions suggesting the US is less free than it's own PR would suggest, but that's not at all the same thing.

I think it's more than Snowden is living the dream of every underappreciated IT worker and to speak against him is to speak against that dream, too.
The more I interact on this website, the more i'm convinced this is exactly it. Snowden represents every IT support monkey disrespected by their org, most of whom check Hacker News daily.

I fully agree IT in every industry deserves more respect, but Snowden is thoroughly enjoying his new found celebrity post-defection. To deny this is part of his motivation is to be blind.

Not really, they look like an asylum for criminals, actually. It's also the logical place that people think trump will flee to after he loses the election, because he is as corrupt as they come, and russia will welcome him with open arms. Not exactly a good look for russia.
Never thought I'd need to lecture HN about Occam's Razor: Permanent residency is a status for foreign citizens, who have been residing in the country permanently i.e. living there for a long time (e.g. 7 years) and might stay indefinitely. Rather than applying for a visa renewal every year, it saves time and money to grant those people a permanent residency.
Exactly. The article doesn't say if there was anything unusual about his application process. 8 years is enough to get a citizenship in the UK. 5 years in Australia.

The standard requirement for a permanent residency in Russia is 1 year in on a temporary residency. Honestly, I'm surprised he hasn't been given a permanent one before.

It costs them nothing, yeah just PR.

I doubt there's anything they 'get' from permanent residency vs not. Beyond PR, I doubt they've been waiting to get whatever they want from him up until today ;)

Whatever discussions with him they wanted to have likely concluded LONG ago.

I know almost no one on HN wants to hear anything bad about Snowden, but Greenwald has stated that Snowden has leaked some information out of self preservation. We can't rule out the fact that Snowden has given information to the Russian government.


Maybe the State Department should have thought of that before cancelling his passport while he was in Moscow.
You are maybe right on process being misguided, but you are factually wrong on the timing. Snowden was in Hong Kong when his passport was revoked.


Interesting, looks like he got out by the skin of his teeth as the US was on him hard but at the same time:

In October 2013, Snowden said that before flying to Moscow, he gave all the classified documents he had obtained to journalists he met in Hong Kong, and kept no copies for himself.[126] In January 2014, he told a German TV interviewer that he gave all of his information to American journalists reporting on American issues.[77] During his first American TV interview, in May 2014, Snowden said he had protected himself from Russian leverage by destroying the material he had been holding before landing in Moscow.[35]

>be Snowden

>be ex-CIA

>be so concerned with privacy rights, sacrifices everything

>flee to bastions of privacy rights (China, Russia)

>hurt NSA immensely through PR

>be ex-CIA

By granting Snowden asylum, Russia paints the USA as anti-free speech and pro-surveillance.
To be fair, by going after Snowden the US painted itself anti-free speech and pro-surveillance.
"by going after Snowden"

What a bunch of meanies.

You cannot maintain an Intelligence apparatus, a Military, or a Justice System without maintaining and enforcing classification.

By giving asylum to near #1 target of US establishment they can prove to all kind of corrupt politicians, dictators (or just plain military criminals and terrorists) who serve Russia interests that they able to protect them from US too.
Quite a cynical take, but makes sense.

I think the PR angle mentioned elsewhere also makes sense and is a rational argument for Russia's actions, but this adds another meta-level to the whole thing.

Different messages being signalled to different audiences.

Presumably it applies a floor on what your life will be like if you whistleblow (or betray, depending on views) against the US, thereby encouraging more such actions.

Just part of normal spycraft then.

The more unfaltering facts uncovered about US the better for Russia. They also like to point to US to justify actions within the country: COPM is justified by NSA surveillance. They see Snowden as their guy and protect him.
> The more unfaltering facts uncovered about US the better for Russia.

In this sense, the move could be seen as an investment in future whistleblowers— "If you see something, say something. Then come here if need be."

It basically costs them nothing. It is a thumb in the eye of supposed freedom of the press/whistleblowers protected/good guys mythos of the USA. Here we have the supposed "bad guys, enemy of Team USA" housing a citizen and giving him sanctuary because all he tried to do was let the truth be known about unConstitutional activities and violations of the TLA government departments.
that kind of trolling is called diplomacy. US will refrain from talking officially in international venues about freedom of speech in russia, for fear of being embarassed by this story.
Snowden is "Exhibit A" for how the US is hypocritical about opposition to surveillance states. Any time the US wants to try to shame Russia at the UN Security Council, Putin can just put a picture of their newest Moscovite up on the projector.
Not to defend the intelligence apparatus in the US (and several other Western countries) but hypocrisy would imply the US is actually acting on its intelligence to target or influence its own people along a similar vein as many authoritarian countries with policies widely criticized in the US. I think that's a very low bar, and we should be able to criticize the US system even though it doesn't have these widespread far-reaching powers, i.e. without resorting to hyperbole.
I'm not sure if you consider a Predator drone monitoring protests[0] as influential but, surely, you must admit camo-clad officers in unmarked vans abducting specific protestors[1] as worthy of a legitimate concern.

[0]https://twitter.com/jason_paladino/status/126639991697850777... [1]https://www.npr.org/2020/07/17/892277592/federal-officers-us...

Yes, absolutely. I think this is despicable and should not be tolerated. However, it's the scale and widespread nature that differs. Most Americans will never be confronted with or even know people who have been confronted with this sort of abuse of authority. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many countries, and this difference should not be dissolved to make a point. I think the US should be able to do better, although not because it's inherently better in some way (what country is?).
I can't agree. They all take an oath to protect the basic premises of the US Constitution and yet here we have direct evidence that they don't care about amendments like the 4th or 1st, two very critical ones. I think it should be obvious and not hyperbole. The only agency I can see having any excuse at all to do such things is the CIA when it's operating outside of US borders. All the other agencies are basically writing their oath on a piece of toilet paper, using it for it's primary purpose, and then flushing it down the drain.
I'd think this isn't just a PR move, but his technical knowledge would probably be an asset to Russia, or any country for that matter. He'd be the perfect candidate to create a thriving startup, increase Russia's GDP, and create thousands of jobs. Or assist Russia's government in identifying threats from foreign cyber-spying.

What country wouldn't want highly skilled and knowledgeable people in STEM to immigrate, thrive, and boost the country's economy? Oh right, the US.

If granted a pardon by the current or future US president, is there any chance that Russia will not let him return home?
Considering that this is mostly about Russia doing a victory lap, I don't think so.

If they tried to keep him there it would kind of spoil the whole thing and tip the lie of their supposed benevolence.

Much better for the PR to let him go and wish him luck. Probably even have a send off ceremony, give him some kind of medal?

Russia doesn't prevent it's citizens from traveling. What prevents it's citizens from traveling is getting a VISA to the destination country. This is granted through the local Embassy or Consolidate of destination country requiring a VISA.

Permanent residency is not citizenship. Granting Permanent Residency will give him some sort of stability knowing he will not have to renew his status every year (or so) and be able to participate more fully in Russian society (ex: Employment, services, travel, Pension, etc).

Edward Snowden will always be a US Citizen in the eyes of the USA unless he takes steps to renounce his citizenship.

That's not strictly true. In Russia, unlike US or Europe, you have to show your passport to leave the country, and you can be prevented from leaving by court order.
This might be a valid statement for leaving the EU and US by land in some places of high trust (Switzerland, Norway) but certainly not a general rule by all means and certainly not by any other means (sea/air/train) where your passport or ID will be checked by at least the airlines and other companies (who act as deputies of regulations) and it will be matched against passport validity databases and other various databases (no fly lists, wanted criminals, interpol ...). And I know of several (if not all) EU countries where you have to scan/show your passport to access the departures gates in Airports (into an automated gate that scans it). Some even require such scan just to enter the airport since the last wave of terrorist attacks in 2015-2016.
Publicly Russia treated Snowden just as any (high-level) refugee, there is no value in keeping him in the country, and he himself didn't reveal any discomfort staying there. So there is no reason to believe they would interfere with his decisions.

In fact, if they granted him citizenship, then they might prevent him from traveling because he would become their responsibility in case he gets arrested abroad.

Really really happy and glad to see this news, I hope Snowden lives a better life in there! Kudos to you, our hero!
Agreed although in the last thing I heard from Edward Snowden he was on the Joe Rogan podcast and sounded pretty unhappy with his general living situation in Russia.
I'm glad you are willing him a better life, but don't really expect it is even possible. No. Especially for a Snowden's kind of person. It's more like a prison with free walks. You should make your govt to pardon him and clear from all charges.
I'm happy for Snowden, he seems like a decent person willing to take a stand for what is right and face all the negative outcomes from exposing crimes within an organisation.
Kind of weird to say he "faced all the negative outcomes" when he fled the US to avoid the most major of the potential negative outcomes.
Blowing the whistle completely upended his life. Anyone in his shoes would've made the same decision to leave because being tried under the Espionage Act would've yielded a guaranteed life sentence. People have a right to flee tyranny, wherever it is.
Snowden does not flee the tyranny of Russia, who would have certainly pursued poisoning him if the roles had been reversed.

It looks as though Russia and possibly China have a documented history of targeting westerners with remote energy weapons. This is tyranny. USA doesn't poison nor assassinate its traitors, certainly not to the degree of our global counterparts -- much less do we not point microwave weapons at foreign diplomats. [1]

Snowden's defecting is a larger statement about US hegemony, one upon which China has freely capitalized. A justified fear is that true tyranny will result from a long term outcome favorable to China. Snowden's treason was a step in the right direction to dismantle US hegemony.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/19/us/politics/diplomat-atta...

Just like Chelsea Manning has and will continue to spend the rest of her life in prison?
The US's treatment of Manning has sent the very clear signal that the next person who wants to leak classified documents had better have a speedboat to Vladivostok waiting for them.
I obviously don't think Manning was treated well, but she is an clear example that Snowden wasn't facing "a guaranteed life sentence". Being overly hyperbolic does nothing but lessen the perceived severity of a punishment that would already appear extreme if stated completely honestly.
I seriously hope that the President gives Snowden a pardon even it as a dick move on his way out.

His releases were far less dangerous than Manning but I think his problem is no compelling story to distract from his actions and he did step on a lot of toes. Toes that deserved to be stomped.

I upvoted you because you merely posted your opinion, with which I agree. His actions did result in loss of trust in the US from foreign governments and people but I think his main intent was to alert the American people to what their government is doing. I consider him a patriot and my only regret is that he was trapped in Russia though I'm not sure his plans to travel to South America would have panned out.
It's a dilemma, he broke the law to expose what he believed was an unethical, overly excessive, and later ruled illegal [1] surveillance program.

In pardoning him would more people feel motivated to become whistleblowers, possibly with different outcomes? How dangerous would that be?

If he's not pardoned, what message does it pass to future generations?

[1] "U.S. court: Mass surveillance program exposed by Snowden was illegal". Reuters. Retrieved September 2, 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nsa-spying/us-court-m...

He was planning to go to Ecuador, wasn't he? Which at the time was pretty friendly to those viewpoints. And then Ola Bini got arrested and detained so I don't think it's that friendly anymore.
Correct. The US canceled his passport while he was in Russia, hoping that they would deport him. Whoever had that idea should be fired. Given the Assange situation, it is fortunate for Snowden that he did not reach either Ecuador or Venezuela, the latter country offering him political asylum as well.
If that was his intent:

Why not selectively publish only the parts about surveillance of US citizens?

Why publish details of how the US was dealing with adversaries like China?

From the looks of it, Snowden cared about getting famous more than any specific goal.

Selective publishing runs into the problem of easy deniability and drawn out recognition if any due to its narrow scope. The weight of the body of the revealed secrets forced the hand of the US intelligence agencies to admit their veracity. Considering how whistle blowers in the US are routinely persecuted, the malfeasance in so many cases successfully survives whistle-blowing, and the leadership who directed authority over the malfeasance avoid responsibility for it, that "shotgun" strategy is likely a predictable emergent response.

Until the US organizational culture and culture in general is orders of magnitude less hostile to whistle blowers, this asymmetric response will likely continue. The reflexivity of this situation likely means US organizations that don't tolerate whistle blowing become more compartmentalized to force whistle blowing into a more deniable narrow scope, which of course means the same organizations increase their inefficiency.

An altogether horrible development all around.

> [...] organizations that don't tolerate whistle blowing become more compartmentalized to force whistle blowing into a more deniable narrow scope, which of course means the same organizations increase their inefficiency.

This is the insight and strategy Assange laid out in his 2006 essays "State and Terrorist Conspiracies" and "Conspiracy as Governance"[0] and put into practice with WikiLeaks.

> Authoritarian regimes create forces which oppose them by pushing against a people’s will to truth, love and self-realization. Plans which assist authoritarian rule, once discovered, induce further resistance. Hence such schemes are concealed by successful authoritarian powers until resistance is futile or outweighed by the efficiencies of naked power. This collaborative secrecy, working to the detriment of a population, is enough to define their behavior as conspiratorial.

> We can see conspiracies as a type of device that has inputs (information about the environment), a computational network (the conspirators and their links to each other) and outputs (actions intending to change or maintain the environment)

> In a conspiracy, individuals conspire, while when isolated they do not. We can show most of this difference by adding up all the important communication (weights) between all the conspirators. Call this total conspiratorial power.

> Instead of cutting links between conspirators so as to separate a weighted conspiracy we can achieve a similar effect by throttling the conspiracy — constricting (reducing the weight of) those high weight links which bridge regions of equal total conspiratorial power.

> Literacy and the communications revolution have empowered conspirators with new means to conspire, increasing the speed of accuracy of the their interactions and thereby the maximum size a conspiracy may achieve before it breaks down.

> Later we will see how new technology and insights into the psychological motivations of conspirators can give us practical methods for preventing or reducing important communication between authoritarian conspirators, foment strong resistance to authoritarian planning and create powerful incentives for more humane forms of governance.

[0]: https://cryptome.org/0002/ja-conspiracies.pdf

> His releases were far less dangerous than Manning

Manning wasn't pardoned, though.

Manning was granted clemency based largely on how the military treated her in detention.

The president can't pre-pardon him though. He'd have to go to trial first.
That's completely false[0], no such condition exists in the Constitution and people (for the most famous, Nixon) have been pardoned without charges, much less trial.

[0] On further reflection, that's probably overstated. While there is no such express condition in the Constitution, and pardons have been issued in such circumstances (including the famous Nixon pardon), none of them have been challenged (such as by a later attempt to prosecute despite the pardon) in a way which caused a court to rule on their effect, and there are cases where the question of the Constitutionality of pre-conviction pardons has been raised, though those cases were resolved on other grounds. So it should probably be acknowledged that the claim that a pardon requires trial and conviction is an active legal theory, though one without positive support in case law, and one which the actual practical use of pardons in the US has not been consistent with to this point.

Completely false. Look at Nixon.
Nobody's ever challenged Ford's pardon of Nixon.

It's actually real unclear what the legality of it would be if a subsequent President had tried to arrest him.

You can but accepting a pardon is admission of guilt.
That has actually not been fully adjudicated by the courts.


> After President Gerald Ford left the White House in 1977, intimates said that the President privately justified his pardon of Richard Nixon by carrying in his wallet a portion of the text of the Burdick decision that suggested that a pardon carries an imputation of guilt and that acceptance carries a confession of guilt. Legal scholars have questioned whether that portion of Burdick is meaningful or merely dicta.

this is technically true.

however, is there any case where the admission of guilt has been used to coerce testimony from a pardon recipient?

is there really a practical downside to being pardoned?

> this is technically true.

No, it is not even technically true.

EDIT: However, as pointed out, the following statement, in my original response, was incorrect: Nor do pardons even have to be “accepted” to have effect, it's a unilateral executive power.

EDIT[2]: additional response on another point previously overlooked:

> however, is there any case where the admission of guilt has been used to coerce testimony from a pardon recipient?

Any imputation of guilt is a side issue on coercing testimony; a pardon (if accepted, and this is the main practical reason why it might not be accepted) makes the recipient immune to prosecution for the offenses it covers, and thus makes the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination irrelevant to the extent related to offenses within the scope of the pardon. The government has plenty of power to compel testimony wherever the Fifth Amendment does not apply already, an admission of guilt is not necessary once that shield is moved out of the way.

thank you for your knowledgable response and expertise.

are there any examples you are aware of where a person has been harmed by receiving a pardon or commutation?

Snowden was never found guilty of anything, so the President can't pardon him.

And Presidential authority doesn't extend to say "Whatever he did, this country forgives him" in the absence of a guilty verdict. It's commonly thought to, but the actual result is unknown; a subsequent President's authority to arrest him on his "pardoned" actions and try him for commission of crime under the theory that one cannot be pardoned for crimes not tried has never been tested in the US legal system.

Trump is enough of an outlier that someone might actually be willing to test the hypothesis on any pardons he fires off.

That's not true. Nixon was preemptively pardoned by Ford with no charges pending.
And no subsequent President challenged that pardon. That's the operative factor here.

Nobody's ever tried to claim the President lacks authority to pardon for crimes untried. What would happen if it was tried is unclear; there's no precedent. Trump's enough of an outlier that his successor might actually test the hypothesis.

> The President...shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

The Constitution makes no mention of trial, or of conviction.

Indeed, the Supreme Court has ruled that pardons can be offered prior to a conviction in Ex parte Garland[0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_parte_Garland

Correct on "Crimes untried," and my error. Ex parte Garland clearly covers that.

However, subsequent rulings call into question the absolute scope of Ex parte Garland (https://digitalcommons.law.wne.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?artic...).

In particular, in case of dispute, the Court has the authority to adjudicate the dispute. It's the authority the Court used to hear Ex parte Garland in the first place.

And to my knowledge, there has never been a case that considers the President's ability to pardon for all possible crimes that could be filed related to some action. So if a subsequent President chooses to tack on a fourth crime to the list of three Snowden is currently charged with, a Trump pardon would likely not attach. At least, it would be up to the Court to decide if it attaches.

Both put lives at risk for what has apparently achieved zero gain. I don’t want Snowden to have a pardon, and I think he and Manning both belong in prison.
Yet we accept this because the alternative means a strong precedent for prosecuting whistle-blowing.

Snowden literally exposed a massive spy campaign and moved it from conspiracy status to truth. Just because you didn't do shit about it doesn't mean it was 0 gain :)

There was zero gain. Everyone found out and yet we moved right along, your woke outrage has done nothing, still is doing nothing, while two men who put countless lives at risk go on their merry way. It's only a truth to you, to everyone else its treason.
I wonder if people who think this would have the same opinion of someone who revealed classified documents about government surveillance or ethnic cleansing in China. Or is it only bad when it's our government's misdeeds that are being exposed?
I wouldn't call revealing the extent of illicit NSA surveillance "zero gain".
If nothing else, it pushed Google to close the security hole the UK was using to harvest inter-datacenter data.
It nothing else, it pushed the governments to bury their secret programs even deeper. Nothing changed. The NSA is still spying on Americans, American technology companies are still working with governments to thwart human rights and spy on citizens, and Russia has just rewarded its best spy with residency. Net result zero.
How is revealing systemic domestic surveillance at zero value in your mind?
Not to mention this formerly secret mass surveillance program has been making its way through the courts and the Ninth Circuit court of appeals found it to have been illegal, that the NSA has been lying about it for years, and that they were additionally lying when they said it helped convict several terrorist supporters.


> Evidence that the NSA was secretly building a vast database of U.S. telephone records - the who, the how, the when, and the where of millions of mobile calls - was the first and arguably the most explosive of the Snowden revelations published by the Guardian newspaper in 2013.

> Up until that moment, top intelligence officials publicly insisted the NSA never knowingly collected information on Americans at all. After the program’s exposure, U.S. officials fell back on the argument that the spying had played a crucial role in fighting domestic extremism, citing in particular the case of four San Diego residents who were accused of providing aid to religious fanatics in Somalia.

> U.S. officials insisted that the four - Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, Mohamed Mohamud, and Issa Doreh - were convicted in 2013 thanks to the NSA’s telephone record spying, but the Ninth Circuit ruled Wednesday that those claims were “inconsistent with the contents of the classified record.”

IIUC, this case would have never been possible without Snowden's evidence that the spying program existed. You can't stop a government program that doesn't exist.
(playing devil's advocate) you could make the argument that the suspicion that domestic surveillance was at that level was almost as high (if not higher).
Except that people saying this was happening were labeled as conspiracy theorists by many. This is what people always forget when they pull out the "Yeah but we already knew that" no you didn't, you might have suspected it but there would always be plenty of people ready to shout you down saying "We don't know that for sure", "That has not been confirmed", "Take off your tin-foil hat".

I'd wager that the people clutching their pearls now talking about people being put at risk due to the leak are pretty much the same people saying it wasn't happening before the leak.

> Both put lives at risk for what has apparently achieved zero gain.

So, future impact affects your assessment of the righteousness of an act of conscience? How does that work?

If there was a gain would you feel differently about pardoning Snowden?
A pardon is off the table. He committed treason, regardless of Monday morning quarterbacking and saying the ends justify the means. He broke the law. Either it's the law or it's not, and the fact he and Manning broke the law, regardless of what "good" people might see in it, they still broke the law.
Reporting someone else breaking the law should never be illegal. The law that says it is, is an illegitimate law. That is just playing into the hands of corruption and despotism.
If you don't think the direct knowledge of how the US government is surveiling its own people is "zero gain" then I can't wait to hear some other amazing opinions you might have. Though I have my silent guesses as to how your bias leans.
Something to be thankful. I am sure he would rather come home; but I don't see the that changing with Biden as he hasn't said anything.
Fair, but I doubt that Biden would have anything to gain politically from discussing it— anyone with a strongly held opinion on this probably knows who they support already, and anyone who doesn't would be best reached via other issues.
Just a PR stunt to give something else to talk about after the botched Navalny assasination. Changing topics. So Putin may look like a good guy.
Or a welcoming signal to any public figures in the States who may be facing multiple unwinnable lawsuits and additional negative exposures in the US in the coming months and years...
Given the extent of military intelligence docs stolen, and given that the domestic programs deployed were lawful at the time, whistleblower is a disingenuious title for Mr. Snowden.

Putting aside domestic disclosures, it is difficult to see how the scope of stolen materials merits praise or euphemistic titles. Snowden is a fugitive. As it pertains to the majority of what was stolen, he is not a whistleblower, but a thief.

The Greatest Country On Earth™ has its citizens flee to the Empire Of Evil™ just so they can speak a simple truth without being imprisoned or called a traitor. The incompetent bureaucrats in charge of Snowden's prosecution made him a martyr instead. Those people are massive fuckups even at playing bad guys and you trust them to operate an Orwellian surveillance and suppression system? Good luck with that.
I'm not convinced Russia has any allegiance to "the truth" outside of when it intersects what they happen to want to say at the moment.

I would consider Russia far more Orwellian than most nations. Comparisons like yours seem to ignore that fact.

You're probably right, but if it takes two orwellian actors exposing the orwellian nature of one another to mitigate how much orwell we experience in the US and russians experience in Russia, I'd consider that a net win for civil liberties in both countries.
I'm VERY wary of granting anyone pretty far down the Orwellian hole any credibility when it comes to the idea that they might help anyone determine the truth / dig another nation out of an Orwellian hole.

Straight up I don't think they want that, actually the opposite.

Russia really seems to prefer to get close up with other Orwellian nations more than others, they're not there to help ANYONE dig out, rather they'd rather just get friends in place in other nations that are Orwellian themselves.

> The Greatest Country On Earth™ has its citizens flee to the Empire Of Evil™

I’m not saying the US is white and Russia is black here, but you’re insinuating that there’s some kind of conspiracy to make Russia look bad when they’re in quite a lot of objective measurements really are. I think most people understand that when you’re in Snowden’s situation, you don’t really have the luxury of choice.

While I don't agree with every way that the case against Snowden was handled, I don't agree with the thought that things would be much different if the two sides were flipped. The general attitude towards Snowden is too black and white in my opinion. Traitors can be heroes, too. They are not mutually exclusive.
He wasn't planning on Putin's hospitality as he was primarily trying to avoid US airspace but thanks to realpolitik, he has ended up enjoying some level of freedom and not mysteriously jumping from a window.
1 point by ios14 3 minutes ago | edit | delete [–]

Given the extent of military intelligence docs stolen, and given that the domestic programs deployed were lawful at the time, whistleblower is a disingenuious title for Mr. Snowden.

Putting aside domestic disclosures, it is difficult to see how the scope of stolen materials merits praise or euphemistic titles. Snowden is a fugitive. As it pertains to the majority of what was stolen, he is not a whistleblower, but a thief.


ps: Censorship Alert -- my account ios14 was shadowbanned after making these replies:

1 points by ios14 10 days ago | parent [–] | on: DOJ – International Statement: End-to-End Encrypti...

What are the odds that big tech and big brother are in bed creating a huge dog and pony show to counter the post-Snowden “going dark” reality? Given: The public knows about mass surveillance. Big tech deploys supposedly unbreakable end to end encryption. The public feels more safe and protected from Big Brother yet again. Theory: Meanwhile, behind the scenes, government and big tech have, in secret, the ability to recover such encrypted comms. The DOJ initiative would then be part of an elaborate psyop to further deceive people into believing that FB “has their back”. I’m going to guess that third parties have extensively reverse engineered apps such as fb messenger to ensure that it is essentially impossible for the above to be the case, since E2EE occurs at the endpoints. Can an encryption expert weigh in here? Edit: this also raises general concerns I have about trusting an App Store to install what is supposed to be installed, and not a backdoor’ed version of an app. Something like: Let the reverse engineers have an unmodified app, while distributing alternate versions to other unsuspecting users. reply


1 point by ios14 10 days ago [–]

Also, odds that the govt has secret radically advanced quantum computing tech and does have a QC to recover using Shor’s? (Yea, probably unlikely as it would takes millions of qubits to achieve this..) How long before lattice based crypto is sufficiently vetted for wide deployment?

Happy for Snowden, but I hope that if Biden wins, he'd pardon Snowden - following Obama's footsteps in commuting Chelsea Manning. Although it might be harder since Biden to the Right of Obama, and given how hawkish, war-mongering, neo-libs have cozied up to Biden, and commuting Snowden isn't really possible since he has never been tried in court.
I’m not aware of anything that says a pardon requires a court trial, so correct me if I’m wrong, but a pardon isn’t saying “you’re free to go,” but actually saying (in essence) “that crime never happened.” When Manning’s sentence was commuted, that was “you’re free to go” because commuting a sentence (in essence) means “you’ve served your time”
Yep, as I said in my last sentence, Snowden's "sentence" cannot be commuted since he was never tried in court and sentenced. But he can be pardoned since there are pending cases levied against him.
You know Obama's justice department conducted more leak prosecutions than all modern presidents combined? IDK what Trump's numbers are but his justice department is using processes and reasoning established by Obama's.

Maybe Biden would pardon Snowden but it will be a hollow symbolic victory. Unless he explicitly sets to dismantling Obama's machine, it will churn ever on at the whims of whomever is president.

First term Obama was a horrible President - from drone strikes to deportations to dealing with whistleblowers... IDK if he was too concerned about being labeled a far left socialist in governance and risking his re-election prospects.

But in his 2nd term, he was a far better president. He eased off on drone strikes (still too much, imo), pardoned non-violent drug offences like crazy, he commuted Manning's sentence, and there were talks of him considering pardoning Snowden too (when he was a lame duck).

I don't think Biden will venture into territory that Obama considered to be too controversial, but given that Biden's pretty much running as a 1 term President, I don't think it's impossible.

Is it still popular opinion that he seeked asylum in Russia?

I feel most people don’t realize that he was on transit to Ecuador when the Russians told him passport had apparently been expired. He never planned to stay there.

Yes it's call a "cover story".

He visited the Russian consulate in HK (for a birthday party no less) before he left and his main legal advisor was the lawyer from Wikileaks , a Russian intel cutout.

All just coincidence I guess.

Does it really matter that Snowden received assistance from Russia considering the data he leaked was proven legitimate and even US courts found the program he leaked from as being illegal?

You're trying to build a backstory for something using bits and pieces of disparate information when the most plausible explanation is that Snowden was probably well aware that his freedom and likely his life were in danger and sought assistance from wherever he could get it. Building a conspiracy theory on this scaffold is a cop-out. Anyone with enough power to keep Snowden safe is probably an enemy of the US.

As for Wikileaks being a Russian tool, would you have the same discrediting opinion about the outlets publishing info that Russia or China would rather keep secret? Or if the person who leaked some data about the Chinese ethnic cleansing program received assistance from the US?

> Does it really matter that Snowden received assistance from Russia considering the data he leaked was proven legitimate and courts even found the program he leaked from as being illegal?

One program he leaked was found to be illegal. 98% of what he leaked had nothing to do with domestic surveillance, wasn't illegal, and only was released to hurt US intel efforts and standing in the world. Which is why people view this as a Russian op from the start.

I get that you don't care about any of that, but perhaps insist on accuracy when discussing it?

Not that long ago people were running from Russia and doing their best to defect to the US, with any information they could bring with them. I'm sure that if you were alive back then you never once characterized that the same way you do it now with Snowden. If you wanted accuracy you'd have come here with way more than a flimsy story and a conclusion that's pure speculation. But that's what you brought.

> people view this as a Russian op

"People". Does any of them make a stronger case than you? Or does everyone simply reference "people" to support their conclusions? People also say the onlines are full of trolls and sock-puppet accounts creating narratives.

You should be in the streets demanding that the people responsible for that "only one illegal program" be put in prison but here you are arguing that the person who gave them away should be there instead purely because he may or may not be associated with a US enemy.

You make a lot of assumptions about what I think, and none of them are correct. Your writing style is also all over the place and hard to follow.
> Your writing style is also all over the place and hard to follow.

That's a weird bit of deflection you've resorted to. [0] And unless you're walking back on every one of your comments and opinions in this thread I think I was spot on with my assessment.

My friend, it's not my "hard to follow" writing style that you're stumbling on, it's that I made a more sensible argument than you did. You are plucking an argument out of thin air, floating on conspiracy and innuendo without any real evidence, or at least something that passes Occam's razor. Like that you can build anything, doesn't make it true.

Look, I'm not even saying you are wrong, because I have no evidence either way. Just that the (far) more plausible explanation is that anyone running from a superpower is running to another superpower. It's the only thing that makes sense. He did what he had to do to survive.

You're trying to build that into "he must have been a Russian puppet all along" because "people" have been saying it so you must be right. But then you complain that "people" also say he got stranded in Russia, so they must be wrong. So I ask you, is what "people" say only correct when you want it to be correct? You selectively go between "people support my views so I must be right" to "people contradict my views so they must be wrong".

I'm sorry, that's no way to have a civilized and productive discussion.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24864900

It's not deflection if it directly affects our ability to have a discussion.

> "he must have been a Russian puppet all along"

No. Actually read what i'm saying. He chose a side. He knew that poking the eye of the US has consequences, and to avoid those consequences he needed to align himself with one of the few states left that doesn't bow to US wishes.

The states that fit that criteria are themselves exclusively authoritarian. So in protesting the illegal surveillance of a liberal state, he made himself a pawn in the propaganda war of an illiberal state.

That basic contraction was never his intention, but it became his reality.

> Just that the (far) more plausible explanation is that anyone running from a superpower is running to another superpower. It's the only thing that makes sense. He did what he had to do to survive.

Yes, we agree. His intentions can't ever be known, so arguing that is pointless. I'm simply pointing out the consequences of his actions and the basic contraction in his story vs the actual outcome.

It was a consulate, you genius, and he spent several days there. He must be a moron if he expected that would stay secret.

You do realize especially with his situation, he had to cover all legal aspects. Anyone would visit the consulate before traveling to Russia, and he would, too, even if he didn't plan to leave the international zone.

Staying Russia wasn't his plan, but it was definitely an option as he must've known that he might get trapped in any country he crossed.

People are (still, amazingly) claiming he just happened to get stranded in Russia. Clearly this was either his backup plan for what most likely would happen, or his actual plan for what he knew would happen (with Russian intel advising him the whole way).

Pretty far away from "do people not realize that his passport was taken and he got stuck in the Moscow airport?" Really far.

People say that because that's the very likely truth. We know his passport got declared invalid. It's standard procedure. The timeline is also normal as the story was developing quickly once he revealed he was the source.

There are a lot of claims that he gave the Chinese intel, so somehow, after they didn't give him any protection, he just immediately gambled on selling info to Russia?

> It's standard procedure.

If it's "standard procedure", then he would have fully expected to stay in (be stuck in) the first country he landed at once leaving HK.

Like I said, it was planned.

Do you have a source for this?
5 seconds on Google. This claims says he actually stayed there.


Well, it says that Kommersant (Russian newspaper) claims he stayed there. Ben Wizner (advisor to Snowden) denied it --

> Every news organization in the world has been trying to confirm that story. They haven't been able to, because it's false.

You have to wonder about the impact his revelations had on the Russian agents operating against the United States. At minimum, permanent residency is a nice way to say "Thank you".
Due to the extent of mil intelligence docs stolen, and since the domestic programs deployed were lawful at the time, whistleblower is a disingenuious title for Mr. Snowden.

Putting aside domestic disclosures, it's difficult to see how the scope of stolen materials merits praise or euphemistic titles. Snowden is a fugitive. As it pertains to the majority of what was stolen, he is not a whistleblower, but a thief.

Had Snowden simply revealed unconstitutional domestic mass surveillance programs, perhaps he could be pigeonholed as a whistleblower.

> Had Snowden simply revealed unconstitutional domestic mass surveillance programs, perhaps he could be pigeonholed as a whistleblower.

Multiple former officials did this and society largely didn't believe them and didn't care. Thomas Drake, Bill Binney, and others came forward through the appropriate legal channels and lost their careers, faced prosecution, and absolutely nothing changed.

Legally, you're technically correct. Snowden is a fugitive. That doesn't change the fact that he fundamentally changed the way we think about privacy and the government's role in digital privacy for the better. James Clapper lied to Congress weeks before Snowden's revelations, yet he never faced perjury charges. That's what a broken system looks like.

Power vacuums get filled. NSA was largely torched to the ground. Good or bad, there was a counterbalance between big tech and the NSA that is now gone. SV snatched up the power.

Everyone connected to big tech, Graham and company, stood to gain immensely from Snowden's treason against his country. Naturally, "hero" is the word. I'd speculate that Snowden singlehandedly added trillions in value to big tech.

> there was a counterbalance between big tech and the NSA that is now gone.

What?!?! Big tech was the primary facilitator of NSA surveillance through PRISM, they worked together to spy on billions of people. The idea that the general public benefited from this relationship is laughable.

> I'd speculate that Snowden singlehandedly added trillions in value to big tech.

Care to elaborate on this? How did Snowden add trillions in value to the companies that enabled the NSA to spy on everyone?

Big tech connected their data centers with cleartext links which NSA surveilled in secret, without their knowledge. Perhaps this isn't accurate?

Big tech wises up to Big Brother snooping on them, locks down, then continues to accumulate all of that precious data, out of view of the IC. Control over that data is worth trillions.

since the domestic programs deployed were lawful at the time

Just last month:

> Seven years after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the mass surveillance of Americans’ telephone records, an appeals court has found the program was unlawful - and that the U.S. intelligence leaders who publicly defended it were not telling the truth.

> In a ruling handed down on Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said the warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans’ telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and may well have been unconstitutional.


No mass surveillance is similarly irresponsible, albeit in an entirely different manner, to unchecked mass surveillance.

The sweet spot is to have mechanisms and institutions in place to adequately "watch the watchers watching the watchers". Instead, we get judges putting on a dog and pony show, while our IC leaders were originally forced to lie or mislead about the secret programs.

Americans are wildly spoiled. We now have, by far, the most libertarian policies regarding E2EE, on a global basis. Take a bow, Ed, this is all your doing.

See you in 2050. Watch Hawaii.

> since the domestic programs deployed were lawful at the time

Assuming for the moment that this is true...

Even something that is secretly lawful can be entirely immoral and only doable if kept hidden from the public who would otherwise object. The whistleblower's responsibility is to the public, not just their organizational superiors.

It's unhealthy to believe that the law dictates ethics.

If the government wanted anyone outside of natsec or the IC to care about this, they shouldn't have operated a massive unconstitutional dragnet. That would change the tenor of discussion, I promise.
The IC does their job keeping us safe precisely so we don't have to concern ourselves with things such as:

* Which servers in China we are hacking

* Foreign surveillance

* Joint CIA/NSA programs

Damage is ongoing. Relationship with foreign leaders, for instance, has suffered irreparable damage.

Snowden's very existence as a propaganda mouthpiece does align with Putin's long term active measures. His greatest value is in undermining internal confidence in our institutions that protect our freedom.

Yeah, he could have selectively leaked only important crimes of the US government but he instead leaked tons of shit that endangered the lives of Americans overseas and gave our enemies insight into how we conduct intelligence gathering in hostile countries.

Add that to his shady Russia ties and he's not the hero many make him out to be.

Had Snowden simply revealed unconstitutional domestic mass surveillance programs, he'd be labeled as a conspiracy theorist at best.

I imagine the data he took were to serve as proof of these governmental over-reaches. Nobody would've taken him seriously without solid proof.

Please make a list of all foreign investors in the NSA. Then make a list of foreign investors in American big tech companies. Consider the possibility that the traitor Snowden went rogue in Switzerland, and planned a ruse to wind up in Russia from, at least, 2012. A trained spy has the ability to fabricate a detailed, plausible cover story, and this typically comprises the majority of preparation for such an operation.

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around how Snowden could fancy himself as a patriot when he leaked the blueprints to our global surveillance operations. This is pure gaslighting, since nobody wants unnecessary mouth breathers. It's the ultimate leveraging of civil liberties to support internal strife and division between our institutions and the civilians served by those institutions.

Russia keeps Edward Snowden around primarily to support Active Measures. There'a a cognitive dissonance going on, one that particularly appeals to tech idealists, an idealism that most of us geeky civilians possess to some degree. What would Russia do if the roles were reversed, in terms of controlled propaganda, and retribution?

It is all a scam man... Everyone basically knew what he "released" about spying - it was just suddenly normalized & authorized by the media. He is what we call "controlled opposition" - “The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.” ― Lenin.

Yes, this means that folks using Signal.org & Protonmail should think twice before considering them panacea.