Tag Archives: NSA

60 Minutes: Inside the NSA

60 Minutes

 

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/inside-nsae-th/

In this fifteen minute excerpt, 60 Minutes interviews a few of the leading generals in the National Security Agency about the latest procedures and data collection techniques used to promote our homeland security. Lately, due to the recent leaks released by the now infamous Edward Snowden, the NSA has been in the spotlight, being criticized for its pervasiveness and lack of restraints on its tracking abilities. Over the course of these interviews, the NSA explains itself in an attempt to prove to the public that it does not use invasive procedures to gather its information and data; a misconception that has gone viral since the Snowden incident.

Like almost every citizen in America, I have never been directly affected by the processes the NSA uses to obtain information. As explained in the video, the Agency collects personal data from all citizens, yet all sources are anonymous and noninvasive. Several people still feel like they are being spied on mostly due to their misunderstanding/lack of understanding of the NSA’s procedures and exaggerations of the truth. Much speculation has come from only a few, extremely rare, instances where Agency employees have broken their on rules and snooped on their subjects. However, matters dealing with privacy were in the hot seat due to the extremely large number of leaks released by Edward Snowden. A considerable amount of people see Snowden as a man of the people, releasing top-secret government files that reveal the truth about government actions to the people. On the other hand, the NSA views him as a traitor to the American people because he has the ability to reveal several faults in the safety precautions and procedures that could lead to countless problems for the USA’s safety in the future. Although he can sometimes be titled as a “hero” of the people, Snowden sees himself only as an average American exercising his rights.

The most bothersome clip throughout this segment begins around the 10:15  mark, when John Miller asks the leading general of the Agency of the amount of power and the breadth of knowledge that is contained within the millions of files stolen by Snowden. He admits that there are several files that were taken that could lead to several problems for American security, containing information about the weaknesses in the the country’s defense system and its lack of knowledge regarding other nations around the world, such as China, North Korea, and Russia. Fortunately, those files have not been released to the public but the General understands that their release would cause several problems for homeland security.

Like I stated earlier, I have never been bothered by the way the NSA performs is job, but the chance that a revelation could come in the near future is quite nerve-racking and could lead to several more problems for the NSA and the nation’s defense as a whole. Although some leaders in the NSA would like to bargain or correspond with Snowden in order to receive the lost information, others wish to grant him no mercy and to not let him get away with such a huge incident. Although there has been no deal made between the two parties, I feel like it is safe to assume that the NSA is working to retrieve the files and make the best of the Edward Snowden situation.

Edward Snowden saga

Edward Snowden

http://www.infoplease.com/news/2013/edward-snowden-leaks.html

This article analyzed the overall story of Edward Snowden, what he have done and what happened afterward. The article starts by mentioning the top secret surveillance activities of NSA, which stands for National Security Agency, reported by Glenn Greenwald in Guardian, the British newspaper, on June 5. On June 9, 2013, admitting that he was the source of this disclosure, Edward Snowden, the former agent of CIA, revealed the fact that many private information of US citizens, such as phone calls or emails, were being collected by NSA. He, then, fled to Hong Kong to avoid potential punishment by US government. However, US government tried to bring him back to US, and asked extradition of Snowden to many of the countries, including Hong Kong. Edward Snowden, realizing that there were not much place to stay, moved to Moscow, Russia, and asked for asylum to Russian government. Russian government, with few rules attached, granted Snowden asylum, letting him to stay in Russia until 2017.

Disclosure of Edward Snowden, though the fact revealed was only related to US, was a warning signal to many people around the globe. Whether the secret revealed by Snowden is true or not, they began to recognize that how unprotected their privacy was. Yet, this article does not only praise Snowden as a hero who risked his life to reveal the truth, but also gives attention to the opinion vilifying Snowden. As Obama mentioned, there cannot be 100% security with 100% privacy. There are also thoughts saying that Snowden has magnified thee action of NSA, overstating the faults of government policy. The fact that activities of NSA have prevented more than 50 potential terrors since 2001 is a solid evidence for this opinion.

It’s also interesting to see how Snowden’s movement further affects the international relations. The tension between Russia and US was sharply increased because Russia granted asylum to Snowden without extraditing him. Though Russia told Snowden that he would be extradited if he takes any action that harms US, Russia not sending Snowden back to US made President Obama uncomfortable.

Whose Side is Congress on?

snowden cover

In this Edward Snowden interview James Bamford spends two weeks in Moscow to get the chance to interview Snowden. James Bamford asks Snowden about his life and work for NSA. Snowden talks about how he came to work for the CIA and then eventually the NSA. He talks about the doubts and troubles he had when first being exposed to larger and larger breaches of privacy. He tells Bamford about the first time he copied NSA information to be released later, while he was in Hawai’i in early 2012, and how as he moved up the ranks he became more and more disturbed, gathering more files all the while. Finally when Snowden got wind of MonsterMind, an NSA computer capable of starting cyber attacks autonomously, and the NSA director blatantly lying to the public he broke. That is when, on March 13, 2013, he decided to act.

 

Greenwald and Bamford have very similar views on Ed Snowden. They both agree with what he did, and that the NSA has gone too far. They both support him coming back home and receiving a fair trial, in short they both think Snowden was right and justified in what he did. Where they differ in opinion is much more interesting. While Greenwald denounces Congress, the President, and pretty much any other government body you care to name, Bamford is not so quick to hand out judgments.

Bamford very prominently displays that, “the US House of Representatives moves to put the brakes on the NSA. By a lopsided 293-to-123 tally, members vote to halt the agency’s practice of conducting warrantless searches of a vast database that contains millions of Americans’ emails and phone calls.” Bamford believes that Congress is against the NSA’s surveillance while Greenwald criticizes the way that Congress and the government act at every turn.

Greenwald condemns the whole US government, implying that they have taken away rights given in the Constitution (4th amendment) and the Declaration of Independence (pursuit of happiness, and to revolt). Giving the impression that nothing short of a complete overhaul can fix this problem. Bamford on the other hand believes in all three branches of the government, Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court, to help fix this issue. He believes that the NSA is one lone rouge branch that can and will be contained. While Bamford and Greenwald agree on Snowden, they cannot seem to agree on how we should fix this problem that has been exposed.

Snowden’s Motives

 

This article is a summary of the lives and possible motivation of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange. It goes into depth about the backgrounds of each and what could have sparked their interests and convictions that led them to where they are today. Firstly, the author of the articles starts off by explaining the “age of the leaker” that we live in. Many of the followers of these famous leakers applaud them for protecting the Constitution and the people, but the author hypothesizes that, “In fact, the leakers despise the modern liberal state, and they want to wound it… They want to spin the meaning of the documents they have released to confirm their animating belief that the United States is an imperial power, drunk on its hegemonic ambitions. ”

The passage on Snowden talks about his adolescence and more specific the content of his postings on the tech website, Ars Technica. Many of his posts are political banter and he actually condemns leakers at an earlier age. The author brings up the point that his posts do not coordinate time-wise with the plan that he stated he had in an interview. He stated that during the Bush administration era he was planning on leaking information because he was disgusted with the security policies of the administration. He halted when Obama promised a change to the policies, but then executed after he saw no change was coming. Though, Snowden was very committed to his philosophy, he needed Greenwald with his insight on politics and the media to put into straightforward words. As a result of the leak and the cooperation of Snowden and Russia, other countries including Russia have become upset with the U.S.’s internet policies, spying possibilities, and how American companies such as Facebook are handling their information. They want more control on internet companies like Facebook and Google.

While the majority of the article remains relatively neutral, the author paints a very negative picture of Snowden. Evidence of this can be seen in how he picks specific negative and sometimes derogatory posts from Snowden’s Ars Technica profile. Also, the author goes on to say that a lot of the information leaked, such as techniques used for foreign spying are not necessarily illegal, and the leaking this information could hinder our National Security. He does not think these leakers deserve any of the praise they have gotten because their motives are not to criticize to eventually help it, but instead to hurt it and try to destroy it.