Snowden releases black budget

Shorter Question Everything

Also, for all the claims about being careful with what they swiped, Snowden and Greenwald aren’t being terribly careful, what with writing down encryption passwords on bits of paper and all. Who knows how many people, how many countries, had access to that?

The NSA’s ‘Black Budget’ and Why We Should Be Worried About What Snowden Nabbed: The biggest question that hasn’t been answered is why the leak of the Black Budget is considered whistleblowing. What wrongdoing has been exposed? What violations of the law, or the Constitution for that matter, are evident in the Black Budget? Furthermore, this story serves as confirmation that Snowden handed over everything regardless of whether the information was potentially damaging. Who else has the encryption keys for the full, unedited documents? And let’s hope The Washington Post‘s copies are heavily encrypted, especially given how The New York Times was hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army this week.

Proof That Edward Snowden Engaged In Espionage:

This morning, NBC News reported that Edward Snowden used his administrative access to enter the accounts of other NSA employees with higher level classification with the intent to take information. That should once and for all settle the fact that Edward Snowden engaged in espionage and was not merely acting as a whistle blower.

The NSA has already identified several instances where Snowden borrowed someone else’s user profile to access documents, said the official.

…Let’s break this down. He wasn’t merely seeking those documents within his own compartment. He was actively looking to exploit his sysadmin privileges and access other user accounts and their clearances to gain access to documents above his own clearance level. The NSA is in the process of figuring out whose accounts Snowden accessed and what documents were taken.

NBC News tap dances around the fact that borrowing the accounts and access privileges of other users is a huge issue. That indicates Snowden’s intent to do more than merely blow the whistle based on the documents he had access to. He wanted to seriously damage the NSA’s operations. Why else search through accounts of those in higher classification levels for documents?

…Moreover, this is a further distinguishing feature when compared to Daniel Ellsberg (a Greenwald favorite tactic). Ellsberg released the RAND Corp study to the NYT, that was within his own classification level and actual personal knowledge – either from working on the documents directly or being directly involved in the project. The document/project he was working on was the Pentagon Papers. His case became synonymous with whistleblower for exposing that the Pentagon and Johnson Administration knew that the Vietnam war was a losing proposition.

Snowden? He purposefully bypassed security, exploited sysadmin privileges, and sought out documents above his classification level — all with the intent of fleeing the country.

• Miranda: did the UK manage to get a hold of the encryption password? Telegraph correspondent Guardian David Barrett tweeted out the statement:

  • Last week High Court said police can continue examining documents seized from #miranda at Heathrow, something his lawyers had tried to block
  • Police who seized documents from #miranda found among them a piece of paper with the decryption password, the statement says
  • This password allowed them to decrypt one file on his seized hard drive, adds Oliver Robbins, Cabinet Office security adviser #miranda
  • The material contains personal information that would allow British intelligence staff to be identified, inc some overseas, it adds #miranda
  • “The fact that…the claimant was carrying on his person a handwritten piece of paper containing the password for one of the encrypted files recovered from him is a sign of very poor information security practice,” says Govt statement #miranda

• This new information utterly destroys Greenwald’s self-serving narrative about this incident. Greenwald, of course is reacting to the news in his usual fashion — by implying the government is lying, and insulting David Barrrett.

Syria

British parliament votes against military strike on Syria: British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday it was clear parliament “does not want to see British military action” in Syria after the government suffered a stunning defeat on the issue. A government motion calling for lawmakers to back military action in principle was defeated 285 to 272, a majority of 13 votes, in the House of Commons. “It is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly,” Cameron said after the result was announced.

• U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the Obama administration is consulting with allies to “further develop the facts” about last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, and options for a response.

French President Francois Hollande gave a boost Friday to US hopes of forging an international coalition for possible strikes against Syria after British lawmakers rejected any involvement in military action. Faced with an impasse at the UN Security Council and the British parliament’s shock rejection of any punitive action against the Syrian regime, the United States has been forced to look elsewhere for international partners. While Germany and Canada ruled out joining any military strikes, Hollande — whose country was a strident opponent of the war on Iraq — said the British vote would not affect his government’s stance. “France wants firm and proportionate action against the Damascus regime,” Hollande said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper, hinting an attack was possible by Wednesday.

Racism

A party full of rodeo clowns: GOP flips the bird to racial justice: By spurning invitations to celebrate the 1963 March, Republicans show they don’t care about seeming racist anymore. As recently as 2007, I believe, it would have been unthinkable that no major Republican leader would accept an invitation to join Wednesday’s commemoration of the 50thanniversary of the March on Washington. But that’s what happened this week, even though a delusional Bill O’Reilly claimed last night that “no Republicans and no conservatives were invited” to speak. As usual, O’Reilly is wrong: House Speaker John Boehner was washing his hair; wait, he was visiting Wyoming (the sixth whitest state in the U.S., by the way). Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who traveled to Selma with Rep. John Lewis last year, was likewise otherwise engaged. Both Presidents Bush are recuperating from health troubles. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was invited in his brother and father’s stead, but he had other plans. Sen. John McCain also declined.

Senator Tim Scott Turned Down Invitation to 50th Anniversary of MLK Event: One prominent Republican, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), told Roll Call through a spokesperson that he had not been invited, but the paper reported, Thursday afternoon, that an email confirms that Sen. Scott’s office declined an invitation to the event earlier this month.

A real apology – O’Reilly Admits He Was Wrong That No Republicans Were Invited To March On Washington Anniversary: “Last night, during my discussion with James Carville about the Martin Luther King commemoration, I said there were no Republican speakers invited. Wrong. It was wrong. Some Republicans were asked to speak; they declined. And that was a mistake. They should have spoke. Now, the mistake? Entirely on me. I simply assumed that since all the speakers were liberal Democrats, Republicans were excluded. So here’s the tip of the day: always check out the facts before you make a definitive statement. And, when you make a mistake, admit it. By the way, I’m sorry I made that mistake. It’s very annoying because I know you guys watch The Factor for accuracy.

US

Gay marriages to be recognized across US by IRS: All married, same-sex couples in the U.S. will receive federal tax benefits previously given to just heterosexual couples, the Obama administration said on Thursday. The ruling applies even to gay couples who live in states where their union is not recognized — so long as they were married in a state that allows same-sex marriage.

• U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made a historic move today when he informed the governors of Colorado and Washington that the federal government would not interfere with their states’ laws allowing for the legal use of marijuana. For years federal agents have stormed and raided marijuana dispensaries in states like California where medical use has been legal for decades, but this unprecedented decision steers federal priority away from the longstanding, reactionary U.S. war on drugs. The memo reads: “The Department’s guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests. A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper; it must also be effective in practice.”

FACT SHEET: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence: Today, the Obama administration announced two new common-sense executive actions to keep the most dangerous firearms out of the wrong hands and ban almost all re-imports of military surplus firearms to private entities. These executive actions build on the 23 executive actions that the Vice President recommended as part of the comprehensive gun violence reduction plan and the President unveiled on January 16, 2013. The proposed [ATF] rule requires individuals associated with trusts or corporations that acquire these types of weapons to undergo background checks, just as these individuals would if the weapons were registered to them individually. By closing this loophole, the regulation will ensure that machine guns and other particularly dangerous weapons do not end up in the wrong hands. When the United States provides military firearms to its allies, either as direct commercial sales or through the foreign military sales or military assistance programs, those firearms may not be imported back into the United States without U.S. government approval. Since 2005, the U.S. Government has authorized requests to reimport more than 250,000 of these firearms.

• A first in seven years: “Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday swore in B. Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Justice Department said in a statement.”

• Heritage Foundation president and former Senator Jim DeMint suggested to a town hall audience in Wilmington, Delaware Thursday that health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid are “un-American” and built on the principles of “socialism and collectivism.”

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