Edward Snowden

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Edward Snowden

Unread postby James » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:25 pm

I imagine, by now, everyone here has heard of Edward Snowden?

What do you think of him? The United States' surveillance programs (other countries have been developing similar programs, on that note). I noticed we have no discussion for him, and his is one news story which persists in my mind.
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Re: Edward Snowden

Unread postby James » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:29 pm

Sentiment toward him varies wildly depending on who I talk to, or what I watch. Some news coverage basically treats him as a hardened criminal who deserves to be hunted like a dog, and I've met quite a few people who feel the same way. I don't agree with it, though. I have a lot of respect for him in tossing much of the life he knew aside to expose the NSA's surveillance programs to the American public. And every time I find the United States doing something which strikes me as a clear violation of constitutional principles I find myself just a little more horrified with our leaders. I would be terribly disappointed if the United States somehow got ahold of him.

On one hand I realize how effective a program like this must be. Logging this information allows them to link together networks behind people who want to do very terrible things. If you combine this kind of information with our current drone program it is possible to map out much of someone's life (and indeed we do, in a different form, overseas in 'war'). I suppose ultimately what I struggle to swallow is that we should be so eager to give up our freedoms for a little more security. I also dislike that programs like this are created with such little oversight from a constitutional perspective (or superficial oversight).
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Re: Edward Snowden

Unread postby laojim » Sat Aug 24, 2013 6:12 am

A rather surprising number of congressional hearings and NSA revelations have been brought about by nothing more than the revelations of Mr. Snowden. His publications have been a boon to the government of the United States and to the people who like to know what is going on.

On the other hand, Mr. Manning has been imprisoned for thirty years and his revelations did not cause nearly as much response from the government. Mr. Kalley (sp?) was sentenced to a few months of house arrest after ordering the mass murder of numerous villagers. The American system of justice obviously thinks that Mr. Manning is a much greater criminal than Mr. Kalley. Funny thing that.
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Re: Edward Snowden

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:49 am

James wrote:I imagine, by now, everyone here has heard of Edward Snowden?

What do you think of him? The United States' surveillance programs (other countries have been developing similar programs, on that note). I noticed we have no discussion for him, and his is one news story which persists in my mind.


I don't think Mr. Snowden is a super evil guy. He is a traitor though, and more pertinent to the discussion a criminal. He violated U.S. laws and contracts he signed when working for his firm. For some reason people seem to believe that any good brought about by his publications, much like Mr. Manning's, somehow vindicates him of his wrongdoings. I think he should be prosecuted like any other criminal.


James wrote: I have a lot of respect for him in tossing much of the life he knew aside to expose the NSA's surveillance programs to the American public.


This is what confuses me. A whistleblower is not concerned with exposing his identity or making his plight public. He is concerned with getting the information out there and thats it. Mr. Snowden has made his plight heard round the world with the tones of 'woe-is-me' or something else straight out of spy novel. That isn't a whistleblower, thats an attention seeker. I'd also have infinitely more respect for the man if he hadn't exposed the information and run off to a communist stronghold saying he'd be killed. I'd have more respect for him if he stayed and accepted whatever legal repercussions came his way, fighting to vindicate his name and actions.

And every time I find the United States doing something which strikes me as a clear violation of constitutional principles I find myself just a little more horrified with our leaders.


'Which strikes me' is the key term there to me. Just because Mr. Snowden and you see the actions of the NSA as a "clear violation" of constitutional principles doesn't mean they therefore legally are. I'm not sure it's the smartest or most ethical strategy every time you think there may be a constitutional violation to throw privacy laws and concerns to the wind and expose information and run off to foreign countries (potentially enemies). Much like Mr. Manning said after this trial, he now thinks it was a mistake and he should've worked inside the system.

Usually in administrative law circumstances, attorneys are supposed to bring potential concerns through the channels first before going to higher authorities. Either way its considered unethical to run off with personal concerns.

I would be terribly disappointed if the United States somehow got ahold of him.


Why? The U.S. has a right to flex its muscle and persecute what it sees as potential criminals to the fullest extent possible. Not only does it has a right to do so, the executive branch has a duty to do so. If he violated U.S. law, I'm going to be overjoyed if the U.S. gets ahold of him. Give him his due process and see what shakes out. If he's innocent, so be it.

I suppose ultimately what I struggle to swallow is that we should be so eager to give up our freedoms for a little more security. I also dislike that programs like this are created with such little oversight from a constitutional perspective (or superficial oversight).


I have two concerns here. First, what freedoms are we giving up? I'll grant you phone conversations have been given certain (and I say certain because they are far from inviolable) protections. But the internet communications which are monitored have no protections from what I understand. Internet privacy is largely an oxymoron from what I understand. My second concern is that with the kind of mass collection and necessary combined data points, how are the majority of people giving up freedoms?

Please understand I'm not trying to be confrontational here. But I just think it's a little bit of a stretched argument that every time a security measure or program is introduced the first knee-jerk reaction is to ask 'what aren't we going to give up for a miniscule amount of protection'?
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Re: Edward Snowden

Unread postby Zhuanyong » Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:21 am

I was about to type up a nice paragraph or two but after reading Shik's post, I will just say I agree with much of what he said. My thought vary slightly in some context but at the end of the day I believe Snowden is a traitor by the standard at which a person is deemed a traitor. If he were to be apprehended, I certainly believe he would warrant and deserve a much lengthier term than Manning.

At the same time, he played the role of a whistleblower and it comes down to a question of ethics. If this country isn't ethical in a number its practices can his action be considered punishable as criminal?
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Re: Edward Snowden

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:33 am

I can hardly run with the regulars on this particular sub-forum, but I'll toss a few opposing viewpoints out there. The Snowden issue has been largely quiet from what I have seen. You get articles about his latest activities or whatever, but I have noticed a lack of dialogue beyond that.

Shikanosuke wrote:I have two concerns here. First, what freedoms are we giving up? I'll grant you phone conversations have been given certain (and I say certain because they are far from inviolable) protections. But the internet communications which are monitored have no protections from what I understand. Internet privacy is largely an oxymoron from what I understand.


But the government previously was required to obtain a warrant to collect information about particular customers through IP providers and the like. This set-up between the NSA and Internet companies comes off like a workaround. In practice, judges could deny government entities a warrant to access this information. So there were protections in place, and these activities help to erode those protections. Whether online activites should offer protection seems a bit irrelevant since a degree of protection was already in place.

My second concern is that with the kind of mass collection and necessary combined data points, how are the majority of people giving up freedoms?


Right now they may not be. But I guess I would counter by asking, what if stricter pornography or product piracy laws went into effect down the road? The government has all of this information collected and merely has to assimilate it, and apply it. I realize it sounds a bit far-fetched, and of course the most effective option to protect your information is to cease online activities (or provide only information that you feel the government would find mundane in nature), but as technology continues to advance, we are becoming more and more increasingly linked to the digital world, and it is harder to avoid having your activities monitored.

Personally, I don't find these revelations shocking necessarily, but I do feel like it should inspire dialogue about what privacy on the Internet entails, what access the government should have to our online activities, and so on.

Please understand I'm not trying to be confrontational here. But I just think it's a little bit of a stretched argument that every time a security measure or program is introduced the first knee-jerk reaction is to ask 'what aren't we going to give up for a miniscule amount of protection'?


I have a problem with it because it was conducted covertly. There was absolutely no public discourse about it like with previous attempts to put such programs into place, like SOPA.
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Re: Edward Snowden

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:38 pm

Zyzyfer wrote:
But the government previously was required to obtain a warrant to collect information about particular customers through IP providers and the like. This set-up between the NSA and Internet companies comes off like a workaround. In practice, judges could deny government entities a warrant to access this information. So there were protections in place, and these activities help to erode those protections. Whether online activites should offer protection seems a bit irrelevant since a degree of protection was already in place.


Perhaps my information is out of date. I believed that until a certain amount of data points had been connected the NSA agents couldn't bring it to court to get a warrant to look further into people's accounts.

Right now they may not be. But I guess I would counter by asking, what if stricter pornography or product piracy laws went into effect down the road? The government has all of this information collected and merely has to assimilate it, and apply it. I realize it sounds a bit far-fetched, and of course the most effective option to protect your information is to cease online activities (or provide only information that you feel the government would find mundane in nature), but as technology continues to advance, we are becoming more and more increasingly linked to the digital world, and it is harder to avoid having your activities monitored.


I don't think this is a legal concern here. The majority of the online information is collected legally to begin with I believe, having no protections. Using it for something may involve legal concerns perhaps. I just I'm just not as paranoid they're going to be using it.



I have a problem with it because it was conducted covertly. There was absolutely no public discourse about it like with previous attempts to put such programs into place, like SOPA.


Well, there's a difference why we would or should expect public discourse about things like SOPA but not a NSA project which is by nature covert.
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Re: Edward Snowden

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:03 pm

Zyzyfer wrote:I can hardly run with the regulars on this particular sub-forum, but I'll toss a few opposing viewpoints out there.


Oh, I don't know about that. You seem to be holding your own fairly well here. :D

That said, I'll throw out my own two bits here also:

Shikanosuke wrote:I don't think Mr. Snowden is a super evil guy. He is a traitor though, and more pertinent to the discussion a criminal.


Zhuanyong wrote:I believe Snowden is a traitor by the standard at which a person is deemed a traitor.


Dude, dafuq y'inz talking about?

Shik, seriously, weren't you supposed to be some kind of lawyery-type educated person? Treason - that's the legal term used to describe the specific crime committed by 'traitors' in US law - has a very specific definition. Here it is:

Legal Information Institute wrote:Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.


As yet, Edward Snowden has not declared allegiance to any state or VNSA currently in a state of war, declared or undeclared, with the United States. Nor has he given aid or comfort to any such state or VNSA, in the narrow legal sense which of course must apply here. The United Kingdom (he leaked his info to the Guardian) is not at war with the United States. He is suspect of breaking his contracts with Booz Allen Hamilton and with the NSA, and therefore he is suspect of breaking the law; I'm not questioning that. But the precedent set by the Manning case verdict (however ethically problematic the sentencing was) applies here: merely releasing classified information to the American public - even if you break the law in the process - legally does not count as 'aiding the enemy'.

One shouldn't throw around language like 'traitor' lightly.

Shikanosuke wrote:I'd also have infinitely more respect for the man if he hadn't exposed the information and run off to a communist stronghold saying he'd be killed. I'd have more respect for him if he stayed and accepted whatever legal repercussions came his way, fighting to vindicate his name and actions.


Just out of curiosity, which 'communist stronghold' did Snowden 'run off to'?

Havana? Pyeongyang? Fristaden Christiania?

Such things as 'communist strongholds' are vanishingly rare in our modern world, and to my knowledge, Snowden has not visited any of them. Indeed, initially he fled to a polity which has been judged by the Heritage Foundation to be one of the most capitalistic in the world.

What determines whether one is or is not a whistleblower is the information he leaks and whether or not it is in the public interest, not the comportment of the whistleblower after the fact. That said, I still can't blame the guy. When he fled it was in grave doubt whether or not he would get his day in court, and even if he did whether or not he would receive a fair hearing. The Manning verdict had not yet been given when Snowden leaked his information to the Guardian. And that obtuse letter Holder sent to the Russian government, of all people, promising that Snowden wouldn't be tortured or killed, speaks volumes. Why would we have to send such assurances in the first place if our government's comportment toward suspects deemed to be sensitive to national security interests was not already in question?

Shikanosuke wrote:'Which strikes me' is the key term there to me. Just because Mr. Snowden and you see the actions of the NSA as a "clear violation" of constitutional principles doesn't mean they therefore legally are.


No. But the FISA Court rulings from 2011 and 2012, released to the public earlier this month, are another matter entirely.

Shikanosuke wrote:Usually in administrative law circumstances, attorneys are supposed to bring potential concerns through the channels first before going to higher authorities. Either way its considered unethical to run off with personal concerns.


Unethical? Perhaps. But that's still a HUGE leap down from 'treason'.

Shikanosuke wrote:Why? The U.S. has a right to flex its muscle and persecute what it sees as potential criminals to the fullest extent possible. Not only does it has a right to do so, the executive branch has a duty to do so.


Bullshit.

We don't have an extradition treaty with Russia in force. No extradition treaty means no legal right or recourse to detain any person with a legal right to live there. Full stop. End of story. Surely a lawyery type like yourself can appreciate that?

Just out of curiosity, again, when was the last time we handed over to Russian authorities a person living within our borders wanted for crimes over there?
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Re: Edward Snowden

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:00 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:
Zhuanyong wrote:I believe Snowden is a traitor by the standard at which a person is deemed a traitor.


Dude, dafuq y'inz talking about?

Shik, seriously, weren't you supposed to be some kind of lawyery-type educated person?


Dude, people have different opinions about what constitutes a traitor outside of legal context. Mind-blown? Believe it or not lawyers realize the world isn't actually defined entirely in the legal context.

Treason - that's the legal term used to describe the specific crime committed by 'traitors' in US law - has a very specific definition. Here it is:


As yet, Edward Snowden has not declared allegiance to any state or VNSA currently in a state of war, declared or undeclared, with the United States. Nor has he given aid or comfort to any such state or VNSA, in the narrow legal sense which of course must apply here. The United Kingdom (he leaked his info to the Guardian) is not at war with the United States. He is suspect of breaking his contracts with Booz Allen Hamilton and with the NSA, and therefore he is suspect of breaking the law; I'm not questioning that. But the precedent set by the Manning case verdict (however ethically problematic the sentencing was) applies here: merely releasing classified information to the American public - even if you break the law in the process - legally does not count as 'aiding the enemy'.

One shouldn't throw around language like 'traitor' lightly.


Actually it can be thrown about as we wish. I said he should be prosecuted as a criminal, but not for the crime of treason. The obvious implication is that he shouldn't be prosecuted for treason, that being a specific and nowadays rarely prosecuted crime. In fact I noted the contracts he signed at his firm, not the definition of treason. But the word traitor doesn't only have a legal-only definition. A traitor is anyone who betrays a trust or obligation. Mr. Snowden may certainly be rightfully considered a traitor (as many others can be) without having committed the legally perquisite acts necessary for the prosecution of treason. Perhaps you should calm down about someone calling another a traitor.

The Manning verdict does in fact state that releasing information isn't by itself 'aiding the enemy'. It holds, if I recall correctly, that the intention is what governs. However, precedent aside it doesn't realistically therefore equate that it won't aid the enemy. It just alleviates the person who released it from the necessary mens rea to be prosecuted. A retard may release a secret not for purposes of the aiding the enemy and the enemy may still be aided. He may be legally free and clear. Won't make him less of a traitor to those he endangered.


Just out of curiosity, which 'communist stronghold' did Snowden 'run off to'?


Such things as 'communist strongholds' are vanishingly rare in our modern world, and to my knowledge, Snowden has not visited any of them. Indeed, initially he fled to a polity which has been judged by the Heritage Foundation to be one of the most capitalistic in the world.


China. Then was heading for Cuba at one time if I recall. Hong Kong may be capitalistic, but lets not act like it's entirely separate and free of the PROC.

What determines whether one is or is not a whistleblower is the information he leaks and whether or not it is in the public interest, not the comportment of the whistleblower after the fact. That said, I still can't blame the guy. When he fled it was in grave doubt whether or not he would get his day in court, and even if he did whether or not he would receive a fair hearing. The Manning verdict had not yet been given when Snowden leaked his information to the Guardian. And that obtuse letter Holder sent to the Russian government, of all people, promising that Snowden wouldn't be tortured or killed, speaks volumes. Why would we have to send such assurances in the first place if our government's comportment toward suspects deemed to be sensitive to national security interests was not already in question?


I think thats nonsense. There was no reason to suspect Snowden or Manning wouldn't get a fair day in court. Manning got his, and you can't flee the country because you're not sure whether another pending court case will favor your cause. Holder sent the letter in an attempt to have the Russians turn over Snowden, a big political tool they're championing. It doesn't speak volumes. Manning had been in custody for quite some time, was provided access to legal counsel, and was not tortured or killed. Snowden's doubts about this day in court were fabricated by his own glory-seeking.

EDIT: He didn't avail himself of federal whistle blower protections, seeking Congress, or working within his organization.


No. But the FISA Court rulings from 2011 and 2012, released to the public earlier this month, are another matter entirely.


Perhaps. That's how the channels work. Our lay opinions don't entitle to declare things unconstitutional and ignore duties or laws.

Unethical? Perhaps. But that's still a HUGE leap down from 'treason'.


No one said treason. Not once in this thread have I read it. I think I even brought up contract violations. Should've mentioned any oaths he took to the U.S. government on confidentiality and mishandling U.S. government property. All of which are criminal.


Bullshit.

We don't have an extradition treaty with Russia in force. No extradition treaty means no legal right or recourse to detain any person with a legal right to live there. Full stop. End of story. Surely a lawyery type like yourself can appreciate that?


First off, I'm not sure what your deal here is WWD. I get it you're not agreeing with my point of view but I've not personally attacked you or your professional or educational qualifications. I've not even acted smart-ass towards you in this thread, so perhaps this is some transference from another thread? Either way, I've either offended you or you've intentionally decided to come off as a dick to argue your position. I figured we can be frank about this to move forward and dispense with the nonsense.

Moving on to the point. I never said the U.S. has a extradition treaty with Russia. So it has no right to demand Russia to release Snowden by international law. That shouldn't have to be said of course, because I didn't say it. What I said was the U.S. is under no obligation not to flex its international muscles to obtain Snowden by any means short of breaking international law and military force. For instance, making it difficult for Snowden to reach Cuba or whatever South American sanctuary by picking him up at U.S. friendly airports where we have extradition treaties or governments who consider him a criminal. This doesn't require a extradition treaty with Russia.

Furthermore, Russia doesn't have to give up Snowden as we've both agreed. If they agree to, which I concede they have no reason to, they may. The U.S. and its executive branch certainly have a duty to attempt to bring home criminals, even if that means asking the Russians.

So I'm not really sure how we got here. James didn't want them to get ahold of him. I asked why and said the U.S. has its rights within the law to try (to the fullest extent possible is what I said, I didn't think anyone would take this to a logical extreme of law breaking and military force) and a duty to do so.

Just out of curiosity, again, when was the last time we handed over to Russian authorities a person living within our borders wanted for crimes over there?


High profile? Not many likely. Low profile? Probably a lot. This notes Washington saying they've handed over seven criminals in recent years. In 1982 it seems we extradited a Nazi criminal to them. But that said your point is accurate in the sense that these are not the norm between our two countries. They have little incentive to do so, I also concur.
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Re: Edward Snowden

Unread postby dan99990 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:41 pm

Shikanosuke wrote:
This is what confuses me. A whistleblower is not concerned with exposing his identity or making his plight public. He is concerned with getting the information out there and thats it. Mr. Snowden has made his plight heard round the world with the tones of 'woe-is-me' or something else straight out of spy novel. That isn't a whistleblower, thats an attention seeker. I'd also have infinitely more respect for the man if he hadn't exposed the information and run off to a communist stronghold saying he'd be killed. I'd have more respect for him if he stayed and accepted whatever legal repercussions came his way, fighting to vindicate his name and actions.



Like Daniel Ellsberg did. And that worked out pretty well for him in the end, even though the American public didn't have nearly as strong a reaction to the information inside the Pentagon Papers as they should have.
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