Friday, April 18, 2014

Putin and Snowden Chat about Surveillance

 photo Snowden-Putin.png

Previous Related Posts:
All Hail the Snowden Pulitzer
Putin Shambles on Ukraine with Bizarro-World Press Conference
Snowden Evolves into Max Headroom for Ted Talk
Define Spy For Us ~ Greenwald and Snowden's Secrets
Snowden Finally Leaves Russian Airport
Snowden in Moscow Limbo
Crime or Punishment? Snowden Remains Stuck in Moscow Airport
Snowden the Heroic Outlaw


President Vladimir Putin of Russia did one of his Q&A sessions on Live TV and guess who just happened to participate? His boy Edward Snowden, the spy most famous for stealing America's hi-tech secrets from the NSA. Once again Snowden appeared via live television, in a scene reminiscent of his recent "Max Headroom" appearance at a Ted Talk.

In a moment full of irony for the whole world but especially Europe right now, Snowden asked Putin if Russia uses surveillance. Yes, that really happened. As a child who grew up during the Cold War, the thought of asking a Russian Leader about oversight on citizens is a waste of a question. Of course they use surveillance! And Snowden knows good and well that every modern country has cameras everywhere. But the ultimate irony is that we are supposed to believe that Snowden asked that question of his own accord, and that none of it was a staged set-up to once again poke Obama in the eye. In the same live interview Putin proudly speaks of renaming Ukraine "Novorussia" - I guess Edward Snowden doesn't care about wars and aggression, as long as Putin doesn't have cameras everywhere. Oh wait - remember the Sochi Olympics when journalists and athletes discovered cameras in their rooms, even in the showers?

By the way, Ed - your friend Vlad is watching you right now.

From the New York Times
In a stunningly bold poke at the White House, the Kremlin arranged for Mr. Snowden, who is wanted on espionage charges, to ask Mr. Putin about Russia’s surveillance practices. Told there was a question from Mr. Snowden, Mr. Putin responded slyly, saying, “Well, how could we do without this?”

. . . “So I’d like to ask you,” he continued, “does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?”

Mr. Putin, a former K.G.B. agent and director of the Russian intelligence service, played up their experience in spycraft.

“Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent,” the president replied. “I used to work for an intelligence service. Let’s speak in a professional language.”
“Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law,” Mr. Putin said. “You have to get a court’s permission first.” He noted that terrorists use electronic communications and that Russia had to respond to that threat.
“Of course we do this,” Mr. Putin said. “But we don’t use this on such a massive scale, and I hope that we won’t.”

After Twitter erupted with disbelief and mockery, Snowden responded - where else? - in the Guardian UK, a newspaper that just shared a Pulitzer Prize with Washington Post, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras for releasing Snowden's secrets to the public. According to Snowden he was trying to hold Putin to the same standards as the United States. Or you could see it another way - it was just another opportunity for Snowden to get face-time on TV for the "cause" of praising his rescuer Putin and shaming America from a nice hidey-hole in Russia.

Guardian UK
I was surprised that people who witnessed me risk my life to expose the surveillance practices of my own country could not believe that I might also criticise the surveillance policies of Russia, a country to which I have sworn no allegiance, without ulterior motive. I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question – and Putin's evasive response – in order to speculate, wildly and incorrectly, about my motives for asking it.
The investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov, perhaps the single most prominent critic of Russia's surveillance apparatus (and someone who has repeatedly criticised me in the past year), described my question as "extremely important for Russia". It could, he said, "lift a de facto ban on public conversations about state eavesdropping."

Monday, April 14, 2014

All Hail The Snowden Pulitzer

Previous Related Posts:
Smashing Hard Drives ~ The Miranda / Snowden / Guardian Saga Continues
Was Miranda a Mule or a Journalist?
Greenwald Threatens to Spill UK Secrets
UK Detains Greenwald's Partner - Twitter Erupts
Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger Spins Away
Edward Snowden Releases NSA Secrets


Both the Washington Post and Guardian UK won Pulitzer Prizes for releasing many of the secrets Edward Snowden stole from the United States Government. The award also went to Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Ewen McAskill and Barton Gellman for their Obama-slamming coverage as Snowden escaped his own country, first to Hong Kong and later Russia. Yeah, that's great. The Pulitzer Committee obviously overlooked the major flaws in the reporting, including contradictions, unfounded fear-mongering, and just pure lies (see previous posts listed above for examples). But that's okay - bad reporters win awards all the time. Have your happy day, but realize that while you may have "started a conversation" about U.S. Spy techniques it remains to be seen if the reporting was actually the "public service" you think it is. Hisory and future actions of spies like Snowden will judge this reporting much more harshly than critics on twitter. Good luck with that.

From Yahoo News
The Guardian and The Washington Post won a prestigious Pulitzer Prize on Monday for reporting on secret US surveillance programs revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
The shared award went to the two newspapers credited with breaking the news about NSA surveillance programs, without specifically citing the journalists involved.
The reporters who played key roles in the story included Glenn Greenwald, who has since left the Guardian, and colleague Ewen MacAskill. Barton Gellman, who already has two Pulitzers, was the writer of most of the Washington Post reports.
Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker who was the point of contact for Snowden, had the unusual distinction of sharing bylines in both the Guardian and the Post on the topic.

Disclosing the massive expansion of the NSA’s surveillance network absolutely was a public service. In constructing a surveillance system of breathtaking scope and intrusiveness, our government also sharply eroded individual privacy. All of this was done in secret, without public debate, and with clear weaknesses in oversight.”
. . . (Without Snowden) we never would have known how far this country had shifted away from the rights of the individual in favor of state power. There would have been no public debate about the proper balance between privacy and national security. As even the president has acknowledged, this is a conversation we need to have.
~ Martin Baron, Editor of Washington Post

We are truly honoured that our journalism has been recognised with the Pulitzer prize. This was a complex story, written, edited and produced by a team of wonderful journalists. We are particularly grateful for our colleagues across the world who supported the Guardian in circumstances which threatened to stifle our reporting. And we share this honour, not only with our colleagues at the Washington Post, but also with Edward Snowden, who risked so much in the cause of the public service which has today been acknowledged by the award of this prestigious prize.
~ Alan Rusbridger, the editor-in-chief of the Guardian

Today's decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognises was work of vital public importance.
~ Edward Snowden, via Guardian UK


Edward Snowden didn’t win a Pulitzer on Monday, but he might as well have.
~ Dylan Byers on Politico

The Guardian and Washington Post Don't Deserve Pulitzers Just for Sparking a Debate
. . . if sparking a debate is enough to earn the Pulitzer’s coveted public service medal, then sure. Congrats. I would note, however, that merely sparking a debate is an exceedingly low standard.
There was a time, and it wasn’t very long ago, when this medal meant something more, when “aggressive reporting” meant more than being a vehicle to shovel leaked documents to the public, with stops along the way for obligatory government comment, for fawning characterizations of one’s own sources, and for tendentious claims about what those documents say.
~ Benjamin Wittes on New Republic

Pulitzers don’t make Snowden a hero
. . . It is not the media or the Pulitzer committee that should judge what Snowden did. The main judgment should come from the courts, which are now considering what the government was up to in its collection programs and should also consider what Snowden did. You may think Snowden a whistle-blower, but the only way of knowing whether he is or not is for him to return to the US and face a jury of his peers. He may continue to refuse to do that, and prefer to be sheltered by a government whose behavior he surely knows is at least as bad as that of the one he fled, but that doesn’t make him a hero. It makes him a fugitive.
~ Daniel Serwer on