Who is Edward Snowden: Whistle-blower hero, enemy of the state or covert ops shapeshifter?
07.08.2013
01:10 pm

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Current Events

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Edward Snowden
NSA
Jon Rappoport


 
This is a guest post from Jon Rappoport
 
If you absolutely must have a hero, watch Superman movies.

If your need for a hero is so great, so cloying, so heavy, so juicy that it swamps your curiosity, don’t read this. 

If you can’t separate Edward Snowden’s minor revelations from the question of who he is, if you can’t entertain the notion that covert ops and intelligence-agency games are reeking with cover stories, false trails, and limited hangouts, you need more fun in your life.

NSA?  CIA?  These guys live for high-level bullshit.  They get down on their knees and worship it.  They fall into a suicidal funk if they aren’t lying on at least three or four levels at once.

Okay.  Let’s look at Snowden’s brief history as reported by The Guardian.  Are there any holes?

Is the Pope Catholic?

In 2003, at age 19, without a high school diploma, Snowden enlists in the Army.  He begins a training program to join the Special Forces.  At what point after enlistment can a new soldier start this elite training program? 

Snowden breaks both legs in an exercise.  He’s discharged from the Army.  Is that automatic?  How about healing and then resuming service? 

If he was accepted in the Special Forces training program because he had special computer skills, then why discharge him simply because he broke both legs?

“Sorry, Ed, but with two broken legs we just don’t think you can hack into terrorist data anymore.  You were good, but not now.  Try Walmart.  They always have openings.”

Circa 2003, Snowden gets a job as a security guard for an NSA facility at the University of Maryland. He specifically wanted to work for NSA?  It was just a generic job opening he found out about?

Snowden shifts jobs.  Boom.  He’s now in the CIA, in IT.  He has no high school diploma.  He’s a young computer genius.

In 2007, Snowden is sent to Geneva.  He’s only 23 years old.  The CIA gives him diplomatic cover there.  He’s put in charge of maintaining computer-network security.  Major job.  Obviously, he has access to a wide range of classified documents.  Sound a little odd?  He’s just a kid.  Maybe he has his GED.  Otherwise, he still doesn’t have a high school diploma.

Snowden says that during this period, in Geneva, one of the incidents that really sours him on the CIA is the “turning of a Swiss banker.”  One night, CIA guys get a banker drunk, encourage him to drive home, the banker gets busted, the CIA guys help him out, then with that bond formed, they eventually get the banker to reveal deep secrets to the Agency.

This sours Snowden?  He’s that naïve?  He doesn’t know by now that the CIA does this sort of thing all the time?  He’s shocked?  He “didn’t sign up for this?”  Come on.

In 2009, Snowden leaves the CIA.  Why?  Presumably because he’s disillusioned.  It should be noted here that Snowden claimed he could do very heavy damage to the entire US intelligence community in 2008, but decided to wait because he thought Obama, just coming into the presidency, might keep his “transparency” promise.

After two years with the CIA in Geneva, Snowden really had the capability to take down the whole US inter-agency intelligence network, or a major chunk of it? 

If you buy that without further inquiry, I have condos for sale on the dark side of the moon.

In 2009, Snowden leaves the CIA and goes to work in the private sector.  Dell, Booze Allen Hamilton.  In this latter job, Snowden is assigned to work at the NSA.

He’s an outsider, but, again, he claims to have so much access to so much sensitive NSA data that he can take down the whole US intelligence network in a single day.  The.  Whole.  US.  Intelligence.  Network. 

This is Ed Snowden’s sketchy legend.  It’s all red flags, alarm bells, sirens, flashing lights. 

Then we have the crowning piece: they solved the riddle: Ed Snowden was able to steal thousands of highly protected NSA documents because… he had a thumb drive.

It’s the weapon that breached the inner sanctum of the most sophisticated information agency in the world. 

It’s the weapon to which the NSA, with all its resources, remains utterly vulnerable.  Can’t defeat it. 

Not only did Snowden stroll into NSA with a thumb drive, he knew how to navigate all the security layers put in place to stop people from stealing classified documents.

“Let’s see.  We have a new guy coming to work for us here at NSA today?  Oh, whiz kid.  Ed Snowden.  Outside contractor.  Booz Allen.  He’s not really a full-time employee of the NSA.  Twenty-nine years old.  No high school diploma.  Has a GED.  He worked for the CIA and quit.  Hmm.  Why did he quit?  Oh, never mind, who cares?  No problem.

“Tell you what.  Let’s give this kid access to our most sensitive data.  Sure.  Why not?  Everything.  That stuff we keep behind 986 walls?  Where you have to pledge the life of your first-born against the possibility you’ll go rogue?  Let Snowden see it all.  Sure.  What the hell.  I’m feeling charitable.  He seems like a nice kid.”

NSA is the most awesome spying agency ever devised in this world.  If you cross the street in Podunk, Anywhere, USA, to buy an ice cream soda, on a Tuesday afternoon in July, they know.

They know whether you sit at the counter and drink that soda or take it and move to the only table in the store.  They know whether you lick the foam from the top of the glass with your tongue or pick the foam with your straw and then lick it.

They know if you keep the receipt for the soda or leave it on the counter.

They know whether you’re wearing shoes or sneakers.  They know the brand of your underwear.  They know your shaving cream, and precisely which container it came out of.

But this agency, with all its vast power and its dollars…

Can’t track one of its own, a man who came to work every day, a man who made up a story about needing treatment in Hong Kong for epilepsy and then skipped the country.

Just can’t find him.

Can’t find him in Hong Kong, where he does a sit-down video interview with Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian.  Can’t find that “safe house” or that “hotel” where he’s staying.

No.  Can’t find him or spy on his communications while he’s in Hong Kong.  Can’t figure out he’s booked a flight to Russia.  Can’t intercept him at the airport before he leaves for Russia .  Too difficult.

And this man, this employee, is walking around with four laptops that contain the keys to all the secret spying knowledge in the known cosmos.

Can’t locate those laptops.  Can’t hack into them to see what’s there.  Can’t access the laptops or the data.  The most brilliant technical minds of this or any other generation can find a computer in Outer Mongolia in the middle of a blizzard, but these walking-around computers in Hong Kong are somehow beyond reach.

And before this man, Snowden, this employee, skipped Hawaii, he was able to access the layout of the entire US intelligence network.  Yes. 

He stole enough to “take down the entire US intelligence network in a single afternoon.”

Not only that, but anyone who worked at this super-agency as an analyst, as a systems-analyst supervisor, could have done the same thing.  Could have stolen the keys to the kingdom.

This is why NSA geniuses with IQs over 180 have decided, now, in the midst of the Snowden affair, that they need to draft “tighter rules and procedures” for their employees.  Right.

Now, a few pieces of internal of security they hadn’t realized they needed before will be put in place.

This is, let me remind you, the most secretive spying agency in the world.  The richest spying agency.  The smartest spying agency.

But somehow, over the years, they’d overlooked this corner of their own security.  They’d left a door open, so that any one of their own analysts could steal everything.

Could take it all.  Could just snatch it away and copy it and store it on a few laptops.

But now, yes now, having been made aware of this vulnerability, the agency will make corrections.

Sure.

And reporters for elite US media don’t find any of this hard to swallow. 

A smart sixth-grader could see through this tower of fabricated crap in a minute, but veteran grizzled reporters are clueless.

On the ever-solicitous Charlie Rose’s show, a gaggle of pundits and newspeople warned that Ed Snowden, walking around with those four laptops, could be an easy target for Chinese spies or Russian spies, who could get access to the data on those computers.  The spies could just hack in.

But the NSA can’t.  No.  The NSA can’t find out what Snowden has.  They can only speculate.

The tightest and strongest and richest and smartest spying agency in the world can’t find its own employee.  It’s in the business of tracking, and it can’t find him. 

It’s in the business of security, and it can’t protect its own data from its employees.

If you believe all that, I have timeshares to sell in the black hole in the center of the Milky Way.

Here is a more likely scenario. 

Snowden never saw any of those thousands of documents on an NSA computer.  Never happened.  He didn’t hack in.  He didn’t steal anything.

He was working an op, either as a dupe or knowingly.  He was working for…well, let’s see, who would that be? 

Who was he working for before he entered the private sector and wound up at NSA? 

The CIA.

Would that be the same CIA who hates the NSA with a venomous fervor?

Would that be the same CIA who’s been engaged in a turf war with NSA for decades? 

The same CIA who’s watched their own prestige and funding diminish, as human intelligence has given way to electronic snooping?

Yes, it would be.  CIA just can’t match the NSA when it comes to gathering signals-intell.

Wired Magazine, June 2013 issue.  James Bamford, author of three books on the NSA, states:

“In April, as part of its 2014 budget request, the Pentagon [which rules the NSA] asked Congress for $4.7 billion for increased ‘cyberspace operations,’ nearly $1 billion more than the 2013 allocation. At the same time, budgets for the CIA and other intelligence agencies were cut by almost the same amount, $4.4 billion. A portion of the money going to…[NSA] will be used to create 13 cyberattack teams.”

That means spying money.  Far more for NSA, far less for CIA.

Turf war.   

People at the CIA were able to access those NSA documents, and they gave the documents to Snowden and he ran with them.

The CIA, of course, couldn’t be seen as the NSA leaker.  They needed a guy.  They needed a guy who could appear to be from the NSA, to make things look worse for the NSA and shield the CIA.

They had Ed Snowden.  He had worked for the CIA in Geneva, in a high-level position, overseeing computer-systems security. 

Somewhere in his CIA past, Ed meets a fellow CIA guy who sits down with him and says, “You know, Ed, things have gone too damn far.  The NSA is spying on everybody all the time.  I can show you proof.  They’ve gone beyond the point of trying to catch terrorists.  They’re doing something else.  They’re expanding a Surveillance State, which can only lead to one thing: the destruction of America, what America stands for, what you and I know America is supposed to be.  The NSA isn’t like us, Ed.  We go after terrorists for real.  That’s it.  Whereas NSA goes after everybody.  We have to stop it.  We need a guy…and there are those of us who think you might be that guy…”

During the course of this one disingenuous conversation, the CIA is killing 37 innocent civilians all over the world with drones, but that’s beside the point. Ahem.

Ed says, “Tell me more.  I’m intrigued.”

He buys in.     

Put two scenarios on the truth scale and assess them.  Which is more likely?  The tale Snowden told to Glenn Greenwald, with all its holes, with its super-naive implications about the fumbling, bumbling NSA, or a scenario in which Snowden is the CIA’s boy?

We have reporters at the Washington Post and at The Guardian.  We have Julian Assange, the head of Wikileaks.  They’re all talking to Snowden.  The NSA can spy on them.  Right?  Can listen to their calls and read their emails and hack into their notes.  Just like people have been hacking into the work and home computers of Sharyl Attkisson, star CBS investigative reporter.

But the NSA can’t do all this spying and then use it to find Snowden.  Just can’t manage it.

Everybody in the world with a computer has passwords.  The NSA can cut through them (as well as encryption) like a sword through hot butter.  But Assange and the Post and Guardian and Snowden have super-special passwords.

They got these passwords by sending a stamped self-addressed envelope, along with 25 cents, and a top from a cereal box to The Shadow.  These passwords are charged with atomic clouds that obscure NSA men’s minds so they cannot see or spy.  The passwords are immortal and invulnerable.

The NSA can spy on anyone else in the world, but they can’t get their foot in the door, when it comes to the Post, The Guardian, and Assange.

And if Snowden winds up in Venezuela or Tierra del Fuego, that too will become an insurmountable mystery. 

“Nope, we don’t know where he is.  He’s vanished.  Venezuela has a Romulan shield surrounding it.  The cloaking technology is too advanced.”

Perhaps you recall that, in the early days of this scandal, Snowden claimed he could spy on anyone in the US, including a federal judge or even the president, if he had their email addresses.

Uh-huh.  But the combined talents of the NSA, now, can’t spy on Snowden.  I guess they just can’t find his email address.
 
The author of two explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED and EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California.  Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe.  Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world.  You can sign up for his free emails at www.nomorefakenews.com

Posted by Thomas McGrath

 

 

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