Monday, April 24, 2017

Snowden's Deadman's Switch & Glenn Greenwald's Apparent Deal

Jessica Bruder and Dale Maharidge wrote "Snowden's Box" in this month's (April, 2017) issue of Harper's Magazine

They fill in logistical details of how Snowden put the family jewels of American SIGINT into the hands of Laura Poitras, then an obscure filmmaker, now an Academy Award winning auteur. 

What is important about this account, however, is its confirmation that at least one, probably two, and possibly more complete sets of the Snowden archive are loose in the wild. They comprise Snowden's deadman's switch

My sense is that Snowden does things in triplicate, as I would, so I would bet money that yet another set of documents, perhaps more, are festering somewhere in the wide world. 

They should send this data to Julian Assange. There is no question that this tale was released now to rock American intelligence back on its heels. Threaten Snowden at your own risk, is the message. Figuring out where these data caches are will become an obsession for American intelligence. 

Millions of dollars will be spent by the Snowden task force, and minute tidbits of data will be catalogued and incrementally fed into Palantir, and analysts will laboriously tussle over selectors in XKEYSCORE to try to 'suss out where the loose copies of the archive are secreted. 

But the real question is whether these data caches even exist. Many speculate that Snowden set a deadman's switch that will result in the release of all data upon his untimely death or apprehension. Diane Roarke, the NSA whistleblower who formerly headed the NSA account at the House Committee on Intelligence, confirmed the existence of such a system. It only makes sense. 

These data caches could be Snowden's deadman's switch. The triplicate design makes sense. It just feels like something that Snowden would do. 

Snowden is not stupid. He took risks, yes, but look at where he is, and look at what he is doing. He accomplished this despite being Public Enemy Number One for the US government. He remains Public Enemy Number One. Snowden remains free, and he speaks frequently before college audiences. I would pay to see Snowden speak remotely. 

My fervent prayer is that the Snowden archive in its entirety ends up in the hands of Julian Assange. No one else on the planet can be trusted to appropriately handle it, redact what must be redacted, and then release it all into the wild. 

I leave the question of redactions wholly to Assange. NSA and the remainder of American intelligence, not to mention FVEY, have spent years now completing their damage assessments. They know what they lost, and believe me, they know what is blown and available to the public and to hostile intelligence services.

They even track independent researchers, like Bruce Schneir, who are granted access to versions of the archive in various places, like with ProPublica, with Greenwald's journalistic home at The Intercept, or with the reviled New York Times

We all need to know what else is in Snowden's cache. Snowden's data belongs to the digital proletariat of the world. It is ours now. One problem is that it increasingly appears that Glenn Greenwald made a corrupt deal with the devil and agreed to squelch further Snowden releases.

Greenwald made his fortune and he now writes from a home overrun with dogs in Brazil, so goes the hacker critique, which reflects my own. I like dogs. I do not like Greenwald sitting on the remainder of the archive. 

Greenwald now has enough money banked to live a comfortable life until he leaves this mortal coil. It looks like Greenwald made a deal. It looks like Greenwald was told that he could keep his wealth and avoid indictment under the supposition that Snowden leaks ceased. And they did cease. 

A fraction of the Snowden cache has been released. A fraction. Not even a tenth of it, is the most common estimate. 

Glenn Greenwald: The netizens of the world implore you: Get this data to Assange. If nothing else, it may be able to purchase his immunity to prosecution by the US government. Right?

What would the US government give in return for a promise not to publish further information from the Snowden cache? Especially if it was in the hands of the "hostile non-intelligence service," WikiLeaks?

I prefer to see it all published. Every last bit and byte. But if holding the Snowden cache hostage will guarantee Julian Assange's liberty, I will support yet another deal with the devil. 

But nobody listens to me. 


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