The NSA and Stratfor: An Intelligent Perspective.

After nearly a month of silence on the Snowden issue, George Friedman, the founder and chairman of Stratfor has now written an article that has been published in the online magazine's Geopolitical Weekly column.

The article is called Keeping the NSA in Perspective, and takes us all the way back to The National Security Agency's origins arising out of the intelligence failure that was Pearl Harbour.

Besides the history that makes the NSA what it is today, Mr Friedman raises some very interesting and valid points (italics are mine in each of the 3 blockquotes below):

'There are two major differences between the war on terror and the (covential) wars. First, there was a declaration of war in World War II (for example). Second, there is a provision in the Constitution that allows the president to suspend habeas corpus in the event of a rebellion...Neither of these conditions was put in place to justify NSA programs such as PRISM.'

So perhaps they should have been.

'The problem with the war on terror is that it has no criteria of success that is potentially obtainable. It defines no level of terrorism that is tolerable but has as its goal the elimination of all terrorism, not just from Islamic sources but from all sources. That is simply never going to happen and therefore, PRISM and its attendant programs will never end.'

The programs are, and will be, ongoing and never ending but we essentially knew that (or should have done).

'Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is charged with aiding an enemy that has never been legally designated. Anyone who might contemplate terrorism is therefore an enemy.'

And this is where we get the Mr Friedman's elegant perspective on the whole affair:

'So the critical question is whether the danger posed by terrorism is sufficient to justify indifference to the spirit of the Constitution, despite the current state of the law. If it is, then formally declare war or declare a state of emergency. The danger of PRISM and other programs is that the decision to build it was not made after the Congress and the president were required to make a clear finding on war and peace. That was the point where they undermined the Constitution, and the American public is responsible for allowing them to do so.'

"Keeping the NSA in Perspective is republished with permission of Stratfor."

Spinning the Spinners: What Disinformation Really Looks Like.

Now why would a 'Business Insider' online magazine want, or need to get involved in the Snowden affair?. Why indeed. And why does it feel the need to title its foray into the spying world with an article entitled:

How Edward Snowden Botched Blowing The Whistle On The World's Largest Spy Agency

Whereas the link address is: Edward-Snowden-screwed-up-big-time?

So the search is 'screwed up big time', but the heading 'botched' up; consistent, to say the least.

Let's look at some the article's points:

  • But now there is a growing body of evidence that Snowden botched the endgame and may have unintentionally leaked more highly valuable U.S. national security intel than he meant to. - Right, interesting, including ending the phrase with a preposition.
  • ...had just been in China for more than a month.  - Actually, Hong Kong, guys.
  • ...and that he may have already leaked a lot more information about NSA capabilities than he ever intended, possibly against his will. -  Really? You got an FSB insider in place?
  • “He’s a kid, I really think he’s a kid, I think he never anticipated this would be such a big matter in Hong Kong,” Albert Ho, Snowden’s Hong Kong-based lawyer, told The New York Times. - I agree, only it's what someone in his type of position would want them to think, and say.
  • At that point Snowden — reportedly carrying four laptops with troves of highly classified data belonging to the world’s largest spy agency — had just been in China for more than a month. - Four laptops? Guys never heard of USB sticks...?
  • (Love the graphic - so hard to work out how to get from Hawaii to Hong Kong and then Moscow).
  • “Snowden’s American passport is void and he is not in possession of any other document with which he can prove his identity. For this reason, he has to stay in Sheremetyevo’s transit zone and cannot leave Russia, cannot buy a ticket,”  - Crap. He's already gone.

NSA: a European View

"This is how they tried to win, Jerry thought: from inside soundproof rooms, through smoked glass, using machines at arm’s length."

from The Honrable Schoolboy by John le Carré.

European terrorist hunters seem surprised that the revelation of the NSA data-monitoring programs is big news. The technological capacities of U.S. agencies have been an integral component of dramatically improved teamwork against terrorism during the past decade.
From How the NSA’s High-Tech Surveillance Helped Europeans Catch Terrorists
by Sebastian Rotella
writing in ProPublica dated June 19, 2013