Q: What are the most important disclosures?
A: The first disclosure, the Verizon report, which shows that the phone records of all Americans (by all major phone providers) has been turned over to the federal government for the last seven years. The second exposés, the PRISM editorials, which appeared the next day in both The Guardian and Washington Post. These prove that surveillance is taking place with our online communications. The day after that, the Washington Post rewrote its report (and The Guardian debuted the same in a little noticed article), which revealed that GCHQ and the NSA are working together. The Boundless Informant article. It shows that the NSA has hid surveillance programs from congressional oversight committees. Later reports would argue that this was not an isolated incident. All of the South China Morning Post exposés. They were the first to state the NSA has been spying on foreign nations without provocation. This includes economic and civilian espionage. The XKeyscore article at the end of July is very condemning. It depicts the nearly godlike technological capabilities the NSA has at its fingertips. The Guardian‘s Microsoft report, which shows that Internet corporations are willfully participating in mass surveillance. The joint Guardian/Washington Post/Pro Publica encryption editorials. They prove that no communications are safe, not even ones using secure websites or encryption technology.
Q: What kinds of explosive material has the press failed to report to the public?
A: I anticipate that forthcoming disclosures from the bounty of the purported 1.7 million files in the Snowden press’s possession will continue to be limited to civilian, diplomatic, domestic, and economic affairs such as revealing that the Five Eyes are spying on each other atop domestic surveillance being more invasive. However, it is clear that of the millions of classified documents, military secrets are being carefully protected. This is because the Edward Snowden press has stated that–upon the whistleblower’s request–national security will not be compromised. This implies that they have access to delicate military data but have, and continue, to refuse to divulge this information. Case in point, the federal government openly stated that Chinese hackers stole millions in military R & D from the Pentagon. To assume similar espionage hasn’t been ordered and executed by the U.S. would be naïve.
Q: What are the most disturbing aspects of the NSA reports?
A: That the intelligence community had hid surveillance programs from Congress. A secret court, the FISC, which was supposedly created with the express purpose of overseeing the NSA and whose judgments are rarely revealed to the American public, essentially rubberstamps itself into extraneousness. How our legislators gerrymandered the law in order to grant itself almost absolute freedom to spy, such as creating the word “metadata” because “communications,” by law, cannot be surveilled. The fact that the U.S. government isn’t acting alone and, as the Snowden press has heavily implied, has other nations spy on Americans in order to circumnavigate around the Fourth Amendment. However, the most enraging aspect of the intelligence revelations is the NSA’s attitude. A classified training slide was revealed that tells intelligence agents that if a privacy law has been violated, the error should be reported but, if the government worker fails to do so, it’s “nothing to worry about.” In a September report, another series of slides refers to cell phone users as naïve, gullible “zombies.”
Q: What was the NSA’s response to the disclosures?
A: Instead of changing protocol to keep other guilty consciences from whistleblowing, the NSA instituted a security lock down, i.e., two-person data transfer system. Interestingly, instead of curtailing its spying as a gesture of good faith, it increased its surveillance capabilities: It opened the Utah Data Center last September. This facility has the ability to retain an unimaginable amount of data and is said to be able to make metadata immortal.