Message in a Bottle

Ok, so I’ve always been a message>messenger type guy. I also can’t say that I haven’t gotten a little frosty when hearing this and that about Edward J. Snowden’s ego from the moth balls on MSNBCCNNFOX, (or worse, David Gregory) when what I REALLY want to hear is the message. I want to understand it. It’s complex, and I need honest information brokers to help me crack the code. So I was looking forward to finally hearing from the man himself on March 10, when he spoke via echoey intertubes through myriad proxies to a sometimes confused SXSW Interactive audience.

Unfortunately, It’s almost as if encryption is such an important part of Snowden’s life right now, he chose to employ multiple iterations of his own voice to encrypt his answers to the questions posed by ACLU’s Ben Wizner and Christopher Soghoian. It’s hard enough that this stuff is in orbit over my head, I didn’t really need to try to parse that understanding with only the help of every third word.
As an occasional “AV” guy myself, I can only guess what happened, without having been there. But I have an idea. Either way it is for some reason comforting for me to know that Mr. Snowden, the same guy who brilliantly whistle blew a tune we all needed to hear by doing things I couldn’t dream of not being bored learning how to do, still has to rely on a good sound guy to get his message across.


On a serious note, it really is disappointing that the initial upload of the YouTube video is unintelligible… because it without a question hurt the message both short and long-term. They did upload a video with cleaner sound, but it has 1% of the views… timing is everything.

Fortunately, the internet cares (at least some of it) and has brought me, via INSIDE blog, the transcript. Feel free to read it all at the following link:
…or you can just read my handpicked highlights with an honest but not very in-depth and sure-to-be-at-least-somewhat-confused analysis… Now that I think about it, screw what I think. Just listen to Ed.
“End to end encryption where it is from my computer directly to your computer makes mass surveillance impossible at the network level without a encrypting _____ and they are very expensive. By doing end to end encryption you force what they are called ______ global passive adversaries to go for the end points that is the ____ computers. And the result of that is a constitutional, more carefully overseeing sort of intelligence gathering model. Where if they want to gather somebody’s communications they have to target them specifically. They can’t just target everybody all the time and then when they want to read your stuff they go back in a time machine and say what did they say you know in 2006.”

“We want secure services that aren’t opt in. It has to pass the Greenwald test. Any journalist in the world gets an email from somebody saying hey I have something the public might want to know about they need to be able to open it. They need to be able to access that information. They need ____ communications whether they are a journalist or an activist.”

“One of the things I would say to a large company is not that you can’t collect any data it is that you should only collect the data and hold it for as long as necessary for the operation of the business. “

“So it is very interesting to see officials like Keith Alexander talking about damage that has been done to the defense of our communications. Because more than anything there have been two officials in America who have harmed our internet security and actually our national security so much of our country’s economic success  is based on our intellectual property. It is based on our ability to create and share and communicate and compete. Now those two officials are Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander, two directors of the National Security Agency in the post 9/11 era who made a very specific change. That is they elevated offensive operations that is attacking over the defense of our communications.”

“As I said in our European Parliament testimony, we’ve actually have tremendous intelligence failures because we’re monitoring the internet; we’re monitoring, you know, everybody’s communications instead of suspects’ communications. That lack of  focus have caused us to miss news we should have had. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Bombers. the Russians have warned us about it. But we didn’t a very poor job investigating, we didn’t have the resources, and we had people working on other things. If we followed the traditional model, we might have caught that.”

“We can’t have officials like James Clapper who can lie to everyone in the country. Who can lie to the Congress and face no not even – not even a criticism. Not even a strong worded letter, the same thing with courts. In the United States we have open courts that are supposed to decide and settle constitutional issues to interpret and apply the law. We also have the FISA court which is a secret rubber stamp court . But they are only supposed to approve warrant applications. These happen in secret because you don’t at want people to know hey the government wants to surveil you. At the same time a secret court shouldn’t be interpreting the constitution when only NSA’s lawyers are making the case on how it should be viewed.”

Questioner:      Is there anything we can do on individual level to confront the issues of mass surveillance that we are talking about today?
“For me there are a couple of key technologies; there is full disk encryption to protect your actual physical computer and devices in case they are seized. Then there are network encryption which are things like SSL that added sort of transparency we can’t help that. You can install a couple of browser plug ins. NoScript to block Active X attempts in the browser, Ghostery to block ads and tracking cookies. But there is also TOR, TOR T O R is a mixed routing network which is very important because it is encrypted from the user through the ISP to the end of sort of a cloud a network of routers that you go through. Because of this your ISP, your communications provider can no longer spy on you be default. The way they do now, today when you go to any website.”

 “I took an oath to support and defend the constitution and I saw that the constituted was violated on a massive scale. The interpretation of the 4th amendment has been changed (clap). Thank you. The interpretation of the constitution has been changed in secret from no unreasonable search and seizure to hey, any seizure is fine, just don’t search it. That is something that the public ought to know about.”

You can also watch and excerpt of his NBC interview with Brian Williams here:

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