Streetwise Professor

August 1, 2013

Proof that Putin’s “Condition” on Snowden’s Asylum Was a Bad Joke

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:51 pm

Putin’s condition for granting Snowden asylum was that Eddie stop leaking information that would be damaging to Russia’s “American partners.”  I sensed a scam, and yesterday and today proved that is indeed the case.

Yesterday Greenwald published another of his stories based on Snowden documents.  This one was about a program called XKeyscore.  It was the usual mixture of hype about capabilities, and underplaying of how the program is actually used, and what constraints and protocols are in place to prevent its misuse.  This is another highly classified program, and its revelation would presumably fall into any realistic definition of damaging.  But the next day, Snowden walks out of SVO to his new life.  (Good luck with that, son.  The experiences of those who have defected before you should depress you immensely.)

Snowden’s FSB-connected mouthpiece (who looks like a real mouth-breather to boot) was asked about this today, and had a weasely lawyer’s answer:

When questioned about how the vow fitted in with new revelations about XKeyscore, the massive information-collecting program exposed in the Guardian on Wednesday using Snowden’s data, Kucherena said that the documents about the surveillance software suite had been passed on to a journalist while Snowden was still in Hong Kong.

So anything that Snowden revealed to Greenwald (or Poitras, or anyone else) prior to his arrival of Russia does not count as a Snowden leak that violates Putin’s condition.  Which means that Putin’s condition is absolutely meaningless, because Snowden apparently provided thousands of documents to Greenwald prior to fleeing to Russia.  He also talked extensively with Greenwald and Poitras.  So they can go to town leaking Snowden material, and per Kucherena’s formulation-which is no doubt Putin’s-Snowden is living up to his bargain with Putin.

Meaning that Putin’s condition means bupkus.  But he gets to pose that he’s crafted some sort of compromise between the extremes of sending Snowden to the US, and letting him leak to his heart’s content.

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  1. One would think it is past time the US should have recalled Amb. MacFaul for consultations.

    Comment by LL — August 1, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

  2. That would imply that Obama actually has a strategy to pass on to the Ambassador

    Comment by The Pilot — August 1, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

  3. It’s one thing to regard Putin as a cynical manipulator, and it’s another to express outrage that he has exploited a situation that was dumped on his doorstep, gratis. Putin is the Russian head of state, so his job is to protect Russian, not American interests.

    What really needs to be done is a thorough – though probably non-public – investigation of IT practices at the NSA. Someone needs to answer the question of how an outside contractor was able to get his hands on so much sensitive material. My own guess is that it is over-reliance on virtual machines that can be accessed by whoever runs the physical machine that hosts them, but that is only a guess.

    The NSA that I see through the stories about the Snowden fiasco isn’t an NSA of guys in trench-coats cracking codes. It’s an NSA that looks more like a big sloppy Microsoft with people spending their time composing Powerpoint slides in order to make presentations. In other words, a lot of what is being done at the NSA is the same meaningless pseudo-work that people in any big corporate organization do in order to keep themselves busy. The trouble is, by doing this stuff, they risk exposing real secrets. The real scandal here is that Prism, etc, ever ended up on Powerpoint slides in the first place. The way to keep secrets is not to write them on slides, and not to give contractors the backdoor into your computing facilities.

    I’ll bet money that every security service in the World is chuckling over the misfortunes of the NSA, and tightening up their own practices.

    Comment by jon livesey — August 2, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

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    Comment by — December 28, 2013 @ 9:19 am

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