Chelsea Manning Continues Fight Against Unfair Hacking Charge …

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Whistleblower Chelsea Manning wasreleased from prison more than a year ago, after former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence for releasing military and diplomatic records to WikiLeaks. But her case still continues, as Manning wants to appeal her original convictionincluding one charge under a controversial a federal anti-hacking law.

TheComputer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is intended to punish people for breaking into computer systems. Yet Manning didnt break into anything. Instead, she was found guilty of violating the CFAA for using a common software utility called Wget to access a State Department databasea database she was generally authorized to accessin violation of a computer use policy. The policy prohibited the use of unauthorized software, even though the prohibition, which covers everything from computer games to simple automated Web browsing tools like Wget, is rarely enforce by the chain of command. Prosecutors have argued that Mannings use of the Wget software violates the laws provision again intentionally exceeding authorized access to a computer connected to the Internet.

But as EFF and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) argued in an amicus brief filed last week in Mannings request for a hearing on appeal, violating an employers policy on computer use is not a crime under the CFAA. If it were, then it would turn scores of people into criminals for things like browsing Facebook or viewing online sports scores at work. It would also threaten the work of researchers and journalists, who increasingly rely on common automated Web browsing tools to more efficiently access publicly available information on the Internet so that they can do their work, even though such tools are often prohibited in websites terms of service. Overzealous prosecutors and private companies have long taken advantage of the CFAAs vague language to threaten criminal charges that go beyond Congresss original goal to police computer crime, and Manning is only one of thelatest high-profile victims.

We cant have ordinary online behaviorsuch as the use of simple, common tools for making it easier to collect publicly available informationbecome a federal criminal offense. Four other circuit courts have agreed. We hope the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces takes Mannings case and helps bring some fairness to the CFAA.

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Chelsea Manning Continues Fight Against Unfair Hacking Charge …

Edward Snowden Reconsidered | by Tamsin Shaw | NYR Daily …

Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty ImagesFormer NSA contractor Edward Snowden delivering a speech by video-link from Russia to a conference in Lisbon, Portugal, May 30, 2017

This summer, the fifth anniversary of Edward Snowdens revelations about NSA surveillance passed quietly, adrift on a tide of news that now daily sweeps the ground from under our feet. It has been a long five years, and not a period marked by increased understanding, transparency, or control of our personal data. In these years, weve learned much more about how Big Tech was not only sharing data with the NSA but collecting vast troves of information about us for its own purposes. And weve started to see the strategic ends to which Big Data can be put. In that sense, were only beginning to comprehend the full significance of Snowdens disclosures.

This is not to say that we know more today about Snowdens motivations or aims than we did in 2013. The question of whether or not Snowden was a Russian asset all along has been raised and debated. No evidence has been found that he was, just as no evidence has been found that he was a spy for China. His stated cause was the troubling expansion of surveillance of US citizens, but most of the documents he stole bore no relation to this avowed concern.A small percentage of what Snowden released ofthe1.7 million documentsthat intelligence officials believe heaccessed did indeed yield important informationabout domestic programsfor example, the continuation of Stellar Wind, a vast warrantless surveillance program authorized by George W. Bush after 9/11, creating legal structures for bulk collection that Obama then expanded. But many of them concerned foreign surveillance and cyberwarfare. This has led to speculation that he was working on behalf of some other organization or cause. We cant know.

Regardless of his personal intentions, though, the Snowden phenomenon was far larger than the man himself, larger even than the documents he leaked. In retrospect, it showed us the first glimmerings of an emerging ideological realignmenta convergence, not for the first time, of the far left and the far right, and of libertarianism with authoritarianism. It was also a powerful intervention in information wars we didnt yet know we were engaged in, but which we now need to understand.

In 2013, the good guys and bad guys appeared to sort themselves into neat and recognizable groups. The war on terror still dominated national security strategy and debate. It had made suspects of thousands of ordinary civilians, who needed to be monitored by intelligence agencies whose focus throughout the cold war had been primarily on state actors (the Soviet Union and its allies) that were presumed to have rational, if instrumental intentions. The new enemy was unreason, extremism, fanaticism, and it was potentially everywhere. But the Internet gave the intelligence community the capacity, if not the legal right, to peer behind the curtains of almost any living room in the United States and far beyond.

Snowden, by his own account, came to warn us that we were all being watched, guilty and innocent alike, with no legal justification. To those concerned primarily with security, the terrorists were the hidden hostile force. To many of those concerned about liberty, the deep state monitoring us was the omnipresent enemy. Most people managed to be largely unconcerned about both. But to the defenders of liberty, whether left liberals or libertarians, Snowden was straightforwardly a hero. Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardianat the time, said of him:

His motives are remarkable. Snowden set out to expose the true behaviour of the US National Security Agency. On present evidence he has no interest in money Nor does he have the kind of left-wing or Marxist sentiments which could lead him to being depicted as un-American. On the contrary, he is an enthusiast for the American constitution, and, like other fellow hacktivists, is a devotee of libertarian politician Ron Paul, whose views are well to the right of many Republicans.

The patriotic right, the internationalist left: these were the recognized camps in the now far-distant world of 2013. Snowden, who kept a copy of the US Constitution on his desk at the NSA, could be regarded by his sympathizers as a patriot engaging in a lone act of bravery for the benefit of all.

Of course, it wasnt a solitary act. Snowden didnt want to be purely a whistleblower like Mark Felt or Daniel Ellsberg; he wanted to be a figurehead. And he largely succeeded. For the last five years, the quietly principled persona he established in the public mind has galvanized opposition to the American deep state, and it has done so, in part, because it was promoted by an Academy Award-winning documentary film in which Snowden starred, a feature film about him directed by Oliver Stone in which he made an appearance, and the many talks he gives by video-link that have become his main source of income. He now has 3.83 million Twitter followers. He is an influencer, and a powerful one. Any assessment of the impact of his actions has to take into account not just the content of the documents he leaked, but the entire Edward Snowden Show.

In fact, most of what the public knows about Snowden has been filtered through the representations of him put together by a small, tight circle of chosen allies. All of them were, at the time, supporters of WikiLeaks, with whom Snowden has a troubled but intimate relationship. He initially considered leaking documents through WikiLeaks but changed his mind, he claims, in 2012 when Assange was forced into asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London under heavy surveillance, making access to him seem too difficult and risky. Instead, Snowden tried to make contact with one of WikiLeaks most vocal defenders, the independent journalist Glenn Greenwald. When he failed, he contacted the documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, whom Greenwald had also vociferously defended when she drew unwanted government scrutiny after making a documentary film that followed a man who had been Osama bin Ladens bodyguard. The scrutiny turned into harassment in 2011, she claims, when she began making a film about WikiLeaks.

Poitras had been a member of the Tor Project community (which developed the encrypted Tor web browser to make private online interactions possible) since 2010 when she reached out to Jacob Appelbaum, an important member of both the Tor Project and also WikiLeaks, after becoming a close friend and ally of Assange. We know from Wireds Kevin Poulsen that Snowden was already in touch with the Tor community at least as early as 2012, having contacted Tors Runa Sandvik while he was still exfiltrating documents. In December 2012, he and Sandvik hosted a crypto party in Honolulu, where Snowden ran a session teaching people how to set up Tor servers. And it was through Tors Micah Lee (now working for The Intercept) that Snowden first contacted Poitras. In order to vet Snowden, Poitras turned to Appelbaum. Given the overlap between the Tor and WikiLeaks communities, Snowden was involved with the latter at least as early as his time working as a contractor for the NSA, in a job he took specifically in order to steal documents, in Hawaii.

Few people knew, when Citizenfour was released in 2014, how deeply embedded in both Tor and WikiLeaks Poitras was or how close an ideological affinity she then had with Assange. The Guardianhad sensibly sent the experienced news reporter Ewen MacAskill with Poitras and Greenwald to Hong Kong, and this helped to create the impression that the interests of Snowdens confidants were journalistic rather than ideological. We have subsequently seen glimpses of Poitrass complex relationship with Assange in Risk, the version of her WikiLeaks film that was released in 2017. But Riskis not the movie she thought she was making at the time. The original film, called Asylum, was premiered at Cannes in 2016. Steven Zeitchik, of the Los Angeles Times, described it as a lionizing portrait, presenting Assange as a maverick hero. In Risk, on the other hand, we are exposed more to Assanges narcissism and extremely unpleasant attitudes toward women, along with a wistful voiceover from Poitras reading passages from her production diary, worrying that Assange doesnt like her, recounting a growing ambivalence about him.

In between the two films, Assange lost many supporters because of the part he played in the 2016 US elections, when WikiLeaks published stolen emailsnow believed to have been hacked and supplied by Russian agentsthat were damaging to Hillary Clinton. But Zeitchik discovered, when he asked Poitras about her own change of heart, that it wasnt political but personal. Assange had turned his imperious attitude toward women on her, demanding before the Cannes screening that she cut material relating to accusations of rape by two women in Sweden. His tone, in particular, offended her. But her view of his actions leading up to the US election remained consistent with that of WikiLeaks supporters; he published the DNC emails because they were newsworthy, not as a tactic in an information war.

When Snowden initially contacted Poitras, she tells us in Risk, her first thought was that the FBI was trying to entrap her, Appelbaum, or Assange. Though Micah Lee and Appelbaum were both aware of her source, she tells us that she left for Hong Kong without Assanges knowledge and that he was furious that she failed to ensure WikiLeaks received Snowdens documents. Although Poitras presents herself retrospectively as an independent actor, while filming Snowden in Hong Kong she contacted Assange about arranging Snowdens asylum and left him in WikiLeaks hands (through Assanges emissary, Sarah Harrison). Poitrass relations with Assange later became strained, but she remained part of the Tor Project and was involved in a relationship with Jacob Appelbaum. (She shows in the film that Appelbaum was subsequently accused of multiple counts of sexual harassment over a number of years.)

In Risks added, post-production voiceover, Poitras says of the Snowden case: When they investigate this leak, they will create a narrative to say it was all a conspiracy. They wont understand what really happened. That we all kept each other in the dark. Its not clear exactly what she means. But it is clear that we all means a community of like-minded and interdependent people; people who may each have their own grandiose ambitions and who have tortuously complex, manipulative, and secretive personal relationships with one another. Snowden chose to put himself in their hands.

If this group of people shared a political ideology, it was hard to define. They were often taken to belong to the left, since this is where criticisms of the national security state have tended to originate. But when Harrison, the WikiLeaks editor and Assange adviser, flew to Hong Kong to meet Snowden, she was coming directly from overseeing Assanges unsuccessful electoral campaign for the Australian Senate, in which the WikiLeaks Party was apparently aligned witha far-right party. The WikiLeaks Party campaign team, led by Assanges father and party secretary John Shipton, had made a high-profile visit to Syrias authoritarian leader, Bashar al-Assad, and Shipton had heaped praise on Vladimir Putins efforts in the region, in contrast to Americas, in an interview with the state radio network Voice of Russia. The political historian Sean Wilentz, in what at the time, in 2014, was a rare critical article on Assange, Snowden, and Greenwald, argued that they shared nothing so coherent as a set of ideas but a common political impulse, one he described as paranoid libertarianism. With hindsight, we can also see that when they first became aligned, the overwhelming preoccupation of Poitras, Greenwald, Assange, and Snowden was the hypocrisy of the US state, which claimed to abide by international law, to respect human rights, to operate within the rule of law internally and yet continually breached its own purported standards and values.

They had good grounds for this view. The Iraq War, which was justified to the public using lies, fabricated evidence, and deliberate obfuscation of the overall objective, resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, as well as the rendition and torture of suspected enemy combatants at CIA black sites and their indefinite detention at Guantnamo Bay. The doctrine of preemptive war had been revived, along with imperialist ambitions for a global pax Americana.

But cynicism about the rule of law exists on a spectrum. At one end, exposing government hypocrisy is motivated by a demand that a liberal-democratic state live up to its own ideals, that accountability be reinforced by increasing public awareness, establishing oversight committees, electing proactive politicians, and employing all the other mechanisms that have evolved in liberal democracies to prevent arbitrary or unchecked rule. These include popular protests, the civil disobedience that won civil rights battles, and, indeed, whistleblowing.At the other end of the spectrum is the idea that the law is always really politics in a different guise; it can provide a broad set of abstract norms but fails to specify how these should be applied in particular cases. Human beings make those decisions. And the decision-makers will ultimately be those with the most power.

On this view, the liberal notions of legality and legitimacy are always hypocritical. This was the view promulgated by one of the most influential legal theorists of the twentieth century, Carl Schmitt. He was a Nazi, who joined the party in 1933 and became known as the crown jurist of the Third Reich. But at the turn of the millennium, as Bush took America to war, Schmitts criticisms of liberalism were undergoing a renaissance on both the far right and the far left, especially in the academy. This set of attitudes has not been limited to high theory or confined to universities, but its congruence with authoritarianism has often been overlooked.

In Risk, we hear Assange say on the phone, regarding the legality of WikiLeaks actions in the US: We say were protected by the First Amendment. But its all a matter of politics. Laws are interpreted by judges. He has repeatedly expressed the view that the idea of legality is just a political tool (he especially stresses this when the one being accused of illegality is him). But the cynicism of the figures around Snowden derives not from a meta-view about the nature of law, like Schmitts, but from the view that America, the most powerful exponent of the rule of law, merely uses this ideal as a mask to disguise the unchecked power of the deep state. Snowden, a dissenting agent of the national security state brandishing his pocket Constitution, was seen by Rusbridger as an American patriot, but by his chosen allies as the most authoritative revealer of the irremediable depth of American hypocrisy.

In the WikiLeaks universe, the liberal ideal of the rule of law, both domestic and international, has been the lie that allows unaccountable power to grow into a world-dominating force. Sarah Harrison insists that the US, with the help of its allies, has constructed a huge global intelligence, diplomatic, and military net that tries to see all, know all, govern all, decide all. It reaches all, and yet it is acting without [sic] impunity. This is the greatest unaccountable power of todaythe United States and our Western democracies. Greenwald has gradually shifted toward a similar position. Having initially supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq but then been appalled by the civilian casualties and the use of torture, he asked in 2017: Who has brought more death, and suffering, and tyranny to the world over the last six decades than the US national security state?

This view of the US as the most malign actor in the world has now made him reluctant to criticize the actions of foreign states like Putins Russia. For example, asked about the Novichok poisoning of a former Russian spy in Salisbury, England, an attempted assassination attributed to the Kremlin, he responds that Obamas drone strikes were morally no differenta gambit that, perhaps inadvertently, mimics the whataboutism of the Kremlin itself. But it wouldnt make sense for Greenwald to refuse to condemn the misdeeds of other states on the grounds that Americas are worse unless he had come to feel that all such judgments are a moralistic charade, that power politics is the only game in town.

In this light, it is extremely significant that Snowdens famous leak of documents revealing the NSAs PRISM surveillance program was misinterpreted when it was first disclosed by Greenwald and Barton Gellman of The Washington Postin a way that implied total lawlessness at the NSA. (According to Greenwalds book on the Snowden leaks, Gellman was put under significant pressure by Snowden to publish before the Posthad made the rigorous checks it wanted.) The initial story, as run by both Gellman and Greenwald, claimed that through PRISM, the NSA and FBI had direct access to the servers of the nine leading US Internet companies (Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple). The term direct access, implying that these agencies could delve into the companies servers at will, with no legal authorization, was inaccurate, and although corrections were published, it created a false impression in the public mind that has never fully dissipated. Snowden himself has never used his platform to correct the error. Charlie Savage covers the episode in the updated edition of his Power Wars: The Relentless Rise of Presidential Authority and Secrecy. His comprehensive history of US government surveillance is not at all reassuring to those concerned about a lack of checks on executive power, but in describing the PRISM program specifically, he acknowledges that it was misunderstood.

The program operated within the existing FISA system and secured cooperation between the Internet companies and the NSA at the point when an individual suspected of involvement in terrorism had been targeted and the NSA wished to retrieve that suspects messages from the companies servers. Many Americans will still feel that this program constituted an unwarranted breach of privacy, but what PRISM does not do is vindicate the idea of a deep state operating entirely independently of the rule of law. Although this might seem like a fine distinction to some, it is an extremely significant one. But the narrative of deep-state lawlessness was too appealing.

Seumas Milne, then a Guardianjournalist (now the British Labour Partys executive director of strategy and communications), wrote an opinion piece on the Snowden leaks that poured scorn on the idea that American and British politicians are in any sense law-abiding.Claims that the intelligence agencies arenow subject to genuine accountability, rather than ministerial rubber stamps, secret courts and committees of trusties, have been repeatedly shown to be nonsense, he said, going on to claim that since democratic institutions had spectacularly failed to hold US and other Western states intelligence and military operations to account, it had been left to whistleblowers to take on this role, and it was up to the rest of us to make sure their courage isnt wasted. Given his despair of liberal-democratic institutions, that final exhortation seems worryingly open-ended.

Assanges allies, Milne included, have made clear that their allegiance doesnt lie with liberal democracies and their values. They have taken sides with authoritarianism in their fight against the hypocrisy of liberal democracies. Milne has been a prominent, expenses-paid guest of Putins Valdai discussion club, where Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and other Kremlin insiders meet to discuss Russian foreign policy with invited sympathetic Westerners. Assange, a former libertarian, has called Russia under Putin a bulwark against Western imperialism. He has for a long time been the beneficiary of Russian state resources (in 2012, when WikiLeaks ran out of money, the Russian state broadcaster RT hosted The Julian Assange Show, in which he interviewed controversial political figures), while subtly supporting Putins foreign policies, particularly in Syria. In 2016, he revealed just how effectively he could help the Kremlin attack US democracy by leaking stolen emails on their behalf in order to help sway the election. Assange has denied that a state was the source, but Justice Department indictments of twelve Russian military intelligence officers have identified an avatar created by the GRU, Guccifer 2.0, as the source.

For his part, Greenwald has repeatedly, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, decried as Russophobia the findings that Putin ordered interference in the 2016 US presidential electioneven appearing on Fox News to do so. The very term Russophobia obfuscates the distinction between Vladimir Putins regime and Russia; the two clearly cant be identified with one another. If open criticism of Putin by Russians were tolerated, it would presumably be vehement and widespread, as the effort it takes to suppress itthe murder of dissident journalists, the imprisonment, exile, and murder of political opponents and even financial rivalssuggests.In an interview with RT on the occasion of a visit to Snowden in Moscow last year, Greenwald said:

In the United States for a long time this shift has been taking place. Two of the most important protest movements in the USone was the Tea Party, the other was Occupy Wall Streetwere both perceived to be on different ends of the political spectrum. Yet they had very similar issues in common. They were protesting the bailout of Wall Street after the Wall Street crisis, the domination of corporations. When Donald Trump ran for president, even though he was perceived as a right-wing candidate, he did so by criticizing the Iraq war, by criticizing American militarism, by promising to drain the swamp of corporate influence.

The distinction between left and right, he argues, will increasingly be replaced by the opposition between people who are pro-establishment and anti-establishment. But being anti-establishment is not a politics. It defends no clear set of values or principles. And it permits prevarication about the essential choice between criticizing and helping to reform liberal democracy from within or assisting in its demise. It encourages its partisans to take sides with a smaller, authoritarian state in order to check the power of the one whose establishment it opposes.

It seems clear that Putin has exploited this fissure in Western values. It wouldnt take a political genius to manipulate the situation that arose around Snowden. And if Snowdens supporters, as Poitras claims, didnt conspire but all kept one another in the dark, how much easier it would have been for Putin to take advantage of them. Snowden himself claims that every decision he made he can defend and that he always acted in the interests of the United States rather than Russia. But the public narrative created around the leaks has served Putins purposes. This may have been more valuable to him than the actual intelligence that was disclosed.

Many states, including Russia, immediately used Snowdens disclosures as justifications for expanding their own surveillance programs as they rushed to catch up with the rapid expansion of Americas cyber-powers.Putin has exploited the PRISM story to foster theories about the deep state, claiming that the Internet is a CIA plot. It was extremely valuable to him at the time to undercut global trust in the big Silicon Valley media companies that were spreading American soft power around the globe and to defend instead cyber sovereignty, or each nation controlling the flow of information within its own territory.Russia has long engaged in information warfare in Ukraine and the Baltic states, as well as at home, and needs to protect its sphere of digital influence, as well as to weaken the global reach of the tech companies that give America so much cyber-power.

And Putin has benefited from the appearance of being Snowdens protector, presenting himself as a greater champion of freedom than the United States. In their book Red Web: The Kremlins War on the Internet, the Russian investigative journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan recounted the experiences of human rights activists who were summoned via an email purportedly from Snowden himself, to a meeting with him at Moscow airport when he surfaced there with Sarah Harrison, to find they were joining the heads of various pro-Kremlin human rights groups, Vladimir Lukin, the Putin-appointed Human Rights Commissioner of Russia, and the lawyers Anatoly Kucherena and Henri Reznik. It was clear to the independent activists that Kucherena had organized the meeting. Kucherena is a member of the FSBs Public Council, an organization that Soldatov and Borogan say was established to promote the image of the Russian security service; he is also the chairman of an organization called the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, which has branches in New York and Paris and was set up at Putins personal instigation, the authors tell us, for the purposes of criticizing human rights violations in the United States. This institute publishes an annual report on the state of human rights in the United States. Using misleading moral equivalences to attack American hypocrisy is one of the most common tactics in Putins propaganda war.

On the account given by Soldatov and Borogan, Snowden has appeared to cooperate with this strategy, barely deviating from Putins information agenda even as Putin has instigated extraordinarily repressive measures to rein in Internet freedoms in Russia. WhenSnowden agreed, for instance, to appear as a guest questioner on a televised question-and-answer session with Putin, he posed the Russian president a question that heavily criticized surveillance practices in the US and asked Putin if Russia did the same, which gave Putin an opening to assert, completely falsely, that no such indiscriminate surveillance takes place in Russia. Earlier this year, Snowdens supporters trumpeted a tweet in which he accused the Russian regime of being full of corruption, but Putin himself will use such accusations when he wishes to eliminate undesirable government actors. To be sure, Snowden is in a vulnerable position: he is notably cautious in his wording whenever he speaks publicly, as someone reliant on the protection of Putin might be. But he speaks often, and he uses his platform. So whether we trust him matters.It matters whether we view him as a bad actor, oras a well-intentioned whistleblower who has shown bad judgment, or as someone who has allowed himself to become an unwitting pawn of the Russians.

Snowden understands how information wars work and whats at stake. In Hong Kong, he told Greenwald and Poitras that he couldnt trust TheNew York Timesbecause he had realized that when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wanted to report on the NSAs warrantless eavesdropping, the paper sat on the story for a yeara decision that Snowden felt affected the outcome of the 2004 election. In the run-up to the 2016 election, he tweeted: Politics: the art of convincing people to forget the lesser of two evils is also evil. Three weeks before the election, he tweeted to his millions of followers, There may never be a safer election in which to vote for a third option, claiming, bizarrely, to trust the predictions of TheNew York Times.

Snowdens tweets and lectures have real-world impact. After his disclosures, Tors usership shot up from a million to six million. He repeatedly tweeted to his followers that they should use Tor and Signal. Tors default search engine DuckDuckGo, which claims to protect privacy by refraining from the profiling that other browsers do in order to provide personalized searches, saw a 600 percent increase in traffic over just a few months. One of DuckDuckGos partners is Yandex, Russiasgovernment-controlled search engine, although the company says it does not allow the collection orsharing of user data by its partners.Certification by the Snowden brand may well be the chief reason that so much faith is now placed uncritically in these platforms.

In 2016, Snowden became president of an organization called the Freedom of the Press Foundation, an organization set up in 2012 to allow donations to WikiLeaks via Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal when those payment processors had cut off WikiLeaks. Snowden joined its board in 2014, alongside Poitras, Greenwald, and Lee. Snowdens old friend from Tor, Runa Sandvik, is on their technical advisory board. The FPF continued to support WikiLeaks until early 2018, when the board finally became split over Assanges views and actions. Since the group was founded, it has used much of its $2 million annual budget to develop encryption software for media outlets. The groups biggest success has been developing a Tor-based system called SecureDrop, used by The Guardian, The New York Times, and TheWashington Postas a means for whistleblowers to submit documents. Given this degree of exposure, we need to consider whether Snowdens is a brand we can trust.

Snowden claims to have started an important conversation about Internet surveillance in America. President Barack Obama himself has given Snowden credit for enabling this essential public discussion, one that can confer genuine legitimacy on the security measures taken by the state. But such legitimacy is not something Snowden and his allies value or grant. In a 2016 lecture by video-link at Fusions Real Future Fair, Snowden discouraged his audience from pursuing the legal and political remedies that liberal democracies offer:

If you want to build a better future, youre going to have to do it yourself. Politics will take us only so far and if history is any guide, they are the least reliable means of achieving effective change Theyre not gonna jump up and protect your rights. Technology works differently than law. Technology knows no jurisdiction.

If theres one thing Greenwald, Assange, and their followers got right, its that the United States became a tremendous economic and military power over the last seven decades. When it blunders in its foreign or domestic policy, the US has the capacity to do swift and unparalleled damage. The question then is whether this awesome power is better wielded by a liberal-democratic state in an arguably hypocritical way but with some restraint, or by an authoritarian one in a nakedly avowed way and with no restraint. In the five years since Snowdens revelations, we have seen changes, particularly the election of Donald Trump with his undisguised admiration for strongmen, that compel us to imagine a possible authoritarian future for the United States. Democratic accountability, a system of checks and balances, and the rule of law may be imperfect measures but they look like our best hope for directing the American states power to humane ends. Previous failures are not a good reason to give up on this hope. Neither is faith in technology: it is a means; it doesnt discriminate between ends. Technology is not going to save us. Edward Snowden is not our savior.

An earlier version of this essay misstated the number of documents that Edward Snowden released; that number is not known. The figure of 1.7 million was an intelligence estimate given to Congress of files accessed by Snowden. An earlier version also misstated that the DuckDuckGo search engine allows partners to collect user data; it does not. The article has been updated.

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Edward Snowden Reconsidered | by Tamsin Shaw | NYR Daily … Snowden: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley …

Theater review. No one expects Oliver Stone to make a movie thats not controversial. Both in terms of subject matter and his approach. And so it is here. Here he takes on one of the most divisive (aside from politicians) Americans in recent memory. Everyone knows about Edward Snowden, a government employee with top secret access who stole computer files from a facility in Hawaii.

The film opens with Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meeting journalists Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto), Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson) and documentarian Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) in Hong Kong. It is there he begins to tell his story and what he has taken and why. For an excellent award-winning documentary on this phase of Snowdens mission, check out Poitrass Citizenfour. We see Snowden in flashback as a small, but game Army recruit trying to make it as a Ranger. His weak leg bones wouldnt hold up and he was eventually discharged. He then signed up to work for the CIA and worked in Europe, not only as an analyst but briefly as a field agent. That wasnt for him.

A significant portion of the film involves his relationship with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley). Frankly I was surprised to see that Stone, who also wrote the screenplay with Kieran Fitzgerald, spent so much time on this romance. I suspect to add some flavor as well as the human aspect to what otherwise could be a cold and calculating story. In truth, it is the cold and calculating portion of the film that is the most interesting.

As Snowden rises in the ranks and get access to more and more information, he discovers that the U. S. government is spying more on its own citizens than those of its enemies. This is all terribly interesting, very scary and evidently true. The film is flush with wonderful actors. Rhys Ifans plays Corbin OBrian, Snowdens mentor along with Nicolas Cage as Hank Forrester. Joely Richardson is Janine Gibson, editor of The Guardian and Timothy Olyphant is a CIA operative in Geneva and Snowdens boss at the time. The film runs long at 134 minutes. Whatever your position is on Snowden, traitor or hero or something in between, the film is entertaining and leaves no doubt as to what Stones position is.

See original here: Snowden: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley …

Rumors Run Wild as Leaker Chelsea Manning Electronically …

Convicted U.S. whistleblower Chelsea Manning (shown above left) infamously leaked over 700,000 U.S. classified documents to Wikileaks documents that found their way into the hands of such American enemies as Osama bin Laden.

The former Army private and intelligence analyst who spent most of her life as a he, as Bradley Manning, before declaring himself a woman and eventually undergoing transgender surgery worked in Iraq.

Charged with nearly two dozen offenses, which included aiding the enemy, she was sentenced in 2010 to 35 years in prison for leaking those 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks.

Former President Barack Obama then infamously commuted that sentence in January 2017 to roughly seven years dating back to the time of Mannings arrest in 2010.

Manning, 30, now earns a living primarily through speaking engagements and media appearances.

During an interview late last week with the Australian radio station Triple J, Manning was asked how she feels about theoretically helping bin Laden.

Instead of answering the question, Manning cut the interview short.

Some of your leaked documents were found in Osama bin Ladens compound after his death. Thats information in the hands of one of Americas biggest enemies. Do you have any regrets about that outcome? What did you think when you heard that? asked interviewer Tom Tilley.

Manning replied, Ah look I cant really talk about specifics of my court martial. The record of trial is still classified.

But why does that mean you cant say how you felt when you found out that piece of information? Do you dispute thats true? Tilley pushed on.

Ah I cant I cant even tell you whether or not we dispute that its true. Its that highly classified, responded Manning.

Mannings people then suddenly interrupted the broadcast, saying they needed to end the interview.

Thank you very much. Chelsea, hang up, said the media aide who was also on the call.

Why cant we carry on this interview? What was wrong with my questioning?

Why? Why cant we carry on this interview? What was wrong with my questioning? If you guys are talking about transparency and openness, surely we can continue this interview, asked Tilley.

Tom, this is Suzi, the director of Think Inc. I guess whats a priority for us is to be respectful to our talent. I understand there might be nothing wrong with your questioning, but we just want to be really respectful to Chelsea, because shes given up her time to have this conversation, responded Suzi Jamil.

Tilley said this after the interview was cut off:I believe that [if] someone with a well-known controversial history is going to get the opportunity to speak on the national broadcaster and air their political views, they also need to be prepared to answer some accountability questions for their actions.

What do you think Cheslea Manning is hiding? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Rumors Run Wild as Leaker Chelsea Manning Electronically …

Julian Assange – LewRockwell

It was one of those mistakes which often happen when you involve a government in your affairs but it wasnt Mr. Assange, it was the two women who managed to bed him who made that mistake

Ms. Ardin accompanied Ms. Wilen to the police station on August 20 [2010], playing a supporting role. Neither of them intended to press any criminal charges against Mr. Assange. They wanted to compel him to take an HIV test. Once they were at the police station and told their stories, the female police commissioner informed them that this all fell within rape law, and soon thereafter-that Mr. Assange was going to be arrested. Ms. Ardin and Ms. Wilen were upset when they heard this. Julian Assanges Penetration Agenda: Was it Rape in Stockholm? | Observer

As things played out however, Mr. Assange has never been charged with anything in Sweden and only breaching bail in the U.K. Thats right, Sweden didnt file charges and in May, 2017, dropped the investigation which led to Assange needing bail in the first place.

None the less, to make sure he doesnt leave the country, the U.K. government has posted cops 24/7 outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Mr. Assange was granted asylum six years ago.

Maybe youre thinking, Wow, asylum from a bail charge? Breaching bail must be REALLY serious in the U.K.!Cypherpunks: Freedom a…Julian AssangeBest Price: $4.66Buy New $10.34(as of 07:45 EDT – Details)

Not so much. Even in these extremely unusual and unprecedented circumstances, the absolute best the UK legal machinery could possibly hope for from Mr. Assange is a five-thousand-pound fine and three months in the pokey. If the U.K. plays by its own rules.

In fact, this extremely unusual and unprecedented situation is so unusual and unprecedented that, incredibly, the United Nations got involved in what should be an insignificant bail case.

After looking into it however, the UN declared on Feb. 5, 2016, that the U.K. was unlawfully holding Mr. Assange under unlawful arbitrary detention, directed the UK machinery to release him immediately, and Sweden and U.K. to pay him compensation.

The U.K. refused to play by the rules.

In addition to asylum, Ecuador even granted Mr. Assange citizenship and diplomatic status. This should have freed him from Brit jurisdiction and allowed him to travel out of the U.K. under diplomatic immunity. Incredibly, however, the Brits again refuse to play by the rules.

And remember that 24/7 Brit surviellance? Well six plus years of it can get expensive.

According to information the BBC liberated from Scotland Yard, that would be 10,000 plus pounds per day expensive. Doing the math, as of July 31, 2018, it has cost the British taxpayers more than 22-million pounds (22,000,000) just short of 30-million dollars ($30,000,000) to keep Mr. Assange cooped-up in the Ecuadorian Embassy. So far.

This pretty much sums things up

It is embarrassing to see the UK government spending more on surveillance and detaining an uncharged political refugee [Mr. Assange] than on its investigation into the Iraq war, which killed hundreds of thousands [the Chilcot investigation she refers to cost only 10m] Kristinn Hrafnsson via. BBC News

And, as Ms. Hrafnsson points out, Mr. Assange is in fact a political refugee because thats your status if you manage to get someone to grant you asylum.

So all six years so far of sound, fury, and exorbitant expense is over bail on a sexual encounter that those involved didnt consider a crime and which the Swedish Government has not been able to prosecute.

Or is something else going on?The WikiLeaks Files: T…WikiLeaksBest Price: $2.99Buy New $7.91(as of 11:20 EDT – Details)

Of course, given governments congenital nature, a nagging and persistent thirty-million-dollar dumb screw-up by an inherently immoral and FUBAR organization isnt completely out of the question. As Beatles drummer Ringo Starr so delicately put it, Everything the government touches turns to crap.

OK, that might explain the Brits, but what were the Ecuadorians looking at when they not only granted Mr. Assange asylum but also citizenship and diplomatic status? And what was the U.N. looking at when it ruled that holding Mr. Assange was arbitrary and unlawful?

Whatever they were looking at, it probably wasnt breaching bail in the U.K.

Could they have instead been looking at the U.S. Justice Dept. and its secret indictment of Mr. Assange and Wikileaks, his news publishing consortium and the dire implications for freedom of the press? And/or were they looking at U.S. plans to extradite Mr. Assange? And maybe to prosecute him for treason even though, because hes not a U.S. citizen and hadnt even been in the U.S., they lack jurisdiction?

They could as well prosecute former Ecuadorian PresideNT Rafael Correa for giving him asylum or Bolivian PresideNT Evo Morales when, in an act of air piracy, the U.S. illegally forced his Presidential Plane to land because they suspected Ed Snowden might be on board after it departed from Moscow. Or, perhaps, indict Mr. Putin just for the heck of it.

Or maybe it was the death and assassination threats etc. from U.S. officials, politicos, and other U.S. Government related thugs they were all looking at.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new. By its chronic behavior, its clear governments fear the truth and anyone who reveals it.

Its clear, for example, from the FBIs attempt to frame whistle-blower Tom Drake and put him away for 26 years by classifying an unclassified document after he released it. Luckily gonzo whistle-blower and journalist James Bamford had archived a copy before the FBI minions fraudulently stamped it Secret.


So, the government reflex especially in the case of the U.S. Government is to classify and hide nearly everything, maybe even restroom paper work. So the first question isnt Who leaked this? or often more honestly Who told on us? but rather Why were you trying to hide it?

And the MilitaryIndustrialCongressional (MIC) division of The Deep State especially fears whistle-blowers who reveal truths which endanger their lucrative war agenda.When Google Met WikiLeaksJulian AssangeBest Price: $5.37Buy New $11.20(as of 02:15 EDT – Details)

Daniel Elsberg for example, who, by just barely managing to liberate The Pentagon Papers detailing U.S. failures in the Vietnam so-called war, was instrumental in ending that particular U.S. Government crime.

As a result, Nixons Sec. of State and war criminal in his own right Henry Kissinger, accurately laying-out clear MIC and deep-state thinking about those who endanger war profits, acknowledged Mr. Elsberg as The Most Dangerous Man In America.

And there was Bradley-Chelsea Manning who, by releasing this video of cold-blooded U.S. helicopter gun-ship Collateral Murder in Iraq and other secrets via Mr. Assange and Wikileaks endangered the second Iraq so-called war.

Not to mention endangering action against those seven countries in five years Libya, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq the Bush Jr. administration was planning to attack as follow-up.

So its clear governments are correct to be in mortal fear of folks who tell the truth about them. As noted historian Howard Zinn put it, Governments lie. If they told people the truth, they wouldnt last very long.

Information Officer Goebbels explained it like this:

the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State. Chief NAZI Information Officer Dr. Joseph P. Goebbels

But not to worry, the evidence strongly suggests current world leaders are quite able to understand and emulate Dr. Goebbels and his organization, particularly when attempting to deal with their mutual mortal enemy.

We can gage the level of official fear governments experience in the presence of that mortal enemy by the desperation and angst they exhibit when trying to deal with it, especially in the context of freedom of speech and the First Amendment.

Like this for example

Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. No Place to Hide: Edwa…Glenn GreenwaldBest Price: $3.36Buy New $4.70(as of 01:55 EDT – Details)The survival of our democracy depends on it. Senator Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) August 6, 2018

Senate Democrats Are Circulating Plans for Government Takeover of the Internet

Based on their six-year, $30,000,000 (thirty-million dollar) attempt to silence Mr. Assange, how fearful would you say they are? Are they perhaps terrified?

And that, my friend, begins to reveal the deeper meaning of Julian Assange.

What can you do to help?

HERE for updates, additions, comments, and corrections.

AND, Like, Tweet, and otherwise, pass this along!

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Julian Assange – LewRockwell

Get ready for Big Bitcoin: Cryptocurrency industry opens a D …

Brian Fung

Policy reporter focusing on telecommunications, media, cryptocurrencies and competition

The price of bitcoin may be down, compared with last year’s meteoric heights. But industry officials aren’t waiting for the next spike in investor demand to launch a charm offensive targeting federal lawmakers and regulators who’ve taken an interest in cryptocurrencies.

Tech veterans and a number of high-profile cryptocurrency companies on Tuesday said they are forming the Blockchain Association, the first fully fledged lobbying group in Washington representing entrepreneurs and investors who are building off the technology behind bitcoin.

Joining the initial push are companies such as Coinbase and Circle, which operate some of the world’s most popular virtual currency exchanges, as well as the technology start-up Protocol Labs. Investors, such as Digital Currency Group and Polychain Capital, are also among the founding members.

The group has already made its first hire: Kristin Smith, who was an aide to then-Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and went on to lobby on blockchain issues for, the online retailer that in 2014 began accepting payments in bitcoin.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time doing a lot of the basic education work in this space, said Smith, who is expected to guide the trade group through its early steps. I’m excited to focus exclusively on these issues.”

Policymakers have been confronted in recent months with an array of cryptocurrency issues as investors have flocked to bitcoin and other virtual currencies. The technology on which they’re based raises novel questions about financial regulation in a digital age and in some cases, consumers have become the victims of scams that have attracted attention from state and federal regulators. Congressional hearings on cryptocurrency and recent decisions by the Securities and Exchange Commission have also highlighted bitcoin’s and other cryptocurrencies’ growing profile.

The Blockchain Association aims to become the cryptocurrency industry’s top lobbying organization in Washington on policy issues, portraying itself as a voice for mainstream companies that want to work within the political system rather than circumventing it as companies such as Uber and Airbnb have done in the past.

Among its first priorities will be addressing how cryptocurrencies are treated under U.S. tax law, and explaining to policymakers how anti-money-laundering and know-your-customer regulations apply to the industry.

“The Blockchain Association is an effort to get the preeminent companies in the space together so [policymakers] know they’re hearing from companies that welcome regulation when its appropriate, said Mike Lempres, Coinbase’s chief legal and risk officer. Were not companies looking to game the system, but trying to develop a legal and regulatory system thatll stand the test of time.”

This isn’t the only time blockchain advocates have sought to play the Washington influence game. Half a decade ago, organizations such as the Bitcoin Foundation played a similar role. But it was a catchall organization representing industry as well as individual consumers; acting as a think tank, lobbying group and standard-setting body, all in one.

Now, the cryptocurrency field is far more developed, with distinct sectors and interest groups, said Jerry Brito, executive director of the Coin Center, a Washington-based cryptocurrency think tank. To see the rise of a purpose-specific trade group is a sign of the industry’s growing maturity, he added.

“Were happy to see this organization stand up, Brito said. Its good to have more voices advocating for things we agree about. But probably more importantly for us, a lot of folks project ‘trade association’ onto Coin Center, and we’re decidedly not that. When we get questions about the industry, we can send them to these folks.”

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Get ready for Big Bitcoin: Cryptocurrency industry opens a D …

Iran, North Korea and Venezuela turning to cryptocurrency to …

Countries including Iran (leader Hassan Rouhani left), North Korea (Kim Jong-un center) and Venezuela (Nicolas Maduro) are turning to cryptocurrencies to circumvent U.S. sanctions

America’s rivals are increasingly turning to bitcoin-style cryptocurrencies after their economies were brought to their knees thanks to crippling U.S. sanctions, experts have warned.

Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela are all investing in the technology in an attempt to counter American economic might and an expert says these nations are forming alliances through the technology.

A form of digital money, cryptocurrency uses encryption to secure transactions and control the creation of new units. It uses cryptography, a form of secret coding originating from the Second World War, to process transactions securely. Its major appeal is it is untraceable.

U.S. sanctions work by placing bans on dealings and transactions with persons, nations and companies.

These prohibitions are often enforced with the help of mainstream financial institutions.

But cryptocurrencies do not operate within this established system. In fact, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were invented in part to sidestep the existing regulated financial system.

This means nations like Iran using or controlling such a currency would allow it to bypass certain measures, such as a ban on buying U.S. dollars or even facilitate arms deals.

In May, the United States pulled out of a deal to lift sanctions against Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program a plan President Donald Trump has repeatedly blasted.


Soon after, Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi, the head of the Iranian Parliamentary Commission for Economic Affairs, spoke about cryptocurrencies as a way for countries to avoid U.S. dollar transactions – as well as a possible replacement of the SWIFT international payment system.

And Alireza Daliri, a senior science and technology official of Iran’s Presidential Office, said: We are trying to prepare the grounds to use a domestic digital currency in the country.

This currency would facilitate the transfer of money (to and from) anywhere in the world.

It can help us at the time of sanctions.

Darren Parkin, editorial director of cryptocurrency news website Coin Rivet, described how the adoption of cryptocurrencies is helping to push economic alliances between these states.

He pointed to the example of Iran and Russia working together to overcome the sanctions that affect them both.

He told Fox News: The problem the U.S. has is if they are dealing with fiat currency (currency that a government has declared to be legal tender) they can monitor the effect of the sanctions.


But if countries use cryptocurrency they have fallen below the radar of what the U.S. can see.

They’re being pushed underground.

Venezuela also reportedly received help from Moscow when it was hit with sanctions, leading to food shortages, soaring prices, a healthcare collapse and a crime spree.

In February the South American nation launched a new cryptocurrency called petro that Nicolas Maduro, the socialist leader of Venezuela, described as ‘kryptonite’ against the power of the U.S. government.

An anonymous executive at a Russian state bank claims the Kremlin oversaw the creation of the petro after President Vladimir Putin signed off on it last year.

In February Venezuela launched a new cryptocurrency called petro; an anonymous executive at a Russian state bank claims the Kremlin oversaw the creation of the petro after Putin (pictured) signed off on it last year(AP)

The source told Time: People close to Putin, they told him this is how to avoid the sanctions.

This is how the whole thing started.

Last month Vladimir Gutenev, the first deputy head of the economic policy committee of the State Duma, said Russia should conduct transactions in cryptocurrencies linked to the value of gold to frustrate U.S. attempts to thwart deals on Russian weaponry and civilian goods.

“And Im sure that this will be a very interesting option for China, India, and other states as well,” he added.

Meanwhile, Priscilla Moriuchi, a former NSA cybersecurity official, told The Hill North Korea earns an estimated $15 million to $200 million by mining and selling cryptocurrencies.

Pyongyang’s army of hackers is also believed to have stolen cryptocurrency from organizations and individuals throughout the world.

As if states opposed to the U.S. exploiting cryptocurrency was not concerning enough, analysts have warned bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are already being used to secretly move cash between sympathizers and terror cells throughout the world.

Nikita Malik, the author of a recent report by the UK-based Henry Jackson Society about online extremism called Terror In The Dark, said: The authorities must move urgently to increase their knowledge of terrorists activities in cyberspace and their use of technologies such as bitcoin.

By fundraising and making financial transactions online, terrorists and other criminals can avoid interference from financial regulators or other third parties who might otherwise take steps to prevent their operations.

Regulation in this area has to move carefully if we are to balance liberties with guarding against threats to our security but the time has come to deny extremists the space they need online to plan fresh atrocities.

More here:
Iran, North Korea and Venezuela turning to cryptocurrency to …

Playing Edward Snowden | The New Yorker

During the three years he has spent in Russian exile, Edward Snowden, the N.S.A. contractor turned whistle-blower, has maintained a surprisingly steady presence in American culture as a kind of virtual trans-border eminence. He appears via Snowbot and video link at conferences, in museums, and in theatres. He delivers lectures at universities and grants interviews to reporters, including, in 2014, a virtual interview with The New Yorkers Jane Mayer. This past July, he turned up at Comic-Con, at a secret screening to promote Snowden, the new film directed by Oliver Stone, which comes out on September 16th. Snowdens digital omnipresence has an ironic quality: hes a ghost in the screen, a disembodied conscience, a spy in the sky. Yet in his most defining appearances to date, Snowdens voice has come to us in mediated form, shaped by the artists and journalists whom he has engaged as collaboratorsand sounding quite different depending on who is in the editing bay.

For the public, the Snowden story began with a short film by the acclaimed documentarian Laura Poitras, which later became the basis for her Academy Award-winning documentary Citizenfour. The footage, shot in a Hong Kong hotel room where Poitras and the Guardian journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill arranged to meet with Snowden, in 2013, showed a pale and unshaven twenty-nine-year-old in rectangular spectacles, explaining eloquently, and with eerie calmness, why he had chosen to reveal the existence of an extensive domestic-surveillance program in the United States, and then to reveal his own identity. He described the system that he helped build as the architecture of oppression, and said that he could not go on living unfreely but comfortably, paid well to spy on unwitting Americans.

The tale, many said, was straight out of a John le Carr novel, especially when Snowden, charged by the United States Department of Justice under the Espionage Act, had his passport revoked en route to Ecuador and spent thirty-nine days in Moscows Sheremetyevo Airport, before being granted temporary asylum in Russia. In his best-selling book No Place to Hide, Greenwald recalls thinking to himself that the Snowden story was a surreal international thriller.

That line must have been a red cape snapping in the faces of Hollywood packagers. Sony secured the rights to Greenwalds book. Stone, on the other hand, optioned Time of the Octopus, a novel by Anatoly Kucherena, the Russian lawyer who negotiated Snowdens asylum, which recounts the adventures of an N.S.A. whistle-blower named Joshua Cold, including his extended stay in Sheremetyevo Airport and his dealings with journalists named Boitras and Greywold. According to a long process piece recently published in the Times Magazine, it was Kucherena who approached Stone, offering access to his client in exchange for the rights to the book, for which a Wikileaks data dump revealed he charged Stone a million dollars. (Stone says that he never intended to use the material.) Turned down by numerous studios, Stone got distribution through Open Road, an independent production company that last year won an Oscar for Spotlight.

Stones Snowden follows the title character, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, from a patriotic impulse to enlist in the Special Forces after 9/11, through a stellar intelligence career and an odd-couple romance with a liberal acrobat and pole-dancer named Lindsay Mills, to his current state of exile. Many scenes re-create Poitrass hotel-room documentary almost to the framein one case, literally, when one side of Snowdens rectangular eyeglasses, jutting past his face, distorts the field of view. (Melissa Leo plays Poitras; Zachary Quinto plays Greenwald; Shailene Woodley plays Mills.) Stone, who is known for his anti-establishment character studies that engage with recent American historyand for conspiracy-theory politicsportrays Snowdens choices as the inevitable actions of a person of conscience. He and his co-writer, Kieran Fitzgerald (grandson of Robert), have named the overreaching spy boss (played by Rhys Ifans in the film) after the zealous Thought Policeman OBrien in 1984.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Stone described the film as a close cousin to Born on the Fourth of July, his 1989 movie starring Tom Cruise as Ron Kovic, a paralyzed Vietnam veteran who becomes an antiwar protester. Much like Kovic, Snowden wanted to serve his country, was repelled by what that service entailed, and then found a purer form of patriotism by speaking out against the actions of those in power. As in Born on the Fourth of July, the Snowden character is ennobled by his transformation from insider to outcast; the drama, driven by the heros disgust and disillusionment, centers on his change of sides. In Stones hands, the man who signed his anonymous e-mails to Poitras Citizen is not a character playing ethics chess, as in le Carr, but a hero of apostasyan American archetype as old as the nation itself. When, in the movies final moments, the real Edward Snowden appears, in a gauzy cameo that the Times Magazine reports was shot in Anatoly Kucherenas dacha, we are meant to see him as the ultimate patriot.

Gordon-Levitt, like Snowden, was born in the early eighties. A former child actor, he retains an eager boyishnessnot enigmatic so much as blank-slate. In last years Robert Zemeckis bio-pic The Walk, he portrayed the French high-wire artist Philippe Petit with what Richard Brody characterized as the antic perkiness of a salesman. As Snowden, the actors innate jauntiness is suppressed; hes watchful, grim, and courteous. To prepare for his role, he spent several hours with his subject in Moscow; he found him to be polite and slightly formal, in a Southern way. (Snowden is from North Carolina.) When Stone called him about the part, Gordon-Levitt knew little about Snowden. Since then, he has become an evangelist for Snowdens cause, donating most of his acting fee for the film to the A.C.L.U.the organization for which Snowdens American lawyer, Ben Wizner, worksand embarking on a collaboration between HitRecord,an online collaborative community that he started a decade ago, and the A.C.L.U. to explore the role that technology should play in a democracy.

Not long ago, I went to see Gordon-Levitt at the HitRecord offices, a loftlike space in a suburb of Los Angeles. It was lunchtime, and employees were gathered around a communal table eating takeout. HitRecord brings together half a million animators, editors, writers, filmmakers, musicians, and other content generators, who collaborate on various kinds of projects, some prompted by Gordon-Levitt and his editorial team. (The team also produced an Emmy-winning television show, HitRecord on TV, for the millennial-oriented network Pivot.)

Gordon-Levitt, who was wearing khakis, Pumas, and a T-shirt, led me over to a quiet seating area and eased into an armchair. He said that, when he met with Snowden in Moscow, he discovered that the two have common ground. Like Snowdenwho, according to Vanity Fair, spent his late adolescence onlineGordon-Levitt, a native of the San Fernando Valley, grew up around computers. His dad, who runs a small software business, had a Commodore 64; Gordon-Levitt got his first e-mail address in high school. I dont think I ever thought of computers or the Internet as something that could be leveraged to the detriment of the human race, he told me.

The A.C.L.U. collaboration, which is called Are you there, Democracy? Its me, the Internet (pace Judy Blume), required participants to respond to the prompt Is todays technology good or bad for Democracy? In one video, a Pakistani student, Ayesha, starts her recording by removing a sticker that coversher Webcam. (In Stones film, Snowden castigates Mills for not taking the same precaution.) She describes the first time she voted, in 2013. The polling station was full of people pressuring voters to cast their ballots for a certain candidate; Ayesha and others recorded videos and posted them on the Internet. By recording or sharing our sentiments about what happened in our supposedly awesome democracy, we actually started a conversation about the fairness of the election process, she says.

The notion of using surveillance to create transparency is an inversion of the Snowden narrativebut, then again, so is the contribution that Gordon-Levitt solicited from Snowden himself. In the HitRecord office, an editor was working on the footagea recorded Google Hangout sessionand Snowdens face was talking in front of a green screen. Look, nobodys gonna argue that theres not a lot of places where technology does hurt, he said. There are days when, you know, I think that things are pretty bad. But there are also moments that I see that things could get really good. The recorded Snowden continued, What technology can ultimately provide, if we make sure it works for us rather than against us, is liberty. People are more liberated to be creative. People are more liberated to share. People are more liberated to engage in their democracy.

In a ( posted on HitRecords Web site, under the title Snowden Optimistic Project, Gordon-Levitt calls upon animators and illustrators to contribute to the projecthe envisions an enormous collage, with a hand-done feel, that will visually convey the ideas Snowden expresses, through line drawings, paper cut-outs, stop-motion animation. A sample clip made by HitRecord shows an animated drone flying across the screen and dropping a bomb as Snowden says the words places where technology does hurt. At the words mass surveillance, a row of grabby hands rises from bottom of screen, while a boxy surveillance camera swivels like a curious creature searching for morsels. One contributor tackled the next linesThere are days when, you know, I think that things are pretty bad. But there are also moments that I see that things could get really goodwith an animated illustration of dark clouds being swiped away, Apple style, on a smartphone.

Gordon-Levitt, who communicates with Snowden using encrypted video chat, has said that Snowdens sunny outlook surprised him. People think of him as symbolizing the negative sides of technology, he told me. The actor, by contrast, has come to see Snowden as an idealist. I think Snowden has a lot of love for the Internet and what it could and should be, he said. People like him and me and younger identify with it. He believes its spreading connection, collaboration, and compassion. He risked his life for it.

Whereas in Poitrass film Snowden was a pensive philosopher, and in Stones hes a principled patriot, through the lens of Gordon-Levitt and his team Snowden seems on his way to becoming a different sort of cultural icon. He is an indie Internet celebrity, an advocate for the very type of digital community that HitRecord seeks to cultivateupbeat, open, appealing. And in place of the vast and threatening thing he exposed is a vast and comforting faith in what is to come. Gordon-Levitt told me, Socrates wouldnt write anything down. He said, Itll put your mind in a prison. We think of the written word as a positive and liberating technology. I think the same applies to computers. Its just starting! Its starting now.

Continue reading here:
Playing Edward Snowden | The New Yorker

Cryptocurrency: Advantages And Disadvantages Explained

Cryptocurrency: Advantages & Disadvantages Explained

With the price spike of digital currencies such as Bitcoin in 2017, the space has begun receiving more media attention than it ever has before. Its coverage frequently takes the form of a debate, with advocates citing cryptocurrency as the clear future of money while opponents point out many flaws that have yet to be worked out. The public’s knowledge base in this area is relatively lacking, the fact that both sides use to sway general opinion toward their position.

This article serves as a primer on the arguments for and against crypto. It does not include all information on the topic; instead, it sticks with fundamental concepts to allow the layman to decide for themselves whether to support cryptocurrencies or not.

The most persuasive argument in favor of digital monies is their underlying blockchain technology. The blockchain is a decentralized public ledger displaying every transaction that has ever taken place on a given token’s network. This system enables the tracking of individual coins through every account that they have ever been in, making it very easy to track stolen coins. Backers cite this feature as proof that Bitcoin and similar currencies are hack-proof where traditional banking is not.

Hackers may also have a hard time with the lack of a central hub on which to focus a cyber attack. While the U.S. government and large banking institutions have centralized information ripe for stealing, the blockchain has no equivalent. Every block, or group of transactions on the blockchain, is checked against previous blocks to ensure that they are valid by volunteer miners who use computers to process complicated algebraic equations. With no central authority, the crypto community has total control over the digital money supply, making it a far more democratic financial system.

Digital money offers several practical advantages over more traditional currencies as well. For example, citizens of developing countries may have a hard time locating a currency with any worth in the global marketplace, effectively locking them out of it. A digital currency with universal acceptance would theoretically open the global market to every possible participant, allowing everyone to compete on an even playing field.

Some blockchains, such as the one used by Ethereum, are also programmable. That serves twin purposes: first, it enables developers interested in blockchain technology to work on a common platform with multiple applications. Second, it allows for the development of smart contracts, or electronic contracts capable of fulfilling themselves. These agreements have the potential to revolutionize the way people conduct their global business.

Finally, crypto transactions may involve less money than those reliant on fiat currencies. For instance, a Bitcoin transaction requires only a Satoshi (5,430 millionths of one Bitcoin) to process. Deals using American dollars must be worth at least $0.01, as there is no physical coin for less than that. That opens a broad range of microtransactions that are just impossible to process otherwise.

Most crypto skeptics struggle with the idea that digital currency is worth anything at all. Gold has enjoyed high value since the dawn of history, and government-issued money gets backing from that government. Bitcoin serves no practical purpose in the modern marketplace and has nothing underwriting its value, so it could theoretically become utterly worthless in a day.

Wild price fluctuations often exacerbate these fears. Even in Bitcoin’s banner 2017, there was a two-week stretch in December where it lost 25 percent of its total value. These fluctuations make it challenging for businesses to accept crypto as payment for goods and services, as the effective price can vary dramatically by the hour.

Some cryptos, including Bitcoin, are also too slow to process for everyday commercial use. For example, Bitcoin miners can handle three to seven transactions per second, compared to Visa, which can process more than 24,000 over the same period. The resources required to verify Bitcoin transactions are also cost-prohibitive at times, producing transaction fees of up to USD 25 during peak periods. That renders Bitcoin unsuitable for cheaper transactions even as it touts an ability to go less expensive than traditional monies can.

Many people do not trust the underlying code behind blockchain either. The technology was the brainchild of a person or group calling themselves Satoshi Nakamoto. Their true identity was never made public, leading many to question how much influence they might still hold over the cryptocurrency.

Other scams are also common in the space. So-called crypto experts frequently take advantage of the lack of regulation to buy a lot of a cheap token they then hype up in the media. Their recommendation causes a demand spike that allows the expert to profit handsomely from their investment. Everybody else loses their money as a part of the scheme.

The exchanges that facilitate crypto trades are also unscrupulous at times. For instance, one popular exchange called BitConnect was forced to shut down amid allegations that it was orchestrating a Ponzi scheme rather than offering a legitimate service. Even honest exchanges lack insurance, meaning that a hacker can delete anybody’s virtual assets and leave them with no method to recover their money. That is what happened to an exchange called Mount Gulg in 2014 when someone discovered $473 million worth of Bitcoin siphoned from their customers’ accounts over a period of years.

An unbiased observer is likely to conclude that digital currencies have a lot of future potential, but a lot of problems to overcome before they realize it. It’s up to you whether you think the time is now for cryptocurrencies, or if traditional money systems are safe for the time being.

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Cryptocurrency: Advantages And Disadvantages Explained

Cryptocurrency News, ICO Reviews & Blockchain Updates …

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Cryptocurrency News, ICO Reviews & Blockchain Updates …