Did Russia Try to Rescue Julian Assange? | Vanity Fair

Assange photographed on the balcony of the Embassy Of Ecuador in London on May 19, 2017.

By Jay Shaw Baker/NurPhoto/Getty Images.

The bizarre web that links Julian Assange and WikiLeaks with Roger Stone and Robert Muellers Russia investigation gained another strand on Friday, when The Guardian reported that Russian diplomats held covert talks in London to devise a plan to spring Assange from his hidey-hole in the Ecuadorian embassy. Provisionally scheduled for Christmas Eve 2017, the operation involved ensconcing the WikiLeaks founder in a diplomatic vehicle and likely whisking him off to Russia. According to four sources, the plan was backed by the Kremlin, though it was ultimately deemed too risky and abandoned at the last minute.

Though details are hazy, the paper reports that Fidel Narvez, who recently served as Ecuadors London consul and has a close relationship with Assange, was the point of contact with Moscow. Narvez has denied being involved in any such discussions, while Russias embassy in London (whose response to the Salisbury Novichok poisoning included posting a picture of Pierce Brosnan with the caption: Does Russias dialing code 007 make James Bond a Russian spy?) tweeted Friday that the story was simply another example of disinformation and fake news from the British media.

Assange arrived at the embassy disguised as a motorcycle courier in June 2012 and sought political asylum days after he had lost a battle against extradition to Sweden, where two women had accused him of rape. Both cases were eventually dropped, but Assange is still liable for breaching the conditions of his bail. He has since remained penned-up in the embassy, appearing in public only to deliver speeches from a Romeo and Juliet-style balcony affixed to his quarters. In private, though, he has received a roster of guests, from Brexiteer Nigel Farage (who, asked by BuzzFeed about the reason for the visit, said he couldnt remember what he had been doing in the building) to, during the summer of 2016, several Russians, including some senior figures from the Kremlin-owned network RT, with whom he signed a deal for The Julian Assange Show back in 2011.

Assange continued his work for WikiLeaks until his Internet access was severed in March. Which means he was still at the helm of the site when it published hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and senior Democratic officials months before the 2016 election. The move was received enthusiastically by Donald Trump (I love WikiLeaks, he crowed during an October 2016 rally), but just how the site got hold of the cache of e-mails has become a key question in Muellers investigation into whether or not Russia colluded with the Trump campaign. Over the course of the probe, WikiLeaks has popped up in connection with Robert Mercer-backed firm Cambridge Analyticathough the firms C.E.O. denied contact with the Web site, one of its directors, Brittany Kaiser, visited Assange in February last year, reportedly telling friends it was to discuss the U.S. election.

WikiLeaks has also been mentioned in connection with political trickster Roger Stone, who may have known about the leaked D.N.C. e-mails before they were published (an allegation he has denied), and who maintained a dialogue both with the site and with Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0. Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg said he was asked about Stones ties to WikiLeaks when he appeared before a grand jury this past spring. The fact that Roger hasnt been called in and the special counsel continues to ask questions about Rogers possible activities during the election shows that at the very least hes a subject, he replied. When Mueller indicted a dozen Russian operatives in July, he flagged a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, who swapped messages with Guccifer 2.0. Stone has admitted that he is probably that person.

WikiLeaks, and Russia being mentioned in the same breath is one thing. But if Russian officials were indeed involved in a plan to spring Assange and spirit him away to the motherlanda plan that as of yet has no obvious motivationMueller may have hit on a fresh avenue to explore that links them concretely.

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Did Russia Try to Rescue Julian Assange? | Vanity Fair

Data security – Cognito Forms Support

At Cognito Forms, were concerned about your privacy and the security of your form data. Below are the measures we take to ensure that your data is safe:

Cognito Forms uses TLS 1.2/SSL encryption and is always accessed over HTTPS 100% of the time for all users.

Cognito Forms is hosted securely on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, which is PCI (DSS) Level 1 and HIPAA compliant. We also have a HIPAA BAA with Microsoft.

Cognito Forms is HIPAA compliant, and offers a business associate agreement for organizations seeking to securely communicate with patients via registration forms, appointment scheduling, refill requests, etc.

Access to our production environment is limited to select operations security staff, requiring two-factor authentication to deploy updates or access a secure system for limited troubleshooting.

We do not look at entry data for our customers unless requested to through an official support request. The details of our concern over data privacy are detailed in our Privacy Policy.

Customer data is carefully segregated at the lowest architectural level in Cognito Forms to ensure that data for one organization cannot be accessed by another.

We partner with PayPal, Stripe, and Square for credit card processing so that secure payment information is never transmitted or stored by Cognito Forms. We also take measures to prevent malicious scripts on sites we are embedded in from stealing this information.

The Cognito Forms architecture is unique and highly specialized for massive scale while maintaining data isolation. It does not use transitional databases and is not vulnerable to SQL injection attacks.

Production access credentials for storage and encryption tokens used to encrypt sensitive organization data are stored in an Azure credential store and are not stored within our own development environments.

All text data stored by Cognito Forms is sanitized to prevent JavaScript injection attacks, which someone might attempt to leverage by submitting JavaScript as entry data to maliciously access other entry data by compromising our customers browsers when managing entries.

Sensitive data, such as Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information, is required to be encrypted at rest using 256-bit AES encryption. It must also be protected so that it is never emailed or otherwise transmitted in an insecure way. Any field type can be encrypted and/or protected, including uploaded files and sections.

We know that there are evolving threats to data security, and we will continue to refine our processes to ensure the safety of our customers data in Cognito Forms.

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Data security – Cognito Forms Support

File Upload field – Cognito Forms Support

A File Upload field allows users to upload files (such as PDFs and images) along with their form submission. Once an entry has been submitted, you can select the file in the entry information to view it. You can also click the download icon to download the file directly.

You can enable data encryption on your form to ensure that uploaded files are encrypted at rest.

The label will display as the title of the field or the question that is being asked on the form. You can select the icon on the right to hide the label on the form.

The types of files that can be uploaded can be restricted. For example, if you want to restrict your users to only upload PDFs, simply type in PDF. Multiple file extensions can be added, but must be separated by a comma.

The default restrictions are executable files, including: action, apk, app, bat, bin, cmd, com, command, cpl, csh, dll, exe, gadget, inf1, ins, inx, ipa, isu, job, js, jse, ksh, lnk, msc, msi, msp, mst, osx, out, paf, pif, prg, ps1, reg, rgs, run, sct, shb, shs, u3p, vb, vbe, vbs, vbscript, workflow, ws, and wsf.

100MB is the maximum size allowed for a single uploaded file.

The maximum file size can also be specified. In email notifications and confirmations, the limit for file attachments is a total of 17MB. If a file exceeds this amount, you will need to log in to your Cognito Forms account in order to view or download it.

The maximum number of files can be restricted. You cannot upload more than 20 files in a single upload field, which is the default limit.

Help text can be used to assist the user by providing additional instructions. Help text will display directly under the field.

By default, fields will always display on the form. However, you may want to hide specific fields or sections based on certain conditions such as a selected value of another field on the form.

Never Field will never display.

Requiring a field will make sure the user provides a response. When a field is required, an error message will display, and the form cannot be submitted until a value has been added to the field. Required fields are indicated by a red asterisk next to the label. By default, fields are never required.

Always Field is always required. User must provide a response in order to submit the form.

When Field is required only when specific conditions are met. After selecting this option, the Conditional Logic Builder dialog will display allowing you to select when the field is required.

Never Field is not required. This is the default behavior.

You can set a custom error message that will display under your field when specified conditions become true. The conditional logic builder will allow you to add any number of rules for validating your field. Learn more about the custom error option.

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File Upload field – Cognito Forms Support

Chelsea Manning, Friends Complain After Armed Officers …

Chelsea Manning is complaining that police searched her Montgomery County apartment on a wellness check after she sent two tweets appearing to threaten suicide because the police conducted the “wellness check” while armed.

Montgomery County says they received several calls from individuals concerned that Manning was suicidal after Manning posted a photo showing what appeared to be a pair of pedicured feet dangling several stories about the street below. At least one caller either confirmed or provided an address, The Intercept says, and County officials dispatched officers for a “wellness check.”

Private security camera footage, provided by Manning to The Intercept, shows three officers entering the apartment with guns drawn after knocking, announcing their presence, and opening the locked door with a key they reportedly obtained from building management. The officers call Manning’s name several times while clearing rooms.

Although it’s very clear from the footage that the officers had no idea what to expect when they entered Manning’s apartment and that the crew had no idea whether Manning would be armed and dangerous, even if she were only dangerous to herself Manning called the video evidence that Americans live in a “police state.”

This is what a police state looks like, Manning told The Intercept. Guns drawn during a wellness check.

Manning was apparently out of the country when she sent the now-infamous “suicide tweet.” A friend of Manning who commented to The Intercept claimed, If Chelsea had been home when these cops arrived with guns drawn, she would be dead.

Montgomery County police attempted to explain police procedure to The Intercept, to no avail.

They responded to the address to check her welfare, Capt. Paul Starks of the Montgomery County Police told the outlet. Once inside the residence they realized that the residence did not match the photo that was posted on Twitter. We tried to determine where she may be by attempting to use her phone but the phone was powered off and they werent able to leave a message.

Although drawing a weapon isn’t necessarily standard operating procedure, Starks told The Intercept, that decision is left to the responding officers, and most choose to have their weapon at the ready when entering an unfamiliar and potentially volatile situation.

They dont know what kind of circumstances they are entering when they enter a home, Starks said. The fact that a weapon is drawn doesnt mean that they are going to shoot it.

Do you know what was going on in that apartment that night? No. Not until you open the door and go in. We respond to hundreds of thousands of calls each year. Many of them are not what is phoned in,” he continued.

Another expert, Metro Transit Police SWAT Commander William Malone, explained further that people frequently use police to commit suicide, and in this case, the person they were checking on had military training: The police should be commended for their actions in this case, not criticized.”

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Chelsea Manning, Friends Complain After Armed Officers …

Amazon.com: WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy …

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Amazon.com: WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy …

Petition to Trump: Pardon Julian Assange – infowars.com

This is a red level emergency.

Journalist and Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, is now in failing health and has been a prisoner in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for six years even though there is absolutely no legitimate legal ground for his prosecution.

Sign and spread this petition so it can reach President Donald J. Trump to fully and unconditionally pardon Julian Assange in the interests of both justice and mercy.

Additionally, the Department of Justice is on record admitting that prosecuting Assange would also expose all American journalists and news outlets to similar criminal jeopardy.

We are calling on and asking President Trump to take a stand against the establishment medias and globalists assault on liberty and freedom of speech.

Read, sign, and share the full petition here.


Mass censorship of conservatives and libertarians is exploding. Youve already seen this with the demonetization and ultimate purge of Infowars and other alternative media outlets by mega-corporations working in tangent to stifle competition. But you are important in this fight. Your voice is important. Your free thought is important. Make no mistake, you are just as important as anyone in the Anti-American establishment.

You are our most important contributor.

Sign up for the free newsletter so they cant keep us from sending you critical information.

We need your support now more than ever. Donate to help support the Infowar.

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Petition to Trump: Pardon Julian Assange – infowars.com

Julian Assange’s fate rests on death penalty assurances …

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Julian Assange’s fate rests on death penalty assurances …

Julian Assange’s Mother: Seth Rich Was DNC Leaker – Your News …

The mother of Julian Assange claims murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was the person behind the leaked DNC emails, not Russia.

In a tweet sent Thursday, Mrs. Christine Assange slammed the media for failing to adequately report on the corruption within the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton campaign during the 2016 election.

In the tweet, Mrs. Assange claims WikiLeaks release of the DNC emails helped expose Hillary Clintons numerous misdeeds, including the rigging of the 2016 primaries against Bernie Sanders. The release of the emails, she claims, put a target on her sons back.

Its the duty of media to inform citizens about corruption, she began.

A DNC Bernie supporter [Seth Rich] disgruntledwith rigging leaked docs proving corruption. What should Wikileaks should have done? Hold on to them till after the election to advantage Hillary?

You are shooting the messenger!

Mrs. Assange is referring to the fact that Seth Rich, a Bernie supporter, was likely frustrated with the blatant primary rigging against Bernie Sanders in 2016.

WikiLeaks has repeatedly denied that Russian hackers had anything to do with the leaked Clinton and Podesta emails.

In an interview with the Daily Mail in 2016, Wikileaks envoy Craig Murray told the newspaper that Seth Rich was frustrated with the DNC rigging the Democratic primaries against Sanders and decided to take matters into his own hands and leak the emails.

Neither of the leaks came from the Russians,Murray said. The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.

The mass censorship of independent media is exploding. Our content is being silenced on social media and demonetized by mega-corporations who want to eliminate competition. But you can help us in this fight. Your freedom matters. Your voice matters. You have the power to fight those who seek to silence us.

You are our most important ally.

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Julian Assange’s Mother: Seth Rich Was DNC Leaker – Your News …

Chelsea Manning Continues Fight Against Unfair Hacking Charge …

Chelsea Manning Continues Fight Against Unfair Hacking Charge | Electronic Frontier Foundation Skip to main content

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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 …