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Author Topic: The war on whistleblowers  (Read 1397 times)

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Offline Phelan8801Topic starter

The war on whistleblowers
« on: June 22, 2013, 11:33:01 PM »
So, the Obama administration has officially charged Edward Snowden with crimes under the Espionage Act.

If you have not heard the news (and you probably should have by now) Edward Snowden is the man responsible for leaking to the public information about several NSA warrantless surveillance programs, such as PRISM, which essentially collects phone metadata (such as numbers called from your phone, duration of the call, location of the phone during the call), e-mail raw data and metadata (IP and MAC adresses used, passwords, and other personal information), among other such details. An essential Orwellian nightmare according to some, while some regard it simply as a logical step in ensuring the security of American citizens.

It could easily be argued that those who have done nothing wrong should have nothing to hide, and yet at the same time seems to fly in face of the fourth ammendment, if not in the exact way it was written, at least in the manner it was intended. It also essentially ends the expectation of privacy of both foreigners in the U.S. and citizens of the U.S. themselves, since the criteria used to distinguish one from the other is admitted by the N.S.A. to have at the very least a 49% margin of error.

This happens during the eighth day of the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the man behind the leak of several confidential U.S. military documents to wikileaks, including most famously, the video titled "Collateral murder", a video showing the gunning down of Iraqi civilians and journalists by the U.S. military (available on youtube, if you've got the stomach to search for it, I certainly don't have the heart to directly link it).

Bradley Manning has plead guilty to 10 of the 22 criminal charges he's been imputed with, however he disputes the most significant charge against him "Aiding the Enemy", a charge for which, should he be convicted of it, he could be senteced to life in prison, or even death if the sentencing judge and President Obama chose so.

These two charges, espionage for Snowden and aiding the Enemy for Manning, are made under the Espionage Act of 1917, a piece of legislation signed into law during World War I and intended to fight intelligence leaks made deliberately from inside sources to enemies of the United States. Snowden and Manning however, are just two of the eight people charged under the espionage act by the Obama administration with criminal charges for leaking classified intelligence to the public or the press, that is more than all previous administration in the last 96 years combined. Having failed already in previous trials to prove that these leaks threaten national security, at least to the satisfaction of the courts, the Obama administration is still pressing for Snowden's extradition from Hong Kong.

Now that we've established the basic facts... I'd like to hear your thoughts on this E.

Is "whistleblowing" a concept or action you can agree to or believe to be justifiable in matters of national security?

Do these intelligence leaks make U.S. citizens less safe (Snowden and Manning's or any of the other 8 cases)? Could the assertion that they are ever be proved beyond reasonable doubt? Even if it could, does that justify treating these people as enemy spies?

Is the Obama administration right to treat "whistleblowers" as enemy spies? Are they entitled to under the U.S. constitution?

And as a side discussion:

Do you feel comfortable with the kind of surveillance that the NSA is carrying out?

Discuss!
« Last Edit: June 22, 2013, 11:36:30 PM by Phelan8801 »

Offline RubySlippers

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2013, 08:17:30 AM »
Okay he did break our laws but the issue to Snowden now charges are filed is they are not crimes under international UN considerations he did not directly aid terrorism as an agent for example so its more political, so will Russia extradite someone if they get a request for Political Asylum since they don't like us right now? Unlikely. But I feel the charges were justified under our laws.

Military justice is different they have the Code of Military Justice revealing information means he violated his voluntary oath of service but not sure if he also aided the enemy in a material way that caused loss of life or materials but it did uplift the enemies position. That could be seen as that in the context of him being a soldier there is precedent for that a military court will look to.

As for the NSA program its an abomination I don't think the government has a right to know any more about me than I care to offer unless I'm arrested and convicted of a crime, a cloak of privacy should be sacrosanct around all law citizens and if there is a need like Drivers Licenses it should be information secured and limited to the state level. If one is convicted of a crime then they by their own actions lose some of that right but even then why keep them all on record for life. The way around that is clear get evidence, get a warrant from a public judge and do the investigation when bypassing the cloak of privacy.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2013, 08:47:21 AM »
Snowden really helped initiate some points of debate that needed to be addressed, to be put on the table:

* What kind of interference of states and their organs into the privacy of citizens - or people in general - can we accept without making it a wholesale sellout?
* How far do internet giants/providers like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Verizon, Microsoft etc share data with all kinds of agencies, American or other? These firms themselves would say they haven't been sharing anything except for the barest in some strictly limited cases, but it doesn't seem we can trust that.
* Who really *owns* all the cloud and online data that's created, used and shared through private online contacts or put online in places like Facebook, Wordpress blogs, Gmail, Google calendar, newsgroups and the like? Who has the right to edit it, control commercial use of it or statistical treatments of it, move it, delete it without prior notice?
*  How do you define a "threat"? An "underground conspiracy"? "Assistance to criminals and terrorists" through online means? There's an ocean floor of grey areas here.

I've been hearing journalists (especially U.S. ones) saying over the last few days that the idea of a whistleblower doing citizens a service is now meaningful only if the guy in question is prepared to face trial (if that's an option for the exposed state) and take his/her punishment, whatever it is. Much like the idea of civil disobeidence presupposes that the disloyal person must be prepared to accept punishment as long as the law they broke is still in force (and as long as it's not a complete dictatorship being opposed). If that's it, you won't find many whistleblowers ahead and especially not on important matters - I think the idea that "you have to relinquish escaping, seeking to protect your r/l identity or evading the route to punishment if you've snitched on any big guy or state" is an impossible one, it would really be an effective gag order. Whistleblowers and informers leaking to the media are needed to let the light into murky corners, but I guess that's not going to be the preferred angle with some people.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2013, 10:16:39 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2013, 11:51:28 AM »
Okay.. there is a bit of difference between Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.

Did they both break the Espionage Act? Definitely by the standard used today. There are some differences in action and intent.

Edward Snowden disclosed what was clearly an illegal series of actions that NEEDED to be revealed and disclosed. The public at large is being left open to illegal actions by the government due to practices with no legal or institutional restraints or balances. The evolution of these agency practices has been literally done in the 'dark'.  He might have gone the wrong way and definitely knew there would be consequences, but thanks to 9/11 the chain of sequences that Daniel Ellsberg went thru after the leaking of the Pentagon Papers is gone. Whistleblower protections are at the lowest point in DECADES. I'd say within 4 to 10 years we'll be back to where we were before Watergate. He knew it had to be done, he said so, and knew there would be consequences. I don't think he directly in any manner aided the enemy so much as he tried to inform the public. He did commit a heavy breach of security.. and I think he should face the courts rather than hide.. but like I just said earlier.. I doubt he'd get a fair shake in court post-9/11.

On the other hand.. we have Private Bradley Manning. I've got mixed feelings on him. First off. He DID commit treason. He DID take actions that led to outcomes DEFINITELY counter to American interests. His actions did NOT benefit the public or the government. He hurt the US interests overseas, endangered allies and cost lives and trust in those committed to our interests. The leaked cables cost lives in the Middle East, cost hard won trust among allies and diplomatic circles. We lost trust. That is hard to regain in the diplomatic AND espionage fields. If you can't be trusted to keep secrets.. folks won't talk to you. If you've been proven to not be able to keep folk's names/locations secret.. the next person you try to recruit WON'T rely on you to keep them and their family secret.
That being said, as a member of the US Military (retired) I am.. TOTALLY ashamed in the manner of his continued and protracted imprisonment. We have an obligation to do the trial, detention and treatment of our people in the proper way. YEARS in solitary suicide watch is wrong. Period. We are trying to be the 'right side' on this. That means.. you do it RIGHT and by your LAWS dammit. I really think part of this was done to keep it from being an election issue.. it shouldn't have been.

Okay.. my comments on the 'contrary to the interests of the country' bit brings ONE man to mind who committed clear treason. The man who disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame. You got the disclosure of an American agent of the CIA, one who was a NOC..that is No. Offical. Cover. agent. IE.. what you see with James Bond movies.. folks that go out and operate in secret to recruit, extort and steal for our country. She not only committed acts that could have gotten her shot IMMEDIATELY in any number of countries but convinced others to aid her in the commission of what can clearly be called espionage on behalf of the United States. Some of these people did it to advance in power, make others pay for insults (imagined or otherwise) or simply for money.. others did it in hope of winning protection for themselves and their family or hoping to simply change their homeland to something more tolerant or 'good' to the residents or to preserve the balance of power in the world. Lots of people for lots of reasons.
When her name was outed publicly,  her contacts (real or imagined) were scrutinized and in some cases taken out and shot (for the lucky ones in that order.) I do not for a moment think Scotter Libby was the one that did it.. I think he was sold on taking the fall for Karl Rove, a man who has famously done anything -no matter who it hurts- to get what he wants done. Libby is making a fortune on the lecture circuit, and Valerie Plame has to be careful where she goes for the rest of her life and her assets (the lucky ones) are in fear for the rest of their lives or if they are unlucky they are dead. We lose trust and prestige from that, which doesn't sound like much till you realize those are the 'currency' we need in diplomatic and/or espionage circles.

All in all.. I think since 9/11 there has been a steady and progressive rollback on whistleblower protections that are dangerous. People who should be shielded..haven't.. people who shouldn't be.. have been. If current 'protections' had been in place, particularly given the legal practices of the time, Ellsberg and others in the 60s and 70s would have been vanished or ruined and the public interest wouldn't have been served. Today we have circumvention of due process (enforced arbitration), vanishing protections, and gags put in place for the 'public good' or 'national security' without any method of disclosure that only enables abuses of the system.

That is why Snowden did right in my opinion but Manning didn't do his release in any real intent to serve the public good..he was striking out in anger for the system not 'giving him his due'. I've met men like him in the service, and they get bitter when they put their failures on the system..and back to whoever outed Valerie Plame did it to serve a political agenda that would harm her husband's political career.

That being said.. I don't think Manning should have been held as long as he did.. and honestly.. I don't hold him responsible for the deaths his leaks might have caused, though I do hold him responsible for the loss of face and trust in diplomatic circles the country took. That is an intangible loss at best that we can re-earn if we do things right. The person I hold responsible for any deaths from the Wikileaks incident is Julian Assange.. who operated with vast ranges of hubris, ego and a dire lack of empathy for anyone who didn't share his outlook. He, however, is neither an American citizen or without our territory. So.. we have to let him go. Snowden should return to the US to face the consequences of his actions like Daniel Ellsberg did with the disclosure of the Pentagon papers, but I can understand (given the late actions of the administration and government at large) why he might be reluctant.

We're standing on the edge a dangerous moment. One side.. the continued erosion of liberty and freedoms within our country and the return to a more tolerant rational outlook on the other. Since 9/11 we've lived in fear. That needs to end. Yes, we are in a dangerous world.. but we were before the Towers fell. .and will be again. We don't turtle in and sell the future's rights and freedoms to protect the present. Being the good guy isn't easy.. and sometimes folks like Snowden and Ellsberg have to face prison time to do the right thing and bring change.

Because doing right isn't ever the same as doing the easy thing. Being a moral and ethical human trying to protect your country sometimes means you have to run against the system you serve. I have done it in saying 'no sir' when I served.. I've seen men and women ruin their careers to do it. 

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Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2013, 02:56:23 PM »
I am not getting into all of the arguments about what we should or should not be doing in these situations or how it affects constitutional limitations. I will just simply say if you are retained in a position that requires "top secret clearance" for lack of a better term then you had better keep secrets. When you took on the task you agreed to keep some things in confidence it is called doing the job you were "hired" to do. If you start revealing things then you are not doing the job so IMHO you should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. There are people who may know more than you about what is going on. Hell, we probably do not know all the details in these cases so I think those who leak are indeed guilty of treason.

Having said that if you honestly could not stomach what you were seeing and made a choice based on your morals I applaud you. Even if those morals go against well mine. But you made a choice, then do not skip the country or hide under a rock. You made a moral choice and stand up and face the consequences or all of those morals go out the window. Sort of like a line in the one Star Trek between Worf and Garron or however you spell it "you made a choice like a Klingon so live with it like a Klingon."

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2013, 04:06:15 PM »
I am not getting into all of the arguments about what we should or should not be doing in these situations or how it affects constitutional limitations. I will just simply say if you are retained in a position that requires "top secret clearance" for lack of a better term then you had better keep secrets. When you took on the task you agreed to keep some things in confidence it is called doing the job you were "hired" to do. If you start revealing things then you are not doing the job so IMHO you should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. There are people who may know more than you about what is going on. Hell, we probably do not know all the details in these cases so I think those who leak are indeed guilty of treason.

Having said that if you honestly could not stomach what you were seeing and made a choice based on your morals I applaud you. Even if those morals go against well mine. But you made a choice, then do not skip the country or hide under a rock. You made a moral choice and stand up and face the consequences or all of those morals go out the window. Sort of like a line in the one Star Trek between Worf and Garron or however you spell it "you made a choice like a Klingon so live with it like a Klingon."

For the most part.. I agree. But if you had a in close look at what Snowden sees.. maybe you would not be as eager to face the consequences. No judicial process, indefinite internment as enemy combatant for 'aiding the enemy' and other possible consequences? I would have gone over seas, done the interview with the Guardian..but I differ in that I would have come back to the US and turned myself in afterwards. By doing the interview with the Guardian, Snowden has made himself too big to vanish.

And if you want a better idea of why he might have vanished.. look into what the Feds did Daniel Ellsberg when the Pentagon Papers came out. They tried to make him look bad, insane even. The 'Plumbers', a group of shady works guys led by G. Gordon Liddy, planned out covert ops on him. The Whitehouse Plumbers

Being part of the intel community, he might have an idea of what would have come up if he wasn't a high visibility target of the media's attention. And given the .. less than sterling attention of the US media today.. I'd have relied upon someone like the Guardian if I was going to do this.

of course if I was going to do it.. I'd return to the US and have my lawyer ready as well.

Offline Phelan8801Topic starter

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2013, 07:07:20 PM »
On the other hand.. we have Private Bradley Manning. I've got mixed feelings on him. First off. He DID commit treason. He DID take actions that led to outcomes DEFINITELY counter to American interests. His actions did NOT benefit the public or the government. He hurt the US interests overseas, endangered allies and cost lives and trust in those committed to our interests. The leaked cables cost lives in the Middle East, cost hard won trust among allies and diplomatic circles. We lost trust. That is hard to regain in the diplomatic AND espionage fields. If you can't be trusted to keep secrets.. folks won't talk to you. If you've been proven to not be able to keep folk's names/locations secret.. the next person you try to recruit WON'T rely on you to keep them and their family secret.

See, I've seen this claim (the one in bold) made many times, buy I've yet to hear any actual numbers or facts to back it up. I am not ruling out the possiblity that I just missed those news, but so far I haven't seen anyone provide actual proof that those cable leaks directly or even indirectly resulted in lost lives. So, no offense, but I do think this kind of discredits the claim.

What I do agree with is that the U.S. did lose trust. But they did get caught spying on allies through really skeevy methods... and if trust is so important to the U.S. government... maybe they shouldn't be doing that? If the truth is contrary to the interests of a government then maybe that government's interests aren't all that righteous in the first place and should be pushed back against, maybe even by its own people. I mean, I'm no intelligence agent, but I do take pride on being smart and generally well informed, and the actions exposed by the cables that Manning released that 'caused the biggest blowback... really don't strike me as anything that would help protect the American people in any way. But it does strike me as something that would inspire me to distrust the American government.

That being said, as a member of the US Military (retired) I am.. TOTALLY ashamed in the manner of his continued and protracted imprisonment. We have an obligation to do the trial, detention and treatment of our people in the proper way. YEARS in solitary suicide watch is wrong. Period. We are trying to be the 'right side' on this. That means.. you do it RIGHT and by your LAWS dammit. I really think part of this was done to keep it from being an election issue.. it shouldn't have been. 
Now this, I can agree with.

That is why Snowden did right in my opinion but Manning didn't do his release in any real intent to serve the public good..he was striking out in anger for the system not 'giving him his due'. I've met men like him in the service, and they get bitter when they put their failures on the system..and back to whoever outed Valerie Plame did it to serve a political agenda that would harm her husband's political career.
I don't think you can actually prove that his intent was not to help the American people. It can be argued that he was indeed angry at the government itself for being about discharge him for service due to being *GASP* gay, and wished to lash out and harm them.

At the same time, it could also very well be  exactly what he says it was, that he thought that information belonged in the public domain.

I mean, if my government was allowing my country's soldiers to gun down innocent civilians and journalists in the streets of Iraq DELIBERATELY, I'd kinda' want to know about it.

That being said.. I don't think Manning should have been held as long as he did.. and honestly.. I don't hold him responsible for the deaths his leaks might have caused, though I do hold him responsible for the loss of face and trust in diplomatic circles the country took. That is an intangible loss at best that we can re-earn if we do things right. The person I hold responsible for any deaths from the Wikileaks incident is Julian Assange.. who operated with vast ranges of hubris, ego and a dire lack of empathy for anyone who didn't share his outlook. He, however, is neither an American citizen or without our territory. So.. we have to let him go. Snowden should return to the US to face the consequences of his actions like Daniel Ellsberg did with the disclosure of the Pentagon papers, but I can understand (given the late actions of the administration and government at large) why he might be reluctant.

Any deaths... so, no word on specific deaths as of yet?

Doesn't the American criminal justice system rest on the core value of Assumption of Innocence (innocent until proven guilty)? If so, why are we condemning Assange for deaths we don't even know happened yet? (unless you wish to provide specific examples?)

We're standing on the edge a dangerous moment. One side.. the continued erosion of liberty and freedoms within our country and the return to a more tolerant rational outlook on the other. Since 9/11 we've lived in fear. That needs to end. Yes, we are in a dangerous world.. but we were before the Towers fell. .and will be again. We don't turtle in and sell the future's rights and freedoms to protect the present. Being the good guy isn't easy.. and sometimes folks like Snowden and Ellsberg have to face prison time to do the right thing and bring change.

I know that Americans love to think they are the good guys, but this is honestly a flawed and far too one sided view. There are no good guys in history (and if there are, they're certainly not running the United States Government, nor have they been for a long time). The Iraq war certainly wasn't born of good intentions, it was born of fear and misinformation (They've got ALUMINUM! GET THEM!), and the Afghanistan war was nothing short of an overreaction that the American government decided to commit to for far too long. Neither of them was needed to catch Osama Bin Laden (despite what Jessica Chastain wants you to believe), and neither of them has made the American public any safer (or the Iraqi, or Afghan public for sure). By the way... I can actually back those statements up with facts, but even so, I apologize if they offend you.

Now, I will agree that Saddam Hussein needed to be deposed, and tried for his crimes, but that wasn't the responsibility of the U.S. It was the responsibility of the Iraqi people.

This statement that "we're the good guys" kind of ignores the kind of mentality that the U.S. has been running on for ages now. Nixon spied on Democrats unlawfully, Reagan sold arms to Contras, and then there was Vietnam and Korea way before that. The last war that the U.S. got into that was lawfully declared was World War II. I realize that there are a lot of people that are good and have good intentions in the U.S., and it's a country built on beautiful values (even if it's a tad hypocritical to say all men are created equal, and then go home to your slaves and have them pack your lunch for an expedition out west to kill all the natives, it's still a beautiful value). But to try to characterize the American government as the good guys in the world stage or in world History? Yeah, no, that simply doesn't fly with anyone that has even a mediocre grasp on history.

Because doing right isn't ever the same as doing the easy thing. Being a moral and ethical human trying to protect your country sometimes means you have to run against the system you serve. I have done it in saying 'no sir' when I served.. I've seen men and women ruin their careers to do it.

Right... I've got no objection with this statement, my only objection with your overall point is that you really can't prove that this isn't what Bradley Manning was trying to do.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 07:17:46 PM by Phelan8801 »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2013, 07:35:21 PM »
Okay.. let's look at poor little Private Manning.

He only started 'hording files', which he DIDN'T have a legal right to access, AFTER he was shifted out of his comfortable stateside posting and into an overseas one that made it hard to maintain the connections that helped him emotionally. I knew other homosexual military members and reading over his past actions, even all the way back to boot camp..

Let's be honest..he wasn't emotionally stable in a rigid environment. I've dealt with servicemembers who weren't able to handle it. That can be due to a lot of things, family issues.. kid on the way, money ect.

When he got reprimanded and didn't advance and was out of the social loop he was used to.. he started 'collecting files'.

How many of those cables have you read? I read a bunch of them.. and I'll bet that I'm not even at the 10% mark even now. I doubt he read what he gave Wikileaks.

As for tying the Taliban and the Wikileaks cables... here you go. (I would have linked the Times article.. but it is a subscription service to read that)
http://gawker.com/5600676/taliban-using-wikileaks-afghanistan-leak-to-hunt-down-informants

Let's be honest here.. you're never going to get a press release from the Taliban saying 'thank you for telling us that Headman X of Village Y aided the allied forces, on Day A @ 2 PM central time.. we executed him and his extended family for that.'

I notice you didn't refute the outing of Valerie Plame most likely resorted in the deaths of others.

As for the dirty realities of espionage and diplomacy.. I'm sorry, you're not getting the glittery clean world that some folks insist is possible. When 2 people/nations/continents/whatever work at cross purposes, there will be dirty tricks eventually.

If you're expecting me to insist that we're the absolute pure lilly white good guys..no. We're not. We are better than people who insist that strapping a bomb onto a 12 year old and pushing him into a packed shopping center  to kill as many folks different than themselves is a 'righteous thing'. Or that it's okay to put a bullet into a girl's head for wanting to learn, and speaking up about it. Or destroying a wonder of the world because it's 'idolatry'. Or mutilating their women to keep them from possibly having fun from sex. Or insisting anyone that has a cultural outlook different from the most extreme faction of their religion is worthy of death. (and yes, I am aware of folks here who could fit into that last category.. I live in the South)

We're not perefect. We have problems. I don't think we handled Iran/Iraq right. There were..and are.. more options. I give it 50/50 that the country is still stable in the next decade.. personally I think a very nasty civil war is coming.. backed by the extreme Islamic elements of the gulf.

As for Afganistan.. I disagree about the need to get involved. The Taliban WAS a threat.. one we mishandled BADLY. When we went in.. they were already in control of Afganistan, and starting to undermine Pakistan. That was a dangerous thing. Tell me that it is a good thing for Taliban have access to nuclear weapons. Particularly given statements in the past on what they thought about India.

This was a group of people who shot their rivals out of hand when they were in power.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 07:58:21 PM by Callie Del Noire »

Offline Phelan8801Topic starter

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2013, 09:18:24 PM »
Okay.. let's look at poor little Private Manning.

He only started 'hording files', which he DIDN'T have a legal right to access, AFTER he was shifted out of his comfortable stateside posting and into an overseas one that made it hard to maintain the connections that helped him emotionally. I knew other homosexual military members and reading over his past actions, even all the way back to boot camp..

Let's be honest..he wasn't emotionally stable in a rigid environment. I've dealt with servicemembers who weren't able to handle it. That can be due to a lot of things, family issues.. kid on the way, money ect.

When he got reprimanded and didn't advance and was out of the social loop he was used to.. he started 'collecting files'.

How many of those cables have you read? I read a bunch of them.. and I'll bet that I'm not even at the 10% mark even now. I doubt he read what he gave Wikileaks.

As I said, that's one interpretation of the facts. Which you can not prove beyond reasonable doubt is the right one by any stretch of the imagination, unless you knew him personally.

As for tying the Taliban and the Wikileaks cables... here you go. (I would have linked the Times article.. but it is a subscription service to read that)
http://gawker.com/5600676/taliban-using-wikileaks-afghanistan-leak-to-hunt-down-informants

Let's be honest here.. you're never going to get a press release from the Taliban saying 'thank you for telling us that Headman X of Village Y aided the allied forces, on Day A @ 2 PM central time.. we executed him and his extended family for that.'

No, but I haven't seen any reports from any news resources of them actually finding and/or killing any actual specific ones. Which you'd think the U.S. and the U.K. would already have, considering how hard they've been on Assange.

Quote
I notice you didn't refute the outing of Valerie Plame most likely resorted in the deaths of others.

Because that was an entirely different circumstance, that targetted specifically her. And even them I'm not convinced that we should all pretend that the U.S. is right to send agents to sovereign nations to subvert their laws.

Quote
As for the dirty realities of espionage and diplomacy.. I'm sorry, you're not getting the glittery clean world that some folks insist is possible. When 2 people/nations/continents/whatever work at cross purposes, there will be dirty tricks eventually.

I don't think it is possible, but I think if you spy through illegal means on your own allies, one of your own people calls you out on it, and you CHARGE THEM UNDER THE ESPIONAGE ACT? You're a fucking hypocrite. Not to mention the amount of balls you need to have to charge a man that merely disclosed confidential information to the public with "aiding the enemy" after your own administration sold guns to drug cartels in Mexico, and you only gave the man responsible for that a slap on the wrist.

Quote
If you're expecting me to insist that we're the absolute pure lilly white good guys..no. We're not. We are better than people who insist that strapping a bomb onto a 12 year old and pushing him into a packed shopping center  to kill as many folks different than themselves is a 'righteous thing'. Or that it's okay to put a bullet into a girl's head for wanting to learn, and speaking up about it. Or destroying a wonder of the world because it's 'idolatry'. Or mutilating their women to keep them from possibly having fun from sex. Or insisting anyone that has a cultural outlook different from the most extreme faction of their religion is worthy of death. (and yes, I am aware of folks here who could fit into that last category.. I live in the South)

We're not perefect. We have problems. I don't think we handled Iran/Iraq right. There were..and are.. more options. I give it 50/50 that the country is still stable in the next decade.. personally I think a very nasty civil war is coming.. backed by the extreme Islamic elements of the gulf.

As for Afganistan.. I disagree about the need to get involved. The Taliban WAS a threat.. one we mishandled BADLY. When we went in.. they were already in control of Afganistan, and starting to undermine Pakistan. That was a dangerous thing. Tell me that it is a good thing for Taliban have access to nuclear weapons. Particularly given statements in the past on what they thought about India.

This was a group of people who shot their rivals out of hand when they were in power.

Yeah, thing is... You're not the pure lily good guys, you're also not the hairy short anti-hero with adamantium claws, or the fucking Punisher. You're a nation that's invading, subverting, and sabotaging other sovereign nations around the world and most of the time it's not even because "they're the bad guys" or "they could threaten us." But really for a chance to capitalize on the suffering of its people by hopefully turning them into what you call allies (which is really more a code word for "subservient nations"). You have spies not just in places where there are actual threats to your national security, you have spies EVERYWHERE, you even had spies here in Mexico trying to incite a revolution in the State of Chiapas during the 90's, but of course my country's government just pretended that didn't happen and shoved that under the rug because we really COULDN'T risk pissing the mighty U.S. of A. off by making them look remotely bad. And you invade, spy and subvert not just against targets that threaten your national security, but in places you feel you have a chance to obtain a position of power. (The Chiapas state is one of the largest productors of oil in my country, odd coincidence?)

And you can again remind me of the atrocities committed by the Taliban, and the various hyperconservative muslim organizations that run the middle East and treat their people like shit... But really, if we're gonna pretend that these wars exist due to outrage over their truly rotten morals and disregard for human life. Then where was the United States during the Egyptian revolution? Where was the United States during the Darfur Genocide? Why has the U.S. not yet gotten involved in Syria? Why has the U.S. not rushed to the aid of Tibet? Also, China has access to nuclear weapons treats a large portion of its population like utter shit, and directly aids many of the enemies of the U.S., and yet I've not seen talk yet of invading them.

Because there's no profit to be had there... well in Syria's case, it's also because you're also mighty scared of pissing off Putin. And in China's case, I'm sure them owning a humongous part of your debt is totally unrelated to the reason why you'd never even think about going to war with them, and also totally unrelated to the shitty way they treat their own citizens misteriously vanishing off the media as of late, right?

But really, let's not pretend for a minute you're the good guys by ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 09:22:00 PM by Phelan8801 »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2013, 10:07:08 PM »
Well gee. .so we should roll back to the 'gosh golly darn' outlook of Ozzie and Harriet?

I hate to break it to you Phelan, EVERYONE spies on everyone. If you haven't noticed we're pretty losing an undeclared cyberwar with China, the British have been spying on everyone for .. forever, and most of Europe follows suit. If you think we're the dark hats in the game, I suggest you look at some of the actions going on?

Let's see.. China has been committing economic warfare on us, and most of industrialized Asia since the late 80's. The Syrians... they meddled and assassinated in Lebanon like.. forever. In fact their allies in the current civil war were the folks they paid to do the 'regime management' in Beruit for oh.. 30 years. The French, Israelis, Germans.. hell most of our allies have spied on us. It's all part of 'The Game' that you hear about in the pulp spy novels.

Want to know why the French and Germans were all reluctant to go into Baghdad up till certain buildings got bombed flat? Couldn't do with the fact that specific german and french companies sold contraband to Saddam?  Oh no.. they are nice white hats. Really.

I'm sorry that the world isn't perfect, but scaled against most of the folks I've worked with, watched, and listened to over seas we generally do more good than harm. Not as much as I'd like but it's better than using our cities as a way to dispose of mercury for the world.. or indenture six year olds to sew things all day long or turn women and children into chattel.

You want to change things..s peak up like I do. I write my state and federal officals a lot... I call and nag, I take a role in things. I inform myself rather than being spoon fed. As for the comment that there is no clearly stated proof that Assange's leaks killed..well like I said.. I sincerely doubt the Taliban will post a thank you note on his Facebook page. And why did the media not put anything up.. I don't know.. maybe something more important to the ad revenue addled folks at CNN, Fox and MSNBC had something about Snooky to cover instead.

We the people are responsible for the actions of our government. Too many folks stand around and wring their hands and point fingers. How many look for things? How many ask questions?

We don't hold our elected accountable for their actions. We don't accept responsibility for our actions. We don't speak up. We don't educate ourselves. We let those who ask to represent us blind us with rhetoric and lies.

As much as I am disappointed with President Obama..and I am.. no one else in the running was better. Why? Because we let the media look for everyman's clay feet and any decent, good man.. won't risk his honor, his family, or whatever to the unending scrutiny public expects these days. A man might run.. but for his emotionally fragile wife who can't stand the press and attack ads. Or perhaps he's broke a marriage vow.

That is why men like Snowden need to stand up and do what Daniel Ellsberg did. Did you know that Ellsberg talked to politicians like Ted Kennedy to get the papers entered into the public record? He tried to work the system.. and only when he couldn't.. took it to the papers.

So back to the subject at hand, Whistleblowers. We need protections in place for them. We were taught when I got in the Navy that it was our duty to obey LAWFUL orders. I know the civilians in federal service aren't always told that. We are letting our elected corrupt those protections.

As for why we aren't in Danfur, Tibet, or Syria. With what? We've spent the last 2 decades downsizing the military. The only reason we could reasonably commit in both Iraq and Afganistan was the relative closeness. Had, for example, the North Koreans decided to shell the South Korean cities and roll across the border and put everyone to the sword.. we would have had two choices. Stand by and wring our hands.. or resort to strategic level responses (IE.. missiles).

The Navy I served with for the best part of 15 years has an obligation to fight two wars at once. We haven't been able to do that since the First Bush administration. BRAC has crippled our ability to be the policeman of the world. We are a shallow shell of the military we were during the First Gulf War. And that is the truth.

And prey tell how can we help in Syria? We were vilified for doing things in Libya, or not doing. We don't have the assets in Europe anymore, fun note.. last armor division shipped out this year. Our forward deployed assets are among the first to hit the chopping block, the assets we do have in place are rapidly shrinking and getting older while our unreformed acquisitions systems are taking longer and longer to replace them (courtesy of men like Donald Rumsfeld). For example the P-8 was SUPPOSED to be in full fleet deployment in 2010. It is nearly 2014 and the workup squadron isn't even on the flight line here in Jax.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 10:33:41 PM by Callie Del Noire »

Offline Ephiral

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Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2013, 11:49:25 PM »
Because that was an entirely different circumstance, that targetted specifically her. And even them I'm not convinced that we should all pretend that the U.S. is right to send agents to sovereign nations to subvert their laws.

I don't think it is possible, but I think if you spy through illegal means on your own allies, one of your own people calls you out on it, and you CHARGE THEM UNDER THE ESPIONAGE ACT? You're a fucking hypocrite. Not to mention the amount of balls you need to have to charge a man that merely disclosed confidential information to the public with "aiding the enemy" after your own administration sold guns to drug cartels in Mexico, and you only gave the man responsible for that a slap on the wrist.
Funfact: Pretty much any agents-in-the-field type foreign intelligence is illegal. And everyone does it. We should not pretend that the US is unique or villainous in this regard, either.

EDIT: I was thinking of Somalia, not Syria, so my second point kinda falls apart.  I'm sorry.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 05:54:16 AM by Ephiral »

Offline ShadowFox89

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2013, 02:27:56 AM »
Because that was an entirely different circumstance, that targeted specifically her. And even them I'm not convinced that we should all pretend that the U.S. is right to send agents to sovereign nations to subvert their laws.

 International espionage is like watching porn.

 Almost everyone does it. No one likes to admit it. And vehemently tries to deny it when they get caught.

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Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2013, 09:18:58 AM »
Quote
Do you feel comfortable with the kind of surveillance that the NSA is carrying out?

     Just this one, for now:  No.   

     As I understand from the Guardian articles, the NSA has basically declared that it needs to store and sift through a vast range of data in order to decide who is speaking to people outside the country, or who might be of interest as a potential threat.  That's before there is even any reason to presume a threat or crime from any of the individuals whose material is being read. 

     Furthermore, they have declared that any communications that are encrypted or sent as anonymized addresses are, by default, to be treated as theirs for analysis.  They don't need any cause whatsoever under that reasoning, except that some technical effort toward confidentiality has been made.  They also don't have to even pretend to limit themselves, in these cases, to initially focusing on communications that go outside the US.

I have general issues with all of the above as a matter of principle, but to put some example to it:  This creates (or if you prefer, expands?) a difficult "grey area" for researchers and journalists.  Social scientists who do research on sensitive topics (sexuality high among them!) can go to the federal government and request a certificate that is supposed to protect them from being subpoenaed for that data.  This makes it possible to promise solid confidentiality to people who speak about controversial or touchy matters for the sake of the research.  Now, if we have NSA (or is it FBI, also?) saying they can read anything that anyone makes a modest effort to hide, I wonder if that doesn't basically dissolve the very sort of protection that the certificate system recognizes is important for informed discussion in civil society.

     Finally, I take issue with discrimination against US citizens who leave the country, or have contacts outside the country.  The mere fact that a message went outside the geographic borders of the US is not a good reason, in my mind, to make it automatically the purview of counterintelligence operations.  (Then there is the fact that many of the communications hubs are outside the US...) 

Also, we are on shaky ground when it is okay to treat American citizens abroad as enemy combatants primarily because they participated in hostile propaganda.  The implication would seem to be that anyone critical of American policy can be killed whenever they leave the country.  Why, perhaps I could be bombed tomorrow for posting simply this, if someone thinks it's making the US government lose too much face.  Who is to say where this thing ends??  Of course, if people stay in, we'll merely tear gas and spy on them if they get involved protesting on the street...  Ugh. 

       
« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 09:21:38 AM by kylie »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2013, 10:56:17 AM »
kylie, you got the right of it. The NSA has had a long history of collecting data and wanting to open anything that is 'locked'. A good book to get a start on what the NSA wanted at the begining of the internet encryption wars is Crypto by Steven Levy. The methods and actions were largely behind the scenes but had they had their way, we'd be worse off for it. Computer based communications would be at least 100 times more vulnerable and I think it is safe to say that Internet commerce would be unlikely as we know it now.

The NSA has very few guidelines and even less oversight. It is one of the few agencies I feel needs to be broken up into to sections. One for cyberwarfare and the other for electronic surviellance. We got two radically different outlooks on what the NSA looks at/does. The closest comparison I can put to it was the insistence, once upon a time, that the Air Force had that anything flew was their balliwack.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2013, 11:49:51 AM »
kylie: You make some interesting points about the essential nature of privacy. This is why I think good crypto implementations should be more readily available. Crypto the NSA simply cannot break? Easy. Implementing it in a way that doesn't weaken it to the point where they can? Extremely tricky.

Callie: I'm curious, but don't really have the time to read a book to find out. How does that view of the NSA's history with the Internet and communications vulnerability reconcile with the fact that, at the time, they made (secretive, highly-classified, and genrally believed to be weakening) changes to DES which made it significantly stronger, shutting down an attack vector nobody else knew about yet? All they would've had to do to get the weakened comms security they wanted was keep their mouths shut.

Also worth remembering: The NSA is hardly the only enemy in this fight. Right now, the FBI scares me at least as much. I know how to deal with the panopticon if I need to (admittedly, it's a major PITA), and it's not the NSA pushing for CALEA II. (Because that worked so very well the first time around, and had no repercussions whatsoever for the American electronic security industry, innocent people who depended on CALEA-compliant products to protect their sensitive info, or people fighting oppressive regimes around the world.)
« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 11:51:04 AM by Ephiral »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2013, 12:24:13 PM »
kylie: You make some interesting points about the essential nature of privacy. This is why I think good crypto implementations should be more readily available. Crypto the NSA simply cannot break? Easy. Implementing it in a way that doesn't weaken it to the point where they can? Extremely tricky.

Callie: I'm curious, but don't really have the time to read a book to find out. How does that view of the NSA's history with the Internet and communications vulnerability reconcile with the fact that, at the time, they made (secretive, highly-classified, and genrally believed to be weakening) changes to DES which made it significantly stronger, shutting down an attack vector nobody else knew about yet? All they would've had to do to get the weakened comms security they wanted was keep their mouths shut.

Also worth remembering: The NSA is hardly the only enemy in this fight. Right now, the FBI scares me at least as much. I know how to deal with the panopticon if I need to (admittedly, it's a major PITA), and it's not the NSA pushing for CALEA II. (Because that worked so very well the first time around, and had no repercussions whatsoever for the American electronic security industry, innocent people who depended on CALEA-compliant products to protect their sensitive info, or people fighting oppressive regimes around the world.)

You want a quick short version or a multi paragraph explanation.  I am guite sure that in an attempt to explain it I could ramble QUITE a bit.

Quick short.  Sooner or later almost every thing you do online gets encrypted. For security reason on the IT level.  That is a very broad statement I know and it's full of exceptions but encryption is a vital tool to ensure security and privacy.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2013, 02:07:07 PM »
Then I'm gonna need the longer one, or less layman at least, because that doesn't answer my question at all, or even demonstrate that there is communications security. "encrypted for part of its transit" is functionally equivalent to "not encrypted".  And when the Internet was in foundational stages, that encryption was DES - which, again, the NSA went out of their way to make stronger, specifically closing a channel that they (and no other party I'm aware of) could use to break it at the time. This is hard to reconcile with "wanted less secure communications at that same time".

EDIT: Feel free to take this to PMs if it's going to get deraily.

« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 02:08:25 PM by Ephiral »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2013, 03:22:50 PM »
Then I'm gonna need the longer one, or less layman at least, because that doesn't answer my question at all, or even demonstrate that there is communications security. "encrypted for part of its transit" is functionally equivalent to "not encrypted".  And when the Internet was in foundational stages, that encryption was DES - which, again, the NSA went out of their way to make stronger, specifically closing a channel that they (and no other party I'm aware of) could use to break it at the time. This is hard to reconcile with "wanted less secure communications at that same time".

EDIT: Feel free to take this to PMs if it's going to get deraily.

Thing is... DES was a good standard for the 70s. Hell it wasn't even as strong as their internal standards. DES

By the time the 90s came around it was rapidly approaching obsolesce. Today (2012 actually) it was proven a $10,000 off the shelf computer could recover a DES key in days, a long stretch from the $20 million dollar machine Whitfield Diffie and his associate Martin Hellman said it would take. (In 1976 no less).

Ironically the Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange was actually thought up earlier, by a British Signal Intelligence office (Malcolm J Williamson) and others think the concept might have also been thought up in the NSA and other intelligence groups but was classified. The Diffie-Hellman Key exchange was one of the first steps in breaking the monopoly GOVERNMENTS held on cryptography. It, and it's peers, were all dangerous for the NSA compared to the DES standard (much bigger key sizes with stronger teeth to the ability to resist brute force attacks) They tried to have the Diffie system restricted by export licenses, Diffie TATTOOED his algorithm on his arm in response when he was held up from traveling to an international conference to talk about it.

That's right.. the NSA tried to patent MATH. To restrict access to the strongest non-governmental encryption they had seen at the time. Problem was once the idea was out there, other folks starting thinking in similar ways. Their response was the Clipper Chip (which used the weaker Skipjack algorithm.. ) and trying to be the group that handled 'Key escrow' which means your PUBLIC key would be in their hands and if they got your PRIVATE key, your bank accounts, emails and anything else was pretty much open books to them.

The book covers the issue in way more detail than anything I can do justice too.

The important thing to know is before Whitfield Diffie and his peers got involved, there wasn't a hell of a lot of stuff that was UNCLASSIFIED in encryption. Their work made the internet as we know it work. And cell phones. And GPS systems. And streaming video on your cable top box. And on and on.

Now the big thing about encryption is if you know how the algorithm works, only two things keep you from breaking it. Time and processing power. If you have enough 'big iron' for computing, you can break a scheme. Care to bet who has the most? The NSA supposedly has some of the biggest and most powerful computer networks out there.

Even if they are just watching your 'metadata', which is who does what, when and where, you can learn a lot. You can track and tie them with others. Knowing that Target X hangs out at a hardware store every 3rd Thursday for 20 minutes..then Target Y shows up and from there beelines back to his embassy tells you a lot. If you have the ability to track/collate and interpret that data alone, you got a LOT of awareness of what people do. Add in that if you can ACTUALLY open those files, listen to their phone conversations, read their IMs.. it gets worse.

Snowden's revelation shows that there is a chronic and intense lack of accountability or restraint in place. It all ties together.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2013, 06:49:18 PM »
Thing is... DES was a good standard for the 70s. Hell it wasn't even as strong as their internal standards.

By the time the 90s came around it was rapidly approaching obsolesce. Today (2012 actually) it was proven a $10,000 off the shelf computer could recover a DES key in days, a long stretch from the $20 million dollar machine Whitfield Diffie and his associate Martin Hellman said it would take. (In 1976 no less).
...and the 70s is the period I was talking about. Specifically, I was referring to the NSA's changes to the S-boxes. Diffie and Hellman, among others, thought they had weakened DES to allow them to break it; the truth was the opposite. They closed vulnerabilities that were not public knowledge. Doesn't sound like malicious action.

That's right.. the NSA tried to patent MATH. To restrict access to the strongest non-governmental encryption they had seen at the time. Problem was once the idea was out there, other folks starting thinking in similar ways. Their response was the Clipper Chip (which used the weaker Skipjack algorithm.. ) and trying to be the group that handled 'Key escrow' which means your PUBLIC key would be in their hands and if they got your PRIVATE key, your bank accounts, emails and anything else was pretty much open books to them.
...wow. Where to begin here?

1. The export restrictions you're talking about were about as old as Diffie and Hellman. Somehow I doubt it was a response to the threat of public-key crypto. (They were killed in 1992, as a response to a movement that started when Zimmerman's team deliberately violated them to help resistors in oppressive regimes.)
2. Export restrictions are not patents, and describing crypto as simply "math" in this context is disingenuous.
3. The Clipper Chip was not a response to public-key crypto; it was a response to CALEA (an FBI initiative). Clipper's purpose was to provide CALEA-compliant security, nothing more.
4. The "key escrow" thing you're referring to was actually part of th Clipper project, and had literally nothing to do with public-key crypto. The problem with it was that Skipjack was symmetrical - it only had one key. What you're describing makes no sense - the entire point of public-key crypto is that it is not a security vulnerability for someone to have your public key, be it the NSA, CIA, FBI, FSB, SVR, CSIS, or your kid sister.

The book covers the issue in way more detail than anything I can do justice too.
If this is the quality of research it presents, I'll pass.

Now the big thing about encryption is if you know how the algorithm works, only two things keep you from breaking it. Time and processing power. If you have enough 'big iron' for computing, you can break a scheme. Care to bet who has the most? The NSA supposedly has some of the biggest and most powerful computer networks out there.
And the big thing about modern crypto is that "enough big iron" generally means things like "more processing power and electrical generation than exists on Earth" and "enough time" tends to mean "millions of years". Take a good look at the attacks on, say, AES-256. Several are known to exist, some of them considered incredibly effective. Not a single one can be mounted in anything resembling a reasonable timeframe on anything resembling viable hardware, even with a governmental budget - and that's on the most vulnerable implementation of a symmetric algo whose strength was questioned from the opening days of the AES competition.

Even if they are just watching your 'metadata', which is who does what, when and where, you can learn a lot. You can track and tie them with others. Knowing that Target X hangs out at a hardware store every 3rd Thursday for 20 minutes..then Target Y shows up and from there beelines back to his embassy tells you a lot. If you have the ability to track/collate and interpret that data alone, you got a LOT of awareness of what people do. Add in that if you can ACTUALLY open those files, listen to their phone conversations, read their IMs.. it gets worse.
Yes, side-channel information is a valuable tool, and is one of the many reasons that I think what the NSA is doing is incredibly toxic. This does not get access to properly secured comms, though, and especially does not make the case that the NSA has been trying to weaken comms security in general. The best known attack on AES and its peers is still rubber hose cryptography.

Snowden's revelation shows that there is a chronic and intense lack of accountability or restraint in place. It all ties together.
Yes, it does. Yes, this is a huge goddamn problem. But all it does when you accuse the enemy of things they didn't do is make you look paranoid.

Offline Kythia

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Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2013, 08:04:15 PM »
Want to know why the French and Germans were all reluctant to go into Baghdad up till certain buildings got bombed flat? Couldn't do with the fact that specific german and french companies sold contraband to Saddam?  Oh no.. they are nice white hats. Really.

Germany's constitution forbids its armed forces from being deployed outside NATO territory.

Offline Kythia

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Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2013, 06:07:01 PM »
This made me chuckle.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2013, 06:24:20 PM »
That is... quite possibly the greatest thing I have read all year.

Offline ShadowFox89

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2013, 06:28:24 PM »
 Ecuador wanting to train US on human rights? What a fucking load of crap.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2013, 09:46:33 PM »
Ecuador wanting to train US on human rights? What a fucking load of crap.

You know.. as much as I want him back in the US to bring this issue to a close..and I don't think he's guilty of treason.. but merely violating his secrecy agreement.. the US did give a heavy hammered threat..and no nation should let things like that fly..

Offline ShadowFox89

Re: The war on whistleblowers
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2013, 09:51:35 PM »
You know.. as much as I want him back in the US to bring this issue to a close..and I don't think he's guilty of treason.. but merely violating his secrecy agreement.. the US did give a heavy hammered threat..and no nation should let things like that fly..

 Oh, I know, but Ecuador has a pretty bad history of not being able to keep it's own citizens from bombing each other in the streets.