The existence of spy technology should not determine policy, yet it does and it will for a while

A Manifesto for the Truth
By Edward Snowden

This article by Edward Snowden was published Sunday in Der Spiegel.

In a very short time, the world has learned much about unaccountable secret agencies and about sometimes illegal surveillance programs. Sometimes the agencies even deliberately try to hide their surveillance of high officials or the public. While the NSA and GCHQ seem to be the worst offenders – this is what the currently available documents suggest – we must not forget that mass surveillance is a global problem in need of global solutions.

Such programs are not only a threat to privacy, they also threaten freedom of speech and open societies. The existence of spy technology should not determine policy. We have a moral duty to ensure that our laws and values limit monitoring programs and protect human rights.

Society can only understand and control these problems through an open, respectful and informed debate. At first, some governments feeling embarrassed by the revelations of mass surveillance initiated an unprecedented campaign of persecution to supress this debate. They intimidated journalists and criminalized publishing the truth. At this point, the public was not yet able to evaluate the benefits of the revelations. They relied on their governments to decide correctly.

Today we know that this was a mistake and that such action does not serve the public interest. The debate which they wanted to prevent will now take place in countries around the world. And instead of doing harm, the societal benefits of this new public knowledge is now clear, since reforms are now proposed in the form of increased oversight and new legislation.

Citizens have to fight suppression of information on matters of vital public importance. To tell the truth is not a crime.

Translated by Martin Eriksson. This text was written by Edward Snowden on November 1, 2013 in Moscow. It was sent to SPIEGEL staff over an encrypted channel.

"Yes We Scan"

NYTimes: Clemency for Snowden? U.S. Officials Say No

The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and her House counterpart, Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, gave sharply negative answers on Sunday when asked whether they believed Mr. Snowden had made a case for clemency.

“He was trusted; he stripped our system; he had an opportunity – if what he was, was a whistle-blower – to pick up the phone and call the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and say I have some information,” Ms. Feinstein said on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” But “that didn’t happen.”

“He’s done this enormous disservice to our country,” she added, “and I think the answer is no clemency.”

Mr. Rogers was equally adamant.

“No, I don’t see any reason” to grant clemency, he said on the same program. “I wouldn’t do that. He needs to come back and own up. We can have those conversations, if he believes there are vulnerabilities he’d like to disclose.”

Dan Pfeiffer, a senior White House adviser, said on the ABC program “This Week” that there had been no consideration of clemency, and that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States to face charges.

Mr. Snowden’s argument – made in a “Manifesto for the Truth” published on Sunday by the German news magazine Der Spiegel and in a letter to American officials handed to a leftist German politician who met with Mr. Snowden in Moscow – was that he has started a useful debate about whether American spies are overreaching with the help of enormously powerful technology and should be reined in.

Federal prosecutors have charged Mr. Snowden with theft and with two violations of the Espionage Act of 1917. But Mr. Snowden, who has taken refuge in Russia, has denied any treasonous intent, saying he disclosed secrets to the news media, not to hostile foreign powers, and did so to push for reform.

“Instead of causing damage, the usefulness of the new public knowledge for society is now clear because reforms to politics, supervision and laws are being suggested,” he wrote in Der Spiegel. “Citizens have to fight against the suppression of information about affairs of essential importance for the public. Those who speak the truth are not committing a crime.”

Indeed, Ms. Feinstein is among those who have raised the question of overreach by the National Security Agency and the need for possible reform, particularly after reports that the agency had long monitored the cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

Ms. Feinstein said on Sunday that she strongly supported a White House review to consider a more appropriate framework for intelligence operations. She wants her committee to conduct its own review.

Tapping the private phones of close allies, she said, “has much more political liability than probably intelligence viability, and I think we ought to look at it carefully. I believe the president is doing that.”

As to the question of whether President Obama could have been unaware of such phone monitoring – and whether the Europeans who have expressed outrage over National Security Agency espionage could have been truly surprised that such high-level spying goes on – Mr. Rogers replied: “I think there’s going to be some Best Actor Awards coming out of the White House this year, and Best Supporting Actor Awards coming out of the European Union.”

He said that fundamentally, the security agency was doing the work it had been created to do, a belief that Ms. Feinstein said she largely shared.


RLS from Virginia

“He had an opportunity – if what he was was a whistle-blower – to pick up the phone and call the House intelligence committee, the Senate intelligence committee, and say I have some information,” Ms. Feinstein said.

Whistleblower Thomas Drake went through all the internal channels. He went to very highest levels at the NSA, to Congress, and the Department of Defense. No one acted on his concerns. Instead, he was prosecuted under the Espionage act. He called the prosecution vindictive and malicious. The case collapsed and he pled guilty to a misdemeanor to end the hell he had been put through.

Feinstein, Rogers, and the Obama administration are wrong to seek the prosecution of Snowden. He revealed illegal and unconstitutional activity. The NSA has violated FISA law (the court has no jurisdiction to authorize domestic-to-domestic surveillance), and Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, one of the authors of the Patriot Act, wrote the following in a letter to Eric Holder:

“I do not believe the released FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. How could the phone records of so many innocent Americans be relevant to an authorized investigation as required by the Act?”

Snowden also disclosed that the NSA “routinely” lies to members of Congress when it is questioned about the scope of the sweeping surveillance.

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