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edited February 2015
I'm thinking of catching this (recently Oscar-winning) documentary about Snowden and the surveillance state by Laura Poitras at the Academy tomorrow (Tuesday 2/24) night at 9:40pm. Anyone wanna join me?

If it is even 1/10th as good as her My Country, My Country (2006) it will be amazing. Fandor has that and some of her other work available for streaming.

FYI Poitras, Greenwald and Snowden are doing an AMA on Reddit today.


  • I really like Poitras and I really hate Greenwald!
  • It's going to be on HBO tonight, too.
  • Greenwald can't even do an AMA without major inaccuracies! LOLZ.
  • edited February 2015
    Greenwald *is* a bit insufferable, but what major inaccuracies? I'm curious. Despite the implosion of First Look I find The Intercept a valuable voice. I find it funny that he almost missed his chance at a Pulitzer because he couldn't be bothered to installed PGP. And even his own book makes him sound like kind of a dick.

    My main takeaway from the AMA was how intentional and thoughtful Snowden remains even in exile. His point about policies being useless without procedures really hit home, and I find his optimistic view on the ability of industry/hackers/grad students to find technical solutions to these problems very encouraging as I tend to slant toward despair on this subject.
  • You could just grab sentences at random. One example: "Social media companies like Facebook and Apple are being forced by their users to install encryption and other technological means to prevent surveillance, which is a significant barrier."

    First, Apple's not a social media company. Second, Facebook hasn't installed or even hinted at encryption that would reduce law enforcement access to data. (Maybe he's thinking of What'sApp?) In any case, Facebook is itself a giant platform for corporate surveillance, which Greenwald seems utterly unconcerned by.
  • edited February 2015
    Agreed that line is a bit lazy, but I'm not sure I would classify it as a "major inaccuracy" especially considering he's posting off-the-cuff in a chat forum. The gist of what he is trying to convey is that industry is taking it's own steps to thwart mass surveillance since our lawmakers and enforcement bodies have proven themselves either inept or worse, and without trust in their products they are losing customers. Market forces are actually working in our favor in this area.

    If you put a comma after Facebook the statement is largely accurate. FB implemented HTTPS across the board a while back (perhaps before Snowden leaks?) and has done some good work lately publishing data on national security requests and adding their voice to industry calls for government surveillance and ECPA reform. He very well might have meant Google though who has recently encrypted their entire internal network backbone as a direct response to the Snowden disclosures.

    I have a hard time getting outraged about "corporate surveillance" of public information we choose to post. Nothing will ever stop the ability for us to post all our information on the public internet on purpose. I have a MUCH bigger problem with the lack of regulation on corporate data brokers (companies you and I have never heard of) that aggregate all our credit, housing, vehicle registration, purchases, etc. than I do if Coke or Nike harvests Twitter stream or Facebook profiles for marketing purposes.

    Feels weird to be defending him (and FB for that matter) I just didn't get the same impression as you from the AMA, even after re-reading his responses. The first time I was concentrating on Snowden's responses and not really paying attention to GG but other than a bit of political bomb-throwing I see no problems with what he posted. Would love to hear more if you disagree.
  • edited February 2015
    Kdawg's hatred of Greenwald is epic and ageless. It's like when awhile ago you (I think, if you are who I think you are) posted something mildly positive about Gene Weingarten and I went apeshit and my response seemed disproportionate, but it's like, how could you be expected to know that I have hated that man with a singular piercing passion for nigh on 8 years and you are just now bringing him up randomly?

    That's what it's like with kdawg and Greenwald. It is a passionate and extremely deep and time-worn enmity that transcends any one example or statement. I truly can not wait to see what he says in response to you!!!

    I love nemeses,d.aWw&psig=AFQjCNHHWRHeaEk8PYLAFuZXH_vKmk-hEw&ust=1424904226840649
  • sorry I don't know how to make a picture be on here anymore
  • Sometimes you have to endure things you DON'T like in order to support something you DO like! #refresheverything
  • edited February 2015
    His read of the politics behind the failure of the Conyers-Amash bill is wrong too, although, fine, that's an analytic error, not a factual error.

    The problem with Greenwald isn't that he's lazy and dishonest. There are lots of lazy and dishonest people that work in journalism. It's that he's lazy and dishonest and such a phenomenal bully that nearly everyone in DC is afraid to say it. And while the people who frequent this board are thoughtful and measured in their judgments, the guy has an army of scary superfans that remind me of the SNL "Beygency" sketch.


    Poitras is a gifted filmmaker, and watching her fall in with Greenwald is like watching a friend marry a scientologist. But perhaps there is hope; maybe we can look forward to her exposé on Pierre Omidyar in 2020.
  • edited February 2015
    Again, it feels awkward on this side of the argument. But after reading the article in question this is a really bad example to illustrate your point. I mean the entire piece was vintage-uninformed-blogger-speculation that indeed, Putin might be getting ready to punt Snowden. His full opening paragraph;

         "This is rank, arguably irresponsible, speculation. I have had no—that is to say zero—conversations with anyone who knows anything about Snowden’s status in Russia. I can thus offer no particularly good reason to believe that Vladimir Putin is getting ready to rid himself of Edward Snowden.

    But would you take four bad reasons? When you put them all together, I think there’s enough there to make you wonder what’s going on behind the scenes."

    He then does exactly what he says he will do, and makes four "rank, arguably irresponsible speculation[s]" about why he thinks Snowden's asylum will be yanked. GG's quote was actually a pretty spot-on synopsis IMO.

    I'm not familiar with him--just browsing through a bit of his writing tonight. This Benjamin dude seems really smart but also really into analysis of the leaves instead of the forest. Yes, "send me all your emails if you have nothing to hide" is another classic Greenwald lazy/clumsy/self-righteous argument but as he put it much better in the AMA when challenged with the same "nothing to hide" argument in favor of mass surveillance:

          "What you seem to be saying is: "I'm willing to turn myself into such a nonthreatening, uninteresting, compliant citizen - never threatening anyone who wields power - that I believe they will never want to do anything against me."

    For someone blogging about "hard national security choices" I would expect him to address the larger issues at play and not get sucked into a sisyphean task like playing syntax tennis with GG.
  • edited February 2015
    Some context I guess is in order; the syntax tennis is an outgrowth of years and years of antagonism that (on Greenwald's end) frequently has descended into trolling.

    Part of what Wittes does is illuminate the complex and varied contingencies that are weighed by people working in foreign service, as they attempt to prepare plans of response that account for the full range of possibilities, which includes detailed consideration of scenarios that may indeed be unlikely.

    I'm not entirely sure but I sense that the "nothing to hide" argument as Glenn talks about is something of a straw person. Given that the kind of data that's actually collected and made accessible to NSA is quite a bit more limited than many have been led to imagine, (e.g. internet bulk metadata collection was ended by Obama two years into his term, which I think is actually impressive if you have a sense of how difficult it is to end any DOD program) I'm not particularly afraid of the NSA, as someone who demonstrates outside federal buildings on the regular, my real beef with the agency is that much of what they do is valueless and insanely expensive; those resources are needed elsewhere.

    Anyway, I wish we had David Carr around to help us know what to make of this:
  • edited February 2015
    I'm much more on the self-righteous side of the fence, as you can probably tell. So I love the fact that there are muckrakers out there even (especially?) if they are dickheads. But the fact that anyone put GG in a management role of anything bigger than a stamp collection is amazing to me.

    The "nothing to hide" justification is much more than a straw man it is the feeling of about 1/2 of the folks I talk to about the issue, at least before the reporting of Snowden's leaks. Now it seems less folks tow that line, but people seem much more polarized --they either are convinced we need these programs to keep us safe (Ben Franklin quotes, anyone?) or that it is proof we are a fascist dictatorship.

    > I'm not particularly afraid of the NSA

    This is almost, if not completely, besides the point of the debate on mass warrantless government surveillance.

    > Given that the kind of data that's actually collected and made accessible to NSA is quite a bit more limited than many have been led to imagine
    I'd love to have your confidence on this subject and wonder where you came to find it.

    100% agree on Carr. Just in case you missed it this is an amazing intro into modern journalism and it's just the syllabus, can you imagine taking this class?!

    Thanks for sharing your perspective I'm learning a lot here and appreciate your input.
  • Yo, but my MacBook has so many kernel panics these days, and when I'm on Google hangouts, a lot of times my end starts causing feedback. I blame the NSA?
  • The NSA took my baby away! #lyricupdate
  • The film is worth seeing, but it is a documentary, not a thriller. When it was made, the protagonists did not know it would blow up.

    I'm not an adherent of the w leaks thesis that because it is secret it should be public. I have worked for the st te department and I support institutional and personal privacy of communications.

    The problem is dual asymmetry.

    Say I spend X on technology-enabled prying. What is the measured return/how should it be measured? Many argue the results are lacking against wetware approaches. High spend, low return.

    The second asymmetry is lost market cap, brand and sales. Say I spend $10B/yr on electronic spying. How does that affect the $25B outside of US sales of Cisco and many times that of other HW/SW Internet infrastructure makers? Just as Chinese manufacturers are doubted for high security apps, American are now too. Spend 10, destroy 10 revenue, and 100 market cap.

    Maybe there is a secure tech startup opportunity in an obscure neutral country? Someone I knew was working on that in Iceland. New Zealand, Pacific islands? What country is the trusted home? Can Urho make a new Switzerland to be trusted?
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