Whatever you think about Edward Snowden he was extremely ballsy to release all that stuff from the NSA. That’s the sort of move that gets you hacked up and thrown out of CIA helicopters, Bin Laden style. But there is something too perfect about this guy that makes me doubt his whole persona as the whistleblower and traitor. He is currently hiding in Russia, no doubt telling them secrets in return for his salaried lifestyle there. But he has spoken of returning to America to face trial. Why would you do that? With Julian Assange and Wikileaks you could see this guy was doing it for his huge ego and own sense of inflated worth and no one else really mattered or, indeed, the consequences. There is a high you get from knowing something few people do but when it becomes about you knowing that fact, and not the fact itself, you lose appeal. Now Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy with his hubris and his celebrity friends have deserted him the time was right for another traitor to feed the media another version of Big Brother to keep us all paranoid. With Snowden he is too calm and meticulous in his paranoia and anti establishment views, almost ascetic. He didn’t feverishly tell everything he knows at once but pointedly releases it overtime to keep himself the story and so relevant. Is he changing our online habits for the better by his actions?
According to Wikipedia it was the year of 2006 that he joined the CIA and soon stationed with diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland, where he was responsible for maintaining computer network security. Snowden was given a diplomatic passport and a four-bedroom apartment near Lake Geneva for his efforts. According to Guardian journalist Glen Greenwald, Snowden was "considered the top technical and cyber security expert" there and "was hand-picked by the CIA to support the president at the 2008 NATO summit in Romania. Snowden described his CIA experience in Geneva as "formative," stating that the CIA deliberately got a Swiss banker drunk and encouraged him to drive home. Snowden said that when the latter was arrested, a CIA operative offered to help in exchange for the banker becoming an informant. His claims were publicly disputed by the Swiss. The revelations came at a sensitive time as the U.S. was pressing the Swiss government to increase banking transparency. In 2009, Snowden resigned from the CIA. After that he worked for Dell Computers for three years and then the NSA in Hawaii listening station. His salary was up to $200,000 when he decided to do. He was a big player IT hacker and security analyst in the NSA and no small time administrator as stated.
What we do know about his revelations are the intelligence services of every single country and terrorist group that matters probably knew all this stuff already and this was really meant for the general public consumption to be outraged about. I assumed the NSA and all the big players bugged each others phones and internet as that’s what intelligence agencies do. I was not shocked Barak Obama was tapping Angela Merkel’s phone. True power is when America gets to reveal that on their terms and not Germany, the message very much we are the boss of the American people, and of the planet.
The documentary Citezenfour is fascinating in that it’s an interview with Edward Snowden at the time he released all the data and became known to the world. Before he sat down on that chair with Guardian journalist Gren Greenwould in Honk Kong hotel room only US law enforcement wanted to know who this guy was. In 2013 he had anonymously leaked the info to American documentary maker Laura Poitras, who was working on a similar project, Snowden known as Citezenfour to her. Over the weekend in HK you can see the tension rise as he becomes known to the world through social media and rolling news. During the edited down 80 minutes interview you can see he is edgy and in unknown territory. Every creak of the hotel door or phone call to his room could be the CIA with handcuffs or worse.
In the interviews we learn about a highly secret programs, ‘Tempora’ and ‘Prism’ particularly damming, hardware that taps into the internet cables under the worlds oceans and email accounts and mobile phones, sifting through all the metadata and extracts incriminating or requested Keywords using a complex algorithm. This saves time in searching select areas one-by-one and, of course, asking permission. If they look at everything they know everything. The internal LOVEINT program would even track the intelligence service employee’s private lives so to use it against them if problems arose. Fortunately Snowden turned out to be straight, a decent guy and so nothing to muddy him with yet, other than being a huge traitor. Operation Black Pearl was even bugging charities and political organizations, including the Med San Frontier and UNICEF, to get information for whatever reason. The NSA was even paying the top private tech companies for ‘clandestine accesses.
They say the NSA budget of $52 billion last year is too keep us safe from terrorists, pedophiles and bad people. But Wikileaks has regularly exposed just how much of this government spy tech is used for industrial espionage to aid American companies, Snowden revealing they were tapping arms company Siemens in Germany for ‘anything they could get’. Tempora was run by the British at GCHQ but funded by Americans so to tap American concerns via the U.K., apparently legally. They have tapped everything from Brazilian oil conglomerates to Japanese car companies to get ahead. I’m sure those two countries try to do the same to American companies but the ones who have the best kit and biggest budgets always win on that one, and that’s America, why they remain top dogs. Interestingly the link to Citezenfour’s movie promotion website was blocked on my computer when I wanted to fact check.
We then learn about how they can hack our mobile phones with the Smurf Program. ‘Dreary Smurf’ enables any smartphones in the world to be activated and exploited. ‘Nosey Smurf’ turns on the microphone and camera to listen in and take pics of you and where you may be. ‘Tracker Smurf’ can triangulate your location by your smartphone, even when you are out of coverage. They can also hack into foreign intelligence sites and gen by simply logging in with American made parts on the foreign system, CISCO systems routers in Pakistan ‘interfered with ‘ to get Bin Laden stuff.
===Are we partly to blame?===
As long as we all agree to use social media websites and the internet but don’t read the small print on privacy rules then we probably deserve the level of intrusion we get. I’m sure the NSA enjoys listening in on Berlusconi having phone sex with minors or the Chinese Premier covering up child genocide but they are not interested in you and me and our grubby habits. People who do think that are paranoid. If they were using this gen to incriminate us from out smartphone and web habits then we would probably all be arrested. They are after the big fish, be it Bin Laden or oil companies drilling plans, and perhaps knowing we are irrelevant feeds that need to think that you are relevant so to be hacked and watched and so be outraged, like in the way people who claim to be abducted by UFOs tend to be middle aged low skilled losers.
Poor old Facebook were put in the frame for the Lee Rigby murder by the press because six months ago one of the attackers said he wanted to stab a copper or a soldier, allegedly in conversation with a known extremist. If Facebook had to report every angry ethnic who wants to stab a copper they wouldn’t get much done. Facebook biggest priority is to keep its privacy and without that it’s done for as a billion dollar business. Recent high court rulings may signal the beginning of the end for Facebook as intelligence agencies eventually get more access to social media and advertisers get less.
The film was nominated for an Oscar after a legal challenge cleared it but The Academy, fearing another Sony hack, not giving it the golden statue, which to be fair it didn’t deserve as it was a polemic by its very nature. It’s tense and enjoyable though and a reflection of the immediacy of modern media and film delivery. It was democratically released first on the TV platform so we could all see it and then on DVD this year. To be honest it’s more of a TV experience than a movie documentary format and so don’t expect anything Michael Moore. It’s basically him covertly turning up at a hotel room in Hong Kong, revealing his secrets to camera and Greenwauld and then disappearing back into the night.
This channel 700 on Sky digital gives you the chance to view parts of upcoming films that are to be shown on Sky Box office and at the same time it will give you details on how to order the events themselves. Don’t worry if you miss on preview it is shown over and over again so you will catch it. Channel 770 on Sky digital is dedicated to previewing sporting events such as boxing and wrestling this channel also gives details of when to order and what price you will pay before the deadline. As above if you miss one of these previews they are repeated over and over again. Sound and picture quality are first class, as you would expect as they are trying to sell you something.
The Preview Channel is a twenty-four hour advertisement for Sky Box Office. It simply runs trailers for the twenty-five or so movies showing on Skys’ pay per view channels. It is useful if you are simply too lazy to pick up your remote, or you have no local video delivery service. The movies previewed have been available on video for at least a year so they are unlikely to show you anything new. I really would not recommend tuning to the Preview Channel unless you really are the laziest person in the world.