Snowden, United States, Justice Department discussed on The Lawfare Podcast
I think there's a lot to what you say. It seems to me that There's abundant evidence that the trump administration thinks differently about this We know from Jim Komi that. Trump wants to put people in. Jail wants to put reporters in jail. He specifically said so. In the Oval, Office and It may be that. The Justice Department says right now that the Julian assange case has no precedent. Is Not a president or or an indication of how they want to try ournalists, but that's of no consequence legally the next time. They charge that crime if they charge it against. You know my next story five years from now. The charge will say i. mean the legal argument will say it's well established in the United States against assange that publication alone can constitute espionage This you know. This was td affirmed by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court and It's the law. The Landon whatever particular prosecutor at a particular Justice Department said at the time is not binding. Let's move onto the implications of the SNOWDEN revelations for US national security. You say in the book I think Snowden, did substantially more good than harm, even though I am prepared to accept as he does not. That is disclosures. Much have exacted a price in lost intelligence. It seemed obvious that extracted a price, probably a large price. At least temporarily, and in terms of lost investments for national intelligence but Snowden said something in the book which I thought was. Really interesting when He. When you were making that point to him about how there must have been losses to intelligence. He told you that you fail to understand that nothing stays the same prolonged signals. Intelligence I'm quoting from the book the Global Telecommunication System is the most complicated machine ever built its physical and virtual structures in constant flux. FACEBOOK ADJUSTS PROTOCOL CISCO. UPDATES its firmware. China upgraded the great firewall someone in Russia replaces a router. Any of a million things happened in something. NSA toolkit no longer works. Every chain Snowden said brings opportunity to sources and methods die every day, and they die for reasons that are completely unrelated to the leaks. Or upset or anything like that? It's just a natural product of the intelligence process. In Essay in the intelligence community are a factory for generating new sources and methods. That struck me as really interesting. I, think it is really interesting and I think it's. It's self, evidently true. Once you stop look at, and it's been acknowledged in the intelligence community that that's true. Jim Clapper gave a briefing in Congress, not in public but I got an account of it in which he said that they there had been a study in the intelligence community one of the classified histories. That suggested that every time that there's been a major breach or a leak. Of intelligence sources and methods the initial. Initial assessment by? The leaders of the intelligence community at the time. Are. That they tend to be pretty consistent. They said that we've been setback ten years. and that the initial assessments of damage are always exaggerated. They don't turn out to be accurate. That was forecasts that. The loss capabilities are recovered fairly quickly of albeit for sure at some cost. He said. People will communicate. They must communicate and when they do, they will make mistakes and we will explode them. That is a succinct characterization of of what the NSA for living. Just, because your target moves away from. A channel that you knew how to intercept doesn't mean a moving to one that you don't know how to intercept. So, the capabilities get reconstituted, but it's also true. Losses of collection result not just from technical disclosures they result significantly from other sorts of pressures. The snowden disclosures lead to lawsuits in which the NSA is forced to stop doing something, or if they lead to political pressure that causes Congress to ban something if consumer pressure leads. Private companies to take greater security measures. Any, of those things is going to cause a loss of collection, but that's the system working as intended. That's market forces and democratic. Forces constraining the operations of government. Let's turn finally. Talk about you and your relationship with Snowden, which is one of the most fascinating issues in the book. You spent a ton of time with him. I think you met him twice in person in Russia. Is that right? That's right, and then you had what you described as hundreds of hours of conversations most email and messaging I guess. So. It's very hard to summarize the rich. Relationship you described, but just tell us about the relationship, its ups and downs, and what's your ultimate detriment of him? So. The book is able to give you a a sort of. Real time granular picture. Of How he interacted. I mean I'm able to reproduce dialogue in most cases because it was Outta, recorded and transcribed. Word happened in reading in the first place I, you're right. It was it was mostly messaging. It was Over anonymous channels encrypted messages and long long long transcripts. Of instant message conversations back and forth. So, yeah, I got to know him pretty well he is. A very strong believer, it is own point of view. He. Has First Principles and he has very little flexibility. About Application of principles he's. Very serious at the point of being a skuld. About his central propositions about UH surveillance. He is confident in his own judgments. He is. I think in short. Zealot, he's got an unusual sort of attitude of certainty about what he believes in at the same time, he can be very funny and casual and. Profane and stray into all kinds of other subjects. He's he's well read. He's an auto died. ACT OF ECLECTIC interests. and he could be quite good company when you weren't arguing about. Questions he wanted answered and he didn't WanNa answer. He tried to rule out. Nearly all questions about him personally about his personal life. And there were certain other categories that were forbidden. So there were times when he would say to me. Are you purposely asking me questions? You know I won't answer just to Piss me off. or I would ask him something that seemed entirely. Trivial were innocent, trying to get him talking, and he would draw sort of a hard line on it. I asked him what he missed about the united. States and he's. He was willing to confess. He missed milkshakes. and. I said okay well, so why not get a blender and he? Refused to confirm or deny possession of a blender because that could give clues about the electrical emanations from where he lives need need heat. Didn't want to. Be located by the United States or other foreign governments and. You know I mean He. He didn't fundamentally trust me. You once told me. I don't think I could ever trust you to watch my back I trust you to report. And I thought that was pretty good summary of a relationship and I was glad he understood that. There were times I met. You quote an NSA officials? Who Criticizes your relationship with Snowden, and this is a near quote. I think it was a, she said you're in love with with your source and he's spinning you. And then you gave some examples where snowden wasn't exactly forthright with the truth, you said that he sometimes took an instrumental approach to the truth. How does that fit into this picture? Well. It's very interesting. I mean I always assumed that any source has sort of a hidden agenda or or an agenda that I in principle I can discover and that no one's reliable on everything. and I didn't.