Someone responding to the story said 'real spies do not speak like that'. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process - they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general.
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Custom developed digital weapons, cyber weapons nowadays typically chain together a number of zero-day exploits that are targeted against the specific site, the specific target that they want to hit. But it depends, this level of sophistication, on the budget and the quality of the actor who's instigating the attack. If it's a country that's less poor or less sophisticated, it'll be a less sophisticated attack.
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The way the United States intelligence community operates is it doesn't limit itself to the protection of the homeland. It doesn't limit itself to countering terrorist threats, countering nuclear proliferation. It's also used for economic espionage, for political spying to gain some knowledge of what other countries are doing.
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The community of technical experts who really manage the internet, who built the internet and maintain it, are becoming increasingly concerned about the activities of agencies like the NSA or Cyber Command, because what we see is that defense is becoming less of a priority than offense.
My case clearly demonstrates the need for comprehensive whistleblower protection act reform. If we had had a real process in place, and reports of wrongdoing could be taken to real, independent arbiters rather than captured officials, I might not have had to sacrifice so much to do what at this point even the President seems to agree needed to be done.
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I was right outside the NSA [on 9/11], so I remember the tension on that day. I remember hearing on the radio, 'the plane's hitting, ' and I remember thinking my grandfather, who worked for the FBI at the time, was in the Pentagon when the plane hit it... I take the threat of terrorism seriously, and I think we all do. And I think it's really disingenuous for the government to invoke and sort-of scandalize our memories to sort-of exploit the national trauma that we all suffered together and worked so hard to come through - and to justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe, but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don't need to give up, and that our Constitution says we should not give up.
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The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. [People] won't be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things And in the months ahead, the years ahead, it's only going to get worse. [The NSA will] say that because of the crisis, the dangers that we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power, and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny.
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As a technologist, I see the trends, and I see that automation inevitably is going to mean fewer and fewer jobs. And if we do not find a way to provide a basic income for people who have no work, or no meaningful work, we're going to have social unrest that could get people killed. When we have increasing production - year after year after year - some of that needs to be reinvested in society.
Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say. Nobody needs to justify why they 'need' a right. The burden of justification falls on the one seeking to infringe upon the right. You can't give away the rights of others because they're not useful to you. More simply, the majority cannot vote away the natural rights of the minority.
A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They'll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves an unrecorded, unanalysed thought. And that's a problem because privacy matters, privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.
For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished. I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.
When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I'm grateful that I allowed her to persuade me. The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honor and recognition it has received. My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.
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If the United States is promoting the development of exploits, of vulnerabilities, of insecurity in this critical infrastructure, and we're not fixing it when we find it, instead we put it on the shelf so we can use it the next time we want to launch an attack against some foreign country. We're leaving ourselves at risk.
The United States need to put internet processes, policies, and procedures in place with real laws that forbid going beyond the borders of what's reasonable to ensure that the only time that we and other countries around the world exercise these authorities are when it is absolutely necessary.
In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised - and it should be.
If I target for example an email address, for example under FAA 702, and that email address sent something to you, Joe America, the analyst gets it. All of it. IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything. And it gets saved for a very long time - and can be extended further with waivers rather than warrants.
Something we have to remember is that everything about the internet is interconnected. All of our systems are not just common to us because of the network links between them, but because of the software packages, because of the hardware devices that comprise it. The same router that's deployed in the United States is deployed in China.
You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody even by a wrong call. And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made, every friend you've ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis to sort to derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.
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We're opening the doors to people launching missiles and dropping bombs by taking the human out of the decision chain for deciding how we should respond to these threats. And this is something we're seeing more and more happening in the traditional means as our methods of warfare become increasingly automated and roboticized such as through drone warfare.
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What we need to do is we need to create new international standards of behavior - not just national laws, because this is a global problem. We can't just fix it in the United States, because there are other countries that don't follow U.S. laws. We have to create international standards that say that cyber attacks should only ever occur when it is absolutely necessary.
We reject techniques like torture regardless of whether they're effective or ineffective because they are barbaric and harmful on a broad scale. It's the same thing with cyber warfare. We should never be attacking hospitals. We should never be taking down power plants unless that is absolutely necessary to ensure our continued existence as a free people.
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The reality is if we sit back and allow a few officials behind closed doors to launch offensive attacks without any oversight against foreign nations, against people we don't like, against political groups, radicals, and extremists whose ideas we may not agree with, and could be repulsive or even violent - if we let that happen without public buy-in, we won't have any seat at the table of government to decide whether or not it's appropriate for these officials to drag us into some kind of war activity that we don't want, but we weren't aware of at the time.
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I acted on my belief that the NSA's mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans' rights. It is the first of many.
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When we talk about computer network exploitation, computer network attack, we're not just talking about your home PC. We're talking about your cell phone, and we're also talking about internet routers themselves. The NSA is attacking the critical infrastructure of the internet to try to take ownership of it. They hack the routers that connect nations to the internet itself.
Every time you pick up the phone, dial a number, write an e-mail, make a purchase, travel on the bus carrying a cell phone, swipe a card somewhere, you leave a trace, and the Government has decided that it's good idea to collect it all, everything, even if you've never been suspected of doing a crime.
Do you check it when you travel, do you check it when you're just at home? They'd be able to tell something called your 'pattern of life.' When are you doing these kind of activities? When do you wake up? When do you go to sleep? What other phones are around you when you wake up and go to sleep? Are you with someone who's not your wife?
The United States has faced threats from criminal groups, from terrorists, from spies throughout our history, and we have limited our responses. We haven't resorted to total war every time we have a conflict around the world, because that restraint is what defines us. That restraint is what gives us the moral standing to lead the world.
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There's not much value to us attacking Chinese systems. We might take a few computers offline. We might take a factory offline. We might steal secrets from a university research programs, and even something high-tech. But how much more does the United States spend on research and development than China does?
After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power - the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government - for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism.
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When the United States cannibalize dollars from the defensive business of the NSA, securing our communications, protecting our systems, patching zero-day vulnerabilities, and instead we're giving those dollars to be used for creating new vulnerabilities in our systems so that they can surveil us and other people abroad who use the same systems.
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The Iraq war that I signed up for was launched on false premises. The American people were misled. Now, whether that was due to bad faith or simply mistakes in intelligence, I can't say for sure. But I can say it shows the problem of putting too much faith in intelligence systems without debating them in public.
When people conceptualize a cyber-attack, they do tend to think about parts of the critical infrastructure like power plants, water supplies, and similar sort of heavy infrastructure, critical infrastructure areas. And they could be hit, as long as they're network connected, as long as they have some kind of systems that interact with them that could be manipulated from internet connection.
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If an adversary didn't target our power plants but they did target the core routers, the backbones that tie our internet connections together, entire parts of the United States could be cut off. That would have a tremendous impact on us as a society and it would have a policy backlash.
The internet exchange is sort of the core points where all of the international cables come together, where all of the internet service providers come together, and they trade lines with each other. These are priority one targets for any sort of espionage agency, because they provide access to so many people's communications.
When you're attacking a router on the internet, and you're doing it remotely, it's like trying to shoot the moon with a rifle. Everything has to happen exactly right. Every single variable has to be controlled and precisely accounted for. And that's not possible to do when you have limited knowledge of the target you're attacking.
To do that, the NSA specifically targets the communications of everyone. It ingests them by default. It collects them in its system and it filters them and it analyzes them and it measures them and it stores them for periods of time simply because that's the easiest, most efficient and most valuable way to achieve these ends. So while they may be intending to target someone associated with a foreign government, or someone that they suspect of terrorism, they are collecting YOUR communications to do so.
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They still have negligent auditing, they still have things going for a walk, and they have no idea where they're coming from and they have no idea where they're going. And if that's the case, how can we as the public trust the NSA with all of our information, with all of our private records, the permanent record of our lives?