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Greenwald writes: "What is particularly creepy about the Lavabit self-shutdown is that the company is gagged by law even from discussing the legal challenges it has mounted and the court proceeding it has engaged."

Edward Snowden speaking to the South China Morning Post. (photo: South China Morning Post)
Edward Snowden speaking to the South China Morning Post. (photo: South China Morning Post)

Email Service Used by Snowden Shuts Itself Down

By Glenn Greenwald, Guardian UK

09 August 13


Texas-based encrypted email service recently revealed to be used by Edward Snowden - Lavabit - announced yesterday it was shutting itself down in order to avoid complying with what it perceives as unjust secret US court orders to provide government access to its users' content. "After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations," the company's founder, Ladar Levinson, wrote in a statement to users posted on the front page of its website. He said the US directive forced on his company "a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit." He chose the latter.

CNET's Declan McCullagh smartly speculates that Lavabit was served "with [a] federal court order to intercept users' (Snowden?) passwords" to allow ongoing monitoring of emails; specifically: "the order can also be to install FedGov-created malware." After challenging the order in district court and losing - all in a secret court proceeding, naturally - Lavabit shut itself down to avoid compliance while it appeals to the Fourth Circuit.

This morning, Silent Circle, a US-based secure online communication service, followed suit by shutting its own encrypted email service. Although it said it had not yet been served with any court order, the company, in a statement by its founder, internet security guru Phil Zimmerman, said: "We see the writing on the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now."

What is particularly creepy about the Lavabit self-shutdown is that the company is gagged by law even from discussing the legal challenges it has mounted and the court proceeding it has engaged. In other words, the American owner of the company believes his Constitutional rights and those of his customers are being violated by the US Government, but he is not allowed to talk about it. Just as is true for people who receive National Security Letters under the Patriot Act, Lavabit has been told that they would face serious criminal sanctions if they publicly discuss what is being done to their company. Thus we get hostage-message-sounding missives like this:

"I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what's going on - the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests."

Does that sound like a message coming from a citizen of a healthy and free country? Secret courts issuing secret rulings invariably in favor of the US government that those most affected are barred by law from discussing? Is there anyone incapable at this point of seeing what the United States has become? Here's the very sound advice issued by Lavabit's founder:

"This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States."

As security expert Bruce Schneier wrote in a great Bloomberg column last week, this is one of the key aspects of the NSA disclosures: the vast public-private surveillance partnership. That's what makes Lavabit's stance so heroic: as our reporting has demonstrated, most US-based tech and telecom companies (though not all) meekly submit to the US government's dictates and cooperative extensively and enthusiastically with the NSA to ensure access to your communications.

Snowden, who told me today that he found Lavabit's stand "inspiring", added:

"Ladar Levison and his team suspended the operations of their 10 year old business rather than violate the Constitutional rights of their roughly 400,000 users. The President, Congress, and the Courts have forgotten that the costs of bad policy are always borne by ordinary citizens, and it is our job to remind them that there are limits to what we will pay.
"America cannot succeed as a country where individuals like Mr. Levison have to relocate their businesses abroad to be successful. Employees and leaders at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, and the rest of our internet titans must ask themselves why they aren't fighting for our interests the same way small businesses are. The defense they have offered to this point is that they were compelled by laws they do not agree with, but one day of downtime for the coalition of their services could achieve what a hundred Lavabits could not.
"When Congress returns to session in September, let us take note of whether the internet industry's statements and lobbyists - which were invisible in the lead-up to the Conyers-Amash vote - emerge on the side of the Free Internet or the NSA and its Intelligence Committees in Congress."

The growing (and accurate) perception that most US-based companies are not to be trusted with the privacy of electronic communications poses a real threat to those companies' financial interests. A report issued this week by the Technology and Innovation Foundation estimated that the US cloud computing industry, by itself, could lose between $21 billion to $35 billion due to reporting about the industry's ties to the NSA. It also notes that other nations' officials have been issuing the same kind of warnings to their citizens about US-based companies as the one issued by Lavabit yesterday:

"And after the recent PRISM leaks, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich declared publicly, 'whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don't go through American servers.' Similarly, Jörg-Uwe Hahn, a German Justice Minister, called for a boycott of US companies."

The US-based internet industry knows that the recent transparency brought to the NSA is a threat to their business interests. This week, several leading Silicon Valley and telecom executives met with President Obama to discuss their "surveillance partnership". But the meeting was - naturally - held in total secrecy. Why shouldn't the agreements and collaborations between these companies and the NSA for access to customer communications not be open and public?

Obviously, the Obama administration, telecom giants, and the internet industry are not going to be moved by appeals to transparency, privacy and basic accountability. But perhaps they'll consider the damage being done to the industry's global reputation and business interests by constructing a ubiquitous spying system with the NSA and doing it all in secret.

It's well past time to think about what all this reflects about the US. As the New York Times Editorial Page put it today, referencing a front-page report from Charlie Savage enabled by NSA documents we published: "Apparently no espionage tool that Congress gives the National Security Agency is big enough or intrusive enough to satisfy the agency's inexhaustible appetite for delving into the communications of Americans." The NYT added:

"Time and again, the NSA has pushed past the limits that lawmakers thought they had imposed to prevent it from invading basic privacy, as guaranteed by the Constitution."

I know it's much more fun and self-satisfying to talk about Vladimir Putin and depict him as this omnipotent cartoon villain. Talking about the flaws of others is always an effective tactic for avoiding our own, and as a bonus in this case, we get to and re-live Cold War glory by doing it. The best part of all is that we get to punish another country for the Supreme Sin: defying the dictates of the US leader.

[Note how a country's human rights problems becomes of interest to the US political and media class only when that country defies the US: hence, all the now-forgotten focus on Ecuador's press freedom record when it granted asylum to Julian Assange and considered doing so for Edward Snowden, while the truly repressive and deeply US-supported Saudi regime barely rates a mention. Americans love to feign sudden concern over a country's human rights abuses as a tool for punishing that country for disobedience to imperial dictates and for being distracted from their own government's abuses: Russia grants asylum to Snowden --> Russia is terrible to gays! But maybe it's more constructive for US media figures and Americans generally to think about what's happening to their own country and the abuses of the own government, the one for which they bear responsibility and over which they can exercise actual influence.]

Lavabit has taken an impressive and bold stand against the US government, sacrificing its self-interest for the privacy rights of its users. Those inclined to do so can return that support by helping it with lawyers' fees to fight the US government's orders, via this paypal link provided in the company's statement.

One of the most remarkable, and I think enduring, aspects of the NSA stories is how much open defiance there has been of the US government. Numerous countries around the world have waved away threats, from Hong Kong and Russia to multiple Latin American nations. Populations around the world are expressing serious indignation at the NSA and at their own government to the extent they have collaborated. And now Lavabit has shut itself down rather than participate in what it calls "crimes against the American people", and in doing so, has gone to the legal limits in order to tell us all what has happened. There will undoubtedly be more acts inspired by Snowden's initial choice to unravel his own life to make the world aware of what the US government has been doing in the dark. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+138 # jwb110 2013-08-09 11:17
I never thought I would come down on the side of an argument that where I felt I had to compromise my Loyalty to my Country. It has become apparent to me that this is no longer my country and certainly not the country that I raised in.
I am embarrassed that the Gov't, without my permission, would threaten other countries with economic and diplomatic sanctions and would strong arm other nations to force airplanes ,equal to Air Force One, to land to be searched. As a nation, we do not own the entire sky. We certainly don't own the leaders of foreign nations.
The actions of this Gov't are just pain wrong. I can only hope that this trend will change and I can once again face the nation of my grandparents, a nation in which I can be proud.
-115 # George D 2013-08-09 12:47
It's a tough call but, avoiding the knee-jerk reaction that "we're all being spied on" I have to say that each case should be evaluated on it's own merit.

This case is not about "some guy" that wakes up one morning and finds that he has been harmed by our government via email spying. It's about a guy that SET OUT to LIE while TAKING AN OATH OF SECRECY to gain access to TOP SECRET DATA AND METHODS and then STOLE that data from US; yes "US"; and GAVE IT TO other countries. That guy, should be monitored by our government and I am all for it.

For those of you that believe "this isn't the same country I was brought up in", you are expressing an extremely naive attitude. Of course it's the "same country" and stuff like this has ALWAYS gone on. But technology has improved the methods we use, AND OTHER COUNTRIES USE, to monitor for threats from outside and, apparently from inside our country as well.

Until a person that HASN'T done anything to deserve a government sanction is affected by these policies, I believe that people should accept that the Internet is a tool that is like a "world-wide megaphone" and if they say ANYTHING over it; They should expect it to be paid attention to by ANYONE, ANYWHERE.
+41 # EternalTruth 2013-08-09 14:18
Yes, He informed the citizens of his country and the rest of the world that the U.S. government is violating the constitutional rights of us all as well as violating treaties with other nations. And be did so at huge personal cost. What an immoral asshole. Clearly he should be tortured and jailed forever.
+58 # dickbd 2013-08-09 14:52
I think you're wrong. The secrets he revealed were to us about how our government has been keeping us under surveillance, surely not the act of a free and noble country. A free citizenry should always be mindful of keeping its government in check, but we can't do that without transparency--a nd that's what this is all about.

The usual government tactic to maintain secrecy and to keep control over us is to try to scare the public to death. It used to be communists (the McCarthy era, a reign of terror), and now it's terrorists.

The truth is that we are not at war, but the illusion of wartime helps get a lot of oppressive laws passed and oppressive agencies wheeled into place.
+33 # Phlippinout 2013-08-09 15:21
What countries did he give this info to George?
+28 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-08-09 16:14
So, you don't believe in a Fourth Amendment. That one's correspondence should automatically be subject to seizure and real-time interception. Since correspondence is electronic now, we have no right to privacy in our communications? Really? Wow.
+3 # RobertMStahl 2013-08-11 07:35
Don't forget, Michael Hastings was on his way to do a piece on Barrett Brown when his car was remotely controlled to lock him, and all of us, in the John Wayne Gacy amusement park of life that Brown's ProjectPM was alerting the public to. Just look at incriminating evidence in the video Brown recorded against the FBI they are using against him, the ostensible threat being used by Brown against agent RS, hardly fair, pre-supposing guilt. Is anyone paying attention? Then, there is the Euro-Asia war being fomented with the US support of Georgia in the Balkans, thus growing NATO for all the wrong reasons going back to Taliban days in Afghanistan. See Paul Craig Roberts. Norman Dodd's interview with G Edward Griffin is useful about the relationship between the status quo of learning, and totalitarianism reaching its ends. Psychology is manipulated through war, defeating the commonwealth. Finally, there is William Binney opening up about how all the digital technology manipulation of Snowdon-like revelations has no other possible purpose than to create a fog. Are you in one, yet? Well, get out, then. About 6:30 in this video, he nails that one,
+3 # Dion Giles 2013-08-12 01:07
Why do some use the weasel term "knee-jerk" for conclusions which their handlers want people to duck? Why not be honest in characterising truths as truths whether or not they have been arrived at immediatey or after first writing a series of detailed analyses? Violation of the constitution has _not_ "always gone on".

If legislation or decrees or instructions or administrative actions violate the constitution they are unlawful and there is no legal obligation to obey them.

Indeed under the Nuremberg principles "it vos orders" was rightly dismissed as no pretext for actions which violated not only international law but also _German_ law. Obeying illegal orders was not only not required, it was declared _illegal_ . Didn't those thousands of truly honourable Allied soldiers spill enough blood for the decent principles that their sacrifices enshrined to be honoured by subsequent governments of their own countries? jwb110 would have been mindful of that when he rightly identified the America to which he really did owe loyalty. It’s a “knee-jerk” in every decent human being.
+65 # nancyw 2013-08-09 12:50
This US strong-arming is not new. We've been doing it for centuries, supporting anti-democratic leaders in other countries, colonizing other peoples' countries, etc.

Finally, maybe Americans will wake up and stop this horror we've put others through.
+81 # HowardMH 2013-08-09 13:03
Add this one to your list of Just Plain Wrong:

The AG in Florida just put a black woman in jail for 20 yrs for firing a warning shot at her ex who had been charged twice with spousal abuse. A WARNING SHOT. She didn't hit anything and she got 20 years!!!! PS: She has a Masters Degree and 3 kids. SHE SHOULD HAVE NEVER EVER, EVER, BEEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING!!!
+18 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-09 20:39
Hey, it is Florida.

They are even more Southern than Georgia.
-9 # sayenitnow 2013-08-09 23:12
The back story to this sad story is that this woman and her estranged husband had court ordered restraining orders against eachother. She violated this order by firing the gun she had hidden in her garage. She had the time and ability to leave her home and go to a neighbors for help and protection but instead she went into her garage to get her gun. She then went back into the home and fired into a wall putting the young children in her home at risk, for that she was charged with child endangerment. Finally she was offered a plea deal for a three year sentence which she turned down thus leaving the trial judge no choice..his hands were tied by Florida's law that sets the sentence for her crimes at twenty years. The florida "stand your ground' law didn't apply in these circumstances. Sadly this is an "educated" woman who made a number of bad choices in the state of Florida....
+2 # Renter1 2013-08-12 23:25
Quoting sayenitnow:
She had the time and ability to leave her home and go to a neighbors for help and protection

Really? And leave her children alone in the house with the abusive ex who was there in violation of a court order?

Getting a conviction on this woman (Marissa Alexander) was an uphill battle by any standard, given a jury's natural sympathy with a battered mom. And if members of the jury had racial prejudices, it would probably benefit the defense (e.g. the "black males are violent and dangerous" stereotype). The prosecution had to do some very difficult legal work to win this case, and obviously they did.

A bit of "backstory" you leave out is that the prosecutor on this case was Angela Corey- the same woman who supervised the prosecution of George Zimmerman. And this same highly competent woman who prosecuted the difficult Marissa Alexander case
AND WON suddenly (mysteriously?) screwed up in multiple ways on the Zimmerman case.

Tell me, sayenitnow, do you know of even one case in this country where a white female has been convicted FOR FIRING A WARNING SHOT when confronted with an abusive ex? For that matter, even been charged?

And oddly enough, neither the judge or prosecutors asked why George Zimmerman didn't go to the neighbors for help instead of stalking Trayvon Martin.

The stench coming from Florida is overwhelming. Smearing Marissa Alexander won't cover the the smell of a corrupt, racially biased legal system.
+14 # HowardMH 2013-08-09 13:05
If I have posted it once I have posted it 100 times but must people just don't get it and that is why the Government continues to do what every it wants to.

Until there are thousands of really, really pissed off people on Capital Hill all at the same time – with base ball bats, or 2 x 2s) raising some serious hell against the Lunatics, and Idiots absolutely nothing is ever, ever going to happen to these totally bought and paid for by the richest 50 people in the world that are becoming more and more powerful with each passing rigged election thanks to the stupid people.

How much success have you had with the TOTALLY NON VIOLENT protests over the last few years?

I’m no fan of Sarah’s but this comment is just so appropriate. So how is that Hopei, Changie working out for you now?
+6 # Timaloha 2013-08-09 14:24
So let's be clear... You are advocating violent, armed insurrection? Sure, THAT will work out well.
+9 # 6thextinction 2013-08-09 17:31
Baseball bats and 2x2s are not really weapons of a violent armed insurrection. HMH is right that it will take thousands if not millions of us rising up and frightening our pretty much sold-out gov. representatives into giving up business as usual in DC. Some wooden props wouldn't hurt to carry the message that we're determined to have change.
+3 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-09 20:41
Good way to inspire the more or less creative use of Drones inside the US.
+18 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-08-09 17:08
That sounds like a great excuse for the govt. to declare martial law and we will all do so well with our baseball bats, against all the billions of dollars worth of tanks, gear and young military men and women brainwashed into believing that their job is to beat down a bunch of dirty hippies.
+1 # keenon the truth 2013-08-12 01:14
Howard, I'm sure you are a great guy, but one of the problems with your posts is exactly that. You post it a hundred times! I don't know about other people, but I just can't be bothered to read your posts any more when you start of with "Until there are...."

Maybe you need to say what you want to say in a different way sometimes.
+1 # Jack Gibson 2013-08-16 06:32
Howard, you can expect to be visited by the government now for advocating apparent violence. I know because I was visited by them for far less (I did NOT threaten ANY violence, or even appear to). Whether you only meant the use of baseball bats and/or "2 x 2s" for "props", as another commenter in this context said, you need to be far more careful; because, very soon, if this trend of presuming the innocent guilty and going after "pre-crime" (before you've even committed a crime and treating it like a "crime") continues, they will be taking innocent people away to prison simply for APPEARING to advocate violence against the government. So, please don't be stupid and "ask for" the government to come after you; particularly when you know darn well that they are monitoring EVERYTHING that we say that is recorded in venues such as this one, and then some.
+1 # Jack Gibson 2013-08-16 12:31
All that you "need" to do now in order to be visited by the U.S. modern-day "Gestapo" is to look "cross-eyed" at a federal employee; and, if they feel "threatened" by you, even though you did NOTHING to truly threaten them, they can take action against you; and, more and more, they will. You can well-imagine that the like happened in Nazi Germany; well, now, it's happening here. It's codified in the "U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act", and is called, "perceived threatening conduct"; which, can be anything; and, like I said, can be something as nebulous as looking at a federal employee in a way that is interpreted as "threatening", even if no threat was intended by the look. That's what the U.S. has come to. "Thought crime". Which you are presumed guilty of, with no defense for it; and, increasingly, little or no due process of law either; at least true due process of law. We've truly, in reality, entered George Orwell's nightmare dystopian novel, and draconian repressive police state, "1984", where people are tortured and murdered by the government for simply questioning the evils of the state, such as the eradication of True Liberty and Freedom. The U.S. is going quite insane, isn't it? And it can only get worse, right? So, what is there for it except to resist it, unless one wants to conform to being nothing but a slave, with no True Freedom and Liberty? What kind of "life" is that, right? Certainly not one worth living. So, we might as well stand up against it, and die free.
+35 # Johnny 2013-08-09 13:59
I have to disagree. Loyalty to the U.S. means defense of our values: human rights, individual dignity, opportunity, and freedom from government intrusion into our private lives. It is the U.S. ruling class and its gang of stooges in Washington D.C. that is disloyal to your country.
+8 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-09 20:35
You don't have to compromise your loyalty to our country.

You (and we all) may want to consider how much our loyalty to our government compromises our loyalty to our country.

Because our government, having long ago abandoned the Constitution, has run itself off the rails of human decency.
+71 # hutchr 2013-08-09 11:20
Obama and Congress have really shown their true colors. No, I take that back. I am sure that more things will come out that show even worse things, but we will only learn about them through whistleblowers and "traitors". It is really disgusting and frightening that people who belong in prison like Obama and Cheney and Feinstein are running this country. Let's hope that there are at least 4 parties in the run during the next elections and the 2016 elections.
+100 # engelbach 2013-08-09 11:31
Thanks again, Glenn, for your excellent and courageous coverage of the rise of U.S. fascism.
+23 # Milarepa 2013-08-09 11:53
Thank you, Glenn.
+16 # Mentat 2013-08-09 11:59
It's an old problem with a new twist. The Constitution guarantees Americans privacy with regard to the content of their private communications. This currently applies only to pre-email technologies.
However, there is, and never has been, any right of privacy with regard to the fact that communication is happening irrespective of content. For example, USPS letters have a clearly visible written address.
The recent flap over government access to telephone call records clouds the real issue in paranoid fantasies. Phone records are meaningless when separated from the content of the conversation. And the government is required to obtain a search warrant prior to getting access to that content.
On the other hand, private industry can access all of our emails and all of our Internet searches -- and they don't need a search warrant to do it.
Folks who worry about government overreach might pay more attention to the extent to which our rights have already been eroded -- not by the government but by unfettered private and corporate access to our personal information.
Google, Amazon and Monsanto already know more about your private life than the Federal Government ever will. And they don't need anyone's permission to act on that knowledge.
+6 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-09 20:45
Neither does the Gov't need anyone's permission to act however they want.

The laws are window dressing for those who refuse to look behind the herd of spooks who sit by the door and lie on behalf of all the others inside.

Like Wall Street & Madison Avenue: the biggest lie always is the most successful.
+5 # economagic 2013-08-09 21:09
Quoting Mentat:
Phone records are meaningless when separated from the content of the conversation.

. . .

Folks who worry about government overreach might pay more attention to the extent to which our rights have already been eroded -- not by the government but by unfettered private and corporate access to our personal information.

(1) No they're not. That's why The Government records them.

(2) Quite so. To paraphrase former adman Jerry Mander (sic), in Four Arguments For the Elimination of Television (1977), Who do you think Big Brother is, anyway? He doesn't have to watch YOU: You're watching HIM.
+4 # sayenitnow 2013-08-09 23:54
Thank you Mentat for a bit of hard truth... for the knee-jerk reactionaries here calling for a violent over-throw of our government.
+11 # Gere 2013-08-09 12:04
According to Wikipedia, "Clear and present danger" here is where free speech took us:In 1969, the court established stronger protections for speech in the landmark case Brandenburg v. Ohio which held that "the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action".[31][32 ] Brandenburg is now the standard applied by the Court to free speech issues related to advocacy of violence.

Are we now allowing the State to invade our email to be sure we are not shouting "Fire" in a movie theatre? What is privacy anyway? I am sure that NSA's action in leveling the secure mail carriers will not (eventually) be considered lawful by the Surpreme Court. If that fails, we all need to find another home or figure out how to protect the one we have. But remember: eventually time wounds all heels but we need to make it happen!
+4 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-09 20:47
"...eventually time wounds all heels..."

We must hope so.
+14 # Old Uncle Dave 2013-08-09 12:23
Stalin would approve.
+5 # KrazyFromPolitics 2013-08-09 15:04
Quoting Old Uncle Dave:
Stalin would approve.
spooks operating in the shadows. Ain't the Russians we need to fear. The fall of the Soviet Union left a horrible gap in world affairs. Their brand of evil is better buried. However, their demise left one mega bully that is assuming "divine omnipotence" by using the same tactics that they used to pretend to oppose. I agree, the effing terrorists have won, and Stalin is chuckling in his grave.
+15 # Bill999 2013-08-09 12:33
I can no longer trust Google, etc., with my passwords so I removed them from my browser. Now I search for encryption software because I no longer trust my federal government to support the US Constitution. How sad this is for our lost freedom.
+5 # Phlippinout 2013-08-09 15:24
I dumped GOOGLE. Try GO DUCK GO, Look up Alternative search engines and see the choices. I dumped Bing and yahoo as well.
+5 # Phlippinout 2013-08-09 15:38
Dump Google and try duck duck go
+12 # Gere 2013-08-09 12:35
Please excuse my recent post - related to first ammendment. The Snowden case is also related to the Privacy Law - again from Wiki: Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations of 1966 also protects privacy: "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks." We also have the 3rd Amendment protecting privacy of persons and possessions against unreasonable searches such as reading personal emails. Again, the Supreme Court has no basis for allowing NSA to look at emails in general. God Bless America!
+18 # cmp 2013-08-09 12:37
"Speech" is now the legal grounds to be a "Targeted Suspect.."

Today, being a "Customer," is a means to apply that crime against the most bedrock of all human and civil rights. In a year and half, drones will be over our houses, too..

The tools of the Cold War, which certainly is not over, is intended to completely destroy the Institutional Left. Whether, it's organized labor, academia, the press, culture, community owned utilities, community owned hospitals, liberal community churches, culture, etc., Institutionally , they've all been labeled, "the enemy.."

The War on Terror, is about the Individual. It's all about usurping their, "Anonymity and their Privacy " for a whole host of very powerful reasons..

I don't care what you call yourself, Left or Right. If, we allow this to happen, we are no longer persons but mere property of the State..
+12 # cmp 2013-08-09 14:17
And, here is partly what I mean by property:

CIA Chief Tech Officer: “Big Data Is The Future And WE OWN IT”
Michael Kelley
Mar. 21, 2013, 1:50 PM

CIA Chief Technology Officer Ira "Gus" Hunt, gave a detailed presentation at GigaOM's Structure:Data conference in New York City. It came two days after it was reported the spy agency is on the verge of signing a cloud computing contract with Amazon — worth up to $600 million over 10 years — that involves Amazon Web Services HELPING THE CIA BUILD a "private cloud" filled with technologies like big data.

"YOU’RE ALREADY A WALKING SENSOR PLATFORM," Hunt said, referring to all of the information captured by smartphones. "You are aware of the fact that somebody CAN KNOW WHERE YOU ARE AT ALL TIMES because you carry a mobile device, even if that mobile device is turned off. You know this, I hope? Yes? Well, you should."

“In fact Hunt noted that based on the sensors in a smartphone, someone can be identified (with 100 percent accuracy) BY THE WAY THEY WALK — implying that someone could be identified even when carrying someone else's phone.”

"Since you can't connect DOTS you don't have, we fundamentally try to collect everything and HANG ON TO IT FOREVER," Hunt said. "It is really very nearly within our grasp to be able to COMPUTE ON ALL HUMAN GENERATED INFORMATION."

You can watch the presentation or read it here:
+4 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-08-09 17:25
Drones are already over our houses:
+23 # Harbinger 2013-08-09 13:18
If you go to one of the links in this excellent piece by Glenn, you will find this lead sentence: "President Barack Obama hosted Apple CEO Tim Cook, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Google computer scientist Vint Cerf and other tech executives and civil liberties leaders on Thursday for a closed-door meeting about government surveillance, sources tell POLITICO."

Other civil liberties leaders? What others? Which of the hot-shot CEOs named in that sentence are also "civil liberties leaders?"

If they are such "civil liberties leaders" why has not one of them told the American people what was discussed with Obama?

Politico rivals and sometimes surpasses Faux News for being ethically and morally challenged.
+36 # polfrosch 2013-08-09 13:46
There are more and more similarities betweeen the USA and a south american dictatorship.

Does anybody doubt Glen Greenwald will be under total surveillance for the rest of his life, as will be anybody in contact with him? And with the hunger for total surveillance probably also anybody posting in this forum? It´s so easy to collect and store our data...

As a german I am anyhow fair game for any US surveillance, even inside Germany. There are secret postWW2/cold war treaties (some came to light in the discussion of the NSA scandal in Germany) between the USA and Germany.

Total surveillance od e.g. me is legal, simply because this is
a)communication of a german citizen, which entitles the NSA to do whatever it wants and
b) communication from Germany to the USA, allowing surveillance according to the laws established in the USA after 911.

This is one of the major problems: when it comes to surveillance the US deep state does not even have to break any laws.

I guess the next step will be an attempt for the total control of the airwaves and the press, shutting down any dissent to the US governments decisions -again strictly according to law.

By the way, the Nazi german government always took great care all of it´s actions were formally legal, so any german involved in persecution or torture or mass murder could numb his consciousness, if existing, with the fact he or she was just a law abiding citizen.

Beware of our example.
+7 # Activista 2013-08-09 14:34
agree - USA has all the symptoms of the evil empire marching to totality - the scenario above is quite feasible.
(and my computer - on ex Verizon network (Frontier) is under denial of service attack when on this or other political forums ...
+9 # HCantanhede 2013-08-09 16:11
Dear Polfrosch, all (sic) South American dictatorships were created, sponsored, armed, fed and financed by the US. Quite a few of these US crimes are told in Greg Grandin's excellent book, "Empire's Workshop". The surprising thing is to see they they have been deep in some very sinister schemes against their own citizens, too! And for how many decades??
+8 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-09 20:55
Well, the US officialdom, gov't & commercial, has severe, debilitating addictions: total control over profiteering, total control over what is said and by whom; total control over the means of violence; total mind control over the populations within reach, etc.

After a while, any body with such sever debilities succumbs to the weight of bearing them.
+2 # NAVYVET 2013-08-10 08:30
Thank you, Polfrosch. The blame is not entirely Germany's. There are some honest historians who inform us that Hitler learned racist slogans, oppressive "laws" and suppressive tactics (subtle and brutal) by reading about those invented and used by U.S. Southern state governments and politicians. In the U.S., NeoCon has always meant radically racist and oligarchical Neo-CONFEDERATE . The South has indeed "risen again" to threaten and terrorize the world. The end game is the enslavement or propaganda co-optation of all living rhings that are not part of the small ultra-rich coterie of lily-white men (a self-styled Master Race) who already own almost everything abd covet all.
+2 # Activista 2013-08-09 14:29
"also be to install FedGov-created malware"
all criminals of the World unite?
all totalitarians attack internet ..
the censorship (information control) killed Soviet Union ... and USA is marching quickly in the same direction ..
+5 # oakes721 2013-08-09 14:41
"Wake up, America!" has been the alarmed common call for so long that one would begin to suspect that we were actually in a coma. With a government 'doctoring' the prescriptions and keeping us drugged ~ even threatening to pull the plug on our life support systems from time to time ~ we seem to be showing some signs of life after all. "Mr. President, PUT DOWN THE NAILS and Please, MOVE AWAY from the COFFIN."
+10 # DaveM 2013-08-09 14:42
The United States is not its government. The United States of America is an idea, imperfect, and therefore created with built-in checks and balances (e.g. elections, though those have problems space will not allow me to discuss here). More than once during American history the people (who are the nation) have been dissatisfied with the government. They have replaced it with another, or sought through legal action or petition to Congress to right the wrong. It's a slow process without guarantees, but it works more often then not.

I highly recommend James Clavell's "The Children's Story" to anyone who would like to collect a fine lesson on the perils of confusing an icon with an idea. To my knowledge, the dramatized version is available on YouTube (it runs 26 minutes). The book can be read in less than half an hour--you will not be able to forget it nearly so quickly.
+3 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-09 20:58
Jane Jacobs offers an intelligent book analyzing the confused morals of our ruling elites. Try Systems of Survival. No TV or Utube will ever equal that.
+6 # dquandle 2013-08-09 15:46
So now the US government is attempting to destroy small businesses in its quest for access to all information everywhere.
+3 # NAVYVET 2013-08-10 08:38
SMALL business is always imperiled when laissez-faire capitalism is allowed to run amok in the manner of a gigantic berserker. All small businesses of all kinds. Small businesses produce inventions and innovations, small businesses create and maintain local jobs that employ local people, small businesses build a city's tax base for public services, small businesses actually compete for the best product or services. The Big Oligarchs of the 1% can't tolerate any of THAT! Goodness, no.
+11 # HCantanhede 2013-08-09 16:06
Wow! This is SO democratic, is it not? US 'democracy' showing its fascist claws! To its own citizens! And publicly! Next will be thoughtcrime!
+1 # Hot Doggie 2013-08-09 17:27
Taking a spiritual approach to this spying issue, you come up with some interesting things. Do recall that God is omni-present. That means that he is everywhere, knows everything, sees everything, and hears everything. But Satan does not possess that attribute. He needs his minion devils to scout around and report to him what's going on in this world.

Consequently, God knows everything without any help from NSA. Satan however needs the NSA to find out things like who's against him.
+1 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-09 20:59
God and the Devil are one.

William Blake.
+5 # tomo 2013-08-09 18:11
The sky grows darker yet, and the sea rises higher.
+1 # ishmael 2013-08-09 18:21
No, Russia's well-known and appalling reliance on criminality has not suddenly become salient. It will be interesting to see the country try to justify its ridiculous anti-gay posture during the upcoming pre-olympics games.

This has nothing - zero - to do with the cause-du-jour.
+1 # Hot Doggie 2013-08-09 18:30
Also try Startpage. Startpage is also working on a private e-mail system. It's supposed to be offered sometime this year. Wonder what their thinking regarding Lavabit.
-1 # ishmael 2013-08-09 20:18
You can almost predict the next online $-making fad.
+9 # Annietime13 2013-08-09 21:08

+7 # Nominae 2013-08-09 22:55
Quoting Annietime13:


Thank you Annie - this is *definitely* one crime that needs to be kept alive and *in* the minds and memories of the general public.
-1 # Caliban 2013-08-11 12:24
We know the name. If anybody has any factual evidence of a crime, they need to share it.
+3 # SF Kinney 2013-08-09 21:24
In 1994, anonymizing mail server Penet ( was "compromised" to an unspecified extent by unspecified attackers. Although its operator publicly announced the fact, he stayed in business. Then in 1996, Penet's owner responded to a Secret Police demand for the "anonymous" mail server's records by wiping them (he said, and might have done), and closing the service down once and for all (he did that for sure).

Lesson learned: An anonymizing service with a single point of failure that requires its users to "trust" the provider is not reliably anonymous. That's why distributed mix networks, where there are no trusted parties or single points of failure, were invented.

So why did Lavabit ever exist in the first place? Apparently because its founder saw a market demand and decided to capitalize on it, either not aware of or willfully ignoring the lessons of history. Lavabit deployed a known failed security model in support of a known failed business model, and failed.

Viable options for "real" anonymous e-mail include Quicksilver, a Mixmaster Remailer front-end for Windoze; Mixmaster and/or Mixminion for the UNIX family of operating systems; or you can use TOR to set up and use a "regular" webmail account without disclosing your identity.

These options rely on open source crypto tools and zero-knowledge protocols, not the kindness of strangers who can be bribed or blackmailed, to keep your A/S/L and True Name out of the hands of hostile parties.
+1 # ishmael 2013-08-09 21:43
Playing cat and mouse with the US government and its online games is useless.

The only reasonable way is the ballot box.
0 # Hot Doggie 2013-08-09 21:59
Keep in mind that God doesn't need the NSA to keep track of what's going on in this world.

But Satan needs his minions to scout around and report their findings to him.
+2 # CandH 2013-08-10 11:46
"..I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States."

Where exactly DOESN'T have "NSA tentacles?" Where is the NSA (& partners) NOT operating?

"The US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand created Echelon as part of an Anglo-Saxon club, set up by secret treaty in 1947. The five countries divided up the world to share the product of global eavesdropping."

"But the German government, despite all its current protestations of ignorance and innocence, cannot be unaware that US surveillance specialists remain active on German soil. At present the NSA is expanding its presence in Germany considerably."

"(Israel's) Verint has apparently supplied interception solution for tracking encrypted communications to 77 countries across the globe and can even customise the solutions..."

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