Today marks the two year anniversary of the first Snowden disclosures. The anniversary was marked not just with a Snowden op-ed published by the New York Times titled “The World Says No to Surveillance,” but also a major new Vice story on the government’s damage assessment based on documents FOIAed by Jason Leopold.

As Vice notes, the FOIAed documents show how the government provided talking points to members of Congress – some of whom emphasized in briefings they were looking to discredit Snowden – which were then leaked to the press.

After the DIA completed a damage assessment report about how Snowden apparently compromised US counterterrorism operations and threatened national security on December 18, 2013, leaks from the classified report immediately started to surface in the media. They were sourced to members of Congress and unnamed officials who cast Snowden as a “traitor.”

On December 18, the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus published a column, citing anonymous sources, that contained details from the Snowden damage assessment. Three days earlier, 60 Minutes had broadcast a report that was widely condemned as overly sympathetic to the NSA. Foreign Policy and Bloomberg published news stories on January 9, 2014, three days after the damage assessment report was turned over to six congressional oversight committees. Both of those reports quoted a statement from Republican congressional leaders who cited the DIA’s classified damage assessment report and asserted that Snowden’s leaks endangered the lives of US military personnel.

The documents also show that these assessment reports had really basic errors, in one report even getting the date of the first leaks wrong, dating them to June 7 rather than June 5, 2013.

Snowden Response 4 Wrong Date

Such errors ought to raise questions about the other claims from the report, such as that Snowden took 900,000 documents pertaining to DOD issues. After all, if analysts can’t even copy a public date from a newspaper correctly, how accurate are their more difficult calculations?


ISIS doesn’t have any products, but still…

In a bizarre round of comments today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed international boycotts against Israel as “hypocrisy,” demanding those nations to boycott ISIS-made goods instead.

ISIS doesn’t have a functioning economy right now, nor any real exports to speak of, so it is of course impossible. Netanyahu’s comments are just the latest in an increasingly desperate campaign to damage the reputation of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to pressure Israel for an end to the occupation through economic pressure. Boycotting Israel is illegal in the United States, but is increasingly popular in Europe as the Netanyahu government condemns the peace process.

The strategy to make this somewhat about ISIS is a rather awkward attempt to copy the effort to keep Israel off the list of forces that carried out attacks on children in 2014, which somehow worked on the grounds that it’d be weird to put the IDF on the same list as ISIS, even though the Israeli military did overtly attack UN-run schools full of civilian refugees in the summer Gaza War.

There is, of course, already a substantial international embargo campaign against ISIS, irrespective of its lack of theoretical exports, and it goes far beyond a handful of academic boycotts and private campaigns against Israeli companies in the occupied West Bank. It’s just that ISIS doesn’t have billionaire Sheldon Adelson bankrolling summits against the international campaign on them, so it doesn’t get the publicity the BDS movement does.

The morning after final passage of the USA Freedom Act, while some foes of mass surveillance were celebrating, Thomas Drake sounded decidedly glum. The new law, he told me, is “a new spy program.” It restarts some of the worst aspects of the Patriot Act and further codifies systematic violations of Fourth Amendment rights.

Later on Wednesday, here in Oslo as part of a “Stand Up For Truth” tour, Drake warned at a public forum that “national security” has become “the new state religion.” Meanwhile, his Twitter messages were calling the USA Freedom Act an “itty-bitty step” – and a “stop/restart kabuki shell game” that “starts w/ restarting bulk collection of phone records.”

That downbeat appraisal of the USA Freedom Act should give pause to its celebrants. Drake is a former senior executive of the National Security Agency – and a whistleblower who endured prosecution and faced decades in prison for daring to speak truthfully about NSA activities. He ran afoul of vindictive authorities because he refused to go along with the NSA’s massive surveillance program after 9/11.

Drake understands how the NSA operates from the highest strategic levels. He notes a telling fact that has gone virtually unacknowledged by anti-surveillance boosters of the USA Freedom Act: “NSA approved.” So, of course, did the top purveyor of mendacious claims about the U.S. government’s surveillance programs – President Obama – who eagerly signed the “USA Freedom” bill into law just hours after the Senate passed it.


Portions of the PATRIOT Act are set to expire Sunday at midnight unless Congress finds a way to extend them. What might we expect from the race to maintain the NSA’s bulk collection of our telecommunications? And if somehow those provisions expire, does it mean that the NSA will stop spying on us? Tune in to the Ron Paul Liberty Report with special guest Norman Singleton, formerly Dr. Paul’s legislative director on Capitol Hill, for a breakdown of the expected Hill action:

Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute.

South Korea’s Jeju Island is a popular tourist destination full of spas, resorts, golf courses, sandy beaches, waterfalls and hiking trails. But if you really want to get rejuvenated, skip the tourist hotspots and go directly to the village of Gangjeong to support the extraordinary community that has been opposing the building of a naval base since 2007. You’ll get your morning exercise at 7am bowing 100 times facing the base, praying for an end to its construction. You’ll get spiritual nourishment from the noon mass outside the base (no religion necessary). And if you really want to feel like royalty, join the activists in their daily ritual of sitting in plastic chairs blocking the base entrance, then having the police gently lift you up in your chair and cart you away so the cement trucks and traffic can flow in and out of the base. When the traffic ebbs you grab your chair and scurry back in place – starting the ritual all over again. Want aerobic exercise? Join in the jubilant dancing and drumming that liven up the protests. Want good food? The village cooks at the communal kitchen make fantastic, healthy meals with heaps of fresh vegetables and homemade kimchi.

After a long journey to cross the DMZ from North to South Korea with a group of 30 peace women, some of us – including Nobel Prize winner Mairead Maguire and retired Colonel Ann Wright – stopped on Jeju Island and fell in love with this community of farmers, fisherpeople, city officials, small shop owners, florists, artists, poets, students and grandmothers. Over the years they have attracted peace activists from the mainland and internationals, including members of the Catholic Workers, Veterans for Peace, Amnesty International, and prominent figures like Gloria Steinem, Oliver Stone and Korean-American activist Christine Ahn.

The struggle dates back to 2007, when the South Korean government began construction of a $970 million naval base in Gangjeong, a village of less than 2,000 people on the southern tip of Jeju island. The government had tried to build the base in two other villages but was thwarted by widespread protests – especially by the haenyeos, the island’s women divers renowned for spending hours in the chilly waters harvesting conches, abalones, and other marine wildlife, as well as for their history of fierce resistance to Japanese occupation.


As we mentioned earlier in the week, the Patriot Act’s Section 215 expires tonight. This is the section which the Obama Administration has been using as the pretext for NSA telephone bulk surveillance of ordinary Americans.

The great news is, Section 215 will be expiring tonight, as the Senate didn’t vote. The less great news is that the vote for the extension, dubbed the USA Freedom Act, has only been delayed briefly, and could still happen as soon as Tuesday. The Senate did manage to vote to limit debate on the bill too, meaning filibusters won’t be able to stop it.

That means for those of you who didn’t call your Senators yet, and even those who did, there’s still time to call them some more and emphasize your extreme opposition to the USA Freedom Act and any other efforts to extend the Patriot Act.

A vote is unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean the vote will go the way of the pro-surveillance crowd. We can still make a difference if we can convince enough Senators to vote against it.

You can find your Senator’s contact information here, and below is a list of the 10 most important Senators to focus on, along with their contact information. Others should be contacted as well, of course, to emphasize how much we, the American public, oppose the surveillance state.

Paul, Rand – (R – KY)
167 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4343

King, Angus S., Jr. – (I – ME)
133 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5344

Enzi, Michael B. – (R – WY)
379A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3424

Kirk, Mark – (R – IL)
524 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2854

Cassidy, Bill – (R – LA)
703 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5824

Ayotte, Kelly – (R – NH)
144 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3324

Moran, Jerry – (R – KS)
521 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6521

Crapo, Mike – (R – ID)
239 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6142

Toomey, Patrick J. – (R – PA)
248 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4254

Boozman, John – (R – AR)
141 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4843