Published at almost the same time as Edward Lucas’s ebook, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick’s full-length (200+pp) study of the Snowden case – Privacy for Thee and Not For Me: The Movement for Invincible Personal Encryption, Radical State Transparency, and the Snowden Hack – is now available on Scribd.
In her author’s preface, Fitzpatrick likens the case to a Rubik’s cube:
Turn the colorful cube one way, and it seems as if Edward, a 29-year-old systems analyst who said he became troubled by secret practices “done in our name”, was only concerned about civil rights… Turned in another direction, and it seemed that his coercive action… was in fact presenting Congress and the courts with an undemocratic fait accompli.
Although the author does not claim to provide a solution to the puzzle, her book analyses its many and various pieces in extensively sourced detail, so that others may reach a conclusion for themselves.
Edward Lucas’s newly published ebook The Snowden Operation: Inside the West’s Greatest Intelligence Disaster is available from Amazon as a Kindle Single. It gives a clear and concise all-round survey of the Snowden affair, setting it in the historical context of international espionage. In particular, it analyses the particular characteristics of Snowden’s disclosures, which the author says
are heavily spun and damaging to American and allied interests in a way that goes far beyond the purported goals of promoting a debate about digital security.
But you know, why is the New York Times breaking the story that Miranda was transporting stolen intelligence data, stolen by Snowden? Why wouldn’t our fearless truth-seekers at the Guardian let Britain know what David Miranda was really doing?
If the Guardian is employing at least one reporter driven by revenge to damage this country, hasn’t the time come for the paper to review this connection with Edward Snowden? Hasn’t this whole thing got out of hand?
As the hours tick away, this whole computer caper is appearing more and more like that time when Morton Downey Jr., with his ratings in decline, staged an assault in which he shaved his own head and drew several badly rendered swastikas on his body with a Sharpie. It’s getting to be just that silly. And it would be equally entertaining to observe if it wasn’t orbiting such a deadly serious topic.
I had noted before that Snowden’s entire digital footprint seems to drop off in 2009. You just don’t see him post or do things from then until he posts his PGP key and starts his life as a defector. But in fact there are a few posts on Ars Technica — like once or twice a year in 2010, 2011, 2012.
Many of the articles in early issues of the Foundation for Economic Education’s journal The Freeman still have a relatively modern resonance. In spite of their deep entanglement in the Cold War espionage and un-American activities debates of the day, some of the discussions of U.S.-Soviet relations in the August 1952 edition were still relevant more than 30 years later. Fascinating items include an appeal for an end to Western appeasement of the USSR by the double defector Igor Bogolepov (alias Ivar Nyman), with his account of how passive resistance could bring the Soviet system down if only there was co-operation with the resisters on the part of the West, and his “confession” about his own duplicitous behavior:
Thus, during the years 1923 to 1942, I was personally connected with the Communist business of selling to the West a false picture of an innocent, peace-loving, arch-progressive and democratic Soviet regime. At first I was none too pleased to be associated with this “operation confusion” carried out by my boss, Maxim Litvinov. But since it was impossible to live in the Soviet Union without somehow serving the Communist cause, I said to myself: “I might as well remain where I am, because if a real Communist takes my place here at the Foreign Office, then who is going to throw monkey wrenches into this monkey business?”
So I began to sabotage in my own field as my fellow-countrymen all around me were sabotaging in theirs. Although it was not in my power to alter Soviet strategy, I could at least try to make its execution less effective. I always overemphasized the legal or factual difficulties in the way of carrying out political moves. Or I tried to soften their effect. And whenever I was charged with conveying Soviet propaganda to the West, I did my best to make it as unfit for the Western mentality as possible. This was not difficult, since the censors were mostly sharp, uneducated boys from the Secret Police who preferred to have articles from Pravda, and other propaganda for home consumption only, translated into foreign languages with very little alteration.
It was… revealed yesterday that one of the agents, a man called Andrei Bezrukov who passed himself off as Donald Heathfield, had been attempting to infiltrate influential US risk advisory group Strategic Forecasting.
The Texas-based company, better known as Stratfor, said Mr Bezrukov had held five meetings with them to try to get them to install his software on their computers.
“We suspect that had this been done, our servers would be outputting to Moscow,” George Friedman, the firm’s chief executive officer, said. “We did not know at the time who he was. We have since reported the incident to the FBI.”
In the current issue of Yezhednevny zhurnal Alexander Podrabinek examines the current U.S.-Russia “spy swap” and detects a strong element of farce in the proceedings [my tr.]:
Why farce? Judge for yourself. The Russian spies who have been uncovered in the U.S. are the embodiment of amateurishness and mediocrity. And the FBI’s ten-year hunt for them can be taken about as seriously as the Russian spies themselves. The political prisoner Igor Sutyagin was not a political opponent of the regime and ended up in jail more or less by chance – simply because the FSB needed to demonstrate its success at least in something. Sutyagin bears no guilt, either political or espionage-related. He is a random victim of the Chekists’ ambitions and conscious manipulation. For his work with open sources he received 15 years in prison – quite a dramatic result of the farce performed by the FSB.
Sutyagin did not plead guilty at his trial. A large public campaign was organized in his defence, and Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience. Three years ago Sutyagin filed a petition for clemency, but a few days ago he signed a written statement expressing repentance for the crime he did not commit. This was the price of freedom. According to his relatives, he explained his repentance by saying that if he had not written the statement the exchange would not take place and he felt very sorry for the Russian spies arrested in the United States, who would have had to serve time in jail, as he had. A strange argument, I think, and a very weak position, especially given that the people who have defended him all these years were sincerely convinced of his innocence. While they are unlikely to change their minds about this now, they will probably be more cautious in such cases in future. At least where Russian political prisoners are concerned.
Podrabinek sees a further dimension of strangeness in recent events:
While it is hard to congratulate Igor Sutyagin on his release, we can at least be pleased that he is free. However, it is far from clear why he needs to leave Russia. In this voluntary/involuntary departure there are echoes of the spy exchanges of the Cold War. But today, if Sutyagin still has Russian citizenship (and no one can deprive him of that), then what is to stop him returning to Russia whether temporarily or for good, at any time?
Some kind of strange game is being played by the Russian secret services. One has the impression that they thought up the idea of the exchange in a bad state of hangover, without even trying to relate their plans to current legislation and real life. Perhaps in a similar condition they also prepared the Russian spies for their work abroad. Well, they’re ours, and that explains a lot.
Yevgenia Albats, editor of the independent New Times magazine, said talk of a conspiracy to poison bilateral relations was Russia’s version of an official denial. “What else are they going to say? They caught these guys red-handed,” she said. “You never acknowledge your own spies, because you don’t want to support the foreign justice system in bringing charges.”
Calling the case “very plausible,” she asked why the authorities would organize such an elaborate operation to collect what seems to have been basic information. For example, she noted that two of the suspects appeared to have been targeting university professors who easily could have been invited to conferences in Russia.
“It’s very strange. You pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to put these people through college, give them identities, to do what?” she said. “Why do governments spend this money on intelligence when journalists can do it better?”