For quite some time now, the Snowden haters out there keep wanting to prove that Ed Snowden somehow caused damage with his leaks. It’s been over two years now and they keep coming up empty. Former Senator and staunch surveillance state supporter Saxby Chambliss was out making claims yesterday about how when the US government “gets our hands on” Snowden, it should “hang him on the courthouse square.” Because nothing says “freedom” like convicting someone without a trial and then killing them barbarically, right? But, Chambliss also claimed that “lives have been lost” because of Snowden, ridiculously comparing his leaks to the OPM leaks:
“Just like with Snowden, we’re going to lose American lives as result of this breach.”
Going to? It’s been two years and no one can point to a single life lost — so this bit of fearmongering is stretching pretty thin at this point.
But, still, the Snowden fearmongering continues… with an assist from the NY Times. An article by Eric Schmitt and Ben Hubbard, about the latest on ISIS and how it’s structured, contains a random nonsensical dig at Snowden:
The Islamic State has also studied revelations from Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, about how the United States gathers information on militants. A main result is that group’s top leaders now use couriers or encrypted channels that Western analysts cannot crack to communicate, intelligence and military officials said.
Except that a year ago, an actual study of how these groups communicate showed that they were already using such methods long before Snowden and nothing had changed in the aftermath. That research, by Flashpoint Partners, pointed out among other things:
- Well prior to Edward Snowden, online jihadists were already aware that law enforcement and intelligence agencies were attempting to monitor them. As a result, the Snowden revelations likely merely confirmed the suspicions of many of these actors, the more advanced of which were already making use of – and developing –secure communications software.
- The underlying public encryption methods employed by online jihadists do not appear to have significantly changed since the emergence of Edward Snowden.
And, of course, it’s been well-known for years that Al Qaeda used couriers and encryption to avoid communications channels that could be easily monitored by the NSA, so it’s not like ISIS needed Snowden to reveal what was already known. Here’s an article from two months before anyone knew Ed Snowden’s name, talking about Al Qaeda adapting to the NSA:
Suddenly al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was up against the National Security Agency and the Predator drones that can hover out of sight and intercept phone calls.
So it adapted.
It went underground, enduring a monthslong U.S. led bombing campaign. It emerged as a more disciplined and professional organization. It ditched cell phones in favor of walkie-talkies and coded names. Information was passed through intermediaries. If someone needed to send an email, it was shielded by highly sophisticated encryption software.
Anyone who thinks that ISIS suddenly discovered the need for this kind of thing after Snowden is either lying or ignorant. The two NY Times reporters who should know better should never have included that bogus tidbit. It seems to serve no purpose other than to let anonymous government officials spread a lie about Snowden.