High-level US-Russia meeting to go ahead despite Snowden row

Edward SnowdenBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Senior United States officials will hold high-level talks with their Russian counterparts later this week, despite Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to an American intelligence defector. For many weeks, Washington pressured the Russian government to extradite Edward Snowden, a former computer expert for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA). But Snowden, who had sought refuge at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, was granted temporary asylum by Russian authorities last week, prompting angry responses from the American side. According to reports, US President Barack Obama has been considering whether to cancel his attendance of a prearranged summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in September [20:00 GMT update: meeting has been cancelled] . But on Tuesday, the US Department of State confirmed an earlier report by news agency Reuters, which claimed that a series of meetings between American and Russian officials would still take place this week, despite the Snowden imbroglio. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told journalists that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry would meet, as planned, with their Russian counterparts, in Washington on Friday. The Russian delegation will be visiting the US capital to discuss “pressing bilateral and global issues”, including Iran and Syria, Psaki said. In response to a question by reporters, the State Department spokeswoman said that the two sides would discuss the Snowden case. “We have raised Mr. Snowden with Russian officials many times in recent weeks. We expect to do so again”, she said. Late on Tuesday, President Obama appeared on NBC’s Tonight Show, and spoke about Snowden. He told the show’s presenter, Jay Leno, that the Snowden case “is the past and [...] we’ve got to think about the future. And there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to cooperate more effectively than we do” with Russia. Meanwhile, Snowden’s legal team told reporters that the former US intelligence insider is now officially registered as a resident of Russia and that several members of his family have applied at the Russian embassy in Washington, DC, for visas, so they can visit him in Russia soon.

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10 Responses to High-level US-Russia meeting to go ahead despite Snowden row

  1. TFH says:

    Falcon (of Falcon and the Snowman) thinks Snowden is right where the Americans want him.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/05/opinion/boyce-snowden-russians/index.html

  2. Pete says:

    Well Boyce/Falcon has a point there. Still Boyce is obviously piping up to sell and (dubiously) justify Boyce’s book…

    Snowden may be able to tolerate Russia in what is now the height of Summer but in 6 months time in the depths of a Russian Winter Snowden will prefer he was in Hawaii with his poll-dancer.

    Unless Snowden was/is in Moscow or St Petersburg (where he probably is – long hair, long beard?) he probably won’t find a warm, cosmopolitan crowd who can speak much English.

  3. Pete says:

    The Obama Administration is making the right decision to continue to engage with Russia. They shouldn’t let Snowden’s information or the Guardian’s business decisions damage US-Russian relations.

  4. All this posturing does little to deflect the facts that the administration had simply handled the Snowden saga badly ab initio. Had they done what Obama has done in the last 24 hours in the first 24 hours the whole episode would have been of far less consequence than it was and would not have been hijacked by every civil liberty group in every town with a gin palace full of journalists.
    Clapper and Obama should have gone on a crisis management course together – there is still time to go on one before the next crisis!
    You can quite easily have a public strategy on intercepting communications without losing secrecy where required and secrecy is often required to protect democracies as has been the case for decades. If it was not for the UK’s Bletchley Park operations would the USA have enjoined in the Second World War and/or would the EU now be under Nazi control? We will never know.
    The one issue is still what to do about corruption and state abuses. The USA is not alone in intercepting communications and that means millions throughout the world have access to sensitive data that can be exploited by corrupt officials for personal gain. The USA has proven its own background checking processes are flawed when it comes to selecting those who need to know. Luckily the USA is less corrupt than most countries, being the seventh best behaved according to Transparency International anyway.
    According to the Guardian over 800,000 people in the USA alone can access your electronic communications (anywhere); other sources put the figure higher. With so many across the world given security clearance it is impossible to have 100% unblemished background checking processes in all those countries that intercept electronic communications. Ignoring NATO and the Five Eyes we estimated there were up to half a dozen countries trying to intercept all global electronic communications before 2010 (cf Faire Sans Dire’s first news articles from 2011).
    Logically then there will be more leaks and there is bound to be corruption yet to be routed out in the USA and/or elsewhere. There were not millions involved in Bletchley Park (which admittedly was much more targeted) so why are so many needed or permitted to have clearance today? It just does not make sense given the computer power now when compared with that in the Second World War.

  5. Pete says:

    @Bill

    One reason why there is more electronic surveillance now that in Bletchley-WWII days is that the security and intel industry in general places greater reliance on automated “electronic” collection methods because of the increasing efficiency compared to humint of these methods.

    A second reason is compared to only 5-20%? of Western households having a phone (analogue voice telephony) and some telegrams in 1945 – there are perhaps 3 or 4 electronic devices per Western person now. By electronic that means home PC’s. landline phones, mobiles, car emissions, digital TVs, “notebooks” etc then all the work devices. Also need to count in surveillance modes – satellite, CCTV and UAV imagery etc. Then many more uses and bandwidth . Internet activity including emails and consumer use of electronic sendable imagery are totally new.

  6. Pete – I don’t necessarily disagree with what you say but given we live in a digital age what amazes me is the sheer number of people who have clearance to access the produce of programs like Prism, Echelon, Ghostnet, Frenchelon, Tempora and MTI or their equivalents in many other countries.

    We are talking of several million people from all over the world. We (Faire Sans Dire) have been involved in assignments (eg international civil court cases) where either officials guarding these programs have succumbed to corrupt payments or criminal organisations have planted staff in the heartland of the agencies meant to safeguard governmental data in order to be one step ahead.

    Terrorists and criminal organisations are not the only ones who are seeking to infiltrate the organisations that hold all this data; anyone who wants to make a fast buck will be trying to join in too.

  7. Pete says:

    Hi Bill

    If you could provide details of “Terrorists and criminal organisations are not the only ones who are seeking to infiltrate the organisations that hold all this data” then that would increase the credibility of your claims.

    Are you just talking about (well known) police inside jobs to sell information to journalists?

    Pete

  8. Pete – No details are available but I can quote from a couple of articles we published in 2010:

    “By way of example, on one occasion, pursuant to meticulous but swift analysis, we discovered within a couple of days of having been awarded an assignment that various emails had been intercepted by those we had been hired to investigate. In fact our “targets” for research and investigation had been intercepting our client’s emails weeks before we were even appointed – for all we know the targets may have even watched the “beauty parades” between three investigatory firms that culminated in our appointment. The targets then tried intercepting our emails – understandably we pulled the plug on that assignment!” [We could trace the interceptions and there were well over 100 agencies representing well over a dozen countries "on the case" #.]

    #Also see the first article we ever published. I’m surprised you are questioning my statement as it is so obvious (maybe only to me)! Whether it is making money from intercepted communications between listed corporations’ board members or barristers’ emails to the law firms handling sensitive cases worth billions if an individual or any other organisation bent on making money can track just one intercepted high value email chain then to implant a “spy” or somehow infiltrate the NSA or GCHQ or any one of their dozens of equivalents all over the world is a very logical economic thing to do. How many families in the world spend most of their lives trying to make enough money to live on? Have you ever heard of parallel construction? Where do you think all the information for insider dealing comes from?

  9. TFH says:

    @Bill

    Insider whistleblowers keep USA great, without them USA would very soon become a big East Germany.

  10. Whistle blowing should be good for everyone provided it is done properly within the law and the law is reasonable. There seems little doubt that Snowden broke the law – he has admitted so in interviews and de facto by his actions. The question that seems to be so controversial is were those laws reasonable and within the US constitution.

    As I am not even a US citizen familiar with its constitution my view doesn’t count in the USA even though my communications etc are being intercepted (which incidentally doesn’t bother me as long as those doing it are not corrupt and focusing solely on “crime” prevention).

    However, one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter so defining crime from the many perspectives of all those countries involved in these sorts of activities may result in some warped and contradictory results. Since the USA is far from being alone in applying the science of electronic communication interception and other data harvesting that might be a concern were I to fly over say North Korean or Zimbabwean airspace!

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