Guerilla Artists Erect Massive Bust of NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden in NYC Park: VIDEO


A massive bust of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden made of hydrocal was erected overnight in a park in Fort Greene, Brooklyn by a group of guerilla artists and their assistants, ANIMAL New York reports:

The group, which allowed ANIMAL to exclusively document the installation on the condition that we hide their identities, hauled the 100-pound sculpture into Fort Greene Park and up its hilly terrain just before dawn. They fused it to part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers. As of press time, the sculpture was still there.

The idea for the Snowden tribute was conceived about a year ago by two New York City-based artists with a history of pulling off notable public interventions. They linked up with a renowned sculptor on the West Coast who was sympathetic to their cause. The artists admit that Snowden probably wouldn’t approve of the project, since he never wanted the leaks to be about him, but they hope he’d understand why they did it.

2_snowdenThe group released a statement about why they did it:

Fort Greene’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument is a memorial to American POWs who lost their lives during the Revolutionary War. We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies. It would be a dishonor to those memorialized here to not laud those who protect the ideals they fought for, as Edward Snowden has by bringing the NSA’s 4th-Amendment-violating surveillance programs to light. All too often, figures who strive to uphold these ideals have been cast as criminals rather than in bronze. Our goal is to bring a renewed vitality to the space and prompt even more visitors to ponder the sacrifices made for their freedoms. We hope this inspires them to reflect upon the responsibility we all bear to ensure our liberties exist long into the future.

Watch the video of the installation, AFTER THE JUMP...

NOTE: The bust has since been covered with a tarp. Towleroad's Michael Goff walked over to it this morning and took the photo below. He reports that the area was crawling with police and additional personnel who looked like Secret Service.


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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to Sue Obama Administration Over NSA Surveillance: VIDEO



US Sen. Rand Paul filed a lawsuit Wednesday against President Barack Obama and others over the National Security Agency's sweeping surveillance programs, citing constitutional violations.

“The Bill of Rights protects all citizens from general warrants," the Republican from Kentucky said when he announced the litigation. "I expect this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court and I predict the American people will win.”

Paul filed the lawsuit with Matt Kibbe, president of the tea party-aligned group FreedomWorks.

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will serve as lead counsel.

Besides Obama, the lawsuit also named National Intelligence Director James Clapper, outgoing NSA Director Keith Alexander and FBI Director James Comey.

Other lawsuits over the NSA's phone surveillance practices have been filed in recent months, but Paul's legal challenge is different because it's a class-action suit.

“A class action would be Rand Paul, not just suing on his own behalf, but on behalf all people, known and unknown, who are similarly situated,” Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University, told MSNBC. “Ostensibly, he could be suing on behalf of all Americans, or all Americans hypothetically affected by these court orders.” 

Earlier this month, Paul said he believed every American with a cellphone would be eligible to join the class-action suit.

The son of three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, Rand Paul has long been an ardent critic of US surveillance programs, which he says infringe on the basic civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution.

In a YouTube video released this week, Paul compared the NSA phone surveillance to the warrantless searches practiced by the British military prior to America's independence.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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President Obama Announces NSA Reforms in Major Speech on Government Surveillance: VIDEO


President Obama gave a speech announcing a number of NSA reforms including an end to tapping the phones of allied governments and the holding of metadata from millions of Americans, the NYT reports:

In a much-anticipated speech that ranged from broad principles to technical details, Mr. Obama said he would end the vast collection of phone data as it exists today. He will also restrict the ability of the National Security Agency to throw a net well beyond the data of an individual target and collect unlimited numbers.

And the president said he would sharply restrict eavesdropping on the leaders of dozens of foreign allies, the disclosure of which ignited a diplomatic firestorm with friendly countries like Germany.

But Mr. Obama did not accept other recommendations that have been made to him on reining in surveillance, like requiring court approval for so-called national security letters, in which the government demands information on individuals from companies. That was a victory for the F.B.I. and other law-enforcement agencies, who argue that these letters are vital to investigations.

Obama also briefly mentioned leaks of NSA intelligence by Edward Snowden:

“I’m not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden’s actions or his motivations. I will say that our nation’s defense depends in part on the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation’s secrets. If any individual who objects to government policy can take it into their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will not be able to keep our people safe, or conduct foreign policy....Moreover, the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come.”

Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who helped break the Snowden story, called the speech a PR stunt:

“It’s really just basically a PR gesture, a way to calm the public and to make them think there’s reform when in reality there really won’t be. And I think that if the public, at this point, has heard enough about what the NSA does and how invasive it is, that they’re going to need more than just a pretty speech from President Obama to feel as though their concerns have been addressed.”

Watch the full speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Glenn Greenwald Rips Columnist Ruth Marcus Over Stance on Edward Snowden: VIDEO


Columnist Gleen Greenwald, who broke the NSA Edward Snowden story, blasted Ruth Marcus and "everything horrible about DC media" in a debate on Jake Tapper's The Lead about Edward Snowden and whistleblowers, calling her a "loyalist" of the Obama administration.

Mediaite reports:

“People in Washington who are well-connected to the government, like she is, do not believe that the law applies to them,” Greenwald insisted. He later added that the Obama administration has been more aggressive with whistleblowers than previous administrations.

“I think there has been an excessive use of the whistleblower – an excess use of power against whistleblowers,” Marcus agreed. She noted sarcastically that, because she sees the world in “grey terms,” this makes her a “complete tool of the establishment.”

However, Marcus added that she has tried to take into account many of Snowden’s leaks which have been a public service, but she asserted that many of his leaks do harm national security interests. She further asserted that Snowden’s attitude is “insufferable” and “reprehensible.”

“You do not need to be collecting, Jake, billions of calls and emails – billions every day – as the NSA does,” Greenwald asserted.

Marcus closed by correcting Greenwald for “conflating” all of Snowden’s disclosures with the efficacy of the NSA’s domestic information gathering programs.

Watch the fiery debate, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Edward Snowden Declares Mission Accomplished, Records Christmas Message: VIDEO


BY Daniel DeFraia / GlobalPost

Six months after he blew the whistle on the US National Security Agency's surveillance around the world, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden believes his actions have been validated, and that, at least personally, his mission is accomplished.

In his first in-person interview since arriving in Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum, an apparently satisfied Snowden sat down with The Washington Post for a lengthy discussion.

“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he told The Post.

“I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”

In the wake of 9/11, the NSA's capability increased dramatically, in part due to the passage of the Patriot Act.

“All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed,” Snowden said. “That is a milestone we left a long time ago. Right now, all we are looking at are stretch goals.”

NsaThe so-called NSA revelations, which began when Snowden passed on secret NSA documents to journalist Glenn Greenwald and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, have reverberated across the world through many international newspapers and diplomatic channels.

The leaders of Brazil and Germany — both of whom were allegedly monitored by the NSA —  have voiced their strong disapproval of the scope of the agency's surveillance. In addition, giant technology companies such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have taken steps to assure their customers that their data is safeguarded against bulk data collection.

Earlier this month, a US federal judge ruled that the NSA's mass collection of telephone data was likely unconstitutional, calling it "almost Orwellian."

A day later, a panel appointed by President Obama made 46 recommendations to limit the scope of the NSA's surveillance and data collection.

The 5-person panel, which included a former deputy director of the CIA and a counter-terrorism advisor, concluded "the government should not be permitted to collect and store mass, undigested, non-public personal information."

Obama is expected to make a "definitive statement" about the panel's recommendations in January. He indicated some things may change:

“In light of the disclosures that have taken place it is clear that whatever benefits the configuration of this particular program may have may be outweighed by the concerns people have on its potential abuse,” Obama told reporters on Friday. “And if that’s the case there may be another way of skinning the cat."

As for Snowden, he says he's still working for the NSA, at least in an unofficial capacity:

"I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA," he said. "I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don't realize it."

"The system failed comprehensively," he added, "and each level of oversight, each level of responsibility that should have addressed this, abdicated their responsibility."

Snowden told The Post that he wasn't sure how the public would react. He didn't know if people would agree with his actions or share his views.

"You recognize that you're going in blind... But when you weigh that against the alternative, which is not to act, you realize that some analysis is better than no analysis."

Snowden also recorded a video Christmas message on Tuesday.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Glenn Greenwald Starting New Media Venture Backed by eBay Founder: REPORT


Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist who helped break the NSA story for the Guardian and lives in Brazil with his partner David Miranda, is poised to launch a new media venture reportedly backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, a French-born Iranian-American, also founded the Democracy Fund and is said to be worth $8.5 billion, Reuters reports:

Greenwald, who is based in Brazil and was among the first to report information provided by one-time U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that he was presented with a "once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity" that he could not pass up.

He did not reveal any specifics of the new media venture but said details would be announced soon. Greenwald did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two sources familiar with the new venture said the financial backer was Omidyar. It was not immediately clear if he was the only backer or if there were other partners.

Omidyar could not immediately be reached for comment.


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