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Snowden Charges Just the Beginning

Snowden Charges Just the Beginning Kin Cheung/AP

U.S. Must Now Extradite Leaker from Hong Kong.

The U.S. government has filed espionage charges against NSA leaker Edward Snowden, but that's just the beginning of what promises to be a very drawn-out process. The charges are just the first step in the government's attempt to extradite Snowden from Hong Kong, where he is currently in hiding. Although a newspaper there claimed he is under police protection, territorial authorities have declined to comment. Snowden has been charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communication intelligence to an unauthorized person. Under the Espionage Act, the last two charges could mean fines and up to 10 years in prison.

Read it at Reuters

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Cold Shoulder

Do Svidaniya, Russia

Stung by Vladimir Putin’s refusal to return the NSA leaker, a frustrated Obama administration is pulling back from cooperating with their Russian counterparts. By Josh Rogin.

The Obama administration is pulling back from various aspects of U.S.-Russian cooperation as the dispute over the fate of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden deepens, only the latest irritant in the ever-cooling bilateral relationship.

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, center, attends a press conference at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport with Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks, left on July 12, 2013. (Tanya Lokshina/Human Rights Watch, via AP)

Freedom of Information

Big Data Is Watching

As the NSA scandal shows, data is being collected on every aspect of our lives. This can be used to improve our experience, particularly in cities, or it can be a way to strip us of our privacy. Leo Hollis, the author of ‘Cities Are Good for You,’ warns us of the good and the bad.

This month, Microsoft made the headlines for two very different reasons. It was revealed that the company had allowed the National Security Agency access to the entire cache of users’ Outlook, Hotmail, and skydive data. Earlier, the software giant announced that it was getting into the “Smart City” business, launching a new project, CityNext, that promises to deliver the latest software and technology to grapple with the challenges of urban life. These two news stories are a reminder of how the major software companies are entering into every corner of our lives, and why we might need to be forewarned about the possible consequences.

NSA Phone Records Big Data Photo Gallery

A Google employee diagnoses an overheated computer processor at Google’s data center in Oregon. (Connie Zhou/AP)


The Death of Privacy

A new documentary, ‘Terms and Conditions May Apply,’ suggests our privacy problems are much worse than mere NSA spying. Lloyd Grove talks to the film’s director about an ignored reality of modern life: nothing is safe.

What a moment for being “shocked, shocked”!

The furor surrounding whistleblower Edward Snowden’s blockbuster revelation that the National Security Agency is snooping on supposedly confidential communications is beginning to resemble Captain Renault’s “discovery” of gambling in Casablanca.

Murky Finances

WikiLeaks’ Money Trail

Julian Assange has acknowledged the irony: a group dedicated to transparency has truly murky finances. Caitlin Dickson and Eliza Shapiro report on how it’s getting funding for Snowden and more.

It’s not cheap to maintain the lifestyles of two international fugitives.

Wikileaks money trail

Anthony Devlin/AFP/Getty Images, Corbis


The Snowden Parasites

The NSA drama has reeled in a host of global grandstanders desperate for relevancy. Michael Moynihan on the Bolivian farce, the WikiLeaks sideshow, and other yanqui ‘victims.’

I know, I know. We aren’t supposed to pay attention to Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker doing an uncanny Sir Alfred Mehran impression at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. It’s the drip, drip, drip of purloined documents that counts.

But a story this big, this consequential, needs a dramatis personae of dramatic people. So let’s offer Snowden a brief respite from the spotlight, pretend his motives are either pure or of little consequence, and instead turn our gaze toward those grandstanding politicians and activists demanding that our hero be left alone and all attention refocused on them.

Leakers in Peril

Is Snowden the New Karen Silkwood?

The government’s campaign to smear the late anti-nuke activist could be a blueprint for its efforts to discredit whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The U.S. government will stop at nothing to prevent whistleblowers from revealing official secrets. Edward Snowden, who exposed the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs in June, is the most recent example. But such crackdowns are nothing new. Remember Karen Silkwood?


Karen Silwood and Edward Snowden. (AP; Getty)

Snowden’s Lot?

Life as a Defector

What kind of future does the NSA leaker face if he gets asylum in Russia or another country? If the experience of past defectors—alcoholism, suicide attempts, mental illness—is any guide, it looks grim.

It is unlikely that anyone has ever defected or sought asylum on foreign soil for any reason other than “Where I’m going can’t be worse than where I’ve been.” But try telling that to Edward Snowden, the on-the-lam National Security Agency contractor who leaked classified information revealing U.S. surveillance programs and by now is probably wondering if he’s ever getting out of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where he’s stuck until the Russians and Americans figure out what to do with him. Snowden would cheerfully accept asylum in Russia, or Ecuador, or 15 other countries he’s selected, because none of those countries, unlike the United States, wants to throw him in jail. The problem with that idea, as a lot of former defectors—and individuals simply seeking asylum—could tell him, is that plain old jail can start looking pretty good after a while.


Kim Philby (left) and Edward Snowden. (AP;Getty)

The reasonable expectation of “privacy” has evolved since the Court coined the concept in 1967 – and Obama’s actions have respected that expectation, writes Geoffrey R. Stone.

There is a crucial difference between the Obama administration’s phone call data-mining program, which is constitutional under current law, and the Bush administration’s NSA surveillance program, which was clearly unconstitutional. Unlike the Obama program, which is limited to obtaining information about phone calls made and received from telephone companies, the Bush program authorized the government to wiretap private phone conversations. From a constitutional perspective, the difference is critical, and it is unfortunate that President Obama has not done a better job of explaining the distinction, and why his administration’s program does not violate the constitutional “right of privacy.”

Obama Bush Library

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and former first lady Barbara Bush watch as former President George W. Bush hugs his wife, former first lady Laura Bush at the dedication of the George W. Bush presidential library on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Thursday, April 25, 2013. (Charles Dharapak/AP)


Time for a New Church Committee?

The famed whistleblower is petitioning Congress, he tells The Daily Beast’s Miranda Green.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg is calling for a new Church Committee to probe the “abuses of American intelligence agencies” and “restore the protections in the Bill of Rights."

NSA-Phone Records-Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg speaks during a rally in support of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning outside the gates of Fort Meade, Md. on June 10, 2013. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

He's Changed

How the President Made Friends With Big Brother

The Evolution of Barack Obama

The Evolution of Barack Obama

The president has evolved from ardent civil libertarian to surveillance hardliner. With liberals outraged by the Verizon court order, Daniel Klaidman and Eli Lake chart the change.

'Nobody Is Listening to Your Telephone Calls'

After a brief speech on Obamacare Friday, the president was asked about the NSA secretly obtaining Americans' personal information (spying?). Didn't catch his lengthy, wide-ranging response? Here are the important bits, boiled down to a very manageable 129 seconds.

Your Guide

NSA Surveillance Explained

Behind the NSA Spying Program

Behind the NSA Spying Program

Caitlin Dickson on how far it’s gone, who’s involved—and how Obama just defended it at a press conference.

Reader Poll

Do You Care That the NSA Is Spying on You?


Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

We Hear You

Verizon: Happy to Help!


What Spies Read For Fun