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 http://newsflash.org | NOVEMBER 18 -19, 2015

PHNO SCIENCE & INFOTECH NEWS
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports)

STUDY: UNPRECEDENTED RISE IN DEATHS FROM TERRORISM
[“The tactics of Isis are changing. They are targeting more private citizens. It’s difficult—taking the time frame forward two years—to see the Isis threat disappearing.” The study estimated that the economic cost of terrorism amounted to $52.9 billion, the highest ever level and a tenfold increase since 2000.]


People and the media stand outside of the French embassy in Mexico during a vigil for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris in Mexico City, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday left scores dead and hundreds injured. AP Photo
LONDON, UK,  The number of people killed globally in terrorist attacks jumped 80 percent last year to the highest level ever recorded, the Institute for Economics and Peace said Tuesday.The Global Terrorism Index found that 32,658 people were killed by terrorists in 2014, up from the 18,111 fatalities of the previous year, the largest increase on record.The study defines terrorism as “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.” Nigeria-based Boko Haram and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) group were responsible for more than half of the deaths, according to the study, which measures attacks, deaths and damage from terror attacks in 162 countries.
“Terrorism is gaining momentum at an unprecedented pace,” said Steve Killelea, the executive chairman of the Institute of Economics and Peace, which produces the study.The increase followed a 61 percent rise in 2013.The study found that terrorism was highly concentrated, with the five countries of Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria accounting for 78 percent of deaths last year.READ MORE...

ALSO: Attacks In Paris Highlight - The Worst And Best Of Social Media


An Indian child pays floral tribute at a sand sculpture created in remembrance of victims of Friday’s attacks in Paris, in Bhubaneswar, India, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Biswaranjan Rout)
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack last January, the French government advocated new legislation to stop the use of social networks as hate-speech vehicles by ISIL supporters, who were also using those platforms to coordinate their terrorist acts. Harlem Desir, State Secretary for European Affairs, proposed an international legal framework that would make Facebook and Twitter share responsibility when used to spread messages promoting violence. But the attacks which ravaged the French capital yesterday showed how social media can also play a much more positive role. Facebook activated its Safety Check tool, introduced in October 2014 to help people in areas afected by a disaster let their Facebook friends know they are safe. Twitter was also helpful: residents used the hashtag #porteouverte to offer shelter to people stranded in the city.
READ MORE...RELATED, Triple suicide bombing kills 7 in northeast Nigerian city

ALSO: How Paris ISIS Terrorists may have used PlayStation 4 to discuss and plan attacks


Correction: It has not been confirmed, as originally written, that a console was found as a result of specific Belgian terror raids. Minister Jambon was speaking about tactics he knows ISIS to be using generally.
Following Friday night’s terrorist attacks in Paris which killed at least 127 people and left more than 300 injured, authorities are discovering just how the massacre was planned. And it may involve the most popular gaming console in the world, Sony ’s PlayStation 4. The hunt for those responsible (eight terrorists were killed Saturday night, but accomplices may still be at large) led to a number of raids in nearby Brussels. Belgian federal home affairs minister Jan Jambon has said outright that the PS4 is used by ISIS agents to communicate, and was selected due to the fact that it’s notoriously hard to monitor. “PlayStation 4 is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp,” he said. When the new generation of consoles launched, there were concerns that they would be too light on privacy, with peripherals like Microsoft MSFT +1.89%’s Kinect and PlayStation’s Camera possibly having the ability to spy on users if say, the government wanted a window into your living room. While the idea is certainly Orwellian, it’s the non-peripheral based communication on consoles which may provide terrorists a channel to effectively converse with one another. The comparatively low-tech system may offer a more secure means of communication than even encrypted phone calls, texts and email. While it remains unclear whether the Paris ISIS terrorists employed PS4 to communicate, there are a few options, from sending messages through the PlayStation Network (PSN) online gaming service and voice-chatting to even communicating through a specific game. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed that the NSA and CIA actually embedded themselves in games like World of Warcraft to infiltrate virtual terrorist meet-ups. Recommended by Forbes 'Overwatch' Is Coming To PS4 And Xbox One As A Fully-Fledged $60 Game This Bundle Effectively Prices The PS4 At $140 USAAVoice: What's A Fixed Annuity And Do I Need One? READ MORE...

ALSO: Terrorists were using encryption technology to evade detection long before Snowden and the Paris attacks


A man uses his cell phone to read updates about former US spy-agency contractor Edward Snowden answering users' questions on Twitter in this photo illustration, in Sarajevo, January 23, 2014. REUTERS
The A wave of coordinated terror attacks that killed at least 130 people in Paris last week have had experts grappling with how French intelligence could have missed an operation that was most likely months in the making.
In recent days, the current and former heads of the CIA have hinted that the attacks might have been prevented had efforts not been made in the past few years to undermine the national-security apparatus. Others have cast doubt on those assertions, noting that terror groups have been working for years to avoid surveillance. During an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Monday, CIA Director John Brennan denounced the recent "policy and legal efforts" to reign in government surveillance that have made it "much more challenging" for the intel community to uncover terrorists. And on Wednesday, former acting head of the CIA Michael Morell placed blame for the rise of ISIS squarely on one man — Edward Snowden. Morell told Politico that the intelligence community's counterterrorism efforts had been undermined, specifically, by Snowden's leak of classified National Security Agency documents in 2013. "The Snowden disclosures created this perception that people’s privacy was being put at significant risk," Morell said, referring to disclosures about the NSA's ability to request user information from private companies and tools the agency used to crack encryption and monitor internet data. The revelations — and the public outrage that ensued — put pressure on companies to create encrypted-communications apps without keys to fight the perception that the US government "was inside" their hardware. "Even if the government goes to them with a warrant, they can't give them anything because they don't have a key," Morell said. "That is all, at the end of the day, back in Snowden’s lap, in my view." READ MORE...

ALSO: Snowden answered the question, 'Aren't you a traitor?' — and it was puzzling
[Following Snowden's answer, the BBC's Peter Taylor attempted to answer Snowden's counter question, "If I [were] a traitor, who did I betray?" "What you betrayed, I suggest, is the American people because you betrayed the intelligence agencies whose prime responsibility is to protect the American people," Taylor said. "An argument could be made that I betrayed the government to protect the people," Snowden countered. " ... The question is, how did these programs come to be, and how do we stop them from occurring in the future?"]


OCTOBER 9 --SNOWDEN Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden spoke with BBC Panorama this week, and he gave a eyebrow-raising answer to a question about his theft of up to 1.77 million classified US files. "Aren't you a traitor?" Peter Taylor of the BBC asked. "Of course not," Snowden answered. "The question is, 'If I [were] a traitor, who did I betray?' I gave all of my information to American journalists and free society generally." What's puzzling about that answer is that Snowden contradicts what he has said previously, instead of talking about how he has influenced the US justice system, public opinion, and even President Barack Obama. 'If I have time to go through this information ...' On June 12, 2013, two days after identifying himself to the world and fleeing the US, Snowden told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that he hadn't given everything to American journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald — because he had to review the data he was leaking. Snowden provided the Hong Kong paper with documents revealing"operational details of specific attacks on computers" in Hong Kong and mainland China, "including internet protocol (IP) addresses, dates of attacks, and whether a computer was still being monitored remotely." He told Lana Lam of SCMP he had held on to that information "because I don't want to simply dump huge amounts of documents without regard to their content." "I have to screen everything before releasing it to journalists," he said. Snowden added that he possessed more NSA intelligence beyond what he provided to the American journalists and SCMP. "If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of US network operations against their people should be published," he said. The events that followed imply that he did not have time to go through the information that he withheld from American journalists. Snowden, 32, allegedly stole up to 1.77 million NSA documents while working at two consecutive jobs for US government contractors in Hawaii from March 2012 to May 2013. The haul allegedly included 200,000 "tier 1 and 2" documents that mostly detailed the NSA's global surveillance apparatus and were reportedly given to American journalists Greenwald and Poitras in June 2013. The US intelligence community believes that Snowden also took up to 1.5 million "tier 3" documents. Those include 900,000 Department of Defense files and documents detailing the NSA's offensive cyberoperations. The fate of those documents is unclear. Advised by WikiLeaks, Snowden reportedly reached out to Russian diplomats in Hong Kong before flying to Moscow on June 23, 2013, and subsequently obtaining asylum in Russia. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

‘Unprecedented’ rise in deaths from terrorism—study


People and the media stand outside of the French embassy in Mexico during a vigil for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris in Mexico City, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday left scores dead and hundreds injured. AP Photo

LONDON, UK, NOVEMBER 23, 2015 (INQUIRER) @inquirerdotnet Agence France-Presse - 10:51 AM November 17th, 2015 - The number of people killed globally in terrorist attacks jumped 80 percent last year to the highest level ever recorded, the Institute for Economics and Peace said Tuesday.

The Global Terrorism Index found that 32,658 people were killed by terrorists in 2014, up from the 18,111 fatalities of the previous year, the largest increase on record.

The study defines terrorism as “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.”

Nigeria-based Boko Haram and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) group were responsible for more than half of the deaths, according to the study, which measures attacks, deaths and damage from terror attacks in 162 countries.

“Terrorism is gaining momentum at an unprecedented pace,” said Steve Killelea, the executive chairman of the Institute of Economics and Peace, which produces the study.
The increase followed a 61 percent rise in 2013.

The study found that terrorism was highly concentrated, with the five countries of Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria accounting for 78 percent of deaths last year.

READ MORE...

Iraq was the worst affected with 9,929 deaths from terrorism—suffering both the highest number of attacks and the most fatalities from terrorism ever recorded by a country.

The biggest rise in fatalities from terrorism however was in Nigeria, which saw an increase of over 300 percent in deaths to 7,512.

Western states were much less at risk from attacks, which were most likely to be perpetrated by lone wolves driven by political extremism, nationalism or racial and religious supremacy rather than Islamic fundamentalism, according to the study.

Britain suffered greatest number of terrorist incidents in the West, mostly relating to Irish republican paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, it found.

Nevertheless, attacks claimed by ISIS in Paris that killed at least 129 last week could prove to be a milestone, according to Killelea.

“The Paris incident in many ways is a watershed within Europe. It shows that Isil (IS or ISIS) has the capabilities to be able to launch sophisticated and deadly attacks in Europe,” Killelea said.

He warned that foreign fighters who had travelled to Iraq and Syria, estimated to number between 25,000 and 30,000 since 2011, could prove a risk.

“The returning fighters from Syria will have the military training,” Killelea said.

“The tactics of Isis are changing. They are targeting more private citizens. It’s difficult—taking the time frame forward two years—to see the Isis threat disappearing.”

The study estimated that the economic cost of terrorism amounted to $52.9 billion, the highest ever level and a tenfold increase since 2000.


FORBES (TECHNOLOGY)

Attacks In Paris Highlight The Worst And Best Of Social Media Federico Guerrini , CONTRIBUTOR

I write about how technology can make our lives smarter. FOLLOW ON FORBES (66)
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


An Indian child pays floral tribute at a sand sculpture created in remembrance of victims of Friday’s attacks in Paris, in Bhubaneswar, India, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Biswaranjan Rout)

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack last January, the French government advocated new legislation to stop the use of social networks as hate-speech vehicles by ISIL supporters, who were also using those platforms to coordinate their terrorist acts.

Harlem Desir, State Secretary for European Affairs, proposed an international legal framework that would make Facebook and Twitter share responsibility when used to spread messages promoting violence.

But the attacks which ravaged the French capital yesterday showed how social media can also play a much more positive role.

Facebook activated its Safety Check tool, introduced in October 2014 to help people in areas afected by a disaster let their Facebook friends know they are safe. Twitter was also helpful: residents used the hashtag #porteouverte to offer shelter to people stranded in the city.

READ MORE...

Another important hashtag, #rechercheParis, is being used to search for missing loved ones last seen near attack sites.

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#ParisAttacks and #FranceUnderAttack are spreading information and updates about the attacks, while #PrayForParis gathers messages of solidarity and support for the victims and their fellow citizens.

But there’s also a darker side to social media: when a disaster strikes, it can easily become a source of disinformation. As BBC journalist Dave Lee notes, it’s difficult, in the midst of confusion, to distinguish false rumors from news. When a refugee camp in Calais was set on fire, for example, someone tweeted it was done in revenge, while it most likely was just due to an electrical fire.

White House candidate Donald Trump was also a “victim” of this witch-hunt: although he tweeted a a message of condolence, people shared instead, as if it were new, a tweet he made some months ago where he made a correlation between the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the fact the the possession of a gun in France wasn’t so widespread as in the U.S. Needless to says, he was accused of speculating on the murders.

Even worse, according to some reports, ISIL (or ISIS) supporters celebrated the attacks on Twitter, under an hashtag in Arabic which, translated to English, reads as “#ParisInFlames,” or “#ParisBurns.” While this appears to be true (Vice News gathered a couple of these infamous tweets), it’s difficult to estimate the extent of this “celebration.”

According to independent analyst Rita Katz, who in her Insite Blog tracks ISIL propaganda on social media, the latest attacks, “were part of a purposefully timed campaign to create hatred against France amongst jihadis.”

She also pointed to how #ParisInFlame was used – among others – by supporters of the Caliphate.

However the #ParisInFlame hashtag seems to have been used also by neutral, non-partisan Twitter users, simply to describe what was happening in Paris, and doubts have been cast on Katz’s methodology before, so caution is advised before making any claim that could be used to increase anger and sorrow even further.

If there’s one thing that the admittedly brief history of social media has taught us so far, it’s that these powerful tools are a double-edged sword: they can be used to show support and help coordinate rescue efforts, or they can also be tools for disinformation and hate speech.

After the new attacks, it is possible that the French government will call for greater and more effective surveillance powers and the recent project of harsher legislation for social media might gain new strength.

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Triple suicide bombing kills 7 in northeast Nigerian city @inquirerdotnet Associated Press 04:02 PM October 14th, 2015 Nigeria Boko Haram


An injured man is helped following a bomb explosion at the site of a bomb explosion in Nyanya outskirt of Abuja, Nigeria, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Multiple bombs detonated in two locations killing at least 15 people, the National Emergency Management Agency said Saturday, although no group has claimed responsibility the attack has attributes of others by Boko Haram, the home-grown Islamic extremist group.AP

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Three bomb blasts in as many minutes exploded in Maiduguri, killing at least seven people, witnesses and the army said Wednesday from the northeastern city that is the birthplace of the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group.

The third attack in recent weeks on the densely populated suburb of Anilari-Cross came Tuesday night as residents exhausted by daytime temperatures that soared to 39 degrees Celsius (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) were coming out of stuffy homes to enjoy the evening breeze.

“We had to rush into the house,” said resident Abubakar Sadiq. He said the three explosions were followed by gunfire.

Civilian self-defense fighter Abbas Gava said a dozen people were killed and wounded in three suicide bombings. Army spokesman Col. Sani Usman said seven people were killed in what appeared to be suicide bombings staged by Boko Haram.

Also Tuesday, soldiers attacked militants believed responsible for an attack last week on a military camp in Geidam town, also in Borno state, Usman said. The soldiers killed 10 insurgents and captured an anti-aircraft gun, rifles and submachine guns as well as an all-terrain vehicle, he said.

“The noose is tightening around the terrorists,” Nigeria’s Defense Headquarters tweeted this week. “We will continue the momentum until terrorists are extinct in Nigeria.”

Hopes were high earlier this year when Chadian troops helped the Nigerians to drive Boko Haram out of a large swath of northeast Nigeria which it had declared an Islamic caliphate.

But the insurgents have reverted to suicide bombings and hit-and-run raids and staged increasingly frequent and deadly attacks across borders into three neighboring states since President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in March, promising to crush the 6-year-old uprising that Amnesty International estimates has killed 20,000 people.

An offensive by a multinational army has been long delayed by funding and disputes..


FORBES (TECHNOLOGY)

How Paris ISIS Terrorists May Have Used PlayStation 4 To Discuss And Plan Attacks [Updated] Paul Tassi , CONTRIBUTOR News and opinion about video games, technology and the internet FOLLOW ON FORBES (1735) Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. psn arabic


Correction: It has not been confirmed, as originally written, that a console was found as a result of specific Belgian terror raids. Minister Jambon was speaking about tactics he knows ISIS to be using generally.

Following Friday night’s terrorist attacks in Paris which killed at least 127 people and left more than 300 injured, authorities are discovering just how the massacre was planned. And it may involve the most popular gaming console in the world, Sony ’s PlayStation 4.

The hunt for those responsible (eight terrorists were killed Saturday night, but accomplices may still be at large) led to a number of raids in nearby Brussels. Belgian federal home affairs minister Jan Jambon has said outright that the PS4 is used by ISIS agents to communicate, and was selected due to the fact that it’s notoriously hard to monitor. “PlayStation 4 is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp,” he said.

When the new generation of consoles launched, there were concerns that they would be too light on privacy, with peripherals like Microsoft MSFT +1.89%’s Kinect and PlayStation’s Camera possibly having the ability to spy on users if say, the government wanted a window into your living room.

While the idea is certainly Orwellian, it’s the non-peripheral based communication on consoles which may provide terrorists a channel to effectively converse with one another. The comparatively low-tech system may offer a more secure means of communication than even encrypted phone calls, texts and email.

While it remains unclear whether the Paris ISIS terrorists employed PS4 to communicate, there are a few options, from sending messages through the PlayStation Network (PSN) online gaming service and voice-chatting to even communicating through a specific game. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed that the NSA and CIA actually embedded themselves in games like World of Warcraft to infiltrate virtual terrorist meet-ups.

Recommended by Forbes 'Overwatch' Is Coming To PS4 And Xbox One As A Fully-Fledged $60 Game This Bundle Effectively Prices The PS4 At $140 USAAVoice: What's A Fixed Annuity And Do I Need One?

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With PlayStation 4, it seems likely that simple voice communication could have worked just fine. It’s still difficult for investigators to monitor IP-based voice systems compared to say, a simple cellphone. In 2010, the FBI pushed for access to all manner of Internet communications, including gaming chat systems. The FCC did not grant the FBI access to peer-to-peer communications, but the government agency did build its own rigs to record their communications in pursuit of criminals in organized chats, like a pedophile trying to lure kids via Xbox Live. Most consoles today come equipped with such capabilities, as nearly anything you do on your unit can be recorded if you want, in this age of YouTube and livestreaming.

See also: Attacks In Paris Highlight The Worst And Best Of Social Media

The point is that terrorists could simply be in a PSN party together and chatting away mostly free from the fear that anyone is listening because of the difficulty and infrequency of governments eavesdropping on those forms of communication. It remains unclear just how much access the government has gotten to places like PSN and Xbox Live in the past few years, but whatever it is, it’s likely still short of its ability to track more traditional forms of communication, such as cellphones and computers.

By last count, PSN alone had around 110 million users, 65 million of them active, making this no small pool of people. While government agencies can often build profiles of suspected terrorists based on their Internet or communication history, it’s much harder to profile someone based on console usage, if that data is even accessible. Few users would visit extremist’s sites in the PSN Web browser for instance or brag about future attacks in a public game lobby. There is no collection of games that really should raise “suspicion” about possible terrorist ties in an era where terrorism-filled Call of Duty titles are the best-selling games of the year, every year. How do you “profile” a gamer when information is not easy to access, and probably will tell you nothing even if you could get your hands on it?

ps4 headset

Additionally, there are probably still a number of ways that terrorists could send messages to each other without speaking a word, if they really wanted to. An ISIS agent could spell out an attack plan in Super Mario Maker’s coins and share it privately with a friend, or two Call of Duty players could write messages to each other on a wall in a disappearing spray of bullets. It may sound ridiculous, but there are many in-game ways of non-verbal communication that would almost be impossible to track. To do so would require an FBI or NSA agent somehow tapping all the activity on an entire console, not just voice and text chat, and that should not even be technically possible at this point.

While the makers of burner phones were once criticized for making it easier for criminals to communicate, it seems unlikely Microsoft and Sony will face the same scrutiny (not that they should). And yet, they may be inclined to start providing easier ways for governments to monitor specific accounts or consoles than what’s readily available now. Because as it is, the most popular gaming devices also happen to be the most effective at connecting not just the world’s friends, but the world’s enemies as well.


Terrorists were using encryption technology to evade detection long before Snowden and the Paris attacks Natasha Bertrand 20h 4,441 3 FACEBOOK LINKEDIN TWITTER EMAIL PRINT snowdenDado Ruvic/Reuters


A man uses his cell phone to read updates about former US spy-agency contractor Edward Snowden answering users' questions on Twitter in this photo illustration, in Sarajevo, January 23, 2014.

A wave of coordinated terror attacks that killed at least 130 people in Paris last week have had experts grappling with how French intelligence could have missed an operation that was most likely months in the making.

In recent days, the current and former heads of the CIA have hinted that the attacks might have been prevented had efforts not been made in the past few years to undermine the national-security apparatus.

Others have cast doubt on those assertions, noting that terror groups have been working for years to avoid surveillance.

During an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Monday, CIA Director John Brennan denounced the recent "policy and legal efforts" to reign in government surveillance that have made it "much more challenging" for the intel community to uncover terrorists.

And on Wednesday, former acting head of the CIA Michael Morell placed blame for the rise of ISIS squarely on one man — Edward Snowden.

Morell told Politico that the intelligence community's counterterrorism efforts had been undermined, specifically, by Snowden's leak of classified National Security Agency documents in 2013.

"The Snowden disclosures created this perception that people’s privacy was being put at significant risk," Morell said, referring to disclosures about the NSA's ability to request user information from private companies and tools the agency used to crack encryption and monitor internet data.

The revelations — and the public outrage that ensued — put pressure on companies to create encrypted-communications apps without keys to fight the perception that the US government "was inside" their hardware.

"Even if the government goes to them with a warrant, they can't give them anything because they don't have a key," Morell said. "That is all, at the end of the day, back in Snowden’s lap, in my view."

READ MORE...

Police Paris Saint Denis BarAP Photo/Francois Mori Police officers take up positions in Saint Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, November 18, 2015.

Leading up to the Paris attacks, ISIS members had been known to use Telegram, an encrypted app created by the makers of Russian social network VKontakte to evade government spies.

That, plus reports that a 34-page manual instructing members how to hide online is being circulated within ISIS' ranks, has only fueled arguments that groups like ISIS have figured out how to avoid large-scale surveillance.

"We saw people that we were targeting with NSA surveillance stop using communications at all," Matthew Olsen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), said at the Digital Democracy conference last week. "We saw them go to uses of encryption. ... It shouldn’t be any surprise — these guys are sophisticated."

But some experts are skeptical that revelations regarding the NSA's ability to access encrypted data and the encryption methods adopted by companies in the wake of the Snowden disclosures had any effect on the ways terrorists have chosen to communicate.

"There is no evidence at all that the Snowden leaks contributed or altered the kind of terrorist activity that ISIS and Al Qaeda do," Dave Aitel, CEO of the cybersecurity firm Immunity, Inc., told Business Insider.

"Al Qaeda was using high-grade operational technology long before the leaks — and they knew the NSA was their prime enemy long before Snowden," he added. "For Morell to say the intel gaps that facilitated the Paris attacks fall into Snowden's lap is a fantastic work of intellectual fiction."


Snowden answered the question, 'Aren't you a traitor?' — and it was puzzling Michael B Kelley Oct. 9, 2015, 4:31 PM 14,370 19

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden spoke with BBC Panorama this week, and he gave a eyebrow-raising answer to a question about his theft of up to 1.77 million classified US files.

"Aren't you a traitor?" Peter Taylor of the BBC asked.

"Of course not," Snowden answered.

"The question is, 'If I [were] a traitor, who did I betray?' I gave all of my information to American journalists and free society generally."

What's puzzling about that answer is that Snowden contradicts what he has said previously, instead of talking about how he has influenced the US justice system, public opinion, and even President Barack Obama.

'If I have time to go through this information ...' On June 12, 2013, two days after identifying himself to the world and fleeing the US, Snowden told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that he hadn't given everything to American journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald — because he had to review the data he was leaking.

Snowden provided the Hong Kong paper with documents revealing"operational details of specific attacks on computers" in Hong Kong and mainland China, "including internet protocol (IP) addresses, dates of attacks, and whether a computer was still being monitored remotely."

He told Lana Lam of SCMP he had held on to that information "because I don't want to simply dump huge amounts of documents without regard to their content."

"I have to screen everything before releasing it to journalists," he said.

Snowden added that he possessed more NSA intelligence beyond what he provided to the American journalists and SCMP.

"If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of US network operations against their people should be published," he said.

The events that followed imply that he did not have time to go through the information that he withheld from American journalists.


snowdenREUTERS/Vincent Kessler Snowden appears live via video during a meeting at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, June 23, 2015.

Snowden, 32, allegedly stole up to 1.77 million NSA documents while working at two consecutive jobs for US government contractors in Hawaii from March 2012 to May 2013.

The haul allegedly included 200,000 "tier 1 and 2" documents that mostly detailed the NSA's global surveillance apparatus and were reportedly given to American journalists Greenwald and Poitras in June 2013.

The US intelligence community believes that Snowden also took up to 1.5 million "tier 3" documents. Those include 900,000 Department of Defense files and documents detailing the NSA's offensive cyberoperations. The fate of those documents is unclear.

Advised by WikiLeaks, Snowden reportedly reached out to Russian diplomats in Hong Kong before flying to Moscow on June 23, 2013, and subsequently obtaining asylum in Russia.

READ MORE...


snowdenREUTERS A screenshot of Rossia 24 TV channel shows Edward Snowden on a boat trip in Moscow in September.

'Destroying the material that I was holding'

The answer Snowden gave to the BBC is all the more odd, considering that he's reportedly made a similar claim before — and then his legal adviser denied it.

In October 2013, James Risen of The New York Times reported Snowden told him that "he gave all of the classified documents he had obtained to journalists he met in Hong Kong, before flying to Moscow, and did not keep any copies for himself."

ACLU lawyer and Snowden legal adviser Ben Wizner subsequently told Business Insider that the report was inaccurate. (No correction was added to The Times story.)

Snowden subsequently told NBC's Brian Williams in Moscow that he possessed documents while on the run in Hong Kong but "destroyed" the cache before he reached out to Russian diplomats.

"The best way to make sure that for example the Russians can't break my fingers and — and compromise information or — or hit me with a bag of money until I give them something was not to have it at all," he said in May 2014.

"And the way to do that was by destroying the material that I was holding before I transited through Russia," he added.


snowdenNBC Brian Williams interviews Edward Snowden in Moscow, May 2014.

Following Snowden's answer, the BBC's Peter Taylor attempted to answer Snowden's counter question, "If I [were] a traitor, who did I betray?"

"What you betrayed, I suggest, is the American people because you betrayed the intelligence agencies whose prime responsibility is to protect the American people," Taylor said.

"An argument could be made that I betrayed the government to protect the people," Snowden countered. " ... The question is, how did these programs come to be, and how do we stop them from occurring in the future?"


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