Documenting Darkness


| 2/20/2014 2:25:00 PM


Tags: NSA, Government Spying, Surveillance, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Government Secrecy, War on Whistleblowers, TomDispatch, Tom Engelhardt.,

Anatomy of a thug state.

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.

Here, at least, is a place to start: intelligence officials have weighed in with an estimate of just how many secret files National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden took with him when he headed for Hong Kong last June. Brace yourself: 1.7 million. At least they claim that as the number he or his web crawler accessed before he left town. Let’s assume for a moment that it’s accurate and add a caveat. Whatever he had with him on those thumb drives when he left the agency, Edward Snowden did not take all the NSA’s classified documents. Not by a long shot. He only downloaded a portion of them. We don’t have any idea what percentage, but assumedly millions of NSA secret documents did not get the Snowden treatment.

Such figures should stagger us and what he did take will undoubtedly occupy journalists for months or years more (and historians long after that). Keep this in mind, however: the NSA is only one of 17 intelligence outfits in what is called the U.S. Intelligence Community. Some of the others are as large and well funded, and all of them generate their own troves of secret documents, undoubtedly stretching into the many millions.

And keep something else in mind: that’s just intelligence agencies. If you’re thinking about the full sweep of our national security state (NSS), you also have to include places like the Department of Homeland Security, the Energy Department (responsible for the U.S. nuclear arsenal), and the Pentagon. In other words, we’re talking about the kind of secret documentation that an army of journalists, researchers, and historians wouldn’t have a hope of getting through, not in a century.

sans
2/24/2014 2:00:21 PM

Setting aside the need for reform in our 'national security', did it ever occur to you the ramifications of some young libertarian punk being able to so easily steal such large amounts of classified information? The Rosenbergs were executed for less.