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United States Government Privacy Security

Did Russia Trick Snowden Into Going To Moscow? 346

An anonymous reader writes "Ex-KGB Major Boris Karpichko says that spies from Russia's SVR intelligence service, posing as diplomats in Hong Kong, convinced Snowden to fly to Moscow last June. 'It was a trick and he fell for it,' Karpichko, who reached the rank of Major as a member of the KGB's prestigious Second Directorate while specializing in counter-intelligence, told Nelson. 'Now the Russians are extracting all the intelligence he possesses.'"
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Did Russia Trick Snowden Into Going To Moscow?

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  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:01AM (#47194227)

    ... yea, so Snowden still doesn't know he was tricked?

  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:02AM (#47194237) Journal

    If the Americans had any intelligence and sincerity, Snowden would not have had any reason to flee in the first place.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:07AM (#47194285)

    > This now comes down to whether Snowden was a "useful idiot" or was he working for the Russians all along

    If he had been working for them all along he:

    (1) Would have gone directly to Russia
    (2) Would not have given the information to reporters

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:10AM (#47194329)

    If Snowden hadn't been treated like a traitor by his country, he wouldn't've had to flee in the first place. Uncle Sam only have himself to blame if snowden is spilling the beans in Russia.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:10AM (#47194333)

    The intelligence revealed in the media has done more to drive wedges between the Americans and their allies at a time when both China and Russia have taken on a more aggressive foreign policy.

    So then maybe the US government shouldn't have been doing things that would piss off their allies? Being a rapist, murderer, etc. also tends to drive wedges between the criminal and their friends. But that's squarely on their own head not the person who told the world they were a criminal.

  • by MikeMo ( 521697 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:12AM (#47194345)
    If Snowden is a "whistleblower", why did he release so much material about things the NSA does which are not illegal? Why did he release info about capabilities which are clearly under the NSA purview and in the national interest?
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:23AM (#47194421) Homepage
    Saying it was a trick flagrantly ignores the fact that the vast majority of more than 75 nations would openly and gladly transfer snowden to the United States. As a nation all we'd have to do is threaten to withhold/offer to increase aid to the target nation and in turn theyd cough him up post-haste. this doesnt account for the numerous countries with dictatorial governments favorable to our interests in which we could simply just ask.
    Russia is one of a handful of successful foreign nations with the power, both economically and militarily to resist whatever the US asks for. Sending cia agents to him for rendition is a suicide mission, both militarily and politically. We are beholden to 5% of our oil supply from Russia, and the last time we offered an economic incentive was when we bought up a few hundred nuclear missiles from them and converted the payload to nuclear fuel in the 80's so we arent exactly an economic juggernaut in their world.

    snowden was smart to take the Russian offer. He was going to expose clandestine secrets about the United States government that fly in the face of the constitution and our rule of law, and Russia saw nothing but gain from his efforts. finally, after 50 years of chest thumping freedom and swinging-dick foreign policy, a piping hot dish of humble pie had been prepared to which America would reluctantly have to at least take a bite and say, "Politically we're no less reprehensible than any other nation. we just have better propaganda."
  • by jeIlomizer ( 3670951 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:28AM (#47194453)

    Agreed. People should just stop caring about whether the government does anything illegal or violates people's individual liberties. Who needs freedom and privacy, anyway?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:28AM (#47194457)

    So which US government agency fabricated this theory in order to bolster anti Snowden sentiments?

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:28AM (#47194459)

    If Snowden is a "whistleblower", why did he release so much material about things the NSA does which are not illegal?

    So what are you insinuating here? That because he released non-ilegal things that Snowden was not a whistle blower? And therefore he should be prosecuted?

    That line of thinking smells a lot like a logical fallacy.

    And anyway, did Snowden release the documents himself, or was it the journalists that he passed them on to?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:31AM (#47194491)

    I'm sure the US government is astroturfing anti Snowden propaganda like mad. No sane citizen would actually think Snowden is a traitor or even managed to harm US interests, where "US interests" is defined as the interests of the American people and not the interests of the kleptocratic psychos who make up the ruling class.

  • by fey000 ( 1374173 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:41AM (#47194563)

    If Snowden is a "whistleblower", why did he release so much material about things the NSA does which are not illegal? Why did he release info about capabilities which are clearly under the NSA purview and in the national interest?

    Nothing the NSA did was "illegal", since they are a part of the government. This can also be seen in that no one has been arrested for what amounts to systematically breaking the constitutional rights of the american citizen.
    Their actions are however highly immoral and reprehensible, which is the reason that Snowden wanted to inform the public. This because he values right over might.

    Does that answer your question?

  • by crimson tsunami ( 3395179 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:42AM (#47194571)
    If he was working for the Russians all along, he would have simply stayed put and kept stealing secrets.
    No need to flee anywhere. He also wouldn't give a fuck about the domestic spying aspect, if he wanted to drive a wedge he could have released that part anonymously while giving all the other juicy secrets to the Russians.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:50AM (#47194633)

    If he was really working with Russia he wouldn't have left at all. The whole point of being a double agent is to not out yourself. Since the NSA seemed to be so incompetent to allow him to download massive amounts of classified data he could have easily passed it on the Russia without detection or needing to leave the country. He left because he did not want to be silenced and rot in prison while the NSA kept chugging along with no one else the wiser.

  • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:55AM (#47194675)

    I'm not sure it's possible to "trick" somebody who fled the U.S. to hang out with the Peace and Freedom Loving Peoples of the PRC. Unless Snowden is a completely gullible idiot, it's beyond ludicrous to think he didn't know that months of intelligence extraction awaited him after a flight to Russia.

    Frankly, I don't understand the guy. There are plenty of better options that would have been available to him; I still can't figure why he chose the PRC as a first stop. Once he got stuck there, his options were between slim and none.

    Plenty of options? Like going to congress where the hard liners were calling for his execution? The truth is that it was hard line bullshitters like that which drove Snowden to Russia. The US political class shot it self in the foot with its come-down-on-him-like-a-ton-of-bricks attitude and now Russia is benefitting. It's basically a reverse of the situation faced during the Cold War by people who had legitimate reason to criticises the Soviet system had no way of doing so except by defecting to the west to avoid being locked away. Perhaps you should ask yourself why the only place from which the NSA and the US govt. can be safely criticisesd these days on certain issues without having to fear being disappeared into some CIA run solitary confinement unit, is a shark tank like Putin's Russia?

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:59AM (#47194695)
    One of the things Snowden exposed is how utterly shambolic the NSA is and how there is a vast attack surface which would be highly vunerable to foreign agencies or even organized crime. If China and Russia didn't already have access to what an external contractor in Hawaii like Snowden had then they wouldn't have been trying at all.

    Chinese have surely previously copied Snowden's stuff and possibly reached a deal with the USSR

    The press already have it so there's no reason for governments to make deals - a few bucks or a cheap favor to a paper and they've got the lot.

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @10:10AM (#47194767)
    Sorry, it's more like, "one nation's government wants to lock him up for what he did to them, another nation's government wants to lock him up for what he can do for them, and other nations don't want him at all, but will probably hand him over to one or the other in due course."

    People like to prattle on about the tree of liberty and refreshing it with the blood of patriots and tyrants; they always forget the part about the consequences of getting the short end of the stick being rather severe. Mr. Snowden's only real mistake was thinking that he was individually smart enough to take on these world powers and personally win, when in reality he's never going to be free from the machine.

    If he wanted to be free and to have done this, he'd have had to move some place isolated, remote, and where he could be somewhat anonymous, and to have released his documentation through several intermediaries. Some place like rural west-central Australia, for example. Unfortunately for him he chose to be known in his releases, and he'll end up paying for that choice for the rest of his life, and possibly with his life.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2014 @10:29AM (#47194871)

    Well, mostly because pretty much everything he has announced has been admitted to be true. I don't think I've seen any stories with Snowden-released information where it was disproven, although I could be wrong on that.

    On the other hand, the US (and other Governments) eventually admitted that he was telling the truth about the releases.

    Given two stories from two entities, one which is a proven liar and one which is not, which would you be more likely to trust?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2014 @10:36AM (#47194923)

    Even putting aside the facts that he was willing to break the oaths he took when he got his security clearance

    The oath he took was to "protect and defend the Constitution, against all enemies, foreign and domestic"

    He's committed many crimes, but breaking that oath does not appear to be one of them.

  • by blue trane ( 110704 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @10:39AM (#47194947) Homepage Journal

    He gave all the information he had away. What else does he have, expired passwords?

  • by jeIlomizer ( 3670951 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @10:40AM (#47194959)

    And yet, with all the millions of documents he stole


    he cannot provide any evidence of this beyond "trust me."

    Why do you think it is reasonable to expect that people have perfect foresight? He was in a dangerous situation, and not all of the instances where he might have tried to report the problems were necessarily recorded or accessible to him.

    I also don't know why you blindly take him at his word.

    Who really believes that corrupt government scumbags would care about this, especially when they're the ones who did this to begin with, and many of them still support it?

    And for what it's worth, I would have preferred he *had not* gone through the 'proper channels'. The People have a right to know when the government is violating the highest law of the land or people's liberties; not only do they have a right to know, but they should be the *first* to know. By going through the 'proper channels', you risk getting taken out of a position where leaking the information is possible, and then the whole issue would be swept under a rug.

    Even putting aside the facts that he was willing to break the oaths he took when he got his security clearance

    He had a duty to report the violations of the constitution and people's liberties, silly "oaths" be damned.

    he has a strong need to spin his facts and sell his view to keep from looking like a traitor.

    You mean like the government? And you realize this is just a silly opinion piece, right?

  • by clonehappy ( 655530 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @10:54AM (#47195053)

    Imagine a hypothetical situation:

    You are cheating on your wife, and have been doing so for some time now. A good friend of hers finds out about what you're doing and tells your her. At this point, people are going to be pissed off at one of two people. People loyal to you are going to be pissed off at your wife's friend for ratting you out. People loyal to her are going to be pissed off at you, and see your wife's friend as a hero. That's just the way things work. So you can always tell where someone's loyalties really lie by determining whom they are pissed off at.

    In this situation, the secret police/military complex/power elite/establishment is effectively screwing over the general public and the Constitution (the highest law of that land, for those that are unfamiliar), and has been doing so for some time now. Someone finds out about what they're really doing and tells us. At this point, people are pissed off at one of two people (or groups of people). People who are loyal to the secret police/military complex/power elite/establishment are pissed off at Snowden for ratting them out. People loyal to the general public and Constitution are pissed off at the people screwing them, and see him as a hero.

    I'm not trying to scream "shill" to every person who wants Snowden's head on a pike, but you'd better believe that any prominent figure who is crying traitor day in and day out in the public media, well, you know where their loyalties lie is all I'm saying. It's not too hard to figure it out.

  • by dunkindave ( 1801608 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @11:26AM (#47195281)
    The Feds said they found an email where he asked a question to clarify a point in some training material regarding the ability of Executive Orders to override statues (the way the material was present implied the two were equal but did not say that). At no point in that email did he bring up anything the NSA was doing or state any objection to NSA actions, and the answer he got said Executive Orders cannot override statutes. If you want to interpret asking a question about how a sentence is phrased as Snowden stating an objection to the NSA's actions, then I guess you are entitled to your opinion, though my interpretation would be different.

    As others have said though, Snowden claims to have complained/objected multiple times, yet so far the only thing that has come out is the one document you reference, and that was released by the NSA, not Snowden, and it isn't an objection to NSA's activities. Did Snowden really fail to keep any copies of the documents that would obviously be needed to help him defend his claims about his actions, or does he have copies of whatever he did and for some reason is choosing not to release them despite making claims about them during interviews (this would imply something about them to me, but that would be speculation, though that doesn't seem to stop most on Slashdot)?

    Personally, I think part of Snowden feels his actions were justified, but I also feel the way he did it has caused a lot more harm to legitimate interests than he, or his supporters, want to admit. This of course presumes that one believes there is ever a reason to conduct surveillance against enemies and potential enemies in the world we live in - hint, think about the consequence of being the only one who doesn't perform such surveillance, and I mean in the world we have, not the one you want to think should exist.
  • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @11:44AM (#47195479)

    The documents that he gave the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman and the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald have, so far, furnished stories about the NSA’s interception of email traffic, mobile phone calls, and radio transmissions of Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s northwest territories; about an operation to gauge the loyalties of CIA recruits in Pakistan; about NSA email intercepts to assist intelligence assessments of what’s going on inside Iran; about NSA surveillance of cellphone calls “worldwide,” an effort that (in the Post’s words) “allows it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.” In his first interview with the South China Morning Post, Snowden revealed that the NSA routinely hacks into hundreds of computers in China and Hong Kong.

    [slaps forehead smartly] Do you have any idea how blindingly obvious ALL of that crap is? No one with a functioning brainstem, and that includes Iran, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Russia, China, the King of Siam and the boogey man, is the least bit surprised that the NSA has been doing all that. The only red flag is the part about "tracking people whose movements [happen to] intersect", which, with the fact of an all-seeing eye scrutinizing every single person's life, is the whole point of Snowden's revelation of blatant unconstitutional overreaches.

    Furthermore, mere revelation that the NSA has been engaged in those processes conveys no useful information whatsoever to any enemy of the US.

    Jesus wept to think that so many people are getting hoodwinked by this crap.

  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @12:14PM (#47195713) Homepage

    Clearly any information that contradicts your preexisting conclusions must have been fabricated by the evil US government.

  • by some old guy ( 674482 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @12:22PM (#47195761)

    "Among other things, Snowden signed an oath, as a condition of his employment as an NSA contractor, not to disclose classified information, and knew the penalties for violating the oath."

    The entire Wehrmacht swore an oath too. Breaking a pact with evil is no evil. I suppose you think Colonel von Stauffenburg was a traitor as well?

  • by Pieroxy ( 222434 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @12:22PM (#47195765) Homepage

    In a story as touchy as Snowden's, nothing is as simple as you make it out to be. Not your theory, not the GP's theory. There are probably thousands of strings being pulled as we converse on the subject, and we have no idea.

  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @12:29PM (#47195815) Homepage

    It's very simple. You have absolutely no evidence to back up your theory that the US government fabricated this story. You believe that's the case because it fits your existing worldview.

  • by gTsiros ( 205624 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @12:49PM (#47195935)

    he set a personal example and proved this is something worth sacrificing yourself for.

    i respect that. complete lunacy, but we do live in a crazy world.

  • by something_wicked_thi ( 918168 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @02:09PM (#47196555)

    This is why I find this discussion so absurd.

    If the US really was concerned about Snowden giving US secrets to Russia, why not reinstate his passport so he can leave? They're the reason he's stranded in Russia, not because Snowden wanted to go there.

  • by dnavid ( 2842431 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @05:16PM (#47198199)

    Even putting aside the facts that he was willing to break the oaths he took when he got his security clearance

    The oath he took was to "protect and defend the Constitution, against all enemies, foreign and domestic"

    He's committed many crimes, but breaking that oath does not appear to be one of them.

    Among the things included within the Constitution are rules governing who gets to determine how the Constitution is to be interpreted and who gets to enforce its language. Nowhere within the Constitution does there exist a clause that states any citizen is entitled to substitute their own judgment for the authority delegated by the Constitution. When Snowden or anyone else swears to protect and defend the Constitution, they do not specifically swear to defend a couple of clauses within the bill of rights, but the entire Constitution. When Snowden first disclosed himself in his very first published interview he stated he did not know if the intelligence programs he was disclosing were strictly speaking illegal, since they had been authorized by the office of the president in some cases and authorized by legislation in other cases. What he said was that he felt he needed to start a dialog about them. And while he was basically correct in that its obvious the majority of the American people want that dialog, there exists no Constitutional authority or right by which Snowden started that conversation.

    However else you justify Snowden's actions, they were extra-Constitutional in nature. Its something to consider when considering that the primary power the Constitution provides to its citizens to remedy situations like this is basically the vote. We live in a Constitutional republic, not a Constitutional democracy, and our primary power as citizens is we can change the makeup of our representation within that republic. If We The People don't think that works anymore, its not the Constitution that needs saving, its the Constitution itself that is intrinsically broken. It did not anticipate a day when the people would be incapable of choosing a government capable of representing its own interests.

  • by crimson tsunami ( 3395179 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @10:10PM (#47199803)
    I'm pretty sure they agree to defend the constitution from ALL enemies, foreign and domestic. I don't think there is an exemption for government officials who have overstepped their power.

    Being authorised by the office of the president, or legislation makes no difference if the law is counter to the constitution. Eventually when it comes before a court it will be declared unconstitutional (assuming the judges are not corrupt, but that's a whole other problem) and retroactively will cease to exist.

    The legal encyclopedia American Jurisprudence says the following in regard to constitutionality: The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and the name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void and ineffective for any purpose since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it; an unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed ... An unconstitutional law is void. (16 Am. Jur. 2d, Sec. 178)

    So you think the constitution is intrinsically broken, but you still want to follow all the things that are set up by that constitution. You still place the broken government of the day, above the broken constitution. Either way, shining a light on the whole mess is the best way to start fixing whatever it is that's broken.

    I dnavid, hereby declare on oath, that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic (except when I'm just following orders, even if I know those orders are wrong and are counter to the constitution I'm swearing to protect).

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban