The Risks of Trusting the Snowden Story

Last June, Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian revealed that Edward Snowden was the NSA insider behind “one of the most significant leaks in US political history.” Snowden explained his motivations through Greenwald by saying, “There are more important things than money…. harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.” Such altruistic motivations were welcome news at the time but have come into question recently given that only a tiny fraction of the documents have been released nearly a year after Snowden started working with Greenwald. Perhaps more importantly, billionaire Pierre Omidyar is funding Greenwald’s slow release of those documents and Omidyar’s Paypal colleagues have highly suspicious links to NSA spying and other dangers to civil rights.

It was originally reported that the number of documents Snowden had stolen was in the thousands. Today, however, that number is said to be nearly two million. This calls into question Snowden’s early statement, as reported by Greenwald, that he “carefully evaluated every single document to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest.” The huge, new number also reveals that less than one tenth of one percent of the documents (only about 900) have actually been released to the public.

How could Snowden have “carefully evaluated every single” one of what is now being said to be nearly two million documents? He only worked for Booz Allen Hamilton for a few months. According to NSA Director Keith Alexander, Snowden also worked directly for NSA for twelve months prior to that, which is interesting. But still, that would require carefully evaluating thousands of documents a day during that entire time. Didn’t he have a job apart from that?

Journalist Margie Burns asked some good questions back in June that have not yet been answered. She wondered about the 29-year old Snowden who had been a U.S. Army Special Forces recruit, a covert CIA operative, and an NSA employee in various capacities, all in just a few, short years. Burns asked “How, exactly, did Snowden get his series of NSA jobs? Did he apply through regular channels? Was it through someone he knew? Who recommended him? Who were his references for a string of six-figure, high-level security jobs? Are there any safeguards in place so that red flags go up when a subcontractor jumps from job to job, especially in high-level clearance positions?”

Five months later, journalists Mark Ames and Yasha Levine investigated some of the businesses in which Greenwald’s benefactor Omidyar had invested. They found that the actual practices of those businesses were considerably less humanitarian than the outward appearance of Omidyar’s ventures often portray. The result was that Omidyar took down references to at least one of those businesses from his website.

sauron eyeIn December, whistleblower Sibel Edmonds broke the news that Omidyar‘s Paypal Corporation was implicated in the as-yet-unreleased NSA documents from Snowden. Moreover, Edmonds had been contacted by an NSA official who alleged that “a deal was made in early June, 2013 between the journalists involved in this recent NSA scandal and U.S. government officials, which was then sealed by secrecy and nondisclosure agreements by all parties involved.”

Omidyar, the son of Iranian exiles, certainly has had some highly suspicious business associates at Paypal. Here are a few of the most influential of Omidyar’s Paypal colleagues.

These facts about Omidyar’s Paypal colleagues should raise the level of skepticism about his new media venture with Greenwald and the slow release of the documents stolen by Snowden. It’s clear that Snowden’s whistleblowing has been co-opted by private corporate interests. Are those involved with privatization of the stolen documents also colluding with government agencies to frame and direct national discussions on domestic spying and other serious matters?

The possibilities are endless, it seems. Presenting documents at a measured rate could be a way to acclimate citizens to painful realities without stirring the public into a panic or a unified response that might actually threaten the status quo. And considering that the number of documents has somehow grown from only thousands to nearly two million, the few insiders could release practically anything, thereby controlling national dialogue on many topics.

We live in an age of information war. It does not serve the public interest well to ignore that fact at any time based on pre-conceived notions of what corporations, governments or journalists are capable of. Let’s hope that Greenwald, who has done some good work revealing government misconduct, will immediately release all of the stolen documents, speak to the claims of an alleged deal made with government officials, and admit the risks with regard to Omidyar and his Paypal colleagues.

Great Insights!

Unfortunately, the world we live in is a lot more complicated that the Disneyfied version of it that has been sold to Americans for (at least) 50 years. The Ozian curtain (the Great and Powerful Oz said, "Never mind that man behind the curtain...") is falling...ever so slowly. Thank you once again, Kevin!

Clues to Future Snowden Leaks Found In His Past

Work for Covert NSA Facility at University of Maryland May Be Hint

Calling Snowden a “security guard” is like calling James Bond a “bouncer”. Snowden was a highly-prized expert at finding the NSA’s security vulnerabilities in order to protect the agency’s computer systems from malicious hackers.

Snowden may know a tremendous amount about – and have taken many documents regarding – the NSA’s dystopian plans for a Big Bro, pre-crime computer system.

Greenwald got the scoop.

But he is not the only person with the documents. I was not surprised when Greenwald got a business offer by people connected to the agency.

All in all this has been extremely positive I think. Some very damaging (in a good way) information is out there, the fact that the NSA has backdoored crypto chips and placed people in it's payroll at the head of the crypto standards organizations to insert flaws in various protocols was a "wild conspiracy theory" before this.

Dragnet surveillance is old news to those who follow these things, but it is not old news to the 99.9999% of people that do not. "Conspiracy" -> "reality" breaks this old lexical trick used to prevent critical thinking.

The leak is far from over.

The computers of the future will be in our brains. If we don't control them, they will control us.

>>All in all this has been

>>All in all this has been extremely positive

Totally agree. And it seems to me, the ones most interested in 1) a full dump of the documents and 2) knowledge of what the full content is and when it will be released, are the NSA and the WH --

Ever since Edward Snowden stole 1.7 million classified files from the NSA last summer, the Obama administration has been under siege and looking for a way out.

The behind-the-scenes effort to manage the fallout from the Snowden leaks has been so wide-ranging and time-consuming that officials from the George W. Bush and Obama administrations compare it to White House deliberations over the 9/11 and Iraq intelligence commissions’ reports, the U.S. military surge in Afghanistan, and the WikiLeaks disclosures.

The challenge is, in some ways, even more complicated this time.

“Unlike 9/11, where at least the story was over what happened with the 9/11 plot and there was a series of recommendations, this story is going to continue through the year,” said Michael Allen, a national security official in the George W. Bush administration and the author of “Blinking Red,” about efforts to reform intelligence after the terrorist attacks. “They’ve been completely unable to get ahead of any Snowden story whatsoever. Each time a new story hits, there’s 48 hours of consternation.”

The real damage to the fascists has already been done and Snowden himself has declared the operation a success -- the rest is up to us.

Are we going to go in circles focused on taking apart the people who released the documents and have risked their lives in the process, now are having to live outside the US?

Or are we going to focus on the content of the leaks . . . ? Isn't that what NSA and WH wants us not to do?

The hardest part about all of this is that so far, nothing has changed except the public awareness. One judge supported the people, the freedom, and another has supported the NSA. And with this Supreme Court, the NSA will win.

So there is much more to do than go after a journalist who released the documents, if you ask me.

Only 1% of leaks have been published ...

... at this rate, the estimate is that it will take about 40 years for all the leaks to come out.

Why have only 1% been leaked?

Greenwald and Poitras are the only two, by their own admission, to have seen and to hold onto, all the leaks.

Greenwald passed the leaks to editor Alan Rusbridger of the neo-liberal establishment paper "The Guardian", who stated that he *will not* look at the Iraq leaks, after some performance theatre was staged by Stasi-like goons in the office basement. (Smashing of computers - #Chilling Effect )

What *other* leaks has this upper middle class editor undemocratically decided the public *should not* see?

Any leaks related to 911 - which NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake refers to as "a gift to the NSA"?

Who is Rusbridger - who are GG and Poitras - to filter the leaks? Smacks of paternal neo-liberalism at best and good old censorship at worst.

I don't agree in "going after" journalists. I do believe in asking critical questions of journalists who sit on cache of leaks and trickle them out at whim via outlets headed by elite Brits or American billionaires.

When these journalists sign up with A Very Rich Guy From the 1% In-Crowd (eBay's Pierre Omidyar), who has documented connections with NSA-connected individuals (Palentir etc), is it not natural to wonder where the leaks will end up?

Speeds of deciet.

This is crazy. NYT Editorial telling us Snowden a Whistleblower and should be allowed 'home'.
Does not add up.

doesn't 'add up' in what

doesn't 'add up' in what sense? Have you actually considered the damage these leaks have done to the united states government and the influence they've had over every working journalist in the united states? Yeah the mainstream of journalism including the New York Times has had a horrible track record, but a lot of 'big' media figures have started to wake up to the horrors of surveillance. The CEO of Associated Press did a speech to a live audience where he essentially voiced a lot of the same dystopian thoughts that are more commonly heard among 'conspiracy theorists'. The tide is turning, and simply because mainstream outlets are in part waking up doesn't mean anything strange is happening, it's to be expected.

Borrowing smears from MSM now?

Seriously, this:

"And considering that the number of documents has somehow grown from only thousands to nearly two million, the few insiders could release practically anything, thereby controlling national dialogue on many topics"

is precisely the MSM/NSA argument against Snowden (and any whistleblower): who is he to decide which information should be made public?

Yes, it _is_ a problem. I'd rather see the entire cache, too. No, we cannot demand that GG release all the raw data in his possession, because there is a very serious risk of life imprisonment associated with such an act, and only GG can put his life on the line in this way. The decision is his. You cannot demand this kind of heroism from other people.

No, I do not trust Omidyar one whit. The only reason I read these smears on GG is because I have a problem with this venture and I'm trying to make up my mind. But I've read GG for years, and so far I have had no reason to distrust _his_ intentions. The same goes for Scahill: he exposed Blackwater and JSOC, after all. Those who cast stones had better done something of comparable value themselves.

My guess is: Greenwald and Scahill will be out of Omidyar's little puzzle palace and back on their own before the year is over.

And I find it incredible, and deeply disturbing to see Greenwald smeared by the likes of Kevin Ryan (and Sibel Edmonds, elsewhere) without a shred of evidence, just on the strength of the authors' personal feelings or their wishful thinking.

Here's a thought: where is Sibel Edmonds' deposition? You know, the one she could not make because she was legally barred from speaking about it? Why was it OK for her to not say anything of substance and keep her whistleblower badge, but Greenwald is suddenly a sell-out left gatekeeper, because he has not released everything yet? I'd really like to see a cogent answer to this question.

Glad to see others agree that

Glad to see others agree that this is getting kinda ridiculous. I wonder why Ryan Sibel and Corbett decided to all damage their credibility so heavily by jumping on board baseless Mainstream media style smears? Really sad, because up until this point I saw them as some of the best researchers we had.


Dissenting voices and alternative points of view are good things.

BTW I went and found your first comment (sept 2006) where you explain your username has nothing to do with no-planes, but I bet most folks would assume that's what it's about... it's easy to change if you like.

dissenting opinions in the

dissenting opinions in the form of claiming Greenwald is essentially bought out by the NSA with absolutely no evidence? I don't think that's journalism at that point, it's sensationalist alex jones style controversy click bait 'journalism'. It's unfortunate that most of the people voting me down don't have the courage to reply to me.

Credibility a Question

I, too, wonder about Sibel and Corbett in particular but on this blog, you cannot criticize them without incurring the wrath of the host. This is no way to run a forum for criticism of the media and in particular to discover the truth about so many stories covered here including Snowden, Building 7 and so many others. I tried to point out that Sibel threw the entire story of Boston off kilter when she focused on terrorism and the brothers, who were no where near the fake smoke bombs, but no one on this blog seems to know the real details of that drill/event (for which there is a huge amount of evidence if you care to look) so my post was poorly received. Now Sibel and Corbett follow the MSM paradigm on Snowden. I'm not surprised. So I say the host needs to be more detail oriented and more open minded.

Marzi, looks like Sibel's

Marzi, looks like Sibel's goons are here making sure to vote anyone down who speaks with a rational and clear voice, that alone should be a red flag that she now has minions in the vein of Alex Jones to stifle critical thought.

Some relevant links

It doesn't help matters that much of the questioning of Greenwald and the Omidyar venture has come from sources (NSFW Corp., Pando Daily) that themselves have had agency-related Silicon Valley funding in their past. And I can appreciate moodforaday's point about people who are not in legal jeopardy in this matter presuming to instruct those who are. Still, I don't think these considerations invalidate the line of questioning itself (even moodforaday says that 'I do not trust Omidyar one whit').

Here are links to two of the pieces that preceded Ryan's, followed by Greenwald's response:

And here is a more recent response from Greenwald, this time replying to a concerned reader:

Now THIS.....

FISA court rules that NSA spying on all Americans is lawful. Constitution be damned.

Double Whammy

Snowden's whistleblowing makes it clear that NSA spying on ALL Americans is real -- not a paranoid theory.

And FISA's ruling shows that they consider this to be OK --- blanket spying on everyone --- despite the fact that they are supposed to approve of specific cases of wiretapping, not nullify the 4th amendment.

Interview 799 – Questioning the Snowden Story with Kevin Ryan

James Corbett: Today we are joined once again by Kevin Ryan of to discuss his new article, “The Risks of Trusting the Snowden Story.” We talk about the questions we should all be asking about the Snowden affair and the way it is being reported, and Ryan outlines the reasons that the documents should be released in their entirety.

Recommended listening

This is a very good interview. I thought Kevin clearly summarized his article, and made some important and valid points.

The author and social critic Naomi Wolf wrote a couple of articles back in June, in which she suggested some reasons to be cautious of Edward Snowden and his revelations. You can read the articles on her website, here:

"My creeping concern that the NSA leaker is not who he purports to be …":

"Some aspects of Snowden’s presentation that I find worth further inquiry – an update":

What The Powers That Be May Want The Public To Know

Headline "information" in the major media (propaganda services) is seemingly what the "powers that be" want the public to believe and accept.

It seems the "powers that be" have little problem with public knowledge of the TSA, NDAA, NSA and on and on.

What makes it on the 6 o'clock news and the front page of the New York Times is what the public are supposed to think and accept, not what they need to know.

The question then may be why the "powers that be" want the public to know about NSA abuses. As a means of public conditioning or intimidation?

Tarpley has been saying this for months...

Tarpley sums up how to tell a limited hangout operation in his latest World Crisis Radio broadcast...

- The "whistleblower" has a "Damascus Road conversion"
- Nothing new is revealed
- Nothing is revealed about the big covert ops (like 9-11)
- No politician gets canned
- The "whistleblower" becomes an immediate media darling while real whistleblowers struggle to get noticed...

...listen at

yes the same Tarpley who said

yes the same Tarpley who said that Cosmos and Jim Hoffman were basically both government agents with absolutely no evidence (they called out Tarpley for his signed petition scandal) during a 9/11 truth conference.

Really surprising, this is a typical baseless smear job

I've enjoyed Kevin Ryan's work as well as Sibel Edmonds. I watch Corbett's podcast pretty regularly, but recently with this jumping on the band wagon of essentially calling one of the most important journalists we have a shill or somehow working for the enemy has turned me off to almost all of their work. In my eyes it has significantly hurt all of their credibility in the 9/11 truth movement and elsewhere. Nothing in Ryan's article proves anything.

Pretty sad that someone has effectively caused a divide and conquer scenario with one of the best allies we have outside of our 9/11 truth bubble. Greenwald may not be openly for 9/11 truth but the net results of his work have caused a lot of damage to the united states credibility, and ultimately this should be the same goal we all share. Very unfortunate and embarrassing day to consider myself part of the movement.

no replies but 4 down votes?

no replies but 4 down votes? Pretty cowardly


The vote downs are actions that you can take how you'd like. Most don't want to engage with such a crappy analysis. I don't want to talk to you more than to say you're a joker and need to work on your subtlety, when you're trying to make people think you're actually going through some process of realization about the people you're smearing. What you do is confuse the facts then fake a response. I'll respond more, if you actually represent the arguments of the people you are criticizing in a truthful, honest manner. Otherwise, what you get is mostly going to be actions that show distaste for your crap. Big brave crap.

expected more maturity here

expected more maturity here from 9/11 blogger. Zica you kinda come off like a petulant butt-hurt child

what i do is 'confuse facts' and make a 'fake response', I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here and say that English may not be your first language, and that's perfectly ok but people are getting awfully loyalistic these days instead of actually looking at Greenwald's body of work in the face of Sibel's accusations. It just doesn't add up no matter which way you slice it. She and ryan can try and chip away at the amazing work he's done and diminish the impact it's had (but with Obama's Snowden response speech today, that card will be increasingly hard to play) but they're not going to get anywhere on baseless speculation and innuendo from anonymous 'NSA' sources.

"In December, whistleblower

"In December, whistleblower Sibel Edmonds broke the news that Omidyar‘s Paypal Corporation was implicated in the as-yet-unreleased NSA documents from Snowden."

she did? I read her article a few times and not once did she prove this assertion. She based it off of a tweet Glenn Greenwald wrote saying he has 'no doubt' that the NSA has worked with paypal, just as the NSA has probably worked with every single large company in the US that has access to that much personal data.

Very sloppy journalism on Sibel's part, and even sloppier of Ryan to say that Sibel 'broke news' about something that is at this moment 100% assertion not backed up by anything.

Secrets for Sale?: The Greenwald/Omidyar/NSA connection

We’ve Known for Some Time that the NSA Is Spying On Congress

Divide and conquer

Divide and conquer is one of the oldest tactics used by those in power when they feel threatened by upstarts and insurgents. I think we are seeing that tactic now with this post.

"Moreover, Edmonds had been contacted by an NSA official who alleged that “a deal was made in early June, 2013 between the journalists involved in this recent NSA scandal and U.S. government officials, which was then sealed by secrecy and nondisclosure agreements by all parties involved.”

-What possible motive could a current NSA official have for making such a statement? This seems like a perfect example of a propaganda poison pill to me.
-What evidence have we seen since June, in the reporting of Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, that they have made such an agreement?
-As Greenwald himself has pointed out, thousands of NSA documents have been distributed among several different news organizations. Have all of them signed nondisclosure agreements as well?

"Let’s hope that Greenwald, who has done some good work revealing government misconduct, will immediately release all of the stolen documents, speak to the claims of an alleged deal made with government officials, and admit the risks with regard to Omidyar and his Paypal colleagues."

-Greenwald has addressed the problems and harm that could be caused by just dumping all of the documents. The potential harm to innocent people is real. This is not something that should be done.
-Regarding the claims of "an alleged deal", Greenwald was accused of selling out when he went to Salon, and when he went to The Guardian. He apparently was able to maintain his editorial independence with both those organizations. He continues to work with other news organizations and the venture with Omidyar has not even begun yet. Perhaps we should look at what he writes and reports and judge accordingly, rather than accept unsubstantiated rumors from unnamed NSA officials (!) about his journalistic intentions.

glad to see some rational

glad to see some rational voices here still left.

Correction needed

A piece by Michael Green addresses one issue with this post --

Edward Snowden did NOT lie: Michael Green responds to Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan Has Unfairly Smeared Edward Snowden
January 5, 2014

False premise

It should be clear to objective readers that I never wrote that Snowden lied or had anything to do with the ever-changing estimates of the number of documents.

Green's ht piece is based entirely on the false premise that Snowden "was not saying that he reviewed every single document that he had taken or that he would give to journalists that he trusted." That is directly contradicted by statements from Glenn Greenwald himself, who is quoted in Rolling Stone as saying, "It's 1,000 percent clear that he read and very carefully processed every document that he gave us by virtue of his incredibly anal, ridiculously elaborate electronic filing system that these USB sticks contained."

Therefore it appears that Green owes a public apology for misleading readers with his emotional reaction and ongoing vendetta resulting from his rejection by Scientists for 9/11 Truth. Let's hope we can be grownups going forward.

As this important mainstream media story evolves, questions should continue to be raised about whether earlier aspects of that story continue to be valid.

no he doesn't owe anyone an

no he doesn't owe anyone an apology, you and Sibel do at this point though. Kevin I bought a copy of Another 19 and have been an admirer of yours for many years, but these recent articles of yours have been totally beyond the pale for me, I shall no longer take your work seriously or support another future book of yours. I draw the line at a very damaging divide an conquer scenario taking shape within the 9/11 truth movement once again.

Greenwald Responds to Critics, Rejects Conspiracism

By Kevin Ryan, Posted on January 12, 2014


Kevin's adding the little 'TM' to "Conspiracy Theorist" at his blog was a nice touch.

Questioning isn't 'smearing' (and that goes both ways)

Excellent points raised about Greenwald's convenient resort to the 'conspiracy-theorist'-label-as-smear-tactic--when not so long ago he had much to say himself about manufactured terror plots.

But I have yet to see an answer to a point that I have seen raised most recently in one of the comments to Kevin's piece at

'Sibel Edmonds herself has now been declining to name names that aren’t already in the public record for thirteen years and counting, for legal reasons. So you’d think she’d be a little less critical of Greenwald’s pace.'

As Kevin writes, '...these documents are not total unknowns.' But I think it's possible for documents that are 'not total unknowns' to still have information that might violate people's privacy. And therefore, still need to be subjected to some review before being disclosed. We're so used to hearing such arguments abused by governments looking to avoid having to reveal their offenses. But that doesn't necessarily mean they are bogus in every case.

On the question of legal risks, Kevin writes, 'Nobody should expect whistleblowing to be safe.' Does that mean people in those situations must act without regard to calculations of risk? To differentiating between greater and lesser degrees of risk? That their goals are necessarily suspect if they do attempt such calculations?

Concerns such as these remain with me, even as I can also conclude that I don't want the documents anywhere near Paypal or its associates, or that I don't like the way Greenwald has responded to these questions thus far.

Greenwald on online covert ops

Here's a recent piece by Greenwald. The gist of it will be familiar to most on this site (it includes mention of Cass Sunstein, for example), but it might help supplement what we already know:

Pearse Redmond on TOR

Interview of Pearse Redmond by James Corbett, on the subject of the supposedly anonymity-protecting TOR ('the Onion Router') and the tactics employed by its developers and proponents to intimidate those who are raising questions about its sources of funding and ties to state agencies:

Obviously of relevance to the foregoing thread, one year later--in particular, the section beginning at 36:55.