Edward Snowden before the EU Parliment

Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, has been talking with Germany about a direct fiber optic cable between the two countries. For Latin America this would be a great thing because virtually all traffic currently is routed through the US. This would offer faster Internet connectivity between the EU and Latin America and would likely drive the expansion of connections in the region near Brazil.

That's the technical good stuff but her main driving reason is to create a NSA-free communications channel. Why is this an issue? Edward Snowden helps us understand it. He just appeared before the EU parliment to talk about the issues. It is available as a PDF from the europa.eu web site.

Note that he does not disclose any new revelations saying he leaves that to the press but addresses specific questions.

I feel one of his most important points is that this we can collect everything on everyone mentality leads investigators to ignore useful information and good investigative techniques while costing everyone much -- both financially and in loss of privacy. Here is one example from his testimony.

Nor did the US government's comprehensive monitoring of Americans at home stop the Boston Bombers. Despite the Russians specifically warning us about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the FBI couldn't do more than a cursory investigation although they did plenty of worthless computer based searching and failed to discover the plot. 264 people were injured, and 3 died. The resources that could have paid for a real investigation had been spent on monitoring the call records of everyone in America.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

The Washington Post growing balls?

Maybe people/the MSM are starting to see a problem. An article titled Snowden: I raised NSA concerns internally over 10 times before going rogue was a surprise to me.

No,, I Don't Like

Manning, Snowden, or Assange. They are all damaged goods. Manning got what he deserved; Assange is doing HIS time in a small room in the UK,, not technically a prison, true, but not much different; and the clock is ticking big-time for Snowden. He made a lot of powerful enemies -and not just in the US..

Treason can be defined as providing material aid and comfort to the enemy. By this definition Snowden is a traitor. I find his sponsorship by Putin ironic. I can imagine the disdain Putin has for Snowden, despite Snowden's propaganda value to the Russians.

CNN was the first to raise the possibility that the Air Malaysia incident was terrorism. The conclusion was logical, if inappropriate given the dearth of the immediate information. The reliability of the aircraft, the lack of a distress signal, and the safety record of Air Malaysia leads one to that belief. An aircraft doesn't fall from the sky,, they are designed to fly. They want to fly. That is demonstrated in one of the first (and gut wrenching) flight lessons a new pilot gets.

Anything is possible, of course.

Tibetan sympathizers could have done it.

They're a mean lot and often have connections to the CIA and the military.

The American people shouldn't be the enemy of the US government and the military. Theoretically, you guys were working for us.

I think you're referring to dealing with a stall and why increased air speed attained by point the plane down is better than breaking the lift with a tail stand.

Lockheed Electras did a good job of falling out of the sky though some (at least one) was helped by a bomb.

Rebecca Brown

That Is Apparently

what happened to the Air France flight 447. But, these weren't flight students putting the plane into a stall for the fun ?? of it.

02:10:07 (Robert) D'accord. ----This line is provided as a time reference. Okay.

Perhaps spooked by everything that has unfolded over the past few minutes—the turbulence, the strange electrical phenomena, his colleague's failure to route around the potentially dangerous storm—Bonin reacts irrationally. He pulls back on the side stick to put the airplane into a steep climb, despite having recently discussed the fact that the plane could not safely ascend due to the unusually high external temperature.

Almost as soon as Bonin pulls up into a climb, the plane's computer reacts. A warning chime alerts the cockpit to the fact that they are leaving their programmed altitude. Then the stall warning sounds. This is a synthesized human voice that repeatedly calls out, "Stall!" in English, followed by a loud and intentionally annoying sound called a "cricket." A stall is a potentially dangerous situation that can result from flying too slowly. At a critical speed, a wing suddenly becomes much less effective at generating lift, and a plane can plunge precipitously. All pilots are trained to push the controls forward when they're at risk of a stall so the plane will dive and gain speed.

The Airbus's stall alarm is designed to be impossible to ignore. Yet for the duration of the flight, none of the pilots will mention it, or acknowledge the possibility that the plane has indeed stalled—even though the word "Stall!" will blare through the cockpit 75 times. Throughout, Bonin will keep pulling back on the stick, the exact opposite of what he must do to recover from the stall.

The plane is soon climbing at a blistering rate of 7000 feet per minute. While it is gaining altitude, it is losing speed, until it is crawling along at only 93 knots, a speed more typical of a small Cessna than an airliner. Robert notices Bonin's error and tries to correct him.

02:10:27 (Robert) Faites attention à ta vitesse. Faites attention à ta vitesse. Pay attention to your speed. Pay attention to your speed.

He is probably referring to the plane's vertical speed. They are still climbing.

02:10:28 (Bonin) OK, OK, je redescends. Okay, okay, I'm descending.

02:10:36 (Robert) Redescends! Descend!

02:10:37 (Bonin) C'est parti, on redescend. Here we go, we're descending.

02:10:38 (Robert) Doucement! Gently!

Bonin eases the back pressure on the stick, and the plane gains speed as its climb becomes more shallow. It accelerates to 223 knots. The stall warning falls silent. For a moment, the co-pilots are in control of the airplane.

The plane now reaches its maximum altitude. With engines at full power, the nose pitched upward at an angle of 18 degrees, it moves horizontally for an instant and then begins to sink back toward the ocean.

The vertical speed toward the ocean accelerates.

>>>>> If Bonin were to let go of the controls, the nose would fall and the plane would regain forward speed. But because he is holding the stick all the way back, the nose remains high and the plane has barely enough forward speed for the controls to be effective. As turbulence continues to buffet the plane, it is nearly impossible to keep the wings level.

A minute and a half after the crisis began, the captain returns to the cockpit. He had been taking a nap. The stall warning continues to blare.

02:11:43 (Captain) Eh… Qu'est-ce que vous foutez? What the hell are you doing?

02:11:45 (Bonin) On perd le contrôle de l'avion, là! We've lost control of the plane!

02:11:47 (Robert) On a totalement perdu le contrôle de l'avion... On comprend rien... On a tout tenté... We've totally lost control of the plane. We don't understand at all... We've tried everything.

By now the plane has returned to its initial altitude but is falling fast. With its nose pitched 15 degrees up, and a forward speed of 100 knots, it is descending at a rate of 10,000 feet per minute, at an angle of 41.5 degrees. It will maintain this attitude with little variation all the way to the sea. Though the pitot tubes are now fully functional, the forward airspeed is so low—below 60 knots—that the angle-of-attack inputs are no longer accepted as valid, and the stall-warning horn temporarily stops. This may give the pilots the impression that their situation is improving, when in fact it signals just the reverse.

02:13:40 (Robert) Remonte... remonte... remonte... remonte... Climb... climb... climb... climb...

>>>>>>>> 02:13:40 (Bonin) Mais je suis à fond à cabrer depuis tout à l'heure! But I've had the stick back the whole time!

At last, Bonin tells the others the crucial fact whose import he has so grievously failed to understand himself.

02:13:42 (Captain) Non, non, non... Ne remonte pas... non, non. No, no, no... Don't climb... no, no.

02:13:43 (Robert) Alors descends... Alors, donne-moi les commandes... À moi les commandes! Descend, then... Give me the controls... Give me the controls!

Bonin yields the controls, and Robert finally puts the nose down. The plane begins to regain speed. But it is still descending at a precipitous angle. As they near 2000 feet, the aircraft's sensors detect the fast-approaching surface and trigger a new alarm. There is no time left to build up speed by pushing the plane's nose forward into a dive. At any rate, without warning his colleagues, Bonin once again takes back the controls and pulls his side stick all the way back.

02:14:23 (Robert) Putain, on va taper... C'est pas vrai! Damn it, we're going to crash... This can't be happening!

02:14:25 (Bonin) Mais qu'est-ce que se passe? But what's happening?

02:14:27 (Captain) 10 degrès d'assiette... Ten degrees of pitch...

Exactly 1.4 seconds later, the cockpit voice recorder stops.

>>> So, one man, Bonin, put the plane into the ocean, when, had everyone just let go of the controls (but early on, not when the aircraft was at 2000 feet)--- , the plane would have righted itself and flown on into the night !! He had acted against everything he had been previously taught, against what is almost a normal instinct (for pilots, anyway, the physical rules of flight become instinctive pretty quickly).

Had the captain taken control of the aircraft immediately upon return from his nap, he would have righted the situation in sufficient time and with sufficient attitude to recover the plane.

The thing is, this could never happen again. Most pilots have flown this scenario (now a classic) on a flight simulator as part of recurrent training, and have successfully bought the Air France flight home without problem.

They say that if you can fly a Cessna 150 you can fly anything. That's not really true, but what is true is the same physical laws apply to all aircraft in flight.

All sorts of shit happens

We don't know until someone finds the black boxes and the wreckage, and puts the picture together. They've already got the usual CCTV videos of international flight departures (similar videos showed Muhammed Atta's car in the background of a scene where a US immigration agent turned back a guy who was supposed to have been on the flight that the passengers brought down in Pennsylvania. If the guys with the stolen passports are known "their bad guys," that's going to come out soon.

Rebecca Brown

Today's humor from a Congresscritter

Edward Snowden will be speaking at SXSW. Well, a freedom of speech-loving Congresscritter thinks Snowden's invitation should be withdrawn. A copy of his letter is available on TheHill as a PDF.

The person who posted the link suggested that we ask the Congresscritter what action he has taken to try to get the NSA under control.

Encryption Still Depends

on keys. Those can be compromised in any number of ways. All you need is a Snowden.

I think it's important to understand that the NSA doesn't routinely collect message content between US citizens. They collect and sort the meta data . . .

Even with all the effort expended, some terrorists manage to slip through the cracks.

The lost Malaysian airliner may very well turn out to be a terrorist attack .. . The 777 is a very reliable plane with a great safety record, and Malaysian Airlines is the top Asian carrier with a sterling reputation.

An aircraft failure would be an extremely rare possibility. Air France did lose a plane on a flight from Rio to Paris some years back when an air speed indicator iced over - - - so it's not unheard of. Still,,

In terms of free speech for Snowden: He is an indicted traitor, and still enjoys the right to speak his mind. But, there's a big difference between freedom of speech, and providing someone of Snowden's ilk a public platform. A more appropriate platform for him would be the mess hall at Allenwood.

Yes, we understand

That is,

  1. You don't like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.
  2. You will try to spin anything (the Malaysian airline story with zero facts yet being an example) to show that the world is run by terrorists (that is, the ones that don't work for the US government)
  3. You are apparently a great fan of the executive branch of government running a dictatorship rather than having Congress in the mix.
  4. You like to make assertions that cannot be backed up (such as what the NSA does and does not collect).

What Snowden has done is pretty well covered on The Courage Foundation's Snowden web site. The site is clearly pro-Snowden but unlike MSM sites and your assertions, it sticks to the facts.

One important thing to understand is that Snowden (and others) have been charged under the Espionage Act by the Obama administration in order to eliminate the Whistleblower defense. The Espionage Act is legislation from 1917 that was intended to be used against persons trying to destroy a state rather than someone who, if they were a government employee, could be considered a Whistleblower.

You quickly skip to traitor which is someone who commits treason. Jumping over to Wikipedia, we find the following:

Oran's Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as "...[a]...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]." In many nations, it is also often considered treason to attempt or conspire to overthrow the government, even if no foreign country is aiding or involved by such an endeavor.

Clearly, this does not fit what Snowden has done or intended to do. But, reading further, we find

At times, the term "traitor" has been used as a political epithet, regardless of any verifiable treasonable action. In a civil war or insurrection, the winners may deem the losers to be traitors. Likewise the term "traitor" is used in heated political discussion – typically as a slur against political dissidents, or against officials in power who are perceived as failing to act in the best interest of their constituents. In certain cases, as with the German Dolchstoßlegende, the accusation of treason towards a large group of people can be a unifying political message.

I believe we can assume you are using traitor as a political epithet. That's fine (and oh so common) but I feel it is important to distinguish what you are saying from a legal definition.

In any case, yes, Snowden still enjoys the right to speak his mind. Why shouldn't he enjoy that right? He is not exposing more secrets (which was the main condition of him being granted asylum) and what he has had to say has done the following important things:

  • Made it obvious to the US public that the government was lying to them.
  • Shown that the NSA was lying to the Congress who has a legal responsibility to oversee them.
  • Shown that (government run) spying has been used to give private/company confidential information to corporations to give them a competitive advantage.
  • Explained how NSA (and CIA) exchange responsibilities with similar organizations in other countries (the UK seems to be at the top of the hot list) in order to remotely enable domestic spying. (If you didn't follow, an example is asking NSA to spy on US individuals and give the data to NSA so, technically, NSA didn't do domestic spying.)

    Each time Snowden speaks he points out that governments having secrets is important. What he has exposed is misuse of, well, taxpayer money followed by little more than denial by elected representatives that such a problem could exist. Years ago Oliver North got to become a member of Congress by being a liar for the executive branch of government. Today we want to persecute and prosecute an individual because what he has to say shows us that Congress, et all, is full of Oliver North equivalents.

Treason against the US

The NY Times has an interesting article that explains what Treason against the United States is complete with the definition from the US Constitution and opinions from James Madison to Supreme Court justices. Seems like a good, objective, explanation.

Note that the article is from the January 25, 1861 issue of the Times.

Brazil is and will be well connected

Brazil is actually in the process of building 5 new fibre optic cables to connect to Europe, Africa, the BRICS, and the US. The systems will use only Brazilian designed and produced telecommunications to address the fear of "back doors" to international spying.

And easily snooped upon . . .

It's delusional to think a common physical technology like fiber optic cables can't be 'picked'. These must cross international bodies of water - one ocean or another. There are submarines capable of splicing into these such that no transmission is perturbed.

It seems to me that the key is better, continually novel encryption. And clever lying. Plus keeping the volume of secret gibberish to a minimum. In other words: get smart.

The time has come to realize that much can be accomplished in the open, in front of the children, if you're intelligent enough.


End-to-end encryption (from the computers sending and receiving the message, not just over a cable and such) is the right solution. It is slowly evolving. It is easy enough to do but it won't happen until Joe Email User doesn't have to do anything to make it happen.

In the mean time, if you control the cable and its endpoints, you can encrypt what goes over it. I would expect that is what is planned.

That Reminds Me

of the super secure underwater cable the Ruskies depended on some years back.


Snowden's brother in arms, Ronald Pelton, divulged the information about the cable directly to the Russians for a few thousand dollars, destroying an asset that cost millions to create, and that provided valuable intelligence.

Pelton, federal inmate number 22914-037, is currently housed at the Federal Correctional Institution, Allenwood, a medium-security facility in Pennsylvania, and is scheduled for release in November 2015. He was originally sentenced to three concurrent life sentences.

Snowden has probably already been offered to Obama as a bargaining chip. The Crimea is gone, eastern Ukraine will follow as things settle down. Obama might as well take what bone he can from the table. Snowden is of no further use to the Russians.


Apparently you didn't read the report. Seriously, does anyone still think Snowden "sold out" to Russia vs. getting stuck there thanks to the stupidity of the US government?

Three People

Like This

(Oh sorry, I thought I was on facebook)