On this NSA thing
So this whole thing with the “leaks” and the NSA is becoming pretty ‘common knowledge’. To be honest though I’m not sure if people are really engaging their critical thinking skills when it comes to this sort of thing. Here are some things that bother me.
- All sources to the public are secondary.
This seems pretty important. Every single “Source” of information is simply a newspaper or magazine article, claiming it came from Snowden. We have absolutely no way of independently verifying it’s source nor it’s authenticity. This doesn’t help when different articles claim that allegedly leaked documents say the exact opposite thing, either. Supposedly, Snowden wanted them to be made available to the public. I don’t believe this for a few reasons. First, if he wanted them public, it’s not hard. Upload the information as a torrent and soon it will have so many seeders it would be impossible to get rid of if somebody wanted to. The fact that there is no evident effort makes me wonder if this is some weird experiment.
- Adding to the above, Newspapers early on were calling Edward Snowden “Eric Snowden”. This seems a weird mistake given that there is information about an “Eric Snowden” planning a large experiment to determine how quickly information travels through social media, which also of course combines with the fact that the information only appears on sites that have social media connections (for sharing and whatnot).
- No source information. I mentioned this before, but it’s pretty important. Take that Slideshow “evidence”. Allegedly it is 36 slides long. Here are some problems. First, we are only ever shownb something like 6 slides total by all the websites that show them put together, we are only shown actual .jpg images that don’t contain ANY information that gives what is inside any credibility whatsoever, and we have no source verification. I would challenge ANYBODY to come with one good reason that these slides are not made up entirely; nothing in those documents points to any sort of authenticity and the fact that the actual document files aren’t being released makes me raise yet another eyebrow, because it prevents independent or third party verification.
- The NSA did not take plausable deniability. In their press releases, they decried the “public leaks”. If, however, they had a REAL leak, they wouldn’t mention it. They would deny it was actually leaked- just pass it off as fake information. The fact that they readily jumped right on the “yep, it’s legit” bandwagon makes me doubt the authenticity of the information further; either they know the information is inaccurate and want people to believe it is, or it ties in with the previous mention of an attempt and some sort of Experiment. The fact that they didn’t take the plausable deniability makes no sense.
The fundamental issue is- no source documents. Occam’s Razor. Claiming all the worlds largest technical companies are handing over our personal information to the U.S government is an extraordinary claim. It requires extraordinary evidence. ALl we have are a few slides and jpegs allegedly taken from some leaked documents. They prove nothing- anybody could have typed them, and there are numerous errors that seem to defy how the organization actually works. The poor design on the slideshow, and the inclusion of random Company logos in that slideshow for no reason; etc. It points to one-off hackjob.
Fundamentally, until the source documents are released for independent verification and examination, I see no good reason that anybody should take any of this information as true. Repeatedly I see references to “NSA this” and “NSA that”; how “Microsoft/Google/etc” are selling our information to the government. But before you say something like that, consider what evidence you have. The best evidence anybody has right now is third party- we have articles that supposedly cover parts of documents that were allegedly leaked by Edward Snowden, who used to work for the NSA. One has to ask the question for each step of the way. Did the NSA know he was going to cause trouble and only give him access to stupid looking documents with terrible wording? Did the newspapers supposedly covering the story and posting snippets and images of the leaked documents represent the information correctly? And do we really have any good reason beyond the word of journalists that any of this is actually true? No. sources. Without sources information is meaningless. Right now it’s a bunch of claims with no more legitimacy than if I declared I was Santa Claus. People are more willing to believe it because it makes them feel secure, ironically, in knowing the government actually knows what they are doing to some extent. Sort of like how conspiracy nutters who think the world is run by lizard-people can at least be reasonably secure in the ‘knowledge’ that the goverment is not run by your average human beings.
As far as I’m concerned, all the evidence points to this being fake or otherwise illegitimate somehow. The fact that despite wanting them public, Snowden went to old-style journalism instead of using modern information technology to disperse the information questions that motive. The fact that the NSA did not take plausible deniability and basically admitted that “yes those leaked documents are confidential documents that nobody else should see” questions their legitimacy. And the ridiculous focus on a person (Edward Snowden) rather than on the information makes me further wonder about the motives behind this.