TIME intelligence

New NSA Privacy Chief Promises Transparency

NSA Surveillance-Privacy Report
The National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, Md., June 6, 2013. Patrick Semansky—AP

In a Q&A online, Rebecca Richards promised a new era in transparency at the United States’ eavesdropping agency

The National Security Agency’s newly appointed Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer Rebecca Richards said Monday in an online Q& A she hopes to inject a sense of transparency into the secretive spy agency.

“Until somewhat recently, relatively little information about NSA was public. And the information that was made available rarely discussed the safeguards in place to protect civil liberties and privacy,” Richards said. “One of my goals is to share what NSA does to protect civil liberties and privacy. This will take time, but we must start somewhere.”

Richards conducted an online question and answer session Monday through the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Richards position was create earlier this year following recommendations from the White House on privacy reforms within the NSA. Those recommendations were made in response to revelations of privacy violations contained in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Much of her Q&A was little more than a defense of the agency but Richards did identify her four primary goals as privacy chief.

  1. Advise NSA leadership including the director.
  2. Build systematic and holistic civil liberties and privacy processes.
  3. Improve civil liberties and privacy protections through research, education, and training.
  4. Increase transparency.

Richards also revealed that the NSA is preparing to launch a privacy and civil liberties internship or work exchange program as part of its privacy initiative.

TIME intelligence

Tech Firms Push NSA Reform Bill as Senate Vote Approaches

The USA FREEDOM Act still faces challenges from both sides

In an open letter to U.S. Senators a powerful coalition of technology companies including Google, Apple, Facebook and others called for passage of the USA FREEDOM Act surveillance reform package as Sen. Harry Reid scheduled a vote to advance the measure Tuesday.

“The Senate has the opportunity to send a strong message of change to the world and encourage other countries to adopt similar protections,” wrote CEOs of the companies comprising the Reform Government Surveillance coalition. The CEOs called the bill “bipartisan” and said it “protects national security and reaffirms America’s commitment to the freedoms we all cherish.” Signatories to the letter include Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Larry Page, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Twitter’s Dick Costolo and others.

The USA FREEDOM Act is a package of changes to the way the U.S. National Security Agency conducts mass surveillance of American citizens chiefly sponsored by Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D—VT). Debate over the issue accelerated a year and a half ago after leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed vast non-public surveillance programs and duplicity on the part of some officials about the extent of the programs.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D—Nevada) called for a cloture vote on Tuesday to end debate. Cloture requires a 60-vote majority is likely to be the biggest hurdle the legislation would face on its path out of Congress.

Though major interest groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the President’s own surveillance reform task force have backed the compromise legislation passage is anything but certain. Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D—CA) is reported to have reservations about the bill and other surveillance hawks have expressed outright hostility toward the measure. On the other side of the issue, libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul has said he will oppose the bill for not going far enough to rein the NSA.

In current form the bill puts new limits on the NSA’s ability legally to gather up bulk U.S. phone meta-data and installs special privacy advocates in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the body that oversees and authorizes NSA activities. The measure also forbids the NSA from storing data it collects in its own computers, instead requiring telecom companies to retain the data for up to five years. Some critics say the measure puts onerous restrictions on the NSA’s ability to protect Americans from harm. Others say the bill actually codifies and formalizes surveillance practices that once existed in a legal grey area.

“This is a first step in surveillance reform. This is by no means the whole kit and caboodle,” Director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office Laura Murphy tells TIME. “For over the last decade we’ve been empowering government with more and more capabilities to surveil with less and less protections for its citizens. This legisaition would mark a departure from the trajectory since 9-11. We think it’s a very important first step.”

TIME movies

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Will Play Edward Snowden in New Movie

"White Bird In A Blizzard" - Los Angeles Premiere
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt attends the premiere of "White Bird in a Blizzard" at ArcLight Hollywood on October 21, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic/Getty Images

Backers confirm the casting choice

Producers confirmed Monday that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play Edward Snowden in the Oliver Stone movie set to start shooting in Munich in January.

The casting choice has been rumored since September, but was finally confirmed today, just two months before the film is set to begin filming, the Guardian reports.

Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay based on two books about Snowden and NSA surveillance (The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena) and reportedly sought out independent production companies Open Road and Endgame in order to protect the production from political pressures.

TIME movies

REVIEW: Citizenfour Is This Halloween’s Scariest Chiller

Radius/The Weinstein Company

Edward Snowden is both the ghost and the hero of Laura Poitras' documentary about blowing the whistle on the spooks at the NSA

In December 2012, a mysterious person known only as Citizenfour contacted documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras with promises of important revelations about the U.S. government’s spy apparatus. Before they met, Citizenfour sent her this warning: “For now, know that every border you cross, every purchase you make, every call you dial, every cell-phone tower you pass, friend you keep, site you visit and subject line you type is in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited but whose safeguards are not.”

As Edward Snowden typed that email, was he humming the 1983 Police song “Every Breath You Take” and transposing Sting’s threat of an ex-lover’s surveillance to the National Security Agency? (“Every single day/ Every word you say/ Every game you play, every night you stay/ I’ll be watching you.”) Snowden, an IT analyst under contract with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, had downloaded thousands of NSA documents to present to journalists he could trust to sift through the material and publish what was pertinent. This included Poitras and political gadfly Glenn Greenwald, with Greenwald’s Guardian colleague Ewen MacAskill soon joining them in a Hong Kong hotel room.

The news stories from this cache stash revealed a program monitoring the phone calls and social media of U.S. citizens, and earned the 30-year-old Snowden runner-up status as TIME’s Person of the Year for 2013. (He lost to the Pope, who gets his inside information from an even higher source.) For his service, the U.S. government charged Snowden with espionage, invalidated his passport and stranded him in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for 5½ weeks, before he found temporary asylum in Russia, because no other country would challenge U.S. pressure and accept him as a political refugee. Snowden must believe that, for the rest of his days abroad, they’ll be watching him.

Moviegoers will too, through Hollywood’s lens. Oliver Stone is preparing The Snowden Files, possibly starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and based on a biography by the Guardian‘s Luke Harding (which Greenwald called “a bullshit book” because Harding didn’t speak to Snowden). Sony Pictures has an option to make a movie of Greenwald’s No Place to Hide.

But for the pure, driven Snowden, you must see Citizenfour, an inside view from a filmmaker who is also familiar with government pressure in the Land of the Free: for her 2006 doc My Country, My Country, about a Sunni physician and democracy advocate in U.S.-occupied Iraq, Poitras earned a spot on the Department of Homeland Security’s “watch list.” (Every breath you take, every call you make …) Focusing on the eight days in June 2013 when Snowden first spilled his and his computer’s guts to the three journalists in his 10th-floor room at the Mira Hotel, this is a fascinating, edifying and creepy record of history in the making.

Why Citizenfour? Here’s a wild guess: Snowden sees himself as the latest American — following Daniel Ellsberg with the Pentagon Papers, William Binney for his 2002 NSA whistle-blowing and Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning with the WikiLeaks documents — to risk his liberty by revealing U.S. government secrets. (Ellsberg, like Snowden, was charged under the 1917 Espionage Act, before being acquitted. Manning, accused of “aiding the enemy,” was convicted in a military court of 17 other charges and is serving a 35-year sentence at Leavenworth. Binney, the subject of Poitras’ short film The Program, never did time, but in 2007 armed agents broke into his home and confiscated his computer and business papers.)

Snowden wasn’t a Harvard-educated Beltway insider like Ellsberg, a 30-year NSA veteran like Binney or a soldier like Manning. Getting his high school diploma through a GED and doing a brief spell at a Maryland community college, he impressed employers with his intelligence and his command of encryption. That secured him jobs in the government and eventually a spot as a Booz Allen contractor. Quiet but not a loner, he has a longtime girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, who lived with him in Hawaii and eventually joined him in Moscow. He is a vegetarian who sometimes eats pepperoni pizza, because who doesn’t love pepperoni pizza?

In Poitras’ closeup view, Snowden is a pretty impressive specimen of the genus Nerdus. He speaks in long, fluent sentences, and his tone is serious with occasional flecks of humor. He correctly anticipates what’s in store for him and makes clear that the need for the public to know the range of government eavesdropping is worth the price he will pay. He radiates an almost Zen equilibrium; on one application form he listed Buddhist as his religion because agnostic wasn’t one of the choices. He keeps saying, “I’m not the story,” in the hope that the impact of the revelations he’s providing will distract the media from putting a face, his face, on the news.

He must have known that that wouldn’t happen. For all his calm, Snowden pursues the meticulous safeguards of a hunted man in a John le Carré spy thriller. He devises elaborate codes for meeting Poitras — “I’ll be playing with a Rubik’s Cube” — and when fire-drill bells ring unexpectedly in his room, he gets so jittery that Greenwald says, “You’ve been infected by the paranoia bug.” Snowden covers himself with a sheet while typing a certain password on his laptop; he calls it “my mantle of power,” alluding to the World of Warcraft video games. He also alerts Poitras to the enormous reach, or perhaps simply the enormity, of the U.S. snoop system, telling her, “Your adversary is capable of 1 trillion queries per second.” It’s fruitless to try outracing the NSA megacomputers; the only option may be exposing what’s inside them.

Poitras’ movie works even better as a horror picture — perfect for Halloween week. (Even the title suggests a scare-film franchise: After Insidious 2 and Saw 3 comes Citizenfour.) The heroine of the new movie Ouija, who communicates with the dead through a Hasbro toy, can’t compete with Snowden. His Ouija board is his computer; it helps him access what he sees as the U.S.’s darkest real-life secrets. His hotel room is well lighted, but for eight days he’s trapped in it, like Cary Elwes in the Saw basement, with people he has to hope are on his side. The camera glare gives a ghostly pallor to the young man, who had spent his last few months in sunny Hawaii. He could be a specter reaching out from the other side to warn the living. When he picks up his hotel phone and tells the operator, “There’s no Edward Snowden here,” you almost believe him.

Now for the obligatory George Packer paragraphs. The New Yorker staff writer, in his Oct. 20 story based on his visit with Poitras as she completed the editing of her film in Berlin, criticized her for not taking a more skeptical view of her subject. Packer quoted Binney, a vocal supporter of Snowden and a prominent supporting voice in Citizenfour, as saying in USA Today that when Snowden went beyond leaking information about the NSA’s spying in the U.S. to revealing the agency’s spy strategies against China, he was “transitioning from whistle-blower to traitor.” Packer wrote, “This is a distinction that Poitras might have induced Binney to pursue.”

A Binney follow-up on this allegation would have been welcome, since elsewhere in the interview he lavishly praised Snowden’s efforts. But Packer can’t deny Poitras’ openness to potentially hostile journalists — i.e., him. Last year he wrote a piece for Prospectus called “The Errors of Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald” (and got his own assertions picked apart by Henry Farrell in “George Packer and His Problems”). Yet Poitras agreed to talk to Packer, who apparently never raised the question about Binney. That is a question he might have induced her to answer.

To state the obvious: Poitras didn’t intend her movie as a balancing act of pro- and anti-Snowden opinions — if any film or TV documentary has ever taken the impartial Olympian overview that Packer demands. Citizenfour is, at heart, a portrait of a man at the moment he chooses to change Americans’ understanding of what their government knows about them. And it ends with the hint of another lone wolf ready to spill more essential dirt. Greenwald doesn’t speak to Snowden of the new whistle-blower; he writes some information on papers he then tears into pieces. On one of the scraps we glimpse the word POTUS: President of the United States. Snowden sees this and whispers, “Holy shit.”

Stay tuned for Citizenfive.

TIME movies

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Might Play Edward Snowden

2014 Creative Arts Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt attends the 2014 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Aug. 16, 2014 in Los Angeles. David Livingston--Getty Images

Oliver Stone is thought to have his sights set on the "Don Jon" actor and director for an upcoming biopic on the NSA leaker

The extremely busy Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who already has two films in the works—The Walk and another Seth Rogen flick—could be making room in his schedule for another major role. Deadline reports that Oliver Stone is interested in having the actor play the asylum-seeking NSA leaker Edward Snowden in an upcoming biopic.

Stone has already offered the part to Gordon-Levitt, who in turn has said he’d come aboard, Variety reports. But no formal deal has been signed.

Stone and his producing partner Moritz Borman cut a deal with Snowden’s lawyer for the film rights to the former NSA contractor’s novel Time Of The Octopus, about an American whistleblower who fees to Russia and awaits asylum there. Stone and Borman also hold the film rights to journalist Luke Harding’s book, The Snowden Files: The Inside Story Of The World’s Most Wanted Man.

The still untitled film is tentatively slated to begin filming this December in Munich.

[Deadline]

TIME hackers

Founder of America’s Biggest Hacker Conference: ‘We Understand the Threat Now’

Black Hat founder Jeff Moss speaks during the Black Hat USA 2014 hacker conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas
Hacker Jeff Moss also known as The Dark Tangent speaks during the Black Hat USA 2014 hacker conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, August 6, 2014. Steve Marcus—Reuters

The hacker who has presided for 22 years over what is today the biggest hacker conference in the United States talks to TIME about Edward Snowden, Dorian Gray and hackers' changing role in society.

For one weekend every year, thousands of the world’s best—or worst, depending on your point of view—hackers meet in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Defcon. It’s one of the biggest hacker conferences on Earth, with about 15,000 attendees this year. It’s an event that some feel pushes the boundaries of legality, as hackers teach one another skills from lock picking and password cracking to evading government surveillance. The weekend is a celebration of hackish whimsy, the right to privacy and radical freedom of expression.

The light-up electronic badge needed to get into the conference can only be purchased with cash, and organizers collect no information about attendees’ identity. The place is rumored to be teeming with cybercriminals and federal agents alike, plus hordes of hackers trying to crack each other’s systems. Using the Wi-Fi is highly discouraged by some, for good reason: One room is home to an electronic bulletin board called the “Wall of Sheep,” which lists the user ID and partial password of any hapless hacking victim at the conference.

While covering the 22nd annual Defcon, TIME caught up with the founder and patriarch of the conference, Jeff Moss — better known by his hacker handle, “The Dark Tangent,” more commonly rendered simply as “DT.” With his pink t-shirt, short curly black hair, thin-framed rectangular glasses and a bouquet of badges dangling from his neck, DT looked the part of a pasty chieftain presiding over an ancient rite in digital dystopia. He doesn’t give out his age (Wikipedia places it at 39, which seems close enough).

This interview has been edited for length.

TIME: You’re ageless.

DT: I know. But I’m afraid at one point it’ll all come crashing down. What’s the horror movie where when the painting on the wall burns and everybody ages?

Do you have a Dorian Gray painting somewhere?

That’s my concern.

This conference has a nefarious reputation. Is that fair?

Oh yeah. I think there’s a little bit of nefariousness. The nefariousness is really more of an irreverence. You’re judged on what you know and what you can do, so it’s really kind of a put up or shut up culture, and you’re judged on what’s in your head, not how you look or what kind of watch you own. Sometimes people don’t know how to deal with that.

Is the Wi-Fi here safe to use?

It’s funny. It used to be you wouldn’t use our secured network because nobody really trusted it, they’d use their phone. Now everybody’s hacking the phones and intercepting phone calls and SMS messages, and nobody trusts their phone thanks to Snowden and all, and they want to use our secured Wi-Fi.

The last Defcon happened just after National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden was first granted temporary asylum in Russia. Where does he fit into the zeitgeist of this community?

I think the cult of personality around Snowden has been replaced by concerns about what he revealed. Last year, there was sort of this sense of impending doom. It was like, “My God, what are you going to tell us next?” Now it’s like, “Ok, we understand the threat now. We understand what’s going on due to the revelations.”

Last year, it was just this sense that offense was so totally overwhelming, defense is helpless, what are we going to do, woe is me, the sky is falling. Now we’ve had a year, and you can see what the reaction has been: more energy than ever from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the [American Civil Liberties Union]. Hackers like Josh Corman [an Internet security expert] trying to make a contribution to make things more secure. IETF [the Internet Engineering Task Force, which develops the protocols on which the Internet is based] has decided that pervasive Internet surveillance is a threat and needs to be taken into account for all future Internet protocols. You see Google and Microsoft investing money to create foundations to audit software. Everybody’s responding in their own way, so this year it feels much more hopeful. I think that’s a much more healthy response. We feel like we’re trying to take our own future into our hands.

Nothing changed before or after Snowden’s revelations. The security researchers knew that of course that’s what the NSA or any government can do. If you talked to the hackers last year it was like, “Of course you can do that. I’ve been doing that for 10 years.” But now that it’s sunken in at a more policy level you can have the conversation. Before you would say something to your parents and they’d be like, “Oh hahaha. You’re paranoid.” Next thing you know your parents are like, “Oh my God. You were not crazy. You’re not my paranoid son.” Now we’re at a place where people can relate and that’s a much more healthy place for us to be.

Do you have any demographic information on the people who attend this conference?

We don’t collect anything. Just the number of people. This is clearly a record. We plan for 5% growth or something and we exceeded that. Nobody saw the growth coming and there’s just this dot com feeling of people piling in more than ever.

I mean, this is the first Defcon TIME Magazine has attended.

Yeah! Do you know who else is here? C-SPAN!

…Really…

Yeah!

First time, huh?

First time. First it was just hackers talking to hackers, and then companies came in, and then it was other verticals, like telecoms. Now all of a sudden we’ve got medical, we’ve got policy, government. Just when we think we’ve gotten as many people who care about what we do here, all of a sudden a new greenfield [in engineering terms, a new creative frontier] room pops open and it’s airplanes, pacemakers and smart cars. That’s why I feel like there’s this energy. It’s like, “Oh my god, they’re listening to me! There’s a new avenue. I can do something new, try a new skill, develop my software.” It’s like greenfield again. Last year it sucked and this year it’s awesome.

TIME technology

A ‘Federal Agent’ Plays Slots and Talks at Las Vegas Hacker Convention

Hacking Conference
Hackers compete in a digital capture the flag game at the DefCon conference Friday, Aug. 5, 2011, in Las Vegas. Isaac Brekken—AP

A TIME reporter at one of the world's biggest hacker conferences talks to a self-described Fed in attendance

At Defcon, the annual hacker conference that met over the weekend in Las Vegas, attendees play a semi-official game called “Spot the Fed.” The object is to identify who among the rabble of computer geeks and hackers is an employee of the federal government. I spent the weekend reporting at Defcon and though I never went to claim a prize—I don’t think journalists are invited to play anyway—I do think I found a Fed.

As a conference that hosts speeches on topics like how to cyber-hijack a jetliner, Defcon takes pride in skirting the edge of legality. Feds, especially in the post-Snowden era, are not especially popular, though the place is rumored to be “crawling” with them, as one long-time attendee put it to me. Not all of them are covert; two years ago former head of the National Security Agency Gen. Keith Alexander spoke to the crowd. Then last year, in the wake of Edward Snowden’s massive leak exposing NSA surveillance, conference founder and patriarch Dark Tangent (his hacker handle) wrote an open letter asking Feds to sit out the event so everyone could cool off. This year’s Defcon saw no such request.

When I found Chuck, he was sitting alone, slow-nursing $20 in credit on a poker machine at a bar in the Rio Hotel and Casino, where the conference was held. He told me it was the best way to get drinks out of the place on the cheap—play real slow through $20 at the bar and let the bartender keep coming by with booze.

“That’s what this whole conference is about,” he said. “Hacks.”

DefCon types are famously authority adverse and antagonistic toward the press, and it’s possible Chuck was just a guy getting a kick out of messing with a TIME reporter. I couldn’t verify Chuck’s identity or even his status as a Fed—he refused to give me a business card or a last name or the details of where he works—but I’ll say this: he fit the bill. Middle aged, balding shaved head, button up hawaiian style shirt, polite, personable, frugal. He said he teaches information security to other employees of the Department of Defense. “I’d like to get the other side,” Chuck said when I asked him what he was doing at Defcon. “The things I’m trying to teach my students to prevent against.”

I asked Chuck if he was, at least partly, on the lookout for criminals. Defcon is also notoriously crawling with those.

No. I’m sure they’re all over,” he said. “That’s why [to get into the conference] you pay cash only and you get a badge that just says ‘Human.’ There’s everything from DOD entities, to NSA agents, to cybercriminals and everything in between.”

Had he seen other Feds at Defcon?

“We kinda spot each other. It’s just the way they move and the general feeling you get and the confidence that some of these guys project,” Chuck said. “When they don’t start just spouting off about what they know and try to brag about how smart they are.”

I asked what were the most interesting talks he’d seen.

“The ones that begin with ‘This is illegal. Don’t do it.’”

And how does he feel about such talks?

“I’m mixed, because I’m a really low-level Fed, so that in my thinks you shouldn’t be talking about this. But the IT guy in me thinks someone should be talking about this. Because if you don’t here then in six months we’re going to read about it in your magazine.”

Defcon, he said, is “about opening people’s eyes to the intrinsic insecurity of the entire IT realm. The fact that you can manufacture a device, a piece of software, and not care about security as long as it’s marketed well.These people get ahold of it and just break it wide open,” Chuck said. “And trying to get big business and the federal government and manufacturers to understand that if you put something in my hands I’m going to take it apart and figure out how it works. So maybe you should think about security a little bit more.”

TIME National Security

Reports: Snowden Granted 3 More Years in Russia

Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden poses for a photo during an interview in an undisclosed location in December 2013 in Moscow.
Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in an undisclosed location in Moscow, December 2013. Barton Gellman—Getty Images

"If I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home," Snowden said in an interview in May.

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden received permission to stay in Russia for an additional three years, his lawyer told local media Thursday, amid the worst U.S.-Russian relations since the Cold War.

Snowden revealed troves of classified information on the American government’s surveillance activities before fleeing the U.S. more than a year ago. He was shortly thereafter granted temporary asylum in Russia, which expired Aug. 1.

His lawyer in Russia, Anatoly Kucherena, was quoted in Russian news agencies saying Snowden received an extended temporary residency for three years, the Associated Press reports. However, Snowden has not received political asylum, which would allow him to stay indefinitely. Kucherena said applying for political asylum requires a separate process, but Kucherena did not say whether Snowden had begun that procedure.

The lawyer’s statements in Russia could not be immediately confirmed.

Snowden faces charges of espionage in the U.S., but Russia, which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., has refused to hand him over. The case was a major source of tension between the two countries even before relations deteriorated further following Russia’s annexation of Crimea earlier this year and its suspected support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

[AP]

TIME intelligence

New Post-Snowden Leaks Reveal Secret Details of U.S. Terrorist Watch List

Edward Snowden, displayed on television screens, asks a question to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a nationally televised question-and-answer session, in Moscow, Thursday, April 17, 2014.
Edward Snowden, displayed on television screens, asks a question to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a nationally televised question-and-answer session, in Moscow, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Pavel Golovkin—AP

The documents are not as highly classified as the materials released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden

The U.S. government believes that someone other than former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has recently leaked secret national-security documents to the media, an official confirmed Tuesday.

The documents, published by the Intercept on Tuesday, detail the growth of federal terrorist watch lists. They were drafted after Snowden fled prosecution in the U.S. for Russia, when he no longer had access to classified intelligence networks.

CNN first reported that the government has assessed a second source of the documents. Classified as “secret” with instructions not to reveal them to foreign nationals, the documents would have been available broadly throughout the intelligence community and the military on the classified SIPRNet, the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, the system predominantly used by former Army Private Bradley Manning to collect documents to pass to WikiLeaks.

That network is open to a vastly larger audience than the top-secret-level JWICS, the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, which was used by Snowden to gather as many as a million documents on some of the nation’s most sensitive surveillance programs. So far, just a couple of documents have been published, making it impossible to determine whether the source of the leak simply passed the Intercept a small number of documents or a larger contingent on the order of the previous leaks.

The published documents describe government efforts using the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), a database used by federal state and local law-enforcement agencies to identify and track known or suspected terrorist suspects. The database has been subject to public debate and federal litigation, because of the secretive process that determines inclusion on this list.

The leaked documents say TIDE included more than 1 million people in June 2013, after Snowden had fled the country. The documents also detail use of the database in tracking possible combatants in the Syrian civil war and in providing security at events, like the Boston and Chicago marathons. A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the possible source of the leak.

TIME National Security

Government Spying Hurts Journalists and Lawyers, Report Says

A Human Rights Watch and American Civil Liberties Union report suggests NSA snooping prevents sources talking to journalists and compromises the relationships between defense attorneys and their clients

Updated at 4:51 p.m.

National Security Agency surveillance in the U.S. has seriously hurt the ability of journalists to cover national security issues and of attorneys, particularly defense lawyers, to represent their clients, according to a new report out Monday.

Based on interviews in the United States with 46 journalists, 42 practicing attorneys, and five current or former senior government officials, the report seeks to document the tangible impact of NSA surveillance on Americans revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In particular, the report cites the degree to which the Obama administration’s tough crackdown on unauthorized leaks, in combination with revelations about the extent of government surveillance on Americans’ cell phones and online communications, has caused sources to vanish for national security reporters.

“Sources are worried that being connected to a journalists through some sort of electronic record will be seen as suspicious and that they will be punished as a result,” said study author Alex Sinha, a fellow at Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union, which jointly issued the report. “As a result sources are less willing to talk to the press about anything, including unclassified matters that could be of significant public concern,” he said.

“I had a source whom I’ve known for years whom I wanted to talk to about a particular subject and this person said, ‘It’s not classified but I can’t talk about it because if they find out they’ll kill me,’ [figuratively speaking]” longtime National Security Correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers Jonathan Landay said for the report.

“It’s a terrible time to be covering government,” Tom Gjelten, a National Public Radio employee for more than 30 years, said. TIME was not listed among the news outlets from which reporters, many of whom chose to remain anonymous, were interviewed for the report.

Defense attorneys, who represent clients charged with a wide variety of offenses including terrorism, drug and financial crimes, among others, described how U.S. government surveillance has forced them to take extraordinary and often cumbersome measures to protect the privacy of sources and clients.

Such measures might include the use of complex encryption technologies, disposable “burner” cell phones, so called “air-gapped” computers, which are never connected to the internet as a precaution against hacking and surveillance, and in some cases abandoning electronic communications entirely.

“I’ll be damned if I have to start acting like a drug dealer in order to protect my client’s confidentiality,” said national security defense attorney Tom Durkin for the report.

“We are fearful that our communications with witnesses abroad are monitored [and] might put people in harm’s way,” said Jason Wright, who has represented terrorism clients as a military defense attorney before the Guantánamo commissions.

A report released earlier this month by The New America Foundation argues the NSA deliberately weakens cybersecurity, making online communications, study authors argue, less secure in general. The NSA has “minimization procedures” designed to limit the exposure of “US Persons”—Americans at home or abroad and others legally inside the United States—to the NSA’s wide-net surveillance programs. Privacy advocates contend they are insufficient and that, in any case, it’s impossible to verify their effectiveness because the details remain secret.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence told TIME that, contrary to revealing a decrease in press freedom, the Snowden leaks are evidence that journalism in the United States remains robust and unencumbered.

“The Intelligence Community, like all Americans, supports a free and robust press,” said Jeffrey Anchukaitis, spokesperson for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. “The events of the last year demonstrate that the IC’s foreign intelligence surveillance activities clearly have not prevented vigorous reporting on intelligence activities. U.S. intelligence activities are focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets to help defend the nation, not on intimidating or inhibiting journalists. Likewise, the IC recognizes the importance of the attorney-client privilege, and has procedures in place to ensure that appropriate protection is given to privileged attorney-client communications.”

To address problems raised in the report, HRW and the ACLU recommend reforming U.S. surveillance practices, reducing state secrecy in general and limitations on official contact with journalists, enhanced whistleblower protections and strengthened minimization procedures.

The report comes just days before the expected unveiling in the Senate of the latest iteration of the USA Freedom Act, a bill to reform NSA surveillance practices. An earlier House version of the bill was significantly gutted of reform measures, leading privacy advocates to pull support for the bill and try instead to get more substantial reforms through the Senate.

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