Tag Archives: NSA

Film Review: Snowden (2016)

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 29, 2016

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Snowden never, ever recovers from its premise: that Edward Snowden, a super-capable, pure-hearted all-American, found terrible government crimes against the American population while working at the National Security Agency, and was moved to disclose them to the world after being stymied in official channels.

Literally none of that is true. The Snowden revelations found mistakes that were generally cleared up by an efficient and functional bureaucratic oversight mechanism. Snowden did not try to go official channels in the way he described, and the bulk of what Snowden revealed was nothing to do with the privacy of Americans but was related to foreign intelligence, where the legal and practical situation is that everyone hoovers up as much data as they can. The capabilities of the Snowden presented here, personal and professional—to say nothing of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Snowden’s motives—would not withstand scrutiny for a single second against the actual historical record. This could be said fairly generally of the whole film. Continue reading

Film Review: Citizenfour (2014) by Laura Poitras

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 6, 2015

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Produced and directed by Laura Poitras, a Berlin-based, American-born producer and director, who has made numerous films attacking America’s foreign policy, Citizenfour rounds out a trilogy that started in 2006 with My Country, My Country about the U.S. regency in Iraq, and had its last instalment in 2010 with The Oath, a film that apparently follows two al-Qaeda members in Yemen and concludes they’re not such bad chaps.

The target this time for Poitras is the National Security Agency (NSA). Continue reading

Beware of Tyrants Bearing Gifts: Assad and Intelligence on the Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 2, 2014

An ally against the Islamic State? Not quite.

An ally against the Islamic State? Not quite.

The United States signals intelligence (SIGINT) apparatus in Syria, which monitors the communications of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has “yield[ed] unexpected intelligence over the Sunni jihadists that has helped guide American military operations in Syria and Iraq,” the Wall Street Journal print edition reported yesterday, based on high-level leaks. Continue reading

Book Review: The Snowden Operation (2014) by Edward Lucas

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 1, 2014

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 “Snowden is a pawn in a hostile and continuing intelligence and information-warfare operation

So concludes Edward Lucas in a fascinating and easy-to-read brief look at the greatest intelligence disaster the West has ever experienced. Continue reading