ROGER FITCH ESQ • MONDAY, AUGUST 12, 2013
Attorney General Holder promised the Russians that the US wouldn't torture Snowden, and they still wouldn't hand him over ... NSA's "network security agreements" with helpful telecoms ... Stacking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court with Republicans ... Roger Fitch, Our Man in Washington, on the inner workings of a non-functioning democracy
"Gentlemen do not read each other's mail" - Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of State (1929)
"You need a haystack to find a needle" - Gen. Keith Alexander, Director, National Security Agency
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IT was a surreal Post-Cold War moment, not unlike the day a humble Donald Rumsfeld visited the former KGB torture site in Vilnius, Lithuania - now a memorial to Soviet brutality - as the CIA tortured Pentagon captives nearby.
This time the irony lay in a US Attorney General writing to his Russian counterpart - whose president is a retired KGB Lt. Col. - solemnly assuring him that the US wouldn't torture or kill Edward Snowden if he returns to the US.
AG Eric Holder also offered to issue Snowden a special travel document for the US - how nice is that?
Even if Russia had an extradition treaty with the US, some countries reject extradition to America on the basis of its civil and military justice systems.
In 2011, the Canadian courts refused to extradite Omar Khadr's brother Abdullah, and last month a Dutch court denied extradition of a terrorist suspect possibly tortured in Pakistan with US connivance.
The flight of Snowden - and the secrets he holds about National Security Agency surveillance (more here) - has led to an unusual outbreak of interesting political journalism in the US.
More suggestions are here, but they're all doubtful in light of NSA's just-disclosed XKeyscore program.
The Guardian noted that the encryption services used by many people (see last post) can be bypassed by NSA through its collaboration with Microsoft.
Both organisations pay dubious "bounties" to freelance hackers who find flaws in computer codes, theirs or - in NSA's case - someone else's .
The Washington Post described the "Network Security Agreements" the NSA enters with helpful telecoms, designed to make electronic communications insecure enough for the agency to save, record and read them unhindered.
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