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August 03, 2013 3:43 PM This Week in Intelligence

This past week was a busy one in the world of national security.

By Max Ehrenfreund

That’s enough blogging for one day, I think. Tomorrow, I’d like to spend some more time thinking about secrecy, Edward Snowden, and our state surveillance apparatus, since there was so much news in that area this week:

Tuesday

Pfc. Bradley Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy in the WikiLeaks case. Aiding the enemy was the most serious charge against him, and a conviction would have revived a legal theory last used during the Civil War and established a precedent under which simply giving an interview critical of the government would be a capital offense for any member of the military (and maybe for civilians as well, per Yochai Benkler). The judge, Col. Denise Lind, found Manning guilty of other charges, including espionage and fraud, and he could be sentenced to as many as 136 years in prison. My employer published a sensible editorial on the case.

Wednesday

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, declassified several documents for a contentious Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, spoke at the Black Hat convention in Las Vegas. Here is a transcript. I wish I could have been in that room. Alexander appealed to the hackers there to help him protect freedom. Marci Wheeler’s critique of the speech raises an interesting question: does protecting freedom include protecting some kind of right to encrypt your communications?

The same day, the Guardian published its report on the National Security Agency’s XKeyscore system.

Thursday

Edward Snowden received temporary asylum from Russia and left Sheremetyevo Airport, formally entering Russian territory. The craziest part of the entire story is that he managed to leave the airport without the international press noticing. USA TODAY reports that Snowden “misses his American girlfriend.” That is definitely the first thing I would mention if I were writing an article about Snowden for America’s newspaper, as their relationship is clearly the most important aspect of this story. Thanks for reminding us about her, USA TODAY.

See you tomorrow morning, and if you’re going out tonight, be sure to buy a beer in honor of this Gallup poll.

Max Ehrenfreund is a former Monthly intern and a reporter at The Washington Post. Find him on Twitter: @MaxEhrenfreund

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