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Fwd: Arc of history; ultimate vindication

"Both the journal and the documents she obtained from the government
show how her own targeting helped to galvanize her resolve to expose
the apparatus of surveillance."

they've made fatal errors; miscalculating the blow back of global
privacy destruction.

against such injustice, some will spend every life hour left in
opposition to this moral atrocity.

"Nope, Never. Fuck NO!"

best regards,



Snowdenâ??s Chronicler Reveals Her Own Life Under Surveillance
     Andy Greenberg	Security Date of Publication: 02.04.16.
    Time of Publication: 9:03 am.
    9:03 am

Laura Poitras has a talent for disappearing. In her early
documentaries like My Country, My Country and The Oath, her camera
seems to float invisibly in rooms where subjects carry on intimate
conversations as if theyâ??re not being observed. Even in Citizenfour,
the Oscar-winning film that tracks her personal journey from first
contact with Edward Snowden to releasing his top secret NSA leaks to
the world, she rarely offers a word of narration. She appears in that
film exactly once, caught as if by accident in the mirror of Snowdenâ??s
Hong Kong hotel room.

Now, with the opening of her multi-media solo exhibit, Astro Noise, at
New Yorkâ??s Whitney Museum of American Art this week, Snowdenâ??s
chronicler has finally turned her lens onto herself. And sheâ??s given
us a glimpse into one of the darkest stretches of her life, when she
wasnâ??t yet the revelator of modern American surveillance but instead
its target.

The exhibit is vast and unsettling, ranging from films to documents
that can be viewed only through wooden slits to a video expanse of
Yemeni sky which visitors are invited to lie beneath. But the most
personal parts of the show are documents that lay bare how
excruciating life was for Poitras as a target of government
surveillanceâ??and how her subsequent paranoia made her the ideal
collaborator in Snowdenâ??s mission to expose Americaâ??s surveillance
state. First, sheâ??s installed a wall of papers that she received in
response to an ongoing Freedom of Information lawsuit the Electronic
Frontier Foundation filed on her behalf against the FBI. The documents
definitively show why Poitras was tracked and repeatedly searched at
the US border for years, and even that she was the subject of a grand
jury investigation. And second, a book sheâ??s publishing to accompany
the exhibit includes her journal from the height of that surveillance,
recording her first-person experience of becoming a spying subject,
along with her inner monologue as she first corresponded with the
secret NSA leaker she then knew only as â??Citizenfour.â??

Poitras says she initially intended to use only a few quotes from her
journal in that book. But as she was transcribing it, she â??realized
that it was a primary source document about navigating a certain
reality,â?? she says. The finished book, which includes a biographical
piece by Guantanamo detainee Lakhdar Boumediene, a photo collection
from Ai Weiwei, and a short essay by Snowden on using radio waves from
stars to generate random data for encryption, is subtitled â??A Survival
Guide for Living Under Total Surveillance.â?? It will be published
widely on February 23.

â??Iâ??ve asked people for a long time to reveal a lot in my films,â??
Poitras says. But telling her own story, even in limited glimpses,
â??provides a concrete example of how the process works we donâ??t usually

That process, for Poitras, is the experience of being unwittingly
ingested into the American surveillance system.
On the Governmentâ??s Radar

Poitras has long suspected that her targeting began after she filmed
an Iraqi family in Baghdad for the documentary My Country, My Country.
Now sheâ??s sure, because the documents released by her Freedom of
Information Act request prove it. During a 2004 ambush by Iraqi
insurgents in which an American soldier died and several others were
injured, she came out onto the roof of the familyâ??s home to film them
as they watched events unfolding on the street below. She shot for a
total of eight minutes and 16 seconds. The resulting footage, which
she shows in the Whitney exhibit, reveals nothing related to either
American or insurgent military positions.

â??Those eight minutes changed my life, though I didnâ??t know it at the
time,â?? she says in an audio narration that plays around the documents
in her exhibition. â??After returning to the United States I was placed
on a government watchlist and detained and searched every time I
crossed the US border. It took me ten years to find out why.â??

laura-poitras-whitneyClick to Open Overlay Gallery
A Whitney Museum visitor looking at a selection of Poitrasâ?? FOIAed
documents framed in a collection of light boxes. Andy Greenberg

The heavily redacted documents show that the US Army Criminal
Investigation Command requested in 2006 that the FBI investigate
Poitras as a possible â??U.S. media representative â?¦ involved with
anti-coalition forces.â?? According to the FBI file, a member of the
Oregon National Guard serving in Iraq identified Poitras and â??a local
[Iraqi] leaderâ??â??the father of the family that would become the subject
of her film. The soldier, whose name was redacted, questioned Poitras
at the time, and reported that she â??became significantly nervousâ?? and
denied filming from the roof. He later told the Army investigators
that he â??strongly believedâ??â??but without apparent evidenceâ??â??POITRAS had
prior knowledge of the ambush and had the means to report it to U.S.
Forces; however, she purposely did not report it so she could film the
attack for her documentary.â??

One page shown in the Whitney exhibit reveals that the New York field
office of the FBI was tracking Poitrasâ?? home addresses, and Poitras
believes the reference to a â??detectiveâ?? working with the FBI indicates
the New York Police Department may have also been involved. By 2007,
the documents reveal that there was a grand jury investigation
proceeding on whether to indict her for unnamed crimesâ??multiple
subpoenas sought information about her from redacted sources. (Poitras
says that the twelve pages she published in the Whitney exhibition are
only a selection of 800 documents sheâ??s received in her FOIA lawsuit,
which is ongoing.)
Being Constantly Watched

Private as ever, Poitras declined to detail to WIRED exactly how she
experienced that federal investigation in the years that followed. But
flash forward to late 2012, and the surveillance targeting Poitras had
transformed her into a nervous wreck. In the book, she shares a diary
she kept during her time living in Berlin, in which she describes
feeling constantly watched, entirely robbed of privacy. â??I havenâ??t
written in over a year for fear these words are not private,â?? are the
journalâ??s first words. â??That nothing in my life can be kept private.â??

She sleeps badly, plagued with nightmares about the American
government. She reads Cory Doctorowâ??s Homeland and re-reads 1984,
finding too many parallels with her own life. She notes her computer
glitching and â??going pinkâ?? during her interviews with NSA
whistleblower William Binney, and that it tells her its hard drive is
full despite seeming to have 16 gigabytes free. Eventually she moves
to a new apartment that she attempts to keep â??off the radarâ?? by
avoiding all cell phones and only accessing the Internet over the
anonymity software Tor.

When Snowden contacts her in January of 2013, Poitras has lived with
the specter of spying long enough that she initially wonders if he
might be part of a plan to entrap her or her contacts like Julian
Assange or Jacob Appelbaum, an activist and Tor developer. â??Is C4 a
trap?â?? she asks herself, using an abbreviation of Snowdenâ??s codename.
â??Will he put me in prison?â??

Even once she decides heâ??s a legitimate source, the pressure threatens
to overwhelm her. The stress becomes visceral: She writes that she
feels like sheâ??s â??underwaterâ?? and that she can hear the blood rushing
through her body. â??I am battling with my nervous system,â?? she writes.
â??It doesnâ??t let me rest or sleep. Eye twitches, clenched throat, and
now literally waiting to be raided.â??

Finally she decides to meet Snowden and to publish his top secret
leaks, despite her fears of both the risks to him and to herself. Both
the journal and the documents she obtained from the government show
how her own targeting helped to galvanize her resolve to expose the
apparatus of surveillance. â??He is prepared for the consequences of the
disclosure,â?? she writes, then admits: â??I really donâ??t want to become
the story.â??

In the end, Poitras has not only escaped the arrest or indictment she
feared, but has become a kind of privacy folk hero: Her work has
helped to noticeably shift the worldâ??s view of government spying, led
to legislation, and won both a Pulitzer and an Academy Award. But if
her ultimate fear was to â??become the story,â?? her latest revelations
show thatâ??s a fate she can no longer escapeâ??and one sheâ??s come to

Poitrasâ?? Astro Noise exhibit runs from February 5 until May 1 at the
Whitney Museum of American Art, and the accompanying book will be
published on February 23.