Gawker: Snowden told the Guardian that in leaking these documents he wanted to reveal the “architecture of oppression.” You’re both architects—what does that term mean to you?
Young: People take it metaphorically, but we think he means the actual, physical infrastructure. That’s how I took it, he’s waiting to tell us how this structure actually operates, not the historical version that goes before Congress and goes to the press. A number of people have written about the technology, [journalist James Bamford] and others have written about this so it’s not like it’s not out there, but I think he’s testing the waters for language.
The word “architecture” is terribly thrown around, like gravitas and everything else and I think it’s been taken that way without saying, “No, he’s actually talking about the architecture.” This building, these cable system, these hubs. These satellites dishes— actual physical structures. Without which you cannot do what they’re doing.
Gawker: So you think he has information on what’s actually on the ground.
Young: He was managing those systems. That’s why he’s so valuable.
Natsios: It’s interesting in terms of the five or six big, vintage, historic telecom hubs downtown [in Manhattan]. Speaking of Verizon, my favorite Verizon is the tower at 375 Pearl St. that was bought by this Seattle data farm, Intergate. And now Intergate Manhattan, they tout the fact that they are in the NYPD security zone, and that they have protection from homeland security. For your storage. I mean, it’s extraordinary. Homeland security will be standing guard over your data, don’t you feel so much better about that?
Gawker: I’m also curious if you have any thoughts on the NSA’s headquarters—that cube everyone is showing on the news.
Natsios: When the parking lot is full or empty?
Gawker: What do you mean by that?
Young: It is an icon, but most of the work, it’s done out in the network. It’s widely distributed for security reasons. The headquarters is duplicated in several locations, a standard defense technique. That one is the cartoon version, that’s why on the weekend all the cars disappear. Whereas if it were a 24 by 7 operation, they would be there 24 by 7. All these main spy headquarters, on the weekends, they disappear. Empty parking lots.” —A Discussion with Cryptome