Generation Wikileaks

Famed NSA leaker Edward Snowden almost had me convinced of his sincerity.  Until today, when he released damaging information about US spying on Russia’s former president, and offered up no explanation for how such revelations jibe with his earlier claims to be fighting for the American people.

You don’t go and help the Russians if your goal is fighting for the American people, unless you have a darn good reason, and Snowden has so far given none for today’s new leaks.

Now, some would ask, why discuss at all whether Snowden’s motives were genuine?  His justification has no bearing on the shocking nature of the information Snowden released, particularly about the NSA’s PRISM program, and about the NSA forcing Verizon to turn over call information about its 121 million customers.

And that’s true.  Those revelations stand on their own merits as to whether the NSA, and the Obama administration crossed a line.

Ed-SnowdenBut the issues that arise from the Snowden leak are not simply limited to whether the PRISM program was valid or not.  Snowden is a proud self-proclaimed member of what I’m calling “Generation Wikileaks.”  He’s representative of a younger, transparency-loving, globally-aware breed of citizen, among whom I count Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

Snowden clearly sees himself as part of a larger movement, and thus we should – we must – discuss whether that movement is moving in the right direction or not.  And with Snowden, it now decidedly is not.  And here’s why…

The Guardian today published a number of new classified leaks that it got from Snowden.  They included the news that the US had intercepted then- Russian President Medvedev’s communications during the G20 Summit in London back in 2009.  That the British were intercepting communications from foreign delegates to that summit.  And that the British were planning to eavesdrop on members of their Commonwealth at an upcoming summit of those nations.

It’s not clear what any of those have to do with Snowden’s earlier justifications for his leaks.  They don’t have anything to do with the NSA director lying to Congress.  They don’t have anything to do with the President not closing down Gitmo.  And they have nothing to do with the dangers the surveillance state pose to the privacy of Americans.  They weren’t spying on Americans in today’s stories, they were spying on Russian leaders and diplomats, among others foreign officials.  So Snowden’s earlier justifications for the leaks don’t seem to apply.  Then why did he do it?

Edward-Snowden-2I suppose one could argue that all spying is wrong, and some have told me as much via Twitter.  But I’d consider that a non-starter for a serious policy discussion.  If you don’t think we have a need for America’s intelligence community then there’s little I can say to convince you otherwise.  We do have a little light shed today on why Snowden leaked these additional stories to the Guardian.  Snowden said the following during an online chat earlier today with the Guardian:

Second, let’s be clear: I did not reveal any US operations against legitimate military targets. I pointed out where the NSA has hacked civilian infrastructure such as universities, hospitals, and private businesses because it is dangerous. These nakedly, aggressively criminal acts are wrong no matter the target. Not only that, when NSA makes a technical mistake during an exploitation operation, critical systems crash. Congress hasn’t declared war on the countries – the majority of them are our allies – but without asking for public permission, NSA is running network operations against them that affect millions of innocent people. And for what? So we can have secret access to a computer in a country we’re not even fighting? So we can potentially reveal a potential terrorist with the potential to kill fewer Americans than our own Police? No, the public needs to know the kinds of things a government does in its name, or the “consent of the governed” is meaningless.

There’s a lot to untangle in that statement.  First off, “legitimate military targets.” I’m not even sure what that means.  Russia is not a legitimate target for US spy efforts?  It most certainly is.  As for Snowden’s concerns for spy agencies accessing civilian infrastructure, it’s not entirely clear whether any of that applies to the new claims as well.

Among other things, Snowden says the British intelligence set up Internet cafes with an email interception program.  Okay, and how does that violate civilian infrastructure?  Same question applies to Snowden’s other new revelations, including the fact that the Brits penetrated the security on the delegate’s Blackberrrys, that they targeted the Turkish finance minister, and that they eavesdropped on Medvedev’s hone calls as they passed through a satellite.

wikileaksWhich of those things shouldn’t our spies being doing?  Is Snowden alleging that the type of spying we did were rogue operations that were above the law?  It’s not clear.  But on its face, the suggestion that we shouldn’t be bugging the Russians’ phones seems a bit much to swallow.

And here’s where I really think Snowden lost me:

Congress hasn’t declared war on the countries – the majority of them are our allies – but without asking for public permission, NSA is running network operations against them that affect millions of innocent people…. And for what? So we can have secret access to a computer in a country we’re not even fighting?

So now Snowden thinks we should only spy on countries we’re at war with?  Who are we technically at war with?  North Korea?  Anyone else?  That makes for a pretty small list.  Even if what he really means is de facto wars like Afghanistan and Iraq, again, that’s a rather small list.  Can we spy on Iran?  How about Syria?  How about Cuba?  How about China?

It almost sounds as if Snowden objects to the entire notion of spying.  And if that’s the case, then why did he go to work at the CIA and the NSA in the first place if he’s morally repulsed by the notion of spying generally, and on Russia in particular?

And actually, there’s this too from Snowden today:

Obama’s campaign promises and election gave me faith that he would lead us toward fixing the problems he outlined in his quest for votes. Many Americans felt similarly. Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge.

So he leaked information about our spying on the Russians because President Obama refused to prosecute Bush administration torture and push harder for closing Gitmo.  That’s a non sequitur, it’s not a rationale for exposing state secrets.

Josh Marshall wrote a great piece last week, looking at Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and the burgeoning culture of leaks. Here’s a snippet:

I’m a journalist. And back when I did national security reporting I tried to get leaks. So I don’t think leaks are always wrong. I think the government and journalists both have legitimate interests that point in very different directions. In fact, leaks are an absolutely critical safety valve against government wrongdoing and/or excessive secrecy. But when someone in government leaks classified information they’re breaking an oath and committing a crime. That’s a big deal. Sometimes though the importance of what’s leaked justifies the act morally if not legally. That is often the case. And that’s one reason that while I think the laws against disclosure should be in place I also think it’s imprudent for the government to try too hard to enforce them. I do not see how you can’t prosecute Snowden since he’s revealed himself publicly. And leaks should sometimes be investigated. But in most cases it’s not worth snooping on journalists to try to find the culprit. The costs outweigh the gains. Because of that, it’s really impossible to say leaks are good or bad in general. It’s also true that people can leak information for petty or even evil reasons but the leak still serves a positive public purpose. Leaks are complicated. I think we know that. And being morally right doesn’t necessarily get you off the hook for committing a crime….

Snowden is doing more than triggering a debate. I think it’s clear he’s trying to upend, damage – choose your verb – the US intelligence apparatus and policieis he opposes. The fact that what he’s doing is against the law speaks for itself. I don’t think anyone doubts that narrow point. But he’s not just opening the thing up for debate. He’s taking it upon himself to make certain things no longer possible, or much harder to do. To me that’s a betrayal. I think it’s easy to exaggerate how much damage these disclosures cause. But I don’t buy that there are no consequences. And it goes to the point I was making in an earlier post. Who gets to decide? The totality of the officeholders who’ve been elected democratically – for better or worse – to make these decisions? Or Edward Snowden, some young guy I’ve never heard of before who espouses a political philosophy I don’t agree with and is now seeking refuge abroad for breaking the law?

I don’t have a lot of problem answering that question.

Individual conscience is always critical. But when it comes to taking a stand on conscience it’s not just the thought that counts. You put yourself to the judgment or the present and the future about whether you made the right judgment.

I just can’t accept the argument that it’s okay to leak classified information simply because the leaker thinks it’s justified, especially when he’s being set up as some kind of role model for future national security whistleblowers.  You’d better have a darn good reason if you’re going to leak national security secrets, and break some major laws, while running the risk of endangering our national security.

And at this point, with these new revelations, it’s no longer clear what is motivating Edward Snowden, other than animus.  And that’s not good enough to justify the actions of a man who’s starting to look less and less like Daniel Ellsberg with each new revelation.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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249 Responses to “Generation Wikileaks”

  1. Island In The Sky says:

    Honey, you couldn’t outrage me if you tried. I’m more disappointed in you on this matter than anything else – I still love ya, though ;)

    I cant help but wonder if your position here would be the same if this exact same incident occurred under the GWB administration…

  2. condew says:

    I think at least one of my doctors subscribes to a system where he dictates his “charts” to audio files which get sent to the Philippines at the end of the day and are transcribed overnight to magically appear in his files by morning. So some of my most sensitive information does indeed reside on a computer in some other country, and, in this case, no government is to blame.

  3. condew says:

    Sounds like Snowden wanted to keep his news story alive, or maybe he was afraid the U.S. would not try to extradite him. In any event, he’s crossed the line from whistleblower to traitor.

  4. MatthewSherrard says:

    Pseudonymy is not villainous. Sometimes it is vital.

  5. mirror says:

    Ok, I won’t participate anymore. Honestly though, ask yourself what about my stupid comments made you so uncomfortable that you wasted so much smoke responding? See you at the press cocktail party or next inauguration. We can take a picture together!

  6. mirror says:

    Ok, I won’t participate anymore. Honestly though, ask yourself what was it I said that made you so uncomfortable that you wrote quite so much smoke? See you at the press cocktail party. We can take a photo together!

  7. KayInMaine says:

    I would have blamed the Bush Regime for starting this program, but hey, Snowden and Greenwald are pissed at Obama for not being invited to the White House back in 2009 and because Obama didn’t fix every issue they wanted fixed within the first two weeks after Obama’s inauguration in 2009. See? Neither one of these two care about America. Neither one of them are living in America. The End.

  8. KayInMaine says:

    Have you? He hasn’t laid his life down for anyone! He stole classified documents and then fled the country only to help China. Whose he loyal to? Which country? Oh wait! He’s your hero! Nevermind.

  9. Ford Prefect says:

    Try pizza. Sally’s especially. But agree with your larger point. If you want lessons from David Brooks or a reconstituted Attila The Hun, Yale’s your place!

    If you want to become an economic hitman or spend lots of time rationalizing genocide against Palestinians, Harvard’s the place!

    The Ivy League seems most useful for those who wish to do terrible things to people not rich enough to attend Ivy League schools.

  10. Delonjo Barber says:

    I’m not backtracking, either. We’re all getting old in both respects. I’ve been a big fan of your blog and have been an every-day reader. Usually, you were the first site I’d read. Maybe I’ve changed but I don’t think I have. I’m still a firebrand liberal. Not “progressive”–never that. But lately your opinions have rubbed me the wrong way. So much tempering and “pragmatism” in my opinion. If I’m wrong, I am absolutely sorry for iring one of my idols. Pre-Obama you we’re different to me.

  11. karmanot says:

    I never imagined to live to the age where the America I once loved and now loath is synonymous with torture, tyranny, assassination, the death of Habeaus Corpus, indefinite incarceration and Stalinist-like show trials.

  12. Badgerite says:

    In China, you wouldn’t need a warrant.

  13. karmanot says:

    The only good thing about Yale is that wonderful, old Deco dinner across from the main gate. It’s a great place to major in burgers, fries and slaw.

  14. Badgerite says:

    I imagine what the NSA uses the metadata for is to establish a probable cause to listen into a phone call based on who is being called. They would still need to get a warrant to listen to the conversation itself. Yeah, that’s like the Stasi alright.

  15. karmanot says:

    Well yes—-Murdock led the way over there and now he is a major propaganda force in the USA.

  16. karmanot says:

    At our ages, we don’t become better persons, we already are and we tell the stories about how we got here.

  17. karmanot says:

    Well, Ms. glory and guts, did you do military service like Snowden? Have you laid your life on the line for your country? If not, then stfu and crawl back under your troll bridge.

  18. karmanot says:

    Or if Obozo was a liberal?

  19. karmanot says:

    small point: Snowden wasn’t a hacker, neither was Bradley Manning. I would go a bit further than you in that I feel Hackers and whistle blowers can ultimately be the patriots of the Internet.

  20. karmanot says:

    And, a kitty with attitude!

  21. Your comment was rude. And you were benignly commenting on the natural aging process.

  22. karmanot says:

    You need to visit more often, John is often conservative and considered in his opinions, but defends them rigorously and is open to change. The only time I can imagine him on bended knee before power is trying to get Sasha to eat a blueberry.

  23. karmanot says:

    Badgerite loves the Stasi

  24. Delonjo Barber says:

    I’ve never been rude to you. We’re all getting old.

  25. Where did I say that you were “stupid” and “immature” for being an idealist?

    What I’ve written repeatedly, and all my comments are still here below, is that people shouldn’t resort to unprovoked personal attacks when they have an intellectual disagreement with someone, especially someone they know to be an ally. Similar to the attack you just launched on me in your comment. Rather than explain why you think I’m wrong about Edward Snowden, you thought it better to criticize my age, my soul, and throw out the window 20 years of progressive work that I’ve done. I think that’s intellectually lazy, in addition to politically dangerous.

    Your idealism isn’t your problem, your rudeness is.

    You disagree with me about one post, and rather than explaining to me why you think I’m wrong, you thought it would be better to call me “old” and suggeset that I’ve lost my soul. I wrote a post about people like you several weeks ago. You should read it and take it to heart. Because people like you are destroying the left in this country. And not because you’re an idealist. But because you’re intolerant, and don’t want to even think about why it is we believe what we believe. And when someone asks you to just think about it, you berate them.

    I didn’t create AMERICAblog to be a xerox machine for all the liberal group press releases. I created it to think through policy issues from the perspective of someone who has worked in national policy for nearly 25 years. And I challenge you to show me where I’ve changed, because I think you’re the one who’s changed. Your idealism is most welcome. Your attitude is not.

  26. Delonjo Barber says:

    You’ve changed, John. You’ve changed. A quote widely misattributed to Winston Churchill is goes something like this: “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not conservative by 35, you have no brain.” You’re getting old. You’re starting to sound like Booman, and not in a good way. Idealists are “stupid” and “immature” while you are the adults in the room. We get it… :-(

  27. And why wouldn’t we want your wisdom? All I ask is that people be civil. Wisdom and experience are welcome :)

  28. I don’t blame him for fleeing arrest. I wouldn’t want to be arrested – who would?

  29. jasonwhat says:

    The onus should be on our government to justify why we need to be a permanent spy state. I’ve been to plenty of these summits and I see no reason why we need to spy on G20 nations when we are meeting for negotiations. What exactly do we gain by way of strategic insight that is more valuable than face-to-face discussions with 20 countries setting the global agenda? We absolutely should NOT be spying on the Security Council in violation of international law .

    Of course, this makes me naive, right? Everybody spies! But shouldn’t the US hold ourselves to a higher standard of being honest brokers and followers of the rule of law? Shouldn’t we come from the moral high ground and say with authority that the UN and international summits are truly free and open spaces for nations to dialogue and solve our pressing challenges like climate change and…oh, I don’t know, terrorism? Some of us actually want the US to be a truly great nation and an actual beacon for freedom and democracy. I think Snowden is one of those citizens, but if he is just a self-aggrandizing jerk, I really don’t care. As Maddow said, we have become unmoored to the point where progressives are viciously defending spy programs that have never been proven to actually be needed or useful. We should be the Good Guys.

  30. masaccio68 says:

    I don’t think so in this case. Snowden gave his material to competent journalists. He is entitled to think that they wouldn’t put that information into the public discourse if in their opinion it would harm the national interest. We know that Greenwald and the Guardian, and possibly Bart Gellman and the WaPo didn’t release a lot of the slides about Prism. I infer that Snowden would accept their judgment on other important security issues.

  31. Mark_in_MN says:

    I’m not sure I can so readily distinguish the appropriateness of the program/action and the appropriateness of classification. It would seem to me that these things ought to be related to one another in inverse proportion. The more unjustified the activity the less justified classifying it or keeping to classified would be. Even apart from such a relationship and questions of constitutionality, I’m uncertain why a program like Prism should fall into something to be classified.

  32. iDonald says:

    Calling people names reveals your comment has no there there. Cute try. What would you have done in his position. But of course you’ve done nothing so gutsy as Snowden.

  33. Whitewitch says:

    I completely concur Mark. I am much more afraid of US intelligence community than of anything Snowden might really know and be able to pass along to our “enemies” or “allies” – hard to know which is which now.

  34. iDonald says:

    and a big thank you to all of them.

  35. And one more thing: Sounds like you need more, not fewer, puppies in your life :)

  36. Badgerite says:

    No, actually he is focusing on what the ‘whistleblower exposed’. And as Kevin Drum notes, even Snowden does not NOW claim that there is ‘direct access’ to servers. Rather there is access to an NSA database that has already been collected and the requires a warrant to collect. Not exactly as the story was initially billed or even reported on over the weekend. Quoting from Kevin Drum:

    “His reply to the warrant question is a little clearer, but doesn’t really say anything new. Section 702 warrants are indeed very broad, and once issued can cover communications from a lot of targets. When this stuff is swept up, some of it inevitably turns out to be domestic communications, which the NSA is required to either discard or segregate away from the view of analysts according to court mandated minimization procedures.
    Now does the NSA really do this? How do we know? Those are good questions, but Snowden sheds no light on that. He just keeps telling us that 702 warrants are very broad. Something we already knew.”

    Alan Grayson complained that the Fourth Amendment required ‘particularity’. And that is true. But there are also exceptions. One of those exceptions is consent. Congressman Grayson characterizes the ruling in Smith v Maryland as applying only to that particular case. But that is not true. The Court actually held that information gathered by the phone company as to numbers of called ( the pen registry) are completely outside the protections of the Fourth Amendment. The Court ruled that there is no expectation of privacy in such information. This type of ruling is not something that applies to only one case, one time. This is a ruling which states the such metadata as the phone numbers called by any particular person are completely outside the protections of the Fourth Amendment. That is the ruling. And that is the law. So the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit collection of the numbers that Alan Grayson or anyone else calls. He is clearly in error on this point. The only question then, is whether there is a legal prohibition against the NSA collecting this data versus the local police. The domestic versus foreign distinction. But Grayson clearly states that the Fourth Amendment prohibits this. And on that point he is clearly wrong and the Agency is right. Read the case.

  37. In all seriousness, and I’ve written this before, but some people on our side need to learn some civility and maturity. If we can’t have an open discussion about these issue – especially about issues this important – then we don’t deserve to win. This “you’re the enemy if you disagree with me about anything” attitude is counterproductive and sets us back. I was accused of being a sexist last night in a mini twitter swarm because I’d never heard of a certain women’s issue blog. How that makes you sexist because you weren’t familiar with a blog is beyond me. But it’s part of the same larger “outrage” thing, and as I’ve written before, it’s growing, and it’s hurting us.

  38. Yes, I pray every day for the nerve to stand up to authority. Perhaps I’ll create an pseudyonymous Disqus profile and yell at people who are trying to have a rational, civil public debate on important issues. I hear that does a lot to change things :)

  39. Right, that’s a debate we’ve had for decades. I don’t recall if Gore’s Reinventing Govt work addressed some of this, I thought it did. Having said that, the stuff he released was clearly appropriately classified, whether or not it was appropriately done :)

  40. Now that was the kind of answer we deserve. A thoughtful one with arguments well spelled out. That’s all I was asking for :)

  41. I don’t really care what the Obama administration wants me to do, that has never changed my honestly intellectual analysis of an issue, and it never will.

  42. I’m not sure histrionics advance the discussion much. If you feel like having a mature, intelligent, rationale discussion about this topic, I’m happy to engage. But bashing people because you think you disagree with them is something Republicans do. I’d like to think that we’re better than that, and that’s why I created this site – so we could actually discuss issues, rather than parrot each other, Mao style.

  43. scottdedalus says:

    Funny how Ellsberg thinks he looks like Ellsberg, but John is too busy subjecting Snowden to the kind of criticism that he would rather not practice with his betters. It’s really bizarre how this NSA story has revealed the bended-knee approach to authority that many so-called progressives like John have.

  44. KayInMaine says:

    So bravery to you is hiding out in another country to avoid prosecution? I thought Snowden said America is worth dying for! Time to come back to America you skinny little pencil-necked spy for China & Russia & Brazil’s Glenn Greenwald!

  45. KayInMaine says:

    Is America’s ‘hero’ still running around the globe to avoid being prosecuted in America? He must be getting his money from either the Koch Brothers…..or China & Russia are paying him big $ for the information he stole?

  46. Badgerite says:

    So to fight against the ‘burgeoning police state’, he runs off to seek sanctuary in the long established police state of China. Hmmmm!

  47. Ty Morgan says:

    Snowden is nothing more to me than an idiot who turned on his country. The U.S. is spying on the Russians? No shit,Sherlock! Spilling the beans on that helps the American people HOW exactly? Recommended reading:

  48. DonQ says:

    “as to whether the NSA, and the Obama administration crossed a line.”

    If you don’t understand that the Obama administration has DEFINTIELY crossed the line, you don’t understand the meaning of tyranny or the very slippery slope to police state surveillance. Americablog has joined the main stream media in attacking the messenger. Let’s just post more puppy dog videos, then we can all feel better about ourselves.

  49. DonewithDems says:

    By this article I think you’re doing what the Obama administration wants everyone to do and what many American journalists are trying to do. Focus on the validity of the whistleblower rather than on what he exposed. By discrediting him, they can try to change the subject. You should re-run your article on what people really think of Obama now.

  50. Mark_in_MN says:

    “I get that what he is doing is scary for lots and lots of people.” That’s the thing I actually don’t get. What is scary about what Snowden is doing? I don’t see anything even concerning about it. On the other hand, if what he’s saying is accurate, what the U.S. intelligence community is doing is definitely scary.

  51. Mark_in_MN says:

    Do you really think they proceed as if they couldn’t be listened to? Putin is a former KGB officer. Come on.

  52. Mark_in_MN says:

    And why does confirming something they already knew matter? Even if it was only very strong suspicion, not beyond a shadow of a doubt kind of knowing, so what?

  53. iDonald says:

    At 83 I have a certain amount of understanding that is probably not what is wanted here; but while I knew well that Mr Obama was duplicitous from the beginning, I voted for him as the less than McCain or Romney: however I cannot accept that he has been helpful to the American experiment. He has kept everything going in the same direction that the bipartisan establishment wants. It is in no way good for what is left of the American dream. If marginally better than his Republican counterparts is what professional Democrats want, that’s O.K., but there are limits to my tolerance for such tiny improvements. Some may be happy with him. I am not. The endless excuses for him only make me more pessimistic It is these excuses that cause the damage not Republican recalcitrance. He had his big opportunity in 2008 and he chose to not take advantage of it and now excuses are all that is left for his professional supporters to offer. He needed to be pushed. He wasn’t. If Big Brother from a “Democrat” is fine, so be it. I shall never accept it. I didn’t know I needed to be a ‘better person,’ I thought it was the government that needed to be better! So if this blog is trying to make me a better person rather than making the government better, it is not the blog I had imagined it to be. I’m fine. The government and Obama is not fine.

  54. Mark_in_MN says:

    I can’t help thinking that the question is actually backward. The justification shouldn’t be on the release of classified information, but on its classification. It should be hard to classify and classification a rare exception. Much that is classified simply should not be. And, yes, that includes much of the work of our intelligence agencies, except for results of that work for short periods (probably months rather than years, certainly not decades) when that information is new.

  55. Carlton Nettleton says:

    I believe the correct term is “hacker” rather than “generation wiki leaks”. There is a LONG tradition of people in the computer world taking secret information and sharing it with others.

    As long as there are computerized secrets, there will be hackers who consider it their duty to find the secrets and publish them. I see hackers as a force of “nature” that counteracts all the secrecy that often times shrouds computer systems.

  56. Yup, But aren’t some of our best “pains in the ass” :) [asses?]

  57. That’s a third issue, the role of journalists and how they should handle leaks like this. There’s potentially a different standard for what someone should leak, and what a newspaper should print, I’d argue. Personally, I find I learn the least when I’m unchallenged intellectually, and the most when I am.

  58. karmanot says:

    The MSNBC lackeys are vall over this. Richard Wolf is just incredible. Like no other time these establishment phoney liberals are exposed for what they truly are—-corporate tools.

  59. Thanks CK. And Donald, a lot of us on the left actually enjoy thinking through why it is we believe what we do. We think it makes us better people, and gives us better positions and arguments in the end. You should never be afraid of listening to someone else’s position. You’d be surprised how often you might just learn something.

  60. karmanot says:

    I don’t get the “I don’t care about Snowden” meme. I care very much about Snowden!

  61. Whitewitch says:

    Ohhh that but…yeah that one I have heard!

  62. Indigo says:

    Of course it is, but . . . they’re doing it and we’re not stopping them. We’re learning the taste of a totalitarian system that’s already well in place.

  63. Indigo says:

    You don’t built a global empire by sharing the vote with all the citizens. And we are most definitely in Empire Mode.

  64. ckg1 says:

    If you spend even a little bit of time on this blog, you’ll know that John and the rest of those who blog here have had MANY disagreements with Obama’s policies.

  65. Indigo says:

    Yes, it’s become a larger, cultural event. Assange, Bradley, and now Snowden. That’s enough to shift a culture with Snowden as the new Abbey Hoffmann and the Chicago Eight. Okay, I guess. That’s cool guys, I’m up for a paradigm shift that big. I don’t agree with a lot of what’s being said in the hero-mode because I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s a cultural break from the certainties of the ruling Elite. The discussion’s been started, the genie is out of the bottle, and we’re going to the hukilau. It’ll be fun to watch the certainties of the past decade or two dissolve, PRISM with it. It’s the Wikileaks Generation’s turn. Let ‘er rip!

  66. Drew2u says:

    oh, my favorite has to be my failed chocolate French macaróns accidentally made with glutinous rice flour instead of almond flour ;)

  67. Drew2u says:

    only if the harassment is a promise~

  68. Ford Prefect says:

    You’d think the phrase “political prisoners” would come up in the discourse, right?

    I think it’s high time the government and its corporate clients try to explain how the US is better than any other tin-pot dictatorship.

  69. Older_Wiser2 says:

    Would we even be having this conversation if Snowden was a Black or Arab leaker? Think about it.
    What about Manning, or if Assange was a Mali native?

  70. Ford Prefect says:

    He’s not worthy! He didn’t go to Yale!

  71. iDonald says:

    I won’t even waste my time reading. You are wrong. If you ever have the guts to do what Snowden has done (losing your chances to appear on TV etc.), call me back. Its cute that you found a new angle but it won’t do. Mr Obama is doing what “his people” want, and you are one of his people. And you surely know that.

  72. masaccio68 says:

    That leak didn’t just appear, it came from Greenwald and the Guardian. I think they have to share whatever blame you want to hand out.

    That said, I don’t care about Snowden. The law will grind him up or not. For the rest of us, I’m just glad someone did something to bring the level of this data collection and surveillance into the public discourse for a few days. Mr. Bennett speaks for all Americans:

    “You must not be too severe upon yourself,” replied Elizabeth.

    “You may well warn me against such an evil. Human nature is so prone to fall into it! No, Lizzy, let me once in my life feel how much I have been to blame. I am not afraid of being overpowered by the impression. It will pass away soon enough.”

  73. Ninong says:

    He said he earns about $200k. His employer said his annual salary is $122k. The discrepancy could be that Snowden is adding in his expense account. Or it could be that he exaggerated. Probably some of both.

  74. We all have an agenda :) But I think your point about questioning everything is valid. I’ve never been a fan of anyone who tells me how I must think in order to be a bona fide member of the cool kids’ club :) Unless they can tell me, in detail, without personal insults, why I’m wrong :.)

  75. karmanot says:

    Perhaps it’s the old: You’re guilty until proven innocent, BUT you can plea bargain.

  76. karmanot says:

    pppfffttt This is not a video game or rerun of ’24.’

  77. karmanot says:

    The American Stasi

  78. karmanot says:

    What Snowden has pointed out is a massive violation of the 4th Amendment by a government that is grabbing absolute power under the guise of perpetual war. Obama is worse than was Bushie in coalescing absolutest power in the executive Office.

  79. Betty Eyer says:

    He looked like a giant egotist to me and he seems quite controlled and deliberate in his actions and his words. He’s scripted either by himself or by someone else. . Also I find it nearly impossible that he is doing all of this without assistance. Seems obvious that he took the job with Booz deliberately, since he contacted the journalists before he started that job. He also said in the live chat that his highest paying job was $200K, but he took a lower paying job because it fit into his plan. It’s actually very hard to get a job with an $80K pay cut because people think that you will not stay on the job. So I think there is an unseen hand helping and financing him and I think he is not at all a naive person who had a change of heart but a very deliberate and controlled person acting for some reason. I am not at all sure the reason is the one he is giving.

  80. Ninong says:

    I was impressed by his initial televised interview with Glen Greenwald, but I thought I remembered something about him holding back stuff that he didn’t think appropriate for release. It was sort of one of those, see what I nice guy I am, I’m not releasing everything I know. Since then, however, I have turned more neutral on Mr. Snowden.

    I have always considered him to be naive but that sort of went with the territory. Who else was going to release what he released and then give the reasons he gave for his actions. He even looked naive but very sincere in that initial interview.

  81. Betty Eyer says:

    Everyone has been the enemy for quite some time. Cold war and all that.

  82. nicho says:

    Well, his comment was douchey and called for that response.

  83. Betty Eyer says:

    Yes. Thank you. Applying critical thinking to Snowden and Greenwald is not an apology for Obama (or Bush, or the next president) so much as a general outlook on the news. Why are we to question everything from some sources and question nothing from others? In the world of international intelligence, nothing is as it seems and I suspect that Mr. Snowden falls into that category as well. And Greenwald makes no bones about having an agenda.

  84. nicho says:

    No, that’s their job, but spying on all Americans is. The spying on Putin thing is a red herring.

  85. nicho says:

    Oh for heaven’s sake. Grow up.

  86. Betty Eyer says:

    Oh, agreed. However, the fact that they all know that does not mean that there is no cost to bringing that information into the public. I think there’s no question that it puts us on a bad footing in the diplomatic world because those leaders will be getting political pressure against us from home. If we were in some way more evil than they, there might be some value to that, but I don’t think that’s the case. And your points, although interesting and mostly true, don’t really answer the question as to whether or not it’s worthwhile to question his trustworthiness or his motives. So far, to me, he’s the one most damaging to his image.

  87. BeccaM says:

    Actually, from my reading of the international papers and websites, that’s been their reaction. The most common question, “Are the Americans spying on our citizens, too? Answer: It seems likely.”

    And our purported allies are not happy.

  88. Ninong says:

    Without expressing an opinion on the merits of or the motives behind what Snowden has done, I think we all are mature enough to realize that none of this so-called revelation that the Guardian revealed today is going to be news to any of the major players at the G8. It might be news to some of the third tier of the third world countries but all the major players already know that China, Russia, the UK, the US and probably a few others, have been monitoring each other communications for decades. The Internet has just opened up new avenues for mischief. We and the Chinese and the Russians have known for a very long time what the capabilities of the others were and joked about it in private.

    You surely don’t think that any of our security people who visit Russia, for instance, don’t know ahead of time that everything they take with them will be subjected to the most sophisticated electronic intrusion.

  89. mpeasee says:

    …exactly…I am a little stun about how these revelations are being dissimenated, how the media is going about this. Tomdispatch dot com has a great read on this.

  90. mpeasee says:

    The dialog on this has been; for the most part, sophomoric and very petty…could you imagine if Iran, China, Brazil, Australia, or Germany was doing this to us and “we” just found out that our phone, credit, email, all smart phone information was in the computer of some other country! This country would have flipped the freak out!!

  91. jasonwhat says:

    Yes, we can become a state who kidnaps, tortures, kills our own citizens without trial (and their children), makes up reasons to go to wars, and elected and appointed officials can lie under oath with no consequences …but God forbid a high school dropout holds up a mirror to give us a glimpse of what we have become! Burn him.

  92. And I’m writing this as someone who seems to have a similar background as you on this. I just find it odd that Snowden had this revelation about spy efforts, and that the revelation includes things one would think he’d have suspected. From the outside, I get why every one of these stories is shocking. But from the perspective of someone who chooses to go work at the NSA or CIA, I’m still having trouble understanding this young man, that’s all. And when things present a mystery, I want answers :)

  93. jasonwhat says:

    Exactly. He is not just a leaker, but an activists and using this information to jar a impotent public into action. The lead of the Guardian piece was NOT spying on Russia, it was that they spied on everybody at the G20 in 2009! Turkey was one operation, but they even setup fake internet cafes to capture passwords and other information. They hacked the blackberries and used Prism like technology to monitor all incoming and outgoing phone calls. We are becoming the police state bad guys spying on the world.

    Snowden thinks this massive and permanent security state is wrong. This is open to debate, but the reality is we are only having it because of these leaks. More importantly, this deserves public discussion, not just oversight.

    Also, there is 0 evidence that these programs protected us, or that these leaks have damaged security. Trying to find a terrorist needle in a haystack by making the haystack bigger is an incompetent approach compared to good police work and human intelligence, which is how we have actually stopped plots.

  94. No, really I mean that lawyers tend to be trained to find nuance, and to find argument. So you’re going to a hear a lot “that’s great but” especially from lawyers. :)

  95. AnitaMann says:

    Who cares what else Snowden has to say or what his motives were? This is about the program, not the messenger. The entire media machine is making it about the leaker because they are too lazy/inept/bought off to explore exactly what he leaked and why it’s meaningful. There is still a lot we don’t know/understand about this program. Snowden was just one conduit to helping expose it. I haven’t yet heard a convincing bit of evidence that what he’s done damages national security. All I’ve heard is, “trust us.”

  96. okojo says:

    I have known about the capacity of NSA since I read the “Puzzle Palace” by James Bamford while I was in College. I don’t see this article critical of Edward Snowden as an apology or pro Obama Administration. It is about how Snowden is carrying on and the reason for his going public.

    The most important thing he and Glenn Greenwald are doing is showing how endemic and insidious the data mining by the Federal Gov’t is going on, besides the lack of oversight by the FISA courts.

    However, I don’t know how much Snowden really knows, given the compartmentalization of the NSA, and he was a contractor. He maybe way overblowing his importance.

    The spying of the US on China, Russia even NATO allies is hardly a secret, it looks as common since the technology has been created and implemented since the 1960s.

  97. Naja pallida says:

    The NSA was formed in 1952, because the earlier AFSA was ineffective… there may have been prior cryptanalytic groups, but the formal agency itself was set up specifically to allow the DOD to end-around the CIA.

  98. Ford Prefect says:

    Well said!

  99. mpeasee says:

    …when you use the word animus, are you saying Snowden has ill will to the U.S.?

  100. Ford Prefect says:

    Exactly. Slime & Defenders have to avoid that point, so they focus on the Russians being told something they probably already knew. How many real experts have now said Snowden’s leaks haven’t harmed US NatSec? Why on earth would anyone pay attention to that? It would get in the way of a good smear job!

    The real impact isn’t international. It’s domestic. What the apparat is really afraid of is the American polity learning just how fascistic, corrupt and illegitimate their regime is. Since their careers are tied to that regime, they’ll defend it to the last.

    We are the enemy in the eyes of official Washington and their various lickspittles in the media.

  101. mpeasee says:

    How do I feel about his moral authority for leaking? It is a big fat I don’t care!

    The core of these leaks is the relationship with surveillance corporations and the government…this relationship is the problem….I don’t think most folks would be so upset if the spying did not have such a corporate attachment. Who cares if he is a aggrandizing prick, what matter is that 1st and 4th amendments are being eroded away.
    Is it so wrong to have some leverage against one of the most powerful governments in history, the personal attacks on the fella is small in comparison.

    Who created this “wiki generation”? It comes on the heels of a secrecy regime that has gone to the edge and jumped into the abyss since 9/11. A “free” society can not thrive in a world that we have created since 9/11.

    The msm tow line is pretty intense, there are several other site spewing the same rhetoric, I have to say it sounds a bit schizophrenic, leaks good, leeks bad, Snowden is a good guy, Snowden is a bad guy.

    Yes, Russia is a bad beast, and is treating gays poorly, I am shocked and angry how gay people are treated in eastern europe in general, but, I do see that Snowden is seeking leverage against the U.S. government, “not the citizens” of the U.S. and there is a difference.

    Snowden has helped us glimpse into and try to understand the making of a corporate global security state with the backing of the U.S. government. This is a conversation that has been needed for the past 12 years, thanks for the platform John.

  102. Sweetie says:

    No. I never said I could. You’ll have to use Google. I used the site in a computer lab so it is not in my bookmarks.

  103. There you go again, Mary. I’m sorry, but is this Senator “Only elitists send their kids to college” Santorum I’m debating, or maybe Chairman “kill everyone with glasses” Mao? You launched a personal attack against me claiming that I have no qualifications to be writing about politics, and now you’re attacking me for having qualifications to write about politics. Which one is it? Have I no background, or so much a background that apparently it’s considered bragging to even mention?

    I’m sorry, but just can’t accuse people of not knowing having a background on the issues, and using that as “proof” that they’re wrong, and then when they explain that they actually have a lifetime of experience on the issue you accuse them of bragging, and then claim that’s not what we’re even discussing.

    You’re playing a ‘stop beating your wife game’ and I really wish you could just have a civil discussion with me and everyone else and express what it is you disagree with, without having to launch into ongoing personal attacks.

    As for why I’m increasingly distrusting of Snowden’s motivations, I just wrote 1,716 words on the subject. Feel free to disagree, feel free to suggest that I didn’t prove my case. But please don’t suggest that I haven’t attempted to explain why I’m growing uneasy with the man.

    Finally, your last paragraph smacks of McCarthyism, and it’s particularly offensive that you’d come here and try to bully people into not expressing their own opinion when the topic at hand is Big Brother posing a risk to the freedoms we hold dear as Americans. I’ll tolerate dissent on any topic. But you’re not welcome here if you’re going to try to bully people who don’t agree with you 100% on every single topic by suggesting they’re somehow not as American, not as patriotic, and don’t love their country as much as you.

    I’m not going to warn you again.

  104. Sweetie says:

    The Jonas Brothers are here. Sasha and Malia are big fans. But, boys… don’t get any ideas. I have two words for you: predator drones.

  105. Stratplayer says:

    I agree. Glenn can be a huge pain in the ass but he scores a lot more hits than misses. He is a tremendously valuable resource.

  106. Whitewitch says:

    I guess his statement resonated with me. I hear what you are saying…sadly we won’t know if his judgment call about handling the information this way is a good or bad thing for probably a generation….perhaps he will be found to be a CIA stodge, or maybe just maybe he is a young man doing what is right – where so many others have not.

  107. DWD says:

    Step back. More. Just a little further. . .

    The two men are posting CONFIRMATION of our worst fears. Certainly the fact that we were spying on our “enemies” is hardly news. Spying on our friends is.

    The truth of the matter is that Snowden is trying to show the pervasive pattern of espionage that is directed toward everyone: friend and foe alike.

    If you consider this to be a good thing, then his methods are acceptable (because there really is not right way to do this) if you consider this to be an effrontery to the government of the USA, then you will condemn his actions.

    From my part, since there is no right way to do this, I believe he (And Greenwald) are doing it the best way that they can. Is it perfect? No. But is it important? YES.

  108. Stratplayer says:

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  109. I wonder if they’re Mormon pole dancers (we did a post on that a while back, with video!)

  110. MyrddinWilt says:

    Cute theory only the NSA existed long before the CIA. The NSA has its origins in the Black Chamber and the work on Purple with Bletchley Park during WWII.

    The CIA only got started after Pearl Harbor and was initially the OSS, a clandestine operation with a tendency for James Bond commando style operations. This is not so surprising when you know that the British Embassy attache who came over to help set it up was Ian Flemming (yes that Ian Flemming).

    SIGINT has always been the maypole around which US-UK intelligence has danced. The CIA and FBI got a lot of attention because Hoover and Dulles were puffed up blabbermouths.

  111. The problem is that the good and all love their country, usually – it’s more an excuse for their emphaticness, if that’s a word – it doesn’t really excuse their judgment be it good or bad.

  112. Whitewitch says:

    Perhaps you mean in conversation a lot of lawyers use but as a means of conversation. Never a good idea…and I have yet to see a contract with a But in it…and I have seen millions of pleadings, contracts and administrative filings…nary a but to be found.

  113. Stratplayer says:

    What points? Bulldog makes no points at all. All he does in this comment is vent his considerable spleen.

  114. Yes and no. As I’ve said, there are two different issues here. One is PRISM. The other is Generation Wikileaks. And I think it’s worthwhile for all of us to do a little more thinking about just how many secrets we want aired publicly, and who we want deciding, and whether it’s possible to ever cross the line in revealing classified information. It’s an important topic that shouldn’t get lost in the PRISM debate. There’s clearly something bigger going on here, and Snowden himself references it a few times. I think it’s important to think about in addition to the details of PRISM.

  115. Stratplayer says:

    How so? Do you have any facts or rational argument to back up your little fit of pique with John? Can you actually address his well-expressed points rather than just play the pissy firebagger?

  116. mirror says:

    I did not claim you had no expertise. But I confess to being snarky. In fact, I pointed out that you have expertise. This is not a secret. You want everyone to know about it and how well connected you are and how many countries you have been to and how many languages you speak and who wants to have their photos taken with you. Oh, and your security clearance, and what an awesome level it was/is. I could go on. You may assume that any regular reader is well aware of all these things.

    You are mistaken if you think these surface facts about you are why most of your regular readers respect you and your blog.

    Until you can give some proofs as to Snowden’s impure dishonest motives, your critique of his insincerity is merely your attempt to win a policy discussion by attacking his character. And unintentionally acting as a public relations proxy for the security state in the process. Isn’t that how it works? you attack the morals so you don’t have to get bogged down in the minutia of facts?

  117. Whitewitch says:

    Lots of good people love their country as well. I would be willing to wager most of the best political actors in history, be they democrat or republican, liberal or conservative loved their country. <|;o) The best of mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers love their country and have even laid their life down for their fellow countrymen.

    Hell that is their justification for being an American.

  118. Nah I like Glenn. He’s been fairly consistent on this stuff. We need people who are strong advocates – even pissy advocates – on particular issues, the way some of us are on gay rights – that’s the way Glenn is on civil liberties. He didn’t create Snowden.

  119. FreedomFromTeaQueda says:

    The guy is one mixed up, immature dude.

  120. But not cats jumping off of balconies. Or bisexual puns. And don’t even get me started on bisexual cats (uh oh, just broke rule 2….)

  121. BeccaM says:

    And judging from Bradley Manning’s treatment, not just prison time for whistleblowers, but under conditions internationally judged to be psychological and physical torture.

  122. For lawyers, a lot of times the “but” means they’re getting into the nitty gritty of the topic, trying to find nuance etc :)

  123. BeccaM says:

    I’ll say it yet again: I honestly don’t care what Snowden’s motivations are. Not one bit.

    What I care about is what we’ve learned and how government surveillance at all levels — from leaders and diplomats all the way down to Alan Grayson’s mom — has become both universally pervasive AND apparently a debate we weren’t allowed to have until Snowden leaked the details showing the frightening scope of what’s been happening.

    So now Obama says he welcomes ‘a debate’, but in reality his entire focus has been on sweeping this back under the black site blankets. It’s also clear that neither he nor the rest of our government want this debate ever to end with the decision to end this intrusive warrantless spying, even though we’re essentially giving up our privacy for nothing at all.

    The other thing I focus on, besides the dismaying information itself, is how ridiculously inept and obviously prone to corruption this national security state has become. If a 3-month employee can walk out with essentially a top to bottom description of what our government has been up to in the shadows, it’s for damned sure all the other world governments know about it. Why does a 3-month private company contractor know that America spied on the Russian president?

    So who exactly is all this being kept secret from?

    Us. The citizens. The people whom our government is supposed to serve.

  124. Well, lots of bad people love their country. I’d be willing to wager most of the worst political actors in history, be they dictators, terrorists or simply corrupt government officials loved their country :) The worst of the gun nuts? Love their country – hell that’s their justification for being a gun nut. :)

  125. Naja pallida says:

    The NSA was created because the DOD got tired of having the red tape and rules involved with having to deal with the CIA. Essentially circumventing the reason the CIA was given particular limitations in the first place… like not spying on US citizens. On top of that, it also gave them a much broader stroke, which extended well beyond simply the intelligence requirements of the Department of War Defense. Seems to me that we have over a dozen different intelligence agencies, we could stand to cut that number by half and still accomplish what we needed to for national security.

  126. pliny says:

    I can’t speak for DWD, but I think a distinction that’s being lost when you focus on the spying aspect of the G20 leak is the difference between intercepting communications and illicit access to their computing hardware.

    If all GCHQ and friends were doing was grabbing packets, they wouldn’t have had to set up false fronts for the purpose. They’ve already got the taps in higher up the chain.

    The only reason to setup shop on site is to get access to their machines.Which, if true, was and is unforgivably stupid of them. It’s bad enough trying to get the Chinese to knock that crap off.

    For a while it looked like China might have had to at least officially renounce their hacking after having a PLA hacking unit publicly revealed. You can kiss that goodbye.

    We have a lot more to lose than anyone else in the weapons-free cyber warfare environment our Government has created.

    People should know and understand that this is only the beginning. Unlike other wars our government has decided to fight, this one will cause collateral damage here at home.

  127. dredd says:

    Military spying on all Americans is a reason to lose faith in our policies, not a reason to blame the messenger.

  128. FLL says:

    Is John trending towards Cheney’s position? I’ll compare the time stamps. Cheney made his statement on the Sunday morning news show, Fox News Sunday. Much later on Sunday (perhaps early Monday morning, taking the trans-Atlantic time difference into account), the Guardian posted the article about Snowden disclosing the NSA interception of Russian president Medvedev’s communications. So Cheney’s “traitor” accusation was based only on Snowden’s disclosure of domestic surveillance, which most people on this blog support Snowden for. Cheney’s accusation on Sunday morning (eastern time) did not refer to the information about Snowden’s disclosure concerning Russia, news of which had not yet broken. Cheney’s accusation and John’s criticism, then, concern two completely different topics. By the way, if Cheney had know about the Russia disclosure on the Sunday morning news show, I’m sure he would have shouted it from the rooftops. As you can tell from the video, that information was not available to Cheney at the time of his interview with Chris Wallace:

  129. Ford Prefect says:

    Karl Rove named his practice of smearing critics, leakers and anyone else, “Slime & Defend.” Democrats used to deride the Rovian practice, but watching some MSNBC and some other propaganda organs, it’s pretty clearly Dem SOP now. Fine. It’s hardly surprising at this point.

    Instead of focusing on the content of the issues raised, let’s just focus on the person, shall we? That way we can avoid having to talk about power run amuck. We can avoid discussing the wholesale shredding of the founding documents and justice writ large. We can also avoid discussing how this infrastructure will be used against innocent people, simply because it can be. We can put away any attention we might otherwise give to the fact that whistleblowers have to blow whistles this way in the first place: There simply aren’t any other options.

    The administration has been lying all along. The congress has been lying and otherwise takes no interest in actual oversight. The press is complicit in essentially covering up or papering over serious threats to democracy in this country. That, by the way, is typically the way dictatorial states operate, not free and open societies.

    So what is a person who has a conscience to do? Clearly, blowing the whistle on crimes leads to prison terms, while the original crimes themselves do not. One can expect to be vilified in the media, prosecuted or potentially murdered. All great incentives, are they not?

    And yet these revelations keep coming to light and the response is always the same: Kill the messenger! We’re seeing the most transparency of the surveillance state ever, yet some people act like this is somehow a bad thing!

  130. jixter says:

    Hi Sweetie! Have you been able to find me that 3rd party site in your bookmarks yet? Thanks!

  131. JayRandal says:

    Snowden acts somewhat odd at times but overall his intentions to expose NSA as bad.
    Yes US government should spy upon Russian government, and China too, but Snowden is claiming NSA blanket spying on just about everybody worldwide.

  132. Betty Eyer says:

    You can’t even ask if he is a trustworthy source? It’s not news if this is an egomaniac sociopath who wants to bring down WWIII? What possible greater good can come of releasing this just before the G8 summit? If you supposedly love America, why would you want to make sure America has huge diplomatic impediments going into an international global negotiation?

  133. Whitewitch says:

    Cool – Peace Skippy!

  134. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Sorry for my smart-ass response, although it did allow me to browse through a bunch of Taxi Driver images :)

  135. theophrastvs says:

    one easy way is to consider whose opinion you’re tending toward. the tricky bit with calling “traitor” is to answer the question ‘to whom?’. suppose one is a “traitor” to a government which has violated its own constitutional safeguards? being a traitor is a point of view concept. and/or, as a wild example, ask Nathan-Hale who he was a traitor against.

  136. Whitewitch says:

    Don’t you know the BUT rule? The new-age but rule is – anything anyone says after a but is not how they truly feel…you should go back and take what was first said as the truth of a matter. I apply this rule even in reading now because it seems most people only use But to soften the rudeness they are saying. Sorry John – I will give you a pass on the But rule this time.

  137. Sweetie says:

    One would hope. Judging by the approval rating for Congress, however… it doesn’t appear that that is a majority sentiment.

  138. JayRandal says:

    Edward Snowden is trying to completely destroy the NSA which should be fully shut-down. NSA spying
    is more about keeping an eye on fellow Americans than finding any terrorists.

  139. Whitewitch says:

    Really – I see a lot of people here chatting. And since Disqus is not always perfect about putting a response to the right post I thought I would check – because your Statement of Perhaps I was not paying attention seemed not to apply as nothing I said implied that I did not know the US was already watching us.

  140. AdmNaismith says:

    ‘I think it is fair to hold Politicians to a much higher standard that anyone! Especially if they represent us.’


  141. SkippyFlipjack says:

    What’s the point? Snowden already gave the secret Duncan Hines recipe to the Chinese.

  142. karmanot says:

    And cat voguing!

  143. OMG you’re banned for life!

    Kidding. Why do you think I’m wrong?

  144. DWD says:

    I dunno, John, I think you are pretty much dead wrong here.

  145. You want to get into a war, let’s talk favorite brownie recipes :)

  146. (Note to self, must reprimand mods for not harassing you more :)

  147. Oh god, I said so in the piece above ;)

  148. Whitewitch says:

    I think it is fair to hold Politicians to a much higher standard that anyone! Especially if they represent us.

  149. I don’t even know what that means, “consider yourself a member of the country’s elite.” I suspect it means, “John disagrees with me and it makes me mad.” :)

    And you’ll note that in fact I didn’t fall for your little ruse where you claimed I had no special experience or qualifications to be writing about foreign policy, national security, Russia, and classified info. In the past when a few folks have made that accusation, I noticed that if I made an honesty effort to reply to the charge that I have no experience in this area, when I explained my experience I’d then get accused of bragging. But didn’t stop you, did it :) Perhaps you accidentally hit “send” button on the comment you already wrote before I replied :)

    Anyway, I’m interested in having a civil and intelligent adult conversation about the propriety of these leaks in particular, but leaking overal, including Bradley Manning, Wikileaks and beyond. As always, you’re welcome to join in.

  150. Whitewitch says:

    Did you think the cold war was dead. Please Cam – there is and always has been a cold war. In that regard however….

    Guardian Question: Regarding whether you have secretly given classified information to the Chinese government, some are saying you didn’t answer clearly – can you give a flat no?

    Snowden’s Answer:

    No. I have had no contact with the Chinese government. Just like with the Guardian and the Washington Post, I only work with journalists.

  151. Whitewitch says:

    As a person who has done a few very minor things in an attempt to change the country (nothing even remotely as big as this) – You have to decide for yourself what is right even though it may be seemingly injurious to this Country. I get that what he is doing is scary for lots and lots of people. That said – he sounds like a guy that is doing what he thinks is right. No one is getting killed as a result, no one is endanger of being “outed” because of his actions. On the plus side a lot of American’s are being more aware of what is really going on. Many say – nothing to hide, nothing to worry about – well right now – you might not have anything to hide, tomorrow though who can say.

    Do you ever watch a UTube from Annonymouse? That might get you on a watch list when all you were doing is educating yourself to what is out there.

    Do you read AmericaBlog? Who is to say that tomorrow – When Pat Robertson is President that is considered a terrorist act.

    We are on a very very slippy slope and quickly heading to a place from which we might not be able to return.

  152. Sweetie says:

    I think it’s fair to hold whistleblowers to a much higher standard than the politicians elected to represent us.

  153. steveb303 says:

    Didn’t he say in the Q&A that he only provides the information to journalists and is not releasing anything directly on his own?

  154. Whitewitch says:

    He sleeps with pole dancers…he doesn’t wash his underwear regularly. It is TOTAL disinformation and oh so frustrating when seemingly rational people fall for it.

  155. mirror says:

    Changed our intellectual nappies, bandaged our GB II owies with optimism for the usefulness of political action…

  156. Whitewitch says:

    Nope….knowing is knowing. I know what Bank Cards or other sources of finance I use can track about my personal information, so there might be somethings I acquire without using those sources…

    I think you mean isn’t there a difference between suspecting and knowing.

  157. FLL says:

    I don’t think there’s any story in “Snowden’s state of mind” either; the only story is what he chooses to disclose. The vast majority of what Snowden discloses shows that “our intelligence agencies are out of control” because domestic surveillance is not what the NSA is supposed to do. John’s post regards one single disclosure about Russia, which is what the NSA is supposed to do. On balance, Snowden is still doing more good than harm. Having said that, I think that giving Putin a helping hand is swimming in the wrong direction.

  158. worfington says:

    Lets assume that in this instance, Snowden leaked something purely in in his own interest, that he thought might help protect him or gain him advantage in negotiations for asylum. Good on him, I say. And if that leak somehow damages the “strategic interests” of our wholly owned corporate masters, all the better. No one should have any allegiance to this corrupted former democracy we still call America.

  159. mirror says:

    I can’t unsubscribe, partly because I didn’t know I was subscribed or could be subscribed. Also, for whatever reason, this is my favorite blog for everyday reading.

  160. Andrew says:

    Well, this pattern is incomplete. Glenn Greenwald seemed to suggest that bombshells would continue dropping over the next several weeks. As I wrote elsewhere in this thread, its hard to really judge his motives and wisdom until this process has played out and chips have fallen.

  161. SkippyFlipjack says:

    eh? well I don’t see anybody else here, so..

  162. Whitewitch says:

    Oh thank you for saying that…I was going to go off and pout thinking you didn’t recognize the importance of his whistle-blowing in at least that regard.

  163. Thank you. I think Gaius and I pretty clearly disagree on this issue, and I think his posts are an important contribution to the debate. We can all disagree yet still not kill each other :)

  164. Well actually you ASSUME everything is bugged. Once you know it, you can do extensive damage control. Everyone has limited resources of money and manpower – this helps them focus on specific things.

  165. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Does meaning well mean he’s not doing things injurious to his country? (I’m not trying to argue one side; I’m still on the fence about the whole thing)

  166. And to some degree, the PRISM stuff stands on its own two feet regardless of his motivations, as I acknowledge above.

  167. It feels like animus to me, I’m not seeing a pattern here other than that, and his explanations to date don’t seem to apply to the Russia story. So I think it’s fair. Could I be wrong, sure. I’m emailing Glenn, who’s a friend and whom I respect, later about my concerns to see if I can find out more.

  168. Andrew says:

    Is he revealing shit willy-nilly? It’s not apparent to me that he is. I’m going to reserve judgment until this process has played out. And I’m not going to make any inferences about his motive until he’s addressed it.

  169. Whitewitch says:

    Sorry one more from his Q&A with the Guardian….he is asked

    What would you say to others who are in a position to leak classified information that could improve public understanding of the intelligence apparatus of the USA and its effect on civil liberties?

    Snowden: “This country is worth dying for.”

    Doesn’t sound like a traitor to me.

  170. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Well.. yeah I guess my point of view depends on my point of view.

  171. SkippyFlipjack says:

    So spying on Putin means the NSA is out of control? Isn’t spying on Putin what the NSA is supposed to do?

  172. Drew2u says:

    I always aim to clear up what I have stated – I operate under the assumption that my previous comments were misunderstood as I have that habit, lol

  173. SkippyFlipjack says:

    The “wisdom” doesn’t matter — he doesn’t get to make that decision. If he’s whistleblowing on crimes, that’s one thing, but he’s not — he’s just revealing sh*t willy-nilly. Every single line-level employee in the NSA and CIA has access to some piece of information that would prove embarrassing to diplomatic relations with someone — are they all allowed to make their own decisions about whether they reveal that information?

  174. mirror says:

    I didn’t criticize that you write about politics. I merely stated that one should take into account when following you that you see yourself as a member of this country’s elite, an argument you then supported by explaining what a pro you are and how well connected you were with the high security world. My history of reading you suggests to me that you just aren’t a guy who is very comfortable with challenges to the legitimacy of the way we do things. I don’t see that reminding other readers of that is a personal attack. Your whole post was premised on the national moral imperative of the relative nature of when “[a] great nation deserves the truth,” i.e. when I and the rest of your readers deserve the truth. You identify with your security clearance brethren and Snowden broke the profession code with what you now perceive are impure motives. You have now spent more column space ruminating on the moral nature of Snowden than you have on the fact that our government now has a huge apparatus set up which is designed to, and does, treat each citizen the same way it treats Russian spys.

  175. nicho says:

    And don’t forget the puppy videos.

  176. FLL says:

    “…but I had a similar experience with Democratic Underground.”

    Thank you for the clarification. Your experience on Democratic Underground was similar, but the resolution was completely different from the resolution on this blog. I now understand your comment and agree with you.

  177. Cam says:

    Snowden is trying to single-handedly restart the cold war. And he just might be successful. He’s putting the country’s security at risk and asking like a snide child while doing so. I hope they lock him up for along time.

  178. Andrew says:

    Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t. It seems that we are just at beginning of this process. We really won’t be able to judge the wisdom of his leaks until everything is out and the chips have fallen. For now, I’m not going to lose any sleep over Obama’s tough meeting with Putin tonight.

  179. nicho says:

    I guess that depends on your point of view. Doesn’t it?

  180. SkippyFlipjack says:

    I like you but “thanks for playing” is a pretty douchey phrase.

  181. nicho says:

    No. Many of these spies even know who their opposite numbers are. It’s a very incestuous racket.

  182. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Don’t you think that knowing and knowing are different things?

  183. nicho says:

    Slaving over a hot keyboard all day — and this is the thanks you get. ;-)

  184. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Doesn’t matter why he’s motivated; he’s f*cking up.

  185. nicho says:

    Perhaps the point he is trying to make is that our intelligence agencies are out of control.

    That is the story — not Snowden’s state of mind — and it’s why the NSA trolls are all over the Internet trashing Snowden in an orchestrated campaign. Same talking points over and over.

  186. Drew2u says:

    Not in the least. I’ve disagreed with this blog before and have discussed those issues numerous times. None of those disagreements led to a ban or a chastisement by a moderator and a threat to lose posting privileges over differing viewpoints – as I’ve experienced at DU.

  187. Andrew says:

    Or they fed us total bullshit and we fell for it.

  188. Andrew says:

    Fair enough. This hurts the American intelligence community and puts Obama on defense. But is it really fair, in the absence of an explanation from Snowden, for you to say that he must be motivated by animus? Perhaps the point he is trying to make is that our intelligence agencies are out of control. And maybe he’s correct.

  189. nicho says:

    No — but thanks for playing.

  190. Whitewitch says:

    Edward Snowden: “It’s important to bear in mind I’m being called a traitor by men like former Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are.”

  191. nicho says:

    Sure they do. Once a system is compromised, administrators pretty much know what went out. That’s why the bank or someone can tell you that someone got your account info. They know.

  192. Drew2u says:

    Oh, never! I quite enjoy our civil discourse and sharing of recipes! :)

  193. FLL says:

    I suppose there are blogs with lockstep thinking. Is this one of them? Hmm… let me see. John Aravosis… Gaius Pulius… John Aravosis… Gaius Pulius… John Aravosis… Gaius Pulius… Point taken?

  194. Jake says:

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  195. nicho says:

    Oh, they know what we get and what we don’t. Don’t be naive about these things. The problem with detecting electronic spying is that usually you find out after. You know what’s missing. That’s why your credit card company can send you an email telling you someone got your account info last week. The Holy Grail of system security to to detect and prevent intrusions in real time, not after the fact. But once it’s over, you pretty much know exactly what info went out the door.

  196. I’m pretty sure the fact of having had one isn’t classified :) Though, funny enough, the clearance level itself was at once point classified – you couldn’t use the words to describe what you were cleared for outside of a classified setting. I believe however that they finally changed sometime after I left.

  197. Jake says:

    Well, obviously they didn’t assume that if we were getting intelligence from those sources. Or they thought they were doing it covertly, but we found a work-around.

  198. A_nonymoose says:

    I don’t agree with you on this one, John, but I’m not going anywhere. :)

  199. Ah ok. I thought you were saying that you got reprimanded for simply disagreeing with something I wrote, and wanted to make sure that isn’t happening :)

  200. Jake says:

    So now we’ve gone from “know” to “think”. Ahh.

  201. Jake says:

    Obviously they don’t know if we are getting intelligence from them. Look, Snowden was right to whistleblow on civilian civil liberties violations. But he overplayed his hand. He got a little cocky, and he should suffer the consequences. I would totally support him if he had kept his mouth shut on everything else.

  202. We’d need to know more details. They know we spy on them. They don’t know when we’re successful or how we were successful. So by telling them when we did it, and how we did (by satellite and via the russian embassy in London), we’re giving them more info that lets them hone in on how, so they can prevent it next time. Even moreso with the revelations about the Brits setting up those bugged Internet cafes, breaking into blackberrys etc. All of that tells foreign intelligence service where to put their counter-espionage energy. Oh, and it lets them review what was said during those conversations to better hone down what we know about what they said. And finally, a public revelation like this, 24 hours before Obama meets Putin, puts the US at a strategic disadvantage in that summit. It just does. So yeah, we need to know more, but this is more than simply revealing that we all spy on eachother.

  203. nicho says:

    The Chinese are as sophisticated when it comes to hacking as we are. To think they don’t have logs of intrusions into their systems is beyond naive

  204. Andrew says:

    Shouldn’t they just assume that the Americans and the British were trying to hack in on their phone calls?

  205. nicho says:

    Or was he? That would be a new twist in the story.

  206. jixter says:

    Snowden doesn’t matter to me; it’s Glenn Greenwald who I care about. I’m waiting upon word from him

  207. nicho says:

    They know — just as American diplomats in Russia know that their hotel rooms and cars are bugged.

  208. Naja pallida says:

    Exactly, shooting the messenger doesn’t help anything. Snowden is only the messenger, and ultimately a distraction from the bigger picture of what the NSA, CIA, and apparently private corporations, are doing to American citizens, our allies, and our international rivals. We’re all being screwed, and it isn’t by Snowden, or the likes of him.

  209. Jake says:

    I didn’t realize that you had access to the Chinese intelligence logs. Yes, he was a CIA agent before he became a contractor.

  210. Jake says:

    You’re right. Let’s just let Putin and Medvedev know beforehand next time we decide to listen to their phone calls.

  211. Drew2u says:

    …Poe’s law?

  212. nicho says:

    A. They didn’t need that kind of “proof.” They have the logs. and B. He wasn’t a CIA agent.

  213. Drew2u says:

    Oh, nobody, that wasn’t the point I was making or defending. If Boosterz feels for some reason that the policy, viewpoint, or writing of the blog has shifted in a way which that person feels is irreconcilable, then by all means he’s free to not read it anymore.
    And along your point, Boosterz has not provided any intelligent debate/disagreement to your article other than what can presumably be read as, “I don’t like what you said so I might stop reading.” To which, yes, an informative opinion would be constructive discourse – but this is the internet, afterall. ;p

  214. nicho says:

    Replace “Snowden” here with “Obama,” “Biden,” “Head of the NSA,” anyone on the joint chiefs of staff, the White House press secretary, most members of Congress, etc.etc. etc

  215. Jake says:

    No, I’m sure they knew it, but to have proof from a CIA agent is another thing.

  216. Andrew says:

    Hmmm….It’s embarrassing, but I don’t understand how this harms national security. The Russians know that we spy on them. We know that they spy on us. Aside from the fact that it is embarrassing to both the US and the UK, I don’t know what the big deal is.

  217. mirror says:

    Well, Snowden is insincere, so any information that comes from him and discussions inspired by, or arising from, said information is now invalid. Et voila! This news cycle is over.

  218. nicho says:

    I also had a security clearance well-beyond top secret

    Were you supposed to tell us that?

  219. Okay, and who told you that you weren’t permitted to disagree with me? Do you guys read these comments?! :-) It’s not like we just opened the blog yesterday :)

  220. nicho says:

    The Chinese just yawned and put the info in their giant dossier on how America is hacking them. Do you think they’re stupid?

  221. Drew2u says:

    That was my question – how does this new information affect in any way the still-real process of not only the NSA collecting civilian’s private correspondences, but also – with the Supreme Court ruling [today?] – as I heard on the radio, the collection of DNA by police from lawful citizens – into privately-held databases?

  222. It’s a little weird that your criticism is that I write about politics. I’ve been doing that for 9 years now on the blog alone. Am I not supposed to be able to express an opinion about politics?

    As for my expertise in politics, you can google that. Though one thing you won’t find in the wiki profile is that I also had a security clearance well-beyond top secret, so I do know something about that issue as well that wouldn’t be clear from a google search.

    In any case, I think we’re all permitted to express our opinions without personal attacks. If you disagree, then disagree intelligently and respectfully. But shooting the messenger doesn’t really help any of us learn.

  223. Jake says:

    This, and also that he confirmed to China that the US was hacking them. Could not agree more.

  224. Drew2u says:

    I’m not defending Boosterz by any means, mind you, (and here’s the ‘but’) but I had a similar experience with Democratic Underground.

    I got mad at Democratic Underground’s apparent support for Blue Dogs and conservative/corporatist Democrats. I made a comment about if it were a choice between Blue Dog and “throwing my vote away” with third party, I would go with third party and maybe that was what is needed to turn things around. I got reprimanded by a group of moderators – some said what I said was fine, other said it looked like some sort of “third party infiltrator talk” which is just insane.

    As it is, with DU, as much as I have loved it and loved reading the daily threads about political cartoons, the lock-step thinking that led to them reprimanding me for even daring to talk about switching my support was very much the first and last straw for me. I haven’t been back, since.
    And DU is a free site, also. That’s what RSS feeds/checking daily is for.

  225. Whitewitch says:

    Are you talking to me Skippy? Of course I knew, and of course I dislike it. I think it is a surprise to a lot of people that it has gotten worse under this President. I also don’t like the TSA thing and never have. And I am very unhappy about the whole thing…I don’t care who DOES it…it is NOT OKAY.

  226. nicho says:

    It’s not about Snowden. Don’t buy into the disinformation. All over the internet are people posting statements that are clearly taken from the same talking points. There are a few here on Americablog.

  227. I know, you’re outraged that I would have an intellectual disagreement with you about an incredibly important topic. Lather, scrub, rinse, repeat:

  228. Unsubscribe to a blog I spend 14 hours days writing for you for free? :)

  229. Boosterz says:

    Urge to unsubscribe growing…

  230. FLL says:

    I haven’t lost faith with Snowden, John. I’ll accept his explanation, given on a liveblog today hosted by the Guardian, concerning why he chose Hong Kong. I initially thought that since Snowden reviewed each document before disclosing it, he would stick with the unconstitutional practice of domestic surveillance, which is what won him initial support. If anything, it started a long-overdue conversation on repealing the Patriot Act. All I’m waiting for is Snowden’s explanation of his guidelines for disclosing the U.S. interception of Russian president Medvedev’s communications. I’ve seen many comments on the Internet speculating about whether Obama will raise the topic of Russia’s violation of free speech and civil rights when he meets shortly with Putin. Snowden’s disclosure just makes that less likely. Is this the result that anyone on this blog really wants? (I’m not sure if I want to know the answer to that question.) Even if Snowden’s disclosure of the interception of Medvedev’s communications is a negative, it still must be weighed against the sum of his actions, which may be positive on the whole if they begin a national dialogue on domestic surveillance. My only surprise is the sometimes shrill (screeching?) objections to any criticism of Putin’s government, as well as the objections to anyone suggesting that helping Putin is not in the public interest.

  231. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Credibility? It’s John’s opinion; you might disagree with it, but I’m pretty sure he’s the most accurate and authoritative source on the subject of his opinion.

  232. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Perhaps you weren’t paying attention, but we already knew the US was watching its own people. That’s what the whole “warrantless wiretapping” FISA thing during the Bush years was about.

  233. mirror says:

    John sees himself as part of the elite. He has special qualifications and experience that you and I don’t have. One has to always keep that in mind. Under pressure he will participate in circling the wagons.

  234. Fireblazes says:

    I would think he is contrasting what the government is saying with the actuality of what they are doing. You cannot say on the one hand that you are protecting Americans by spying on them, and on the other be spying on everyone else, friend or foe, Is everyone the new enemy? It would seem to me hacking into the communications of the countries you invited to a conference to solve the world’s problems is a betrayal beyond the point of reason. In sports it is called rigging the game. In this world it is called espionage. In my mind it is a dirty trick. It all calls into question Obama’s assertion that they are not monitoring people’s personal data. Obviously they are. Obviously they can at the push of a few keys make it happen. Obviously it would be easy to lie to everyone about a secret program, authorized by a secret law, monitored by a secret judge in a secret court. I would think it would be easy for someone to say, “let’s just not tell the Judge about this one”. Or maybe that whole last part is the lie they tell us to sooth our fears aided by a bunch of corporatist “reporters” and their multinational conglomerate company employers. There is no greater lie than that what is not spoken.

  235. S1AMER says:

    Perhaps he’ll become this generation’s “Man Without a Country,” destined to spend the rest of his years wandering unwelcome through the world.

  236. Island In The Sky says:

    I’ve read AB for several years…and I hate to admit it, but Bulldog has some valid points. The tagline now does feel a tad ironic.

  237. Whitewitch says:

    I don’t believe he is revealing any “secrets”. Other governments know that we are spying on them-no surprise there.

    What he has revealed is that the US, Our Government is watching its own people. Has decided that you and I and all the people you know are dangerous and scary and have to be watched closely.

    And if he is trying to find asylum somewhere perhaps this is just is ticket to a safe haven.

  238. Bulldog says:

    Americblog’s tagline is “A great nation deserves the truth.” You ought to revise that to something more accurate, because the truth is being handed to you and, rather than digging into it, you are playing attack dog for Obama. You’re no different than all of those right-leaning websites, bloggers, and columnists that always found a way to justify George W.’s actions. The credibility quotient at AB is sinking to new lows. Pathetic.

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