CBS’ Bob Schieffer blasts NSA-leaker Edward Snowden (video)

CBS’s Bob Schieffer offers some commentary that’s highly critical of NSA-leaker Edward Snowden.

Now, I’m admittedly growing increasingly uncomfortable with Snowden’s growing number of leaks, especially when he started leaking the details of US spying on Russia, revelations that have little to do with protecting Americans from the surveillance state.

Nonetheless, I think Bob Schieffer goes a bit overboard, or rather, misses the mark in his criticism of Snowden. And while a number of our readers support Snowden, I still think it’s useful to hear the criticism, if only to better understand why you support him.

Schieffer’s argument has a few problems. First of all, Schieffer says that Snowden is no Rosa Parks or MLK. I don’t think anyone was arguing that he was. And while Schieffer criticizes Snowden for hiding in China (which does leave me with a bad taste – I mean, China, really – was North Korea unavailable?), suggesting that Park and MLK never fled to China does ignore the fact that we’d probably never hear from Snowden again had he stayed in the states and been arrested.

Bob-SchiefferThen Schieffer brings up 9/11 as a justification for the NSA’s actions that Snowden has revealed. It’s a valid argument with a valid counter-argument. We all know too well how the Bush administration abused the “9/11” argument to justify all sorts of things, so while I’m not willing to say that our spy agencies are unnecessary, I’m also not willing to say that we should forgive every possible overreach in the name of September 11.

Schieffer is on firmer ground when he notes that our elected officials are the ones responsible for keeping an eye on government excess, not private citizens.  But, we do have whistleblower statutes to protect government employees  who feel the need to come forward, so it’s not always wrong for government employees to speak up.  Having said that, I’m still not convinced that Snowden is a true whistleblower – he strikes me more as someone who was shocked at what our spy agencies spy after having willingly joined those agencies, knowing that they, you know, spy.

And finally, Schieffer closing his commentary by arguing that Snowden would help his cause by giving himself up, well, no not really.  I’m not sure that I support Snowden’s cause, but I’m still not fool enough to suggest that getting forever sent down a Gitmo rabbit hole is going to help him get his message out.

Nonetheless, Schieffer’s criticism, if anything, nudges me in the direction of Snowden’s camp (though I’m still not in his camp).  So it’s worth watching, if only to help solidify where you stand on the entire issue.

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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48 Responses to “CBS’ Bob Schieffer blasts NSA-leaker Edward Snowden (video)”

  1. karmanot says:

    ‘They do not tolerate dissent.’ Try posting on Rachel’s blog. The groupie Nazi’s that run her fab site are diligent in the fluffer department. Firedoglake is similar, but costs money to join.

  2. BeccaM says:

    *shrugs* To write or post anything on the Internet requires a moderately thick skin.

    One thing I appreciate about John here is he and I don’t necessarily agree on everything, yet he lends me his soapbox anyway.

    This, by the way, is one of the reasons why I occasionally read dKos but almost never post there: They do not tolerate dissent. But yeah… TPM does show signs of Villager-itis.

  3. Mocas Dad says:

    You should probably avoid TPM then. I just deleted it from my bookmarks today. I believe that for the most part, comments follow blog content, and what with Josh feeling icky about Snowden, the commenters there are perfectly comfy behaving like freepers in discussing both glennzilla and apparently the worst spy in U.S. history.

    I just hope that doesn’t happen here if John decides to go all obamabot on this matter.

  4. Mocas Dad says:

    Well, cesca certainly is

  5. karmanot says:

    He’s been taking zombie lessons from Pat Roberts.

  6. karmanot says:

    I wonder too. the TSA goons grow increasingly thuggish. Is it conceivable that major censorship is coming down the line in the not so distant future, so that even our ‘liberal’ opinions are called up?

  7. karmanot says:

    Well done!

  8. karmanot says:

    Yep, just to your right are 8 of them…..will probably have to revise by the end of the day. Badgerite is having a Tupper Wear Party today so the number could at least double.

  9. karmanot says:


  10. karmanot says:

    Or is Badgerte a fraud?

  11. Straightnotnarrow says:

    Totally idiosyncratic but, it’s toeing the line, not towing the line.

  12. Drew2u says:

    Remember how the NSA stopped 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing?

  13. tballou says:

    For anyone who has any doubts about the propriety of what Snowden did, please check out this interview with three folks who know what they are talking about:

  14. Christine says:

    John, thank you for this blog post, I think you are right on, along with many of the people who commented on this post.

    To Bob Schieffer: You are mistaken by stating Snowden is a coward unlike MLK Jr and Rosa Parks who faced the consequences directly for their actions. Shining the light on the underhanded and unauthorized monitoring of people who aren’t aware of it, where that information is then sometimes manipulated and used against those individuals is not something the average citizen can do anything about, since we aren’t aware of it. Not to mention that we had the confidence that those malicious actors in MLK and Parks cases would be brought to justice.

    This is the post-Nixon era where American citizen trust in government is rightfully non-existent. Snowden is fighting an invisible threat and he had to go into exile – there is no limit to what these powerful government actors could do to discredit him and reduce his whistle-blowing as cowardly, selfish and unAmerican, which you already bought into with your comment that Snowden is a “narcissistic young man who decided he’s smarter than the rest of us”. You are ignoring the fact that he has exposed illegal and undemocratic government activity.

    He is already being undermined and called a traitor for telling the American people the extent of that monitoring and the sinister things those who monitor can do with that information, which those actors have already carried out. The average person can’t fight that unseen threat unlike bigotry and violence. You should get your facts straight and stop listening to politicians who by definition have their own election interests in mind, not mine as an American citizen. But I’m not surprised. You seem like an out of touch, entitled puppet who has no idea what the average American is concerned with. I am a key demographic for you – a 45 year old woman who is a single, working mother and I watch Sunday morning political interview shows and I’ve never watched yours, even though I always watch CBS This Morning and the CBS Sunday Morning show, because I think you are out of touch and I never understand your views. This confirms it and I will continue to never watch your show and I will tell everyone I know not to also – that you are the worst kind of journalist – towing a line for an agenda which has nothing to do with protecting the interests and rights of the average American.

  15. tballou says:

    John — you are embarrassing yourself – Schieffer is “a bit overboard”? “has a few problems”? You are “not comfortable”? You are coming down on the wrong side of history on this one. It is far past time that the lid was blown off the security-surveillance industrial complex, and what Snowden has done is what it takes. The US is completely secure from any possible existential threat (remember the $700 billion + we spend on the Pentagon?) Leaking a few tidbits about how we spy on our friends and past enemies is a tiny price to pay for exposing the depth and breadth of what our government has been up to with essentially no oversight and no meaningful debate.

  16. ezpz says:

    Pentagon Bracing for Public Dissent Over Climate and Energy Shocks

    NSA Prism is motivated in part by fears that environmentally-linked disasters could spur anti-government activism

  17. JamesR says:

    Bob Schieffer doesn’t drink Kool Aid, he is Kool Aid.

  18. JamesR says:

    Yes, and there’s virtually no way to prosecute a Congressweasel but a private citizen is camp fodder.

    …how could you have gotten down votes for that comment?

  19. dula says:

    Oh is PRISM a fraud?

  20. JamesR says:

    I love Glenn Greenwald all ways I can. More haveable than Matt Taibbi, probably…

  21. JamesR says:

    THANKS great link.

  22. Max_1 says:

    I’m in love with Greenwald… his mind, that is.
    Been following since his inception.
    His tomato is my tamato… Nationalist = Loyalist.

    They know who butters their bread…

  23. Max_1 says:

    One day soon, Bob’s gonna have to excuse himself from the camera…
    … Full diaper.

  24. Badgerite says:

    Bob Cesca has a really good analysis of Snowden’s online interview. The guy is a fraud.

  25. BeccaM says:

    I expected no differently. Whenever I criticize Obama, whoever it is who has a bunch of different Disqus accounts decides they’re gonna have their “I hate you shut up” tantrum.

  26. Snaggletooth says:

    I’m sure there is a file on me.

  27. Bill_Perdue says:

    It’s nothing new. “FBI Launching Mass Raids of Antiwar Activists’ Homes Insists Raids Are Related to ‘Material Support for Terrorism’ September 24, 2010 The FBI is confirming that this morning they began a number of “raids” against the homes of antiwar activists, claiming that they are “seeking evidence relating to activities concerning the material support of terrorism.”

    Write the Feds and ask if you have a COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) or other file. You might be surprised.

  28. Bill_Perdue says:

    Schieffer is a rightwing spokesmodel for the .01% and it’s their interests he’s defending. Members of the kept media have no shred of decency, credibility, or legitimacy.

    Like leaders of the Democrat and Republican parties, Schieffer was long ago bought by the ultrarich, the same people who pretend that their interests in overseas adventures aimed at increasing their wealth, no matter the cost in lives of civilians and GI’s, are somehow synonymous with those of workers, who comprise the majority in this country.

    I know very little about Snowdens politics but I do know he did us all an immense favor exposing the increasingly dictatorial policies of the Obama administration. And I do know that what he did and the risks he took doing it are genuinely heroic.

    Free Brad Manning

  29. DonewithDems says:

    Another American journalist doing the dirty work for the Obama administration and the government. Focus on the baddy that the whistleblower is instead of talking about the real elephant in the room.

  30. DonewithDems says:

    My thoughts exactly

  31. nicho says:

    Wow — a footsoldier in the corporatist media criticizes Snowden. That makes me look at Snowden more favorably. The fascisti are terrified at what’s coming out. They are pulling out all the stops. We’ll probably see twice as many pro-NSA trolls on Ablog tomorrow.

  32. Naja pallida says:

    Snowden’s oath was to his paycheck from Booz Allen Hamilton… and their oath is to the paycheck they get from the government. They just want us to fall for the idea that there is no difference between public employees and contractors or mercenaries and military. To just accept that it is the new normal for private companies to be entirely responsible for protecting huge chunks of public interests, whether they do the job effectively or not.

  33. Whitewitch says:

    Actual comments made about another Civil Rights leaderes. Any sounding familiar.


    * Once Again, Democrats, Leftists, Americans, and Decent People in General Are Engaging in Blatantly Partisan Political Attacks.

    * The Third Cousin Once Removed of Rosa Parks May Not Fully Support Her Protest, Thus Proving that the Family of Rosa Parks Do Not Stand Behind Her Actions.

    * At the Age of 11, Rosa Parks Enrolled in the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, a Private School Founded by LIBERAL-MINDED Women from theNORTHERN United States.

    * Rosa Parks Was a Member of the Montgomery Chapter of the Blatantly Partisan Leftist NAACP for Many Years and Was Active in Many Causes Before this So-Called “Spontaneous Protest.”

    * Prior to this Staged Political Attack by One Lone Glory-Seeking Local Abetted by Numerous Outsider Agitators, No Mass Protest Against Segregation of Busing Had Ever Been Made by the Actual Residents of Montgomery, Themselves.

    * An Ambitious Young Partisan Political Figure Named Martin Luther King, Jr. has Attached Himself and His Activist Network to this Obviously Partisan Political Attack, Further Demonstrating the Partisan Political Agenda that Goes Far Beyond Any Alleged Grievance with Segregated Busing of this “Spontaneous Protest.”

    * Neither Rosa Parks nor Martin Luther King, Jr. Endorsed the President’s Campaign, Thus Proving Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt That They are Partisan Enemies of the President who are Acting Purely out of Hatred for Him.

  34. Ford Prefect says:

    Looks like the bots are out in force tonight!

  35. Ford Prefect says:

    Thank you! I do believe you win this round!

  36. Ford Prefect says:

    I wonder as well. Given the torrent of revelations coming out of all this, we may get a chance now to find out just how totalitarian our society has become. I’m hoping people will push back. The polling favors Snowden far more than anyone else, so there’s that.

  37. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Not wanting to worry about your daughter again is not an argument. But, then, he rarely does have a point to make.

  38. Sweetie says:

    This isn’t the first time with Schieffer.


    “CBS News‘s Bob Schieffer is the classic American establishment TV journalist: unfailingly deferential to the politically powerful personalities who parade before him, and religiously devoted to what he considers his own “objectivity,” which ostensibly requires that he never let his personal opinions affect or be revealed by his journalism. Watch how thoroughly and even proudly he dispenses with both of those traits when interviewing Ron Paul last Sunday on Face the Nation regarding Paul’s foreign policy views.

    (1) The overarching rule of “journalistic objectivity” is that a journalist must never resolve any part of a dispute between the Democratic and the Republican Parties, even when one side is blatantly lying.

    (2) When it comes to views not shared by the leadership of the two parties, as in the above excerpt from the Paul interview, everything changes. Views that reside outside of the dogma of the leadership of either party are inherently illegitimate. Such views are generally ignored, but in those rare instances where they find their way into the discourse — such as this Paul interview — it is the duty of “objective” reporters like Schieffer to mock, scorn and attack them.

    I would have no problem with Schieffer’s adversarial behavior here if this were also how he treated claims made by David Petraeus, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton. But one would never, ever see that. Part of this is what Jay Rosen calls “the Church of the Savvy”: journalists revere power and political success and thus revere those who wield it in their world (Washington) while scorning those who do not (like Paul). But part of it is also that their function is to defend the political establishment of which they are a part and glorify its orthodoxies — defined as: the approved views of the leadership of the two parties, which in turn reflect the interests of the private factions that control both parties — and, conversely, to try to delegitimize any views and/or persons posing a challenge to it.

    This is why one sees truly adversarial conduct from establishment journalists applied only to those who are relatively powerless and marginalized (i.e., OWS), or to those views that have no currency within the political establishment (Paul’s foreign policy/civil liberties arguments). These journalists are, first and foremost, advocates, defenders, and spokespeople for prevailing establishment wisdom and institutions. They have every right to advocate for those views, but it is anything but “objective.” The problem with the Bob Schieffers of the world isn’t that they ooze political bias and subjectivity; most human beings do. The problem is that they’re fraudulently presented as journalists who don’t.

    (3) There is another standard media bias at play in this Schieffer interview which I’ve written about before:most establishment media figures, by definition, are hard-core nationalists who scorn any ideas that suggest their country is at fault for anything.”

    The rest of the article also has some juicy bits of Schieffer, about his reaction to the Bush “Mission Accomplished” propaganda and more.

  39. dula says:

    Ah poor Bobby thought HE was the gatekeeper.

  40. Whitewitch says:

    Or a least a communist out to destroy the county…a traitor to the state. Oh I see a slippery slope coming to its ultimate end. There is always hope the pendulum will swing back to sanity, for now though I am beginning to wonder.

  41. Whitewitch says:

    So its “not always wrong for government employees to speak up. ” If you are waiting for our elected officials to protect us I think you will wait a very very long time. They are only interested in the Corporations opinions and concerns…you are meaningless.

  42. Ford Prefect says:

    Well, given that “journalists” with household names are already doing it, I’d say the time is now. Snowden is a “terrorist.” Anti-Keystone XL pipeline activists are “terrorists.” Oppose the war? You’re a terrorist! Oppose policy-driven mass unemployment? Terrorist! You’re an 83-year old nun preaching non-violence? Über Terrorist!

    It’s already happened.

  43. Ford Prefect says:


    I’ve found it hilarious when ignorant Congressweasels intone that Snowden violated his oath or something.

    Public officials took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution. It’s an oath most of them violate every day. Snowden, as a contractor, is under no such oath and yet he’s the one upholding the constitution!

  44. Snaggletooth says:

    How long before we just decide that every American that engages in civil disobedience is a terrorist? How about everyone that just voices dissent? Now that there are real time logs available to be crossed referenced when its convenient because you pissed somebody off it’s entirely possible.

    Seriously, how long?

  45. BeccaM says:

    Schieffer’s points don’t even make sense.

    This information and these surveillance capabilities are a government/corporate partnership.

    I’ve found it hilarious when ignorant Congressweasels intone that Snowden violated his oath or something. Edward Snowden is a mere citizen working for a private contracting company — and he had a clearance that provided him access apparently not just to the NSA spying revelation, but a whole host of other details touching upon the innermost workings of our increasingly secretive government.

    It’s not that I support Snowden personally or have feelings one way or the other about why he did what he did. What I do support is what he did. Our Constitution used to mean something; now it’s just a piece of paper that is routinely violated by the Executive branch, with the willing collusion of the Legislative and Judicial branches, and ignored by the ‘fourth branch’ of journalistic media.

    I’ve seen it mentioned in several places in different versions, but I agree with the conclusion: Obama and the Dems were elected to office with promises to undo the excesses and illegal behavior of the Bush administration. Instead, what he and they have done has simply to change what was illegal into legal.

  46. arcadesproject says:

    Bob Schieffer ‘s brain has rotted out and his eyes have gone dull. I guess he isn’t officially dead yet, but….

  47. Ford Prefect says:

    I love it when Right-Wingers who undoubtedly despised Rosa Parks back in the day trot her out as an example of what someone is not, as if there’s a competition on for Concern Troll Of The Decade.

    “Well, he’s no Gandhi–even though I hated that (bleep) back in the day, it’s pretty cool that I can trot that one out today, because no one remembers what a bigoted asshole I was back then!”

    Schieffer touting Parks is like Hannity saying, “Well, he’s no Martin Luther King, Jr.”

  48. karmanot says:

    Old fool

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