Skip to comments.Edward Snowden, Moscow's Accidental Tourist
Posted on 06/01/2014 5:12:28 AM PDT by Kaslin
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has found the court of public opinion to be far more receptive than a court of law. He conducts the occasional interview with seemingly sympathetic journalists. NBC News aired one such interview with anchorman Brian Williams on Wednesday night. "Do you see yourself as a patriot?" Williams asked.
"I do," answered Snowden, now 30. He was just trying to protect the country and the Constitution "from the encroachment of adversaries -- and those adversaries don't have to be foreign countries."
Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, was having none of it. "In many respects, I think that he's guilty of espionage," the senator from California told the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board Thursday. "I do not regard him as a whistle-blower." Snowden should return to the United States to stand trial, she said.
Feinstein must be frustrated. Every so often, Snowden pops up with his butter-wouldn't-melt-in-his-mouth face. On the one hand, he is supposed to be super-smart on tech. He was brave to leak a guesstimated 1.7 million classified documents -- and then reveal his identity to the superpower government that he had so clearly outsmarted. You have to give him credit for the courage of his convictions.
On the other hand, he makes claims that defy credulity. He said he is surprised he ended up in Russia. He never meant for that to happen. But he's not worried that the Russians will try to squeeze information from him, because he didn't bring any intelligence with him.
Paradoxically, Snowden also told Williams that he "was trained as a spy" and that he worked undercover overseas. That's not the expected profile for an innocent abroad.
Snowden argued that the government cannot "show a single individual who's been harmed in any way" by his leaks. That's a clever statement -- and safe. He knows that the government doesn't name assets or operatives who have been harmed because of leaks. The intelligence community is wedded to secrecy, even when it undermines its own damaged credibility.
When I threw out Snowden's name-one-person challenge to George Washington University international affairs professor Amitai Etzioni, he countered, "Name one person who has been harmed by the NSA." Before I could say German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- U.S. intelligence reportedly tapped her cellphone -- Etzioni stipulated that the one person had to be an American. His point was taken: Leaking is, for the most part, a crime against institutions.
Surely, Snowden understands that his release of U.S. intelligence techniques has damaged Foggy Bottom's relations with allies and, worse, tipped off terrorist organizations to methods that can help them avoid detection. His decision to leak was not a victimless crime. For all his daring, Snowden doesn't dare acknowledge the price of his hijacking of U.S. intelligence.
Snowden has maintained that he had to leak documents because the NSA ignored his protests about what he considered illegal practices. Most recently, Snowden told Williams that when he complained to the NSA, "the response, more or less, in bureaucratic language, was, 'You should stop asking questions.'"
On Thursday, Feinstein released an April 8, 2013, email that Snowden sent to the NSA Office of the General Counsel. Hardly a jeremiad of moral misgivings about surveillance, it's a bureaucratic query asking a government attorney to clarify questions about executive orders superseding federal statute. A hierarchy of governing authority lists the U.S. Constitution on top, followed by "federal statutes/presidential executive orders." Snowden wrote rather daintily, "I'm not entirely certain, but this does not seem correct, as it seems to imply Executive Orders have the same precedence as law." Weak tea, that.
It's not as if Snowden doesn't know how to be blunt. In March, he swiped at Feinstein for condemning a CIA search of her Senate committee's computers. In a statement to NBC, he lamented that an "elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it's a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them."
It is instructive that the far-seeing Snowden never thought to save or leak documents in which he was supposed to have raged against the machine. Snowden has erected a shaky house of sticks to justify his decision to screw national security. It only stands because it is shielded from the elements.
Our biggest problem in "calling" this is; we will never know the full accounting of what was leaked.
“In a statement to NBC, he lamented that an “elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it’s a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them.”
He makes a great point that they can’t refute. Snowden’s most heinous crime was that he exposed what OBAMA’S government was doing; all of the lefties who thought this was Evil George W’s modus operandi found out that the Kenyan Pirate was EVEN WORSE!
His peers would be people of great intellect, who were willing to risk their fortunes, freedom and lives to secure for the people the liberties and rights spelled out in the constitution.
People of such quality are a scarce type, an example of the type you will find below.
If such a jury, by your own admission, is so unlikely to be called, why do you urge him to seek a trial?
I’m of two minds on this guy, patriot or traitor.
If, when he spilled his guts, he had ratted out China and Russia as well, there would be a case for calling him a patriot.
But he chose to only indict Big Bad America.
Sarcasm is wasted on many.
Snowden did to the federal government just what McCarthy did to Hollywood: exposed them for what they are. That is why they are pissed. Just like in the fifties there were some weak denials but in both cases it was the truth that angered them.
Obviously Russia was not leaked.
The question is this:
I watched the Snowden-Williams interview and was struck by Snowden’s intellect and courage. This young man, with little formal education compared to the President of the United States, exhibited vastly superior understanding of the Constitution and a devotion to traditional American principles that left my heart pounding. Kerry says to Snowden, “Man up.” I say to John Kerry, “Shut up. Courage is not marrying rich women and pretending to be a war hero. Courage is risking everything for for what is good and right.”
A Washington insider outs a CIA station chief, and he gets a free pass. A Washington outsider outs criminal conduct, and the neocons jump on him.
Why should Snowden give a sh*t about exposing China or Russia? He’s an AMERICAN. His priority is America.
The governments of China and Russia are known abusers of individual liberty while the American government claims to be the protectors of individual liberty. He had a duty to expose their lies.
Most of what Snowden leaked was low-level stuff indeed. A bit higher than crap, but not by much.
Hey Diane, what do you call your complicity in Clinton’s allowed leakage of nuclear weapon technology to the Red Chinese?
“The information (the Chinese obtained) included
classified information on seven warheads, including every currently deployed
thermonuclear warhead in the U.S. ballistic missile arsenal; on the neutron bomb;
and on a number of reentry vehicles of U.S. missiles. The PRC acquired
information on seven U.S. nuclear warheads, including the W88, the most advanced,
miniature U.S. nuclear warhead deployed on the Trident D-5 submarine-launched
ballistic missile (SLBM):
W88: deployed on the Trident D-5 SLBM
W87: deployed on the Peacekeeper ICBM
W78: deployed on the Minuteman III ICBM
W76: deployed on the Trident C-4 SLBM
W70: previously deployed on the Lance short-range ballistic missile (SRBM)
W62: deployed on the Minuteman III ICBM
W56: previously deployed on the Minuteman II ICBM”
Snowden is a traitriot.
Those authors neglect one thing - Snowden didn’t fly to Russia and ask to be taken in. Our government stranded him there when it cancelled his passport. He was ticketed on a flight out of Russia but was unable to board.
Author attempting to sound reasonable about the fact she is a flaming liberal who is livid that Snowden let the rest of us be confirmed that government is not our friend
I agree with you, most people these days are total worms, just want to be comfortable and won’t risk their precious pensions, no character or principles
I wasn’t sure about Snowden, but if the Feinstein woman is against him he can’t be all wrong.
Everyday Americans would be fair to Snowden. The people to worry about are the professional liars in Government...
At some point he will want to return home. It’s more than homesickness. It’s living in hell. Like too many others-think John Reed- he will find that leaving Russia will be like leaving the mafia.
My bad. The singer who ‘defected’ to east germany.
Indeed, if Snowden had been your typical idiot Valerie Plame Bush basher, they’d consider him a hero. It is how short sighted Democrats are.
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Edward Snowden seems more trustworthy than Hillary Clinton or Obama - which isn’t really saying much... If the three of them were in a room - each with their own story - their own version - I would tend to trust Snowden. I think he’s telling the truth as he sees it - which doesn’t necessarily mean he’s right.
Imo he needs one to the head and another to the heart.