The Demonization Machine Cranks Up Against Edward Snowden

"Snowden, 29 and possessing all the qualifications to become a grocery bagger..." |||It's always instructive to see who quickly takes the government's side in a dispute with a whistleblower, and what kind of argumentation they deploy. David Brooks was certainly a predictable candidate. Here's a sampling of a few others:

Roger Simon, chief political columnist for Politico, former White House correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, former political editor of U.S. News & World Report:

Think you're a loser just because you dropped out of high school and never finished 

Think you're a dud just because you work as a security guard even though you dreamed of becoming a global savior?the military training you began?

Well, don't beat yourself up. You, too, can become an international super spy like Edward Snowden.

Ari Fleischer, CNN contributor, former White House press secretary under George W. Bush:

Real whistleblowers don't flee the country.

Richard Cohen, Washington Post columnist, employee at the Post for 45 years:

"I think he'll go down as a cross-dressing Little Red Riding Hood." |||In a remarkably overwrought interview conducted by the vainglorious Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, Snowden cited not one example of the programs being abused. Greenwald wrote that Snowden "lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping" and that "he puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them." Greenwald said that "Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers." I think he'll go down as a cross-dressing Little Red Riding Hood. [...]

Everything about Edward Snowden is ridiculously cinematic. He is not paranoiac; he is merely narcissistic. He jettisoned a girlfriend, a career and, undoubtedly, his personal freedom to expose programs that were known to our elected officials and could have been deduced by anyone who has ever Googled anything. History will not record him as "one of America's most consequential whistleblowers." History is more likely to forget him.

Jeffrey Toobin, legal correspondent for The New Yorker, senior legal analyst for CNN, former Assistant U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, former associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel under Lawrence Walsh, and author of such books as The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court:

"...a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison." |||[S]ome, including my colleague John Cassidy, are hailing him as a hero and a whistle-blower. He is neither. He is, rather, a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison. [...]

The question, of course, is whether the government can function when all of its employees (and contractors) can take it upon themselves to sabotage the programs they don't like. That's what Snowden has done.

Marc Thiessen, Washington Post columnist, American Enterprise Institute fellow, former speech writer for president George W. Bush and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former senior aide to senator Jesse Helms, author of Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack

"...should not necessarily tar the senator." |||Turns out Edward Snowden — the former CIA employee and NSA contractor who leaked documents revealing top-secret National Security Agency programs tracking terrorist communications — is a Paulbot. [...]

The revelation is of particular interest because one of the harshest critics of the NSA since the leaks began has been… Senator Rand Paul. Taken in isolation, the fact that Snowden supported the elder Paul's presidential bid should not necessarily tar the senator. Politicians can't be held responsible for all the actions of their supporters. But in addition to his campaign contributions, Snowden's comments explaining his reasons for leaking are virtually indistinguishable from Senator Paul's criticisms of the NSA program.

Ralph Peters, strategic analyst for Fox News, columnist for the New York Post, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, author of such books as New Glory: Expanding America’s Global Supremacy:

"He's Kim Kardashian with stubble." |||Now you've got this 29-year-old high school-dropout whistleblower making foreign policy for our country, our security policy....We've made treason cool. Betraying your country is kind of a fashion statement. He wants to be the national security Kim Kardashian. He cites Bradley Manning as a hero.

I mean, we need to get very, very serious about treason. And, oh by the way, for treason — as in the case of Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden — you bring back the death penalty.

I for one am grateful that Edward Snowden leaked, because the United States government has too free a hand to conduct surveillance and espionage (and war, and kidnapping, and extrajudicial assassination) without anything like even internal oversight. (If you think Congress is well informed on these issues, you probably haven't talked to a civil liberties-minded congressman on a key overisght committee; and if you think FISA courts amount to effective oversight then you're getting the government you deserve.)

And while the gold standard for civil disobedience remains publicly accepting the punishment from the government whose laws you dispute, the fact is not every act of whistleblowing or defiance is going to be conducted by a perfect replica of Martin Luther King. Would Ari Fleischer be brave enough to stand and take the heat for such an act? The question answers itself.

Meanwhile–as in King's case–the massive machinery of American police power will be focused on making the renegade look like a maximally traitorous deviant. You do not have to pre-emptively declare Snowden a saint (indeed, we will almost certainly hear word that he is not), to be repelled by both the status quo he aims to challenge, and the enthusiasm with which Fourth Estaters enable the executive branch. 

Reason on Snowden here.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Embarrassing.

  • WTF||

    These people are beyond embarrassment.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    I'm giving the win to Cohen, since he threw a little homophobia in with the boot licking.

  • grey||

    But, but, but he went to Bangkok (inference: He is spying for the Chinese- traitor). Assholes.

  • grey||

    Sorry, Hong Kong. Not even close enough that I can blame a typo.

  • CE||

    So Glenn Greenwald is "vainglorious", because he actually dares stand up for some principles, and doesn't just cheer for Team Blue?

  • tarran||

    Remember that bartender who took a cell phone video of Romney adressing his financial backers behind closed doors?

    I wonder what they said about *him*? :D

  • JW||

    He's a Great American Hero! Why do you ask?

  • ||

    See, that wasn't about the wise holy government, it was about evul kkkorporashuns and their Rethuglikkkan masters. That's all you really need to know.

  • ||

    Was that before or after he gave that women cancer?

  • ||

    The question, of course, is whether the government can function when all of its employees (and contractors) can take it upon themselves to sabotage the programs they don't like. That's what Snowden has done.

    Replace "programs" with "parts of the Constitution" and you have what most government workers actually do. But they do it with togetherness!

  • CE||

    I thought it was Obama and Holder who were sabotaging the government, by undermining its credibility.

  • crashland||

    Don't forget the IRS, EPA etc etc. The cleptocracy of the Obama admin is driving increased loathing and mistrust of government. It's not cynical to mistrust a government that lies, spies and steals, it common fucking sense.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    to expose programs that were known to our elected officials and could have been deduced by anyone who has ever Googled anything

    So why were they so secret? What an intellectual midget Cohen is.

  • stoneymonster||

    Even further: then why is it such a big deal, nay a crime worthy of treason to reveal them?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Because it's embarrassing. Politicians don't like that.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    You're probably just a cross-dresser.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    But of course! I look great in heels!

  • grey||

    I thought cross dressers were super liberal cool, now it's an insult? How can it be both at the same time?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Oh you forget, progressives get to decide when and where their politically correct views apply.

  • Duke||

    I sincerely hope this is a Louis XVI moment for the media and the government. They are so completely and utterly out of touch with the smoldering rage Americans feel towards them at this point.

  • stoneymonster||

    The polls don't show much rage.

  • Tonio||

    The polls may change, Stoney. I think the people need a couple of weeks to figure out that it's again OK to be skeptical of government and pro-liberty. The late night comedians are the leading edge.

    And it's a shame that this is how it is, but the populace is rarely informed and involved.

  • ||

    Until Jon Stewart says it's okay, no libs under 30 are going to dare think bad thoughts about Obama.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    And even then, they'll rationalize that he wasn't a "true" Liberal.

  • ||

    I applaud your optimism. But all I've heard is "string 'im up!", except from a very few & far between folks.

  • Duke||

    Maybe this is a watershed moment though. I have yet to here anyone other than the TASS media characterize Snowden as anything other than a hero or patriot. And that’s from the left and the right.

  • ||

    I just want to make sure I have all the real concrete points against him down:
    1. He acted alone.
    2. He's only in his 20s.
    3. He dropped out of high school and didn't finish college.
    4. And despite all those things, he was doing something other than bagging groceries.

    Man, fuck this guy!

  • John||

    Nikki,

    The fact that Snowden didn't even go to college much less the right college makes losers like Toobin and Cohen hate him even more. All they have is credentials. They have never done anything in their lives except go to the right schools. So their entire self image is depends on credentialism. I am sure they are furious at the NSA for hiring one of "those people". This is worse than Sarah Palin running for office.

  • ||

    Indeed.

  • Lord Humungus||

    I used to know a programmer who worked for Apple. He never finished college - but boy, he could program.

    My best friend dropped out of college while working on his Phd in Neurology - again, one of best programmers I've met.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, 'nuff said

  • Loki||

    Albert Einstein...

    Not a programmer, but another guy who didn't finish school. In today's world Eisntein would be dismissed and ridiculed mercilessly for not having the right credentials.

  • ||

    Earned PhD from Zurich. Sorry, no cigar on that one.

  • A Series of Tubes||

    Or Benjamin Franklin. Basically no formal education at all. Who let that guy in the continental congress?!

  • KDN||

    I am sure they are furious at the NSA for hiring one of "those people".

    All the NSA does is hire "those people." I've personally met at least 8 Ed Snowdens working for NSA / BAH and none of them got through college (though the majority of them honed their 1337 tech skillz for peanuts as enlisted military).

  • John||

    So have I. It is one of the problems with the intel community. If you don't start out with them as a specialist or some GS 7, they have no use for you. So everyone in the community grew up in the community. That makes the community incredibly dogmatic and narrow minded. You would hope and think that the intel community would be free thinking. But it is not. It is incredibly dogmatic and hidebound. And that of course is why it fails so much.

  • dantheserene||

    Don’t forget inbred. The fastest way to get a high level clearance is to be the spouse, offspring, or sibling of current cleared personnel. I know whole families that work for the same agency.

  • Loki||

    So their entire self image is depends on credentialism.

    Not just their self image, but their entire careers, hell, their whole fucking lives have been all about pursuing and obtaining the "right credentials." They can't afford for people to start thinking that maybe those credentials don't mean shit.

  • Sevo||

    "4. And despite all those things, he was doing something other than bagging groceries."

    The comment about bagging groceries should have been embarrassing to the guy who spoke it.
    Snowden is obviously qualified to understand the constitution far better than the twit who made the comment.

  • sarcasmic||

    Man, fuck this guy!

    Nah. But I'll gladly fuck his girlfriend!

    http://www.everyjoe.com/2013/0.....ballerina/

  • T||

    I can't help but think of the old saw that no matter how beautiful she is, someone, somewhere is tired of her shit.

  • JW||

    If she's a dancer, and it seems that she is, then I can promise you that everyone is, not that stops anyone.

    Those pics are Exihibt A as to why no man ever stops to consider the downside.

  • Let Me Ride||

    Butterface.

  • ||

    Shut up T, we're tired of your shit.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    9/10.

    Explanation: She's got a good face, she must be flexible to be a ballet/acrobat/stripper, and she's inshape but not mannish.

    WOULD.

  • ||

    Body of 12 year old boy.
    No thank you.

  • Raston Bot||

    Well, the FBI can't blame his behavior on his deviant homosexual lifestyle. I bet they're bummed about it too.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    In #7, SHE'S MAKING A GUN WITH HER FINGERS!!!!!!!!

    Lock her up!

  • John||

    And lets not forget, Toobin knocked up the 20 something daughter of a coworker, graciously offered to pay for the abortion, then made her sue him in open court to take responsibility for a child he knew all along was his. He is basically trailer trash with a few credentials and occasional TV gig.

    All of these people are scum. Our entire governing class are scum. The ambassador to Belgium apparently ditched his security team to solicit under age prostitutes.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....um=twitter

    Whatever Snowden's issues are, he is probably of better character than your typical Washingtonian.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Too bad his security wasn't Secret Service, he could have just gotten the hookers' phone numbers from them.

  • grey||

    As long as he paid for the prostitutes himself and they weren't children, then I really don't care.

  • John||

    Apparently some were children. And beyond that, he is setting himself up for blackmail. If he wants to live his life banging street walkers, he should go back to being a private citizen.

  • Let Me Ride||

    Yeah, Toobin's a cunt par excellence.

    That's Jeff Greenfield's daughter who he impregnated. Toobin is still with his wife. I wonder if she knows what kind of lucky gal she is?

  • cavalier973||

    I think it was President Obama that made treason "cool".

  • John||

    Dissent is the highest form or patriotism after all. God I love throwing that little line back in lefty's faces. It is so fun.

  • WTF||

    That was only because of BOOOSH!!!11!!

    Dissent is now the highest form of racism. And treason.

  • sarcasmic||

    There you go with principles again.

    Dissent against intolerant conservatives is the highest form of patriotism.

    Dissent against the left is intolerant, and tolerant people do not have to tolerate intolerance.

  • Lord Humungus||

    What’s in the Rest of the Top-Secret NSA PowerPoint Deck?
    http://www.wired.com/threatlev.....owerpoint/

    Only five slides from the presentation have been published. The other 36 remain a mystery. Both the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald and the Post’s Barton Gellman have made it clear that the rest of the PowerPoint is dynamite stuff … which we’re not going to be seeing any time soon. “If you saw all the slides you wouldn’t publish them,” wrote Gellman on Twitter, adding in a second tweet: “I know a few absolutists, but most people would want to defer judgment if they didn’t know the full contents.”
  • Marc F Cheney||

    I would LOVE to see Wikileaks get their hands on this.

  • John||

    “If you saw all the slides you wouldn’t publish them,”

    Why not? That is bullshit. Publish them all or don't publish anything. That makes me very suspect of the Guardian and Greenwald, who is a fucking socialist scumbag anyway. Are there things in those slides that would make people support the program or explain it better? Or are they evidence of real abuse. Whatever they are, they need to be released. Fuck Greenwald and the Guardian. They have forfeited any credit they may have earned for publishing this.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I would publish them. True story. I believe that a reporter's default position should be to publish, publish, publish it all and let the free people who read your publication sort it out. (This is also why I'm not an editor.)

  • John||

    They have to be published. Without publishing the entire thing, we have no way of knowing if Greenwald or the Guardian selectively edited and are not telling the full truth. Just publishing some makes it look like they are hiding something.

    If they want to leak it out over a few weeks to make some money and drum up circulation, that is fine. But if they are withholding things, that is not fine.

  • Hugh Akston||

    As an editor, my default position is to vet then publish publish publish. If something is legit then it needs to be disseminated, no matter whose feelings it may hurt. (This is also why I'm not a publisher)

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I imagine it's got names in it. The Brits get very touchy when names get involved because of their hyperactive libel laws.

  • John||

    Then the Post can publish it.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Hah! The Post is entrenched in DC, there's a limit to their disobedience. It's just enough to convince readers that they are actually journalists.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    How could publishing names that appear on an NSA Powerpoint possibly constitute libel, even in G.B.?
    (I suppose that even I might, ...hesitate..., to publish the names of active U.S. spies.)

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I don't put anything past the Brits anymore.

  • Sevo||

    Scruffy Nerfherder| 6.11.13 @ 11:31AM |#
    "I imagine it's got names in it. The Brits get very touchy when names get involved because of their hyperactive libel laws."

    V good point. For all the Guardian's claim as the world's liberal voice, the Brit gov't is blind to the concept of free speech.

  • Loki||

    They could always redact the names.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I'm not going to sing the praises of Greenwald (the good thing is that I don't really have to), but without knowing what's in the slides, we really can't say with much certainty this is a bad thing. Snowden himself made clear that he culled the information he released to avoid hurting the country. Also, what if the information included embarrassing revelations the NSA was able to gather against innocents?

  • np||

    It's a damn shame they redacted or self-censored bits of the few slides they already published! I guess like Scruffy mentioned, it might be names, or places..

    But it seems like they might be slowly leaking some things out:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl.....ni=Network front:network-front full-width-1 bento-box:Bento box:Position2#block-51b36893e4b0cc6424372292

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl.....datamining

    Boundless Informant: the NSA's secret tool to track global surveillance data

    Revealed: The NSA's powerful tool for cataloguing global surveillance data – including figures on US collection


    with a screenshot of the application

    Still, what I want to know are the actual technical methods involved.

    The one good thing about withholding, at least initially, is to counter various reactionary denials from all the entities involved

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I sincerely hope they're following the Breitbart method. Give your opponents enough rope to hang themselves with and then drop the floor out from under them.

  • np||

    Yep:

    At a hearing of the Senate intelligence committee In March this year, Democratic senator Ron Wyden asked James Clapper, the director of national intelligence: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

    "No sir," replied Clapper.

    Judith Emmel, an NSA spokeswoman, told the Guardian in a response to the latest disclosures: "NSA has consistently reported – including to Congress – that we do not have the ability to determine with certainty the identity or location of all communicants within a given communication. That remains the case."

    Other documents seen by the Guardian further demonstrate that the NSA does in fact break down its surveillance intercepts which could allow the agency to determine how many of them are from the US. The level of detail includes individual IP addresses.

    Lying through their teeth. Probably the tech and telcom companies too, though I wouldn't be surprised if such NSA arrangement were compartmentalized enough within these companies that they can engage in some plausible deniability.

  • Loki||

    "NSA has consistently reported – including to Congress – that we do not have the ability to determine with certainty the identity or location of all communicants within a given communication.

    ...yet. I'm sure they're working on it.

  • ||

    Give your opponents enough rope to hang themselves with and then drop the floor out from under them.

    I think this is exactly what is happening. Greenwald is smart enough to know they'll be scrambling to come up with explanations and justifications like we've already seen (pointing to the Zazi case for one, which actually undermines their case but whatever) and then contradict whatever breathless promises about privacy pro they've made with further releases. He has already said that more is coming.

  • np||

  • Slammer||

    Bastard Edward Snow took the black, he's out there on the Wall

  • Rasilio||

    Yeah, but you want him on that wall, you need him on that wall

  • Andrew S.||

    Once again, reporters like Richard Cohen try to simultaneously argue that (i) Snowden is a traitor and his leaks were harmful to national security, and (ii) He just leaked things everyone already knew about anyways. And attacking him personally to boot. Nice.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    He really is an insipid little idiot.

  • Loki||

    It almost makes me wonder if shriek is Richard Cohen's sockpuppet.

  • grey||

    There is no war on terror. We needed to accuse Rosen of being a criminal because of the war on terror.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The question, of course, is whether the government can function when all of its employees (and contractors) can take it upon themselves to sabotage the programs they don't like.

    The horror.

    The HORROR!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The question, of course, is whether the government can function when all of its employees (and contractors) can take it upon themselves to sabotage the programs they don't like.

    No, Jeff, the question whether PRISM is legally and morally defensible. In the first part, the answer is yes. In the second is no, seizing phone records in a broad fishing expedition for TERRAHISTS violates the spirit of the Fourth Amendment, if not the letter.

  • John||

    Exactly. And publishing the existence of the program is not "sabotaging it". Can NSA no longer do this?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Yeah. I expect them to shut it down immediately since it is obviously no longer of value.

  • grey||

    This argument makes no sense. The 'terrorists' and 'right wing violent extremists' (like say, tea party) already know that all the data they send through the internet could potentially be collected upstream from them. They also, logically, know that they won't be aware if a secret warrant has been served. What new threat to terrorists exist now that didn't exist before? The only difference I see is the likelyhood they may be found through dragnet approach, that is a game changer, how?

  • ||

    Sarcasm, anyone?

  • John||

    It is not. If anything, it helps because it makes terrorist cells more cautious and their operations harder to run.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    It isn't a game-changer at all for national security. What Snowden really did was expose the breadth and depth of the NSA's activities and make citizens aware of just how easy it would be for the government to dredge data on you and use it for character assassination or worse. He's demonstrated that the methods of J Edgar Hoover are still alive and well in DC.

    He has created an existential threat to a very entrenched executive agency that does not like existential threats and probably has plenty of dirt on hundreds of politicians at its disposal. He has smacked the hornet's nest.

  • Loki||

    He's demonstrated that the methods of J Edgar Hoover are still alive and well in DC.

    The only difference is that it's easier now thanks to technology and the legal framework created by the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Ammendments Act for the government to dig up dirt on pretty much anyone it wants to at any time it wants. And for pretty much any reason the Executive Branch can dream up. J. Edgar wished he had this shit.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Au contraire.

    Most tea party folks and similar domestic terrorists still quaintly believe that they have Constitutional rights and that the authority and scope of government is constrained by the Constitution. They even write to congressmen, are active in elections, and expect to accomplish something or another. Some are even upset when the IRS singles them out for extra special scrutiny. They still use unencrypted e-mail and telephones to communicate.

    Snowden's callous revelation undermines the treasure trove of intelligence than can be garnered from tea partiers and similar domestic terrorists.

  • wareagle||

    No, Jeff, the question whether PRISM is legally and morally defensible

    but if you are Jeff, this question is purely rhetorical. The answer is clearly yes and doubly so when an administration he likes is at the helm.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    At least Al Sharpton is honest enough to admit that he only trusts Democrats to run these programs. Toobin and Cohen can't even be bothered to do that, just smear the guy that embarrassed President Cornball.

  • Raven Nation||

    Wasn't it the WaPo that published details of the Bush Administration's program that was tracking terrorist money transfer and that said publishing pretty much ended the program's ability to function?

  • ||

    The question, of course, is whether the government can function when all of its employees (and contractors) can take it upon themselves to sabotage the programs they don't like.

    Well, I sure as hell hope not.

  • John||

    Remember, these same people spent the 70s and 80s raging against US covert wars and the CIA, whom they were convinced was responsible for all of the evils in the world.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    But they've captured the system now. It's analogous to regulatory capture in the business world.

  • ||

    Apart from that, what he is saying is that people should just turn off their morals and obey orders when they're working for the government. Obedience above all. I can't imagine a more disgusting statement.

  • John||

    Yup.

  • Brett L||

    Speaking Truth to Power!!

  • wareagle||

    I keep hearing how Snowden is a traitor or should go to jail, but no mention of what enemy benefitted from his treason or what crime was involved.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Don't you get it? Hezbollah now knows that the NSA is monitoring their communications.

  • ||

    They're going to have to abandon their hotmail.sy accounts now. How will they send each other pictures of kittens doing improbable things with inspirational messages now!?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Thank god Twitter didn't acquiesce to the NSA... I'd now be deprived of my daily devotional from Hamas!

  • CE||

    Twitter doesn't need to acquiesce to the NSA. Every Tweet is public already -- that's the whole point.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    sarcasm was intended

  • ||

    Haha, Twitter is a vapid medium, but I do like their philosophy on consumer privacy. I also know that it's influenced a friend of mine who works in the privacy law department of a different media company and she constantly needles her department in a "good privacy policy is good business" direction.

  • Irish||

    Well, he probably broke agreements with the company that he wouldn't share anything he learned with the outside world. He's likely in breach of contract.

    The people claiming that this is somehow treason are idiots though.

  • Drake||

    U.S. Constitution: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

    The only way to try Snowden for Treason for exposing a spy program aimed at Americans - is to declare all American citizens Enemies.

  • Richard Cohen||

    FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP...

  • D. Brooks||

    FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP...

  • Jeff Toobin||

    FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP...

  • Roger Simon||

    FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP...

  • Irish||

    Real whistleblowers don't flee the country.

    And free countries don't make whistleblowers feel that they have to flee.

  • Drake||

    Free countries don't spy on their citizens.

  • ||

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. The more hesitant ones are waiting to see what the more vigorous authority-fellators do first, and then will follow their lead with extra saliva.

    Man, we really do have a "fourth estate" composed almost entirely of sycophants and bootlickers. It's really amazing. And it makes you wonder what was able to be suppressed by those sycophants before there was an internet.

  • John||

    All it took was them getting one of their own in the White House. They had never had that. They liked Bubba Clinton, but he was never one of them. He was always the goofing dork from Hope, Arkansas who made good. But Obama is them. Had he not gone into politics, he would be in the media right now. He fits the mold of Toobin, Lithwick, Bayzelon, Brooks, and all of the Washington MSM pundits. He went to the 'right schools' never did much of anything productive, but looks that part and says all the right things. And he is black on top of it. Once they got Obama in there, that was it. All of their worst tendencies came out.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I've come to the conclusion that Obama is a pure creation of the Democratic Party. He is exactly what they want him to be. It makes perfect sense wen you consider his meteoric rise, he adopted the positions that they wanted him to while providing window-dressing for the media.

  • John||

    He is Chauncey Gardiner.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Chance was at least honest.

  • Drake||

    Obama has a real "Being There" thing going on when the teleprompter is off.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    He likes to watch?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "You gotta hand it to the emperor. He is one snappy dresser."

  • Rasilio||

    "The question, of course, is whether the government can function when all of its employees (and contractors) can take it upon themselves to sabotage the programs they don't like."

    Um no.

    "I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God"

    The question is why is it allowed to function when it puts them in the position of having to violate their oaths to do their jobs. Snowden was not deciding foreign policy on a program he simply didn't like he was quite literally defending the Constitution from Domestic Enemies

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I guess the real question is whether the Constitution has any allies left.

  • Rasilio||

    Well at least a few but no, not many

  • ||

    Contractors don't take the oath of office. Neat little way to get around that whole Constitution thing, innit?

  • Rasilio||

    Indeed, that still does not mean that they don't carry that conviction inside of them.

  • Alan||

    Many, including Snowden, took that oath when they joined the military.

    There's no expiration date on the oath to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

  • Jon Lester||

    Most "reasonable" people thought I was being outrageous for asserting that America is ruled by a fascist duopoly, enabled and nourished by the for-profit mass media, which have manipulated the people into a ridiculous team sports mentality. Now we have a veritable rogues' gallery of people whose careers are based upon exactly that.

    Proof is not enough, of course. People still need to see and recognize what's in front of them, if they will.

  • Voros McCracken||

    One of the things that needs to be kept in mind is that making this story all about Snowden obscures the more important discussion about the information he actually leaked. He could be a child rapist, and that would be irrelevant as to that latter discussion.

  • John||

    ^^THIS^^ Who cares about Snowden? The important thing is the information he gave us.

  • wareagle||

    those in need of a distration care about Snowden. The more you look at him, the less visible the man behind the curtain is.

  • Loki||

    Eleanor Roosevelt got at least one thing right:

    "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people."

    These are clearly some very small minded people.

  • ChrisN||

    I saw Andrew Sullivan quoting Joe Klein against Snowden, because, I presume, he's crawled so far up his own ass, which is inside of Obama's ass, that any points of light disturb him.

    I'm skeptical regarding Snowden, but, I'm listening.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Semi-OT: President Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping this weekend. That must have been genuinely fascinating. Here, on one hand, you have the leader of a regime that spies on its citizens, uses government power to target political dissidents, and has an interior ministry that attempts to target journalists. And on the other hand, you have the leader of communist China.

  • Jon Lester||

    I guess you saw in 24/7 that a majority of Chinese citizens polled are in favor of granting asylum to Snowden.

  • Andrew S.||

    Brilliant. I'm stealing that.

  • creech||

    Feedback from various Tea Party friends is that they are split on Snowden - traitor or hero. I think this will sort out the Tea Party pretty well; I wonder if it will sort out the Progs?

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Good point. It's time for a purge.

    If you consider yourself a part of the "tea party" movement, but you aren't on Snowden's side on tjhis thing, kindly fuck off.

  • grey||

    +1

  • Jon Lester||

    In state and regional media commentariats, I've tried lately to encourage everyone to vote the third-party of their choice, whether it's Greens, Libertarians, Communists or anything in between, if for no other reason than to dilute the returns for Establishment candidates, and to therefore express a lack of consent of the governed.

  • John||

    And Roger Simon looks like he is of the same moleman species that Henry Waxman is.

  • Libertarius||

    I thought Waxman was Bat Boy.

  • Rasilio||

    The really scary thing for me is that this could very easily be me.

    About 2 years ago I was approached by an NSA contractor and offered a position making an outrageous amount of money and because my wife has desperately wanted to move back to the Chessapeake bay area I decided to go through with it. Problem was I have a conscience and could not get through the damn Polygraph (an experience so stressful I will never take one again, I litterally was having anxiety attacks for weeks in both directions each time I tried to retake it), every time they asked the blanked open ended question "Have you ever committed a felony" I kept thinking back to my days reading this blog and all of the things I have ever done that could be considered a felony by a prosecutor who really wanted me in jail and had a mini panic attack.

    Had I lacked a conscience or the knowledge of just how screwed up our legal systems are I would have passed with flying colors and been working in Ft Meade right now but then I'd know even more and I could easily see myself having to make the same choice that Snowden has.

    So in a way, you guys here at Reason saved me from that fate, so thanks guys.

  • John||

    Honest people often fail lifestyle polygraphs like that. The reason is that since they are honest they over think every question. So they ask you "have you ever committed a security violation" and you think "well there was that time I forgot and took my cell phone into that SCIFF, should I tell them? Do they mean things like that?" And in the process of going through that deliberation your heart rate and breathing changes enough for it to come up as "deceptive". Meanwhile, true sociopaths or good liars or well trained moles fly right through such things because they don't stop to think and just give a confident answer without deliberating.

    Polygraphs are cargo cult science if there ever was one. The worst most damaging spies in US history, Ames, Hansen, the Walkers, all passed numerous polygraphs while they were selling the country out. The use and reliance on Polygraphs is one of the most obvious signs of how broke our intelligence community really is.

  • Rasilio||

    Couldn't agree more about the Polygraph, it is not a lie detector, it is at best a conscience and stress detector problem is it is impossible for them to determine the difference between someone who is clean vs someone with no conscience or someone who is simply nervious and someone with something to hide, junk science of the highest order.

    Thing is in this case I am glad I failed the polygraph because even though my wife almost left me because I could not move her to Maryland like she wanted I really don't think I could have kept quiet about obvious Constitutional violations like this and I really don't want to spend the rest of my life in Leavenworth or worse

  • John||

    Answered prayers cause more tears than those that remain unanswered

    Saint Theresa of Avila.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    I have no idea if I could pass one of those. At certain times I could go almost sociopathic on their ass. But I think most of the time I'd bury them in honesty, e.g. "have you ever committed a felony?". Me : "sure. Probably like 3 a day, as far as I understand how the law works. If you make the wrong enemies they can lock you up for whatever they want."

  • Rasilio||

    Problem is you are only allowed to answer yes or no, no ability to equivocate or explain until after the machine is turned off and the funny thing is they really don't care if the answer is yes, they will happily take felons whether convicted or not, problem is for some reason they seem to think saying before the test starts "ok for the purposes of this test anything we have already discussed does not count" would magically make someone feel more at ease when answering the question that they know covers something they are nervous or feel guilty about.

  • Lord Humungus||

    it's not a lie if you believe it /Costanza

  • John||

    Yup. And people like Costanza sail right through polygraphs.

  • Loki||

    Back when I had a TS/SCI clearance I had to take the CI (Counter Intelligence) polygraph. I passed pretty easily.

    So they ask you "have you ever committed a security violation" and you think "well there was that time I forgot and took my cell phone into that SCIFF, should I tell them? Do they mean things like that?"

    Of course, in my experience, they specifically tell you before hand that they aren't looking for minor little shit like that that pretty much everyone does once in a while, so I didn't find myself getting that nervous. They're looking more for things like "that one time on vacation and that Chinese 'tourist' got awefully chummy at the bar when I mentioned I was an aerospace engineer" kind of stuff.

  • Rasilio||

    yes and when your wife says she doesn't care about your flirting on facebook but starts asking open ended questions about where you were last night it is not going to put your mind at ease if your High School flame send you nude pics, even if you came clean about it you still may feel very nervous about the questioning and worrying that you might accidentially say the wrong thing

  • Killazontherun||

    Hey, you're welcome, buddy.

  • ChrisN||

    To me, it's the anarchist, civil libertarian, libertarian, freedom vs. coercion people supporting Snowden the most, because their definition of liberty is most represented. Not only the State, but the secret, oppressive security State is trampling upon people and leading us to tyranny.

    The Left got their guy in power, and they can't bring us to paradise without Obama, no matter how much the real Lefties grumble about his compromising. They probably smell a libertarian wacko, or rogue individualist who doesn't care about social justice.

    The Right, and the national defense Right, the security types, also, don't have much time for him, because he's off message from the authoritarian hierarchy necessary for the common defense. Probably a homo or a hippie.

    Beyond that, journalists are dependent upon building up their names, and getting in with the right crowd and having the right contacts. They're invested in the status quo and Snowden is too weird and risky.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Contractors don't take the oath of office. Neat little way to get around that whole Constitution thing, innit?

    Obama took an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution" and seems pretty much unconstrained.

  • JW||

    LICK
    THOSE
    BOOTS

  • JW||

    The question, of course, is whether the government can function when all of its employees (and contractors) can take it upon themselves to sabotage the programs they don't like. That's what Snowden has done.

    I learned it from YOU, Mr. President!

  • Number 2||

    You mean like Daniel Ellsberg taking it upon himself to "sabotage" a Southeast Asian war he did not approve of?

    Oh yeah, that was different....

  • Killazontherun||

    Oh, for the days that the intelligence services only recruited from the most elite schools. Philby may have betrayed his country, but he never betrayed his class.

  • ||

    Did anyone link to this yet?

    What the leaker's $200,000 salary tells us about the absurd cost of privatizing government.

    How much less would we be spending on the federal workforce if more of these jobs were brought in-house? It's hard to say. But in a chart breaking down where fat could be cut from personnel costs (below, via PoGO) the Pentagon was blunt about contractors: "The savings are here."

    The real lesson here: more government workers!

    Having worked actually worked as a government contractor, I've seen first-hand the productivity gap between 'inhouse' and contractors, it's huge.

  • John||

    Yeah because most GS salaries in places like Hawaii don't approach six figures or anything, government workers are not very difficult to fire once hired, and GS salaries include things like benefits and retirement.

    My God these people are fucking stupid. I don't think this guy is being a hack. He is just really that uninformed and stupid. I have so little use for journalists. They are just morons.

  • ||

    Of course there's tons of graft, waste and cronyism with gov contractors. But they usually do actually have to produce something, and can lose their jobs/contracts if they don't. Gov workers, not so much.

  • John||

    Neither way is exactly perfect. The problem is that the government is too big and inefficient. It really doesn't matter much whether the employees are GS or contractors. But understanding that requires understanding how the government actually works, and since most journalists are ignorant and borderline functionally retarded, that is a bit too much to ask of them.

  • ||

    Few or none of them have been in the deepest trenches of gov waste. I have, and it was called BIA.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I've always been told that BIA set the gold standard for waste and corruption.

  • ||

    I think that's a safe bet.

  • shamalam||

    How do you get into BIA without your indian card, though?

  • ||

    I did contract work teaching at SIPI and setting up their first internet network. Indians have preference but you don't have to be Indian to work there. Or you can just pull a fauxcahantos, which is common.

  • ||

    My whole team is contractors, with a few government people there to "oversee". That is literally all they do. And get paid way more than I do to do it.

  • ||

    Look, the important thing is that Snowden proves that we need more government workers, okay? Stop trying to deflect.

  • Brendan||

    Oh, and since he was only a "contractor", he couldn't possibly have known much since contractors aren't told everything. Nevermind that the DoD and many other government departments use contractors as basically permanent staff in many instances.

    Quite a few Obamabots are claiming that the whole story is nonsense and hinging on the term 'direct access'. The initial reports talked about the NSA having direct access to company servers. The slides The Guardian put up talk about data coming directly from the company servers. These are two different things, but I understand (not endorse) so-called journalists getting it wrong or using the two terms interchangeably.

    It's entirely possible for a company to splice/tap into the fiber (or mirror/span their copper ports) and connect those to NSA provided equipment. AT&T did it in 2006.

    It's well within the capability of these companies to provide a real time updated replica of their database. They do it now with CDNs and other forms of regional load balancing. They may also do it in house for high availability systems. Just give the NSA a tape with the database as it exists today and then feed them deltas, do log shipping, whatever, so that their copy is up-to-date in realtime.

    A company can do either or both of the above and be telling the truth when they say that the NSA does not have direct access to their servers. The NSA, after all, does not have the ability to login, query, probably not even ping the company's servers.

  • John||

    They don't need "direct access". And anyone who thinks that this guy didn't have access to this information just because he was a "contractor" is lying or an idiot.

  • Brendan||

    Yep.

    When I hear "contractor" in the private sector, I think of a person augmenting staff, being used on a trial basis to replace a departed employee, or brought in to implement a specific project.

    When I hear "contractor" in relation to government, especially the federal government, and double especially the Department of Defense, I think all of the above but more likely a permanent position that would be filled by a full time employee in the private sector.

    Companies like BAE, Raytheon, Halliburton, etc. may as well have entire divisions that are really considered to just be divisions of the DoD or DoE.

    When a person has a dedicated office with a name plate, parking space, etc. and has been there for 10-20 years, the fact that they are a "contractor" as opposed to a full time employee, is a distinction without a difference. They most likely have the same access and authority that a full time employee would have in a private sector job.

  • Raven Nation||

    And it seems that a lot of contractors were people who retired from the government then hired back as contractors to do exactly the same job in the same place.

  • Loki||

    anyone who thinks that this guy didn't have access to this information just because he was a "contractor" is lying or an idiot.

    My money's on both.

  • Brendan||

    A better question, and one they won't or can't answer is if they provide data on more than 20 users at a time to any entity either regularly, in realtime, constantly, or periodically. Have they provided a bulk copy of their data to any agency of the government or any other entity under court order? Does any entity aside from CDN partners get regular database updates or any replication information? Are there any CDN partners that are government agencies?

  • ||

    Anybody writing a column painting Snowden as a dropout loser, needs to be unemployed. He was doing IT security for the CIA for krycesake.

  • John||

    Yeah, he clearly did something right. Beyond that, how his being a drop out loser has any bearing on whether the NSA should be spying on everyone is beyond me.

  • ||

    Right, but as someone on TV once said:
    It's a little wrong to say a tomato is a vegetable. It's very wrong to say it's a suspension bridge.

  • Dibbler||

    I'm embarrassed that I know what this is from.

  • Brendan||

    Someone I know made the claim that he was an InfoSec snort monkey.

    Apparently the CIA gives diplomatic cover to anyone who knows how to do basic network sniffing and can create accounts on an AD domain.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Can someone explain something to me? Are there any standards about what, exactly can be deemed classified or a secret? It strikes me that Snowden at least claims to have redacted any information that would be damaging to the U.S. or to individual assets. So, why is the remainder classifiable?

  • Rasilio||

    Anything the government says is classified is classified, there are cases where they have prosecuted people for "disclosing" publicly available information that was deemed "classified" just out of a matter of habit.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    So, there's no check whatsoever on their ability to withhold information. That's not subject to abuse, is it?

  • misthiocracy||

    I agree wholeheartedly with Ari Fleischer.

    Imagine if Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin had fled to Paris and sought the protection of Louis XVI after mailing the Declaration of Independence to George III, rather than staying in America and accepting the consequences of their actions.

  • dantheserene||

    Someone made a comparison that stupid out loud? What do the ruling elite of the colonies have in common with an NSA contractor? The correct answer is, “nothing of importance”, for anyone who might be confused.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Right, because wealthy, connected, elite revolutionaries with lots of pissed off subjects already following him is exactly the same as some random cog in the government machine. Makes perfect sense.

    While the consequences for either were/are dire. The King had to send armies and fight a bloody war to try to arrest Washington. The feds would have sent 10 guys in body armor. See, exactly the same thing.

    fucking retard.

  • 16th amendment||

    This is not a good article. They are also many voices supporting the guy. Should have quoted people from RT News, MSNBC as well. Give us in idea of how many pundits are for Snowden as treason, how many for minor criminal, how many for hero. I'm for minor criminal because there must be a penalty, but the penalty should to appear on all of the major networks.

    In a parallel universe where Snowden did not disclose secrets, we would march faster towards the police state. Maybe 30 years from now we'll be thanking the guy.

  • An0nB0t||

    Read the article's title again and understand why you're mistaken.

  • An0nB0t||

    So a group of paid shills who could not care less about an historically unprecedented concentration of the power in the hands of a tiny group of political elite have begun to attack a man who exposed the gov's blatant disregard for the rule of law and fundamental human rights. In 2013, that's just to be expected in Vichy America.

    On a more optimistic note, it does seem to me that an awful lot of people in the media and federal government are unwittingly volunteering to be lined up against the wall like the good little fascists they are.

  • Robert||

    Judging from him on the WNYM program he co-hosts with Curtis Sliwa, I suspect Toobin selects his positions for their entertainment value, and being a lawyer he can argue for whatever it turns out to be. I do find him entertaining. He probably decided to be anti-Snowden just because he thought that'd be the less popular position, which is a good sign.

  • Alan||

    As a second-rate hack once said, "we need to get very, very serious about treason."

    For your perusal, a few traitors that we might get serious about:

    David Brooks
    Roger Simon
    Ari Fleischer
    Richard Cohen
    the grandiose narcissist Jeffrey Toobin
    Marc Thiessen
    Ralph Peters

  • bobthebuilder||

    " Think you're a loser just because you dropped out of high school and never finished
    Think you're a dud just because you work as a security guard even though you dreamed of becoming a global savior?the military training you began?
    Well, don't beat yourself up. You, too, can become an international super spy like Edward Snowden...." .... aaand somehow still be hired by the US government as a 3rd party contractor and given a 120k+ base (200k+ probably in claimed overtime) salary and given unbelievable informational access to confidential us government operations and surveilance systems.
    Nice one united states government and media.

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