We Need More Edward Snowdens

Edward SnowdenThe GuardianForget the screams of pundits and the snarling of officials. We need many more Edward Snowdens. And Bradley Mannings. And Daniel Ellsbergs. In fact, we need more people overall who question the state and hold it to account. I'm not arguing that any of these people, or their predecessors and successors, are without flaws. I'm saying that skepticism toward government power and a willingness to take risks to expose its abuses, even in defiance of the law, is an absolute necessity at a time when the state is metastasizing under the cheerful direction of elected officials and with the encouragement of much of the pro-establishment chattering class.

As Matt Welch and Jesse Walker pointed out earlier, Edward Snowden is being demonized by those who would shield the state from scrutiny and deprive the public of the knowledge of official conduct necessary to publicly challenge and debate its legality, morality and wisdom.

Snowden is "narcissistic" insists Richard Cohen, of the Washington Post, echoing the popular demonization through dime-store psychoanalysis of many of his colleagues. He should never have unveiled the NSA's surveillance schemes because "no one lied about the various programs disclosed last week. They were secret, yes, but members of Congress were informed — and they approved." So it's OK government for government to spy on us because officials gave themselves permission to do so.

Thanks, Richard, for your unthinking authority-worship.

David Brooks continues Cohen's "I may not be a shrink but I play one in a big newspaper" routine, and tears into Snowden for embracing "distinct strands of libertarianism" including "deep suspicion of authority, the strong belief that hierarchies and organizations are suspect, the fervent devotion to transparency, the assumption that individual preference should be supreme." He assures us that "[f]or society to function well, there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation, a respect for institutions and deference to common procedures."

Not enough deference. Got it, David.

This kind of bootlicking at two of the nation's leading newspapers can only act as cheerleading for the senators howling that Snowden committed "treason" by outing the government's creepy and despicable pawing through private communications. There's no doubt that government officials and their cheerleaders are very comfortable with the idea of enormous power restrained only by the whims of the people putting it to use, and subject to no wider challenge.

And that's why we need Edward Snowden, and Bradley Manning and Daniel Ellsberg. Because they are willing to break rules and take risks to let the rest of us know what government officials are up to. And even if many of our neighbors are easily lulled back into complacency by hollow assurances that the experts in charge have their best interests in mind, some of us still care about our privacy and insist on keeping government officials on a short leash. Even if a majority of Americans are willing to surrender their autonomy and privacy to the likes of James Clapper, Rep. Mike Rogers and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, those of who still cherish our freedom insist on keeping a close watch on those creatures, and jerking their chains from time to time.

So keep the leaks, and the leakers, coming. A single Edward Snowden is worth all of the Cohens, Brookses, Clappers, Rogerses and Feinsteins put together.

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  • Sevo||

    "A single Edward Snowden is worth all of the Cohens, Brooks, Clappers, Rogers and Feinsteins put together."

    Add Boehner: "The President outlined last week that these were important national security programs to help keep Americans safe, and give us tools to fight the terrorist threat that we face,"

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/technolo.....z2VvQ13uJ8
    God said it, I believe it, and that's that!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I think Boehner should shed a tear for all of the datafiles that just died because of Snowden.

  • Almanian!||

    We Need More Edward Snowdens People Being Hounded By Government Goons To The Ends of the Earth

    Why do you hate the whistleblowers, JD? But I keeed. Great stuff as always.

    FUCK GOVERNMENT!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I think it is informative to keep in mind that the government is doing all of this when the USA no longer faces an existential threat. Imagine what this federal government would have done during the Cold War when the entire world was too close to nuclear annihilation. The terrorists do not have the capability nor the capacity to destroy us in the same sense that the USSR did.

    So what are they really afraid of? They're afraid of the citizenry losing its faith in them. When the faith and trust is gone, their power either recedes or they are forced to resort to cruder methods to maintain it.

  • crashland||


    They're afraid of the citizenry losing its faith in them.

    Their fear tastes yummy. They should be afraid. Thanks to Snowden people seem to be awaking from their media induced comas.

  • Rasilio||

    "I think it is informative to keep in mind that the government is doing all of this when the USA no longer faces an existential threat."

    *looks over at the front page of the news*

    Are you so sure about that?

  • ||

    I told you some people were worth more than others!

  • Almanian!||

    *snort snort...snuffle*

  • Brett L||

    No, no tovarich, just more equal than others.

  • John||

    Bradly Manning is no Snowden. Bradly Manning leaked a video that people selectively edited to lie about the US and a bunch of diplomatic cables. Manning didn't release anything that did any good in the long run. Snowden in contrast has made public a program that the public has a right to know about and debate its existence. Snowden did some good. Even if you support this program, I don't see how you can say its existence shouldn't be subject to public debate.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    This exactly. Edward Snowden is a hero who revealed information about a program that the American public deserves to know about -- this information was released with discretion and puts no one's life at risk.

    Bradley Manning is an asshole who emotionally and indiscriminately info-dumped random nonsense and/or gossip mixed in with information that put the lives of our informants and ground-level friendlies in Afghanistan and Iraq at risk. He's getting exactly what's coming to him.

  • PapayaSF||

    Yes. I came here to say that. What Manning did was indiscriminate. Snowden seems to have been much more careful (though it is interesting that neither the Guardian nor the WaPo chose to reveal all the info they got from him).

  • Zeb||

    You are probably right about what Manning did. But I think he has already gotten more than enough punishment for what he did. I have a lot of sympathy for anyone who fucks with the government, even in unproductive ways. If the government wants to be trusted to keep some secrets, then they should stop fucking spying on citizens and keeping secrets that shouldn't be secret.

  • Raston Bot||

    Manning didn't release anything that did any good in the long run.

    You will probably be able to say the same thing about Snowden in a few weeks.

  • JSebastian||

    Poppycock. None of what Manning released compromised anyone's safety. The helicopter video was not "selectively edited" to lie - the video speaks for itself. What lie is there? The US illegally and without good cause invaded another country and made war upon its people. That isn't a lie, its the most generous and polite description of what actually happened.

  • Bee Tagger||

    the senators howling that Snowden committed "treason"

    C'mon, who wouldn't trust people who so cavalierly throw around accusations that carry the death penalty with secret life and death decision-making?

  • Drake||

    I would suggest those Senators refer to the Constitution for a definition of "Treason."

  • Hugh Akston||

    "deference to common procedures."

    PROCEDURES MUST BE FOLLOWED

  • BakedPenguin||

    Hey kids! Do you want to be Stasi when you grow up?

  • entropy||

    We need many more Edward Snowdens.

    Start a kickstarter or something and pay the man.

    If he rakes in a million in donations, it could encourage others worried they will wind up under a bus.

  • CE||

    "Basic levels of trust" have to be earned.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Snowden is "narcissistic"

    As all right-thinking credentialists know, the appropriate course of action for a narcissist is to seek public office.

    Freelance narcissism is cheating. It puts legitimate narcissists at a disadvantage.

  • Almanian!||

    WE MUST CLOSE THE NARCISSISM GAP!

  • Rick O'Shay||

    I don't think you're going to see too many Snowdens, especially after this. There's lots of people that know about these programs, but 99% of americans are fine living in their fantasy freedom land and wouldn't care one bit for the truth. The little difference this makes to most people is not worth sitting in jail for the rest of your life.

  • ||

    This kind of bootlicking at two of the nation's leading newspapers can only act as cheerleading for the senators howling that Snowden committed "treason" by outing the government's creepy and despicable pawing through private communications.

    Well said, Tucille. I like you. That's why I'm going to kill you last.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    you're lying

  • Marc F Cheney||

    I wouldn't worry too much about it, J.D. Warty will be all tuckered out by the time he gets halfway through that list. While he's taking a nap, you can just stab him in the eye with a sharpened log.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "[f]or society to function well, there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation, a respect for institutions citizens and deference to common Constitutional procedures."

    Fixed it for you, fuckface.

  • sarcasmic||

    "The Constitution isn't a suicide pact."

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    but it comes in your choice of flavors

  • BiMonSciFiCon||

    The Constitution contains potassium benzoate.

  • Rasilio||

    No but the Declaration of Independence was, had the Colonists lost it would have looked a lot like a Game of Thrones episode for them and I'm pretty sure more than a handful of them would have considered the current state of affairs more than enough to start a new rebellion.

  • ||

    deep suspicion of authority, the strong belief that hierarchies and organizations are suspect, the fervent devotion to transparency, the assumption that individual preference should be supreme

    Every single thing listed here is a good thing. Fuck you, authority fetishists.

  • Almanian!||

    Oh - I think we know who's in the grasp of Big Koch now

  • ||

    How retarded do you think you have to be to fail to realize that your preference for group/TEAM preferences is itself an individual preference?

  • ||

    FULL RETARD?

  • Almanian!||

    Dude - you don't ever wanna go full retard

  • BakedPenguin||

    Every single thing listed here is a good thing.

    Yeah, I really have to wonder about the mentality of someone who could write that and mean it.

  • ||

    Wonder? I think we all know what they are.

  • Dibbler||

    It's a scary time to live in when these qualities are seen as negative. If you're not with us, you're against us mentality taken to its extreme.

    I wonder how long we have until MoT and MoL are added to the alphabet soup.

  • yonemoto||

    Epi only you would like your suspicion deep. Me, I prefer light petting.

  • Irish||

    OT: Lost amid all of this is the fact that there are currently four ongoing scandals at the EPA.

    Four scandals at one agency. This administration is wonderful.

  • Brett L||

    Signing your own travel vouchers at the Dept. of the Interior. At this point, I think that the US people need to figure out a way to vote "no confidence". My suggestion is crank your W-2 withholding to 11 (literally), tell all your elected officials you're now against all legislation unless it removes power from executive agencies, make your own 'shine, do anything and everything to show your disdain for the gummint, and hope that you can convince 1/12th of a jury that you were right.

  • Almanian!||

    ROMNEY WOULDA DONE IT TOO!111!

  • VG Zaytsev||

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSHHHHHHHHH!!!1111?!!

  • ||

    A single Edward Snowden is worth all of the Cohens, Brookses, Clappers, Rogerses and Feinsteins put together.

    Wrong, because

    0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 < 1

  • ||

    You're assuming that the net value of all those people is zero. Bullshit. It's much less.

  • John||

    I believe the term is "subtraction by addition".

  • BakedPenguin||

    too bad we can't smack our hands together and turn Clapper off.

  • Raston Bot||

    I was thinking something along the lines of thermal runaway like in a lithium-ion battery.

  • some guy||

    Their combined biomass would have significant value in a compost pile. Think outside the box!

  • some guy||

    Note, I'm not advocating any form of violence. I'm just saying they could volunteer.

  • Sevo||

    I'll volunteer them!

  • Killazontherun||

    Edward Snowdens. And Bradley Mannings. And Daniel Ellsbergs.

    I read that Ellsberg once refused to take calls for several hours so he could finish reading a book. LONER!

    He also refused an invite to a Manhattan cocktail party and spent time in his den watching TV instead. LOSER!

  • John||

    Meanwhile, Al the Clown scratches the paint from his face to real the old sad ghost of fascism lies underneath.

    http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/.....e-records/

  • Almanian!||

    Well, it's DIFFERENT when WE do it. Duh!

  • BakedPenguin||

    US Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., says he’s not surprised by revelations that federal security agencies collect phone and computer data on American citizens.

    The National Security Agency secretly gathered personal data on Americans since 2007, including their internet use and cell phone service. It’s something Franken says he “was very well aware of.”

    “I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people,” Franken said.

    What is this? I don't even...

    Senator Smalley is well aware that they have been taking computer and phone information from American citizens, but it's NOT spying on those same American citizens? What. The. Fuck. This is both incredibly mendacious and moronic all at once, even for Franken. "I know they've been spying on the American people, but they haven't been spying on the American people."

    Fuck you, Al.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I can assure you

    Whenever a politician says this, you know that it's time to be suspicious.

  • JSebastian||

    What do you expect from a self-proclaimed political creature who had to resort to infantile name calling to sell his book? I always suspected he was a idiot fag, then he had to express his personal opinions in public and removed all doubt.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    He was fired for ethics violations? That's rich.

  • John||

    http://www.reuters.com/article.....H320130611

    Meanwhile Republicans are busy planning their own political suicide. Nothing guarantees future success like letting in millions of voters who will be trained to hate you while at the same time telling your most dedicated supporters to go fuck themselves.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    They really are the stupid party.

  • Zeb||

    If the republicans are going to do well in the long term they are going to need to figure out how to appeal to those new voters. New Immigration bill or no, there are going to be lots more citizens with south of the border origins in the future. Even if there is no path to citizenship for those who came illegally, lots of their kids will be citizens. Being tough on immigration is a guaranteed loser. The only way to fight illegal immigration is to let those people come legally.

  • JSebastian||

    Thats bullshit defeatism. If you're not going to prevent illegal immigration then its akin to saying "I've got no fucking business talking about anything in the realm of a civil society that touches the concept of rule of law or property rights, or any other essential political philosophy. I'm a useless cunt who argues all issues from emotion and pragmatic solutions to the problem of how to make people like me."

  • some guy||

    The very fact that we are having a heated discussion of this policy is proof that this policy needs to be discussed and therefore should not be hidden. Anyone who believes otherwise must have a problem with democracy and freedom.

  • ||

    OT (duh) (as if anyone cares):

    For the gun people, what kind of gun is this?

  • Floridian||

    It is a small pick but it looks like a ruger buckmark.

  • crashland||

    Yeah it does look like a Browning Buckmark, Ruger makes the other great .22, the MK III. Although I like my Buckmark better than my MK III.

  • Floridian||

    Yeah, I corrected myself below. I apologize for the slip of the mind.

  • entropy||

    A very tiny pixelated one.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    TWSS

  • ||

    Meh, my friends use terrible cell phone cameras.

    This is slightly higher-quality.

  • ||

    Also, for size reference, the first pic is in tiny-girl-hands and the second one is in less-tiny-but-still-small-Asian-guy-hands.

  • ||

    It's a Browning Buckmark, .22lr.

  • Floridian||

    I meant browning. Ruger makes the mark 3

  • ||

    Oh yeah, I forgot the ammo.

    But that looks about right.

  • ||

    Something Lugerish.

  • JSebastian||

    Why don't you ask the fag who is holding it?

  • John||

    The government would never abuse their power

    The Texas-based pro-life group offers counseling to mothers who are considering abortion. The group also seeks to educate scared soon-to-be mothers on the possible long-term physical and psychological ramifications of abortion.

    Wan lectured Joseph on the group’s mission and told the pro-life leader that she needs to “know [her] boundaries.”

    “You cannot force your religion or force your beliefs on somebody else,” Wan told Joseph in a nearly 10-minute phone conversation.

    “I just have a question, Sherry,” Joseph interjected. “Is handing a brochure to somebody forcing somebody to do something they don’t want to do?”

    Wan explained her position.

    “You convince them. But when you take a lot of action, [unintelligible] other people. For example, when you, you know, go to, you know, the abortion clinic, and you found them [unintelligible], we don’t want, you know, to come against them,” the agent said.

    “You can’t take all kinds of confrontation activities and also put something on a website and ask people to take action against the abortion clinic. That’s not, that’s not really educational.”


    http://www.theblaze.com/storie.....aign=Share Buttons

  • John||

    Wan added:

    You have the right to believe. You have the right to do, your religion told you what’s right. You have a right to, you know, outreach to other people.

    But meanwhile, you have to know your boundaries. You have to know your limits. You have to respect other people’s beliefs. You have somebody else come to your door and know you don’t like them. When they come to you, how do you feel?

  • Killazontherun||

    'But meanwhile, you have to know your boundaries. You have to know your limits. You have to respect other people’s beliefs', says the tyrant lacking boundaries, much in the way of limitations on her power, and clearly not respecting other people's beliefs.

    How does a mind work at that level of disconnect and lack of self awareness? It's boggling how it is even possible.

  • sarcasmic||

    Opposition to abortion is intolerant, and tolerant people do not have to tolerate intolerance. So Wan was just being tolerant.

  • Killazontherun||

    Oh, I think I understand. Tolerance is now a Team, not a ethical disposition. If you oppose Team Tolerance then you are yourself on Team Intolerance. Hard to keep up with the world today; the way things move so fast, its so crazy.

  • sarcasmic||

    Team is an ethical disposition. You're supposed to hum along with the hive. Inclusive people must ostracize those who base their beliefs on principles and ideology instead of groupthink.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    But meanwhile, you have to know your boundaries. You have to know your limits.

    Says the petty tyrant.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    By Wan's logic, the immigrants slapping and handing out flyers on the Vegas strip are crossing boundaries.

  • Zeb||

    What the fuck does that have to do with the IRS? If they are really forcing their beliefs on people, that would be a criminal matter. But there doesn't seem to be any question that it is an educational/religious group and not electoral advocacy (at least in what they were talking about).

    Just treat all non-profits the same and kill off these petty tyrants.

  • ||

    I liked Karl Denninger's writeup of this.

    This is an impeachable offense and, in my opinion, an indictable felony for each and every member of the government involved in it, including those members of Congress who have known about this program and not only refused to stop it but deliberately appropriated funds for its creation, expansion and continued funding.

    Fuckin' A. If Americans still had any moral courage, there would be mobs storming Capitol hill and lynching Congress-scum. The fact that only cranks care about this is proof that we deserved to lose our liberty.

  • entropy||

    Who's "we" paleface?

  • ||

    Oh, shit, "we" was a typo. I'm sorry. I meant "your mom".

  • crashland||

    Hell yes. Every single person in government who knew about this needs to be put on trial for treason. They are the traitors, not Snowden.

  • JSebastian||

    WTF happened to my post, Reason bitches? You censoring now?

    I posted a little screed about how you only need a trial if you care about the rule of law, but since the government has abandoned it, why should the people be held to the rule of law?

    If you want to kill a government agent for their aggression or crimes, then just do it. If you really feel like you need some "authority" just ask a couple of other people if they approve of your actions, or if they think its okay. If they say yes, well then you have just followed the government process to the letter - you and your associates have just granted yourselves the authority to do as you please. So its all legit, or at least as legit as the actions the government takes under their own policies based on self-referential authority-granting.

    In fact, I will get you started - I approve of your actions. So there ya go. Get a couple other guys to agree and you have more oversight than the CIA and NSA have.

  • sarcasmic||

    'How I caught my father's killer': Actress tracks down murderer 26 years later after finding him on the internet

    Joselyn Martinez, 36, managed to track down Justo Santos, 43
    Santos was suspected of shooting dead her father in 1986
    Found Santos after paying search websites $70 to find her father

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....bsite.html

    This comment says it all:

    To Ms. Martinez and her mother: You should be proud of yourselves. To NYPD cold case detectives: You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  • WTF||

    Hey, there are an awful lot of brown people in NYC that need to be stopped and frisked.The NYPD doesn't have unlimited manpower, you know.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "My name is Inigo Montoya..."

  • Hash Brown||

    YOU NEED ME ON THAT WALL!

    YES, YOU REALLY DO!

    YOU'LL BE SORRY IF YOU EVER TAKE ME OFF THAT WALL!

    YES YOU WILL! YOU'LL SEE! I'M WARNING YOU!

  • Sevo||

    "Booz Allen Has Fired Edward Snowden"
    I'll bet they docked him his vacation pay, too!
    http://www.sfgate.com/technolo.....593516.php

  • Tim||

    We learned from Robocop that the drones are programmed and can't harm an OCP employee. Now he's fair game.

  • ||

    Well he has missed consecutive days of work, and I would imagine they were unplanned.

    The ol' No Call, No Show. He's doing what we're all thinking! (except for the whole hiding in fear of his life part)

  • Sevo||

    Pretty sure there's an issue with revealing trade secrets, too.

  • Tim||

    The worst thing about this scandal is how the media turns on the guy like Pravda would a Soviet Defector in 1983.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Terrible... but utterly unsurprising.

  • ||

    It's just the final proof that the last thing the media is is a watchdog. They are just another branch of the government.

  • ||

    Correct. The Military-Industrial-Congressional-Useful-Idiot complex.

  • ||

    One thing that I find hilarious is the assertion that it's no big deal, because the NSA is only collecting metadata.

    1) "Only"? That is a shitload of information. It is amazing what you can do with only metadata.
    2) You really believe that they're not storing calls, emails, facebook posts, etc, too? Really? How stupid are you?

  • Tim||

    Also no big deal because Obama is such an excellent man.

  • Killazontherun||

    We're just collecting the index, not the contents inside it. Why don't you trust us?

  • Brett L||

    The idea that metadata isn't "real data" is horseshit.

  • ||

    Hey man, I'm just going to collect data about who you called, who you emailed, and what you used your credit cards for over the past 5 years. No big deal, right? It's not like I'd be able to learn anything about you from that, right?

  • Tim||

    Warty you made several calls to this woman, then she called a woman's health center.
    No we didn't learn anything from that.

    And of course, government employees would never share this over tea at the White House.

  • Killazontherun||

  • weatherwax||

    That link goes to a 404 page. Try this one: Paul Revere article.

    Good article, btw, thx Killaz!

  • Killazontherun||

    I screwed it up by writing the tags in by hand. Do it to keep in practice, but doing so outside of an IDE is always risky practice. Thanks for the correction. I hope the editors take note of the article for topic discussion later. No hat tip necessary.

  • ChrisO||

    David Brooks and EJ Dionne must be having a contest to find out which of them can be more like Wesley Mouch. Dionne's a strong contender, but Brooks has been making a strong showing lately.

  • AdamJ||

    I'm pretty sure Mouch is currently residing in France as their economic minister in charge of nationalizing industry for the greater good.

  • ||

    Google asks Holder and the FBI, pretty please, can we tell the truth? I especially love the last paragraph. I appreciate that you only slapped me last time, not punched me, so please, will you slap me again, only a little bit less hard this time?

  • Ted S.||

    The next time the FBI requests data from Google, Google should send them reams of stuff that's 100% redacted.

  • Raston Bot||

    Google has nothing to hide.

    get Dr. Barfman STAT!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I would think that someone who risks his livelihood, his liberty and maybe his life for the sake of the public interest is, in fact, showing some public spirit.

    As for narcissism and atomistic individualism, if Brooks thinks those things are bad, he should be *against* the panopticon state and in *favor* of public knowledge about its abuses. What can lead to atomized individuals better than a centralized government which meddles with your life and monitors your associations - sounds like an incentive to minimize your associations and just be an isolated individual rather than risk getting in trouble.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Ya, I can't believe that out of all the people who've been in the public eye for the last say, 5 years, the political media bootlickers choose to call Snowden "narcissistic". Give me a fucking break. You cover narcissistic sociopaths for a living, and now you bust this out?

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Narcissistic sociopaths REALLY hate competition.

  • FYTW||

    "[f]or society to function well, there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation"

    Trust is earned, Brooksie. This government, and the insane clown posse that runs it, has long since forfeited any trust it might have accrued.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Honestly, I think what we need are more anti-heroic libertarian Snowdens. People who will make a list of a freedom's enemies, use their access to collect shitloads of damaging information about them, and then dump it to the public to ruin their lives. Some people have to touch the stove to understand it will hurt them.

  • Zeb||

    Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?

  • JSebastian||

    These government servants need a reminder who there master is. A good ass whipping, a few executions, and some significant humiliation and punishment for the lesser peons would serve nicely.

    As its best, government is a necessary evil. The servants have usurped authority and purport to be our masters. They must be beaten back into submission until they cower and whimper and beg to be in good graces again. Otherwise there will be no deterrents to their malfeasances and misdeeds.

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