Edward Snowden Is No Traitor: Says He Made Sure Russians and Chinese Did Not Get Documents

snowdenwikimediaThe National Security Agency (NSA) and its national security surveillance state fellow travelers like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) have been propagating the meme that whistleblower Edward Snowden is a traitor. Not just because he made public their unconstitutional domestic spying operations, but also because, they hint, his downloaded data must have fallen into the hands of the Russian and Chinese spy agencies. Not so, says Snowden in a New York Times article today:

Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, said in an extensive interview this month that he did not take any secret N.S.A. documents with him to Russia when he fled there in June, assuring that Russian intelligence officials could not get access to them.

Mr. Snowden said he gave all of the classified documents he had obtained to journalists he met in Hong Kong, before flying to Moscow, and did not keep any copies for himself. He did not take the files to Russia “because it wouldn’t serve the public interest,” he said.

“What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of the materials onward?” he added.

He also asserted that he was able to protect the documents from China’s spies because he was familiar with that nation’s intelligence abilities, saying that as an N.S.A. contractor he had targeted Chinese operations and had taught a course on Chinese cybercounterintelligence.

“There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,” he said.

American intelligence officials have expressed grave concern that the files might have fallen into the hands of foreign intelligence services, but Mr. Snowden said he believed that the N.S.A. knew he had not cooperated with the Russians or the Chinese. He said he was publicly revealing that he no longer had any agency documents to explain why he was confident that Russia had not gained access to them. He had been reluctant to disclose that information previously, he said, for fear of exposing the journalists to greater scrutiny.

Snowden further explained to the Times why he decided to make reveal this domestic spying program:

“If the highest officials in government can break the law without fearing punishment or even any repercussions at all,” he said, “secret powers become tremendously dangerous.”

That's exactly right.

See also, my post about Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg's argument for why Snowden is right to stay to Russia.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He handed the secrets to an enemy faction far more dangerous than China or Russia.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Us, you mean, citizens, proles, peasants, individuals, and libertarians. Revolutionaries to the core!

  • Quixote||

    What Snowden did is even more dangerous than what Banksy is doing, and Banksy is apparently being hunted by the police in New York:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/a.....89129.html

    And, what Snowden did is almost as dangerous as Essam Attia's fake "NYPD drone" ads, for which Essam was hunted down by the police (there's some good coverage on independent blogs, nothing in the mainstream press).

    But above all, the deeds of Edward Snowden pale in comparison with the terrible crimes committed by an academic whistle blower who sent out "Gmail confessions" in the "name" of a well-known NYU department chairman. See the documentation at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    All of this subversive activity poses a great danger to public order and must be rapidly suppressed. Fortunately we have authorities in place who excel at interpreting the law in novel ways, so we can get these "whistle-blowers," "artists" and "satirists" and silence them before they do any more harm.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Anyone who invokes treason--either as an overheated rhetorical device or as a serious charge--has done nothing more than reveal themselves as an accomplice in state-sponsored authoritarian terrorist.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Sorry, that should be *terroristism*.

  • The Other Kevin||

    Funny, just saw a FB post regarding some petition to charge Republicans for sedition because of the government shutdown. Your assessment still applies.

  • SweatingGin||

    The thread last night on MoveOn's petition for that kind of shook me up. I didn't even comment or snark, just too shaken up by it.

    People are petitioning for the arrest of political opponents of the regime. I'm sure that will stick with just the politicians, yea.

  • Tonio||

    Look, it's just a petition on some website.

    But, yes, you do have to face the possibility that some day these people might come to power and send people like us to re-education camps. If you don't have the stomach for that, your best bet is to stop commenting here.

  • GILMORE||

    Shaken up? Why would you have reason to fear, tovarisch? Do you not know that Sister Naomi Klein has taken charge of the program? Perhaps you should come with me for questioning. It is for your own good. So, tell me, what Websites do you read? Hahahahaha. WE ALREADY KNOW.

  • ||

    It's been many a decade since the U.S. has produced a hero of this magnitude.

  • sarcasmic||

    aye

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Completely agree.

    And can all of those people who suggested that Snowden was "used" by Russia and coughed up all the secrets, can they all please shuffle off somewhere and expire?

    It should have been obvious to anyone remotely familiar with this case, that the laptops he took with him were in fact a diversion. Seriously, that would be like trying to hide your crib notes by writing them on your forearms!

    God people are fucking stupid.

  • Brett L||

    Surely a man so committed to fighting oppression, so pure, will be on the shortlist for the Nobel Peace Prize, right?

  • GILMORE||

    "
    Brett L|10.18.13 @ 12:23PM|#

    Surely a man so committed to fighting oppression, so pure, will be on the shortlist for...

    GITMO

  • Loki||

    If he had done this during the BOOOOSH administration, probably. Since he embarrassed the Chocolate Messiah, not a chance.

    In fact, now that they know he doesn't have any additional documents with him, you can expect a drone strike any day now followed by a second Nobel Peace Piece prize for the God-King.

  • GILMORE||

    Sigh. Yes. *1980-fucking-1*

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9Q3orQhEcA

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I like how people who are completely insulated from ever facing any consequences of anything they do have been baying about how Snowden should come home and "stand up for his beliefs".

    Does anybody seriously believe for an instant people like Peter King would willingly face the gallows for their beliefs?

  • Mick Kraut||

    Setting aside the debate regarding Hero! vs. Traitor! once he gave copies to others and those copies were no longer under his control there is simply no way he can say “There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,”

    If anything all he can say is that “There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents [FROM ME ANYWAY]...”

  • General Butt Naked||

    It's possible that the files not yet released are encrypted.

  • Mick Kraut||

    That could very well be.

  • Brett L||

    So he took prudent measures to prevent the governments of foreign powers from receiving documents by removing them from his possession. That seems to be the work of a principled man. You can disagree with what he did, but I don't think you can call his behavior treacherous or treasonous, unless you truly believe that acting against the wishes of the current government is acting against the people of the state.

  • Mick Kraut||

    I'm not challenging his behavior as treasonous or treacherous...only that I am not sure that he can make such a certain claim about who has the documents once they left his possession.

    Perhaps I am being too simplistic in my thinking as it pertains to encryption and data security...I dont know...

  • Sigivald||

    Yeah, that was what I was noting in his quotes.

    He gave all the files (which are Important For The Public To Know, evidently? See Scarecrow's comment above?) to journalists...

    So either they're A) readable by them, in whcih case I'd be shocked if the Russians and Chinese didn't already have them, by hook or crook or B) They're not readable by the journalists, in which case "we, the people" don't have the supposedly important information.

    Why is this guy a "hero", again?

    I'm not sure he's really a "traitor", either, but I'm not seeing any actual blowing of whistles - because what's been actually released hasn't been revealing a lot of wrongdoing, so far.

  • Sigivald||

    (And yes, I do mean that it's not actually clear yet that NSA metadata collection was actually illegal, rather than a bad idea.

    But "legal bad ideas" are not criminal, and I'm not going to just call it whistleblowing because I dislike the thing revealed.)

  • crazyfingers||

    There's this little thing called the 4th Amendment that a massive warrent-less spying operation is in violation of.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Peter King and Diane Feinstein would be the ones "anonymously" exposing the traitorous thoughtcrimes of their neighbors and co-workers, in an effort to ingratiate themselves with the Occupation Forces.

  • ||

    Yep. The Feinsteins, Kings and Boehners are Orwellian and Randian villains, only much more caricature-like than their fictional counterparts.

  • CatoTheElder||

    ^ THIS

    regarding Feinstein and King for sure. I don't Boehner is as much villainous as he is confused.

  • Loki||

    I don't Boehner is as much villainous as he is confused.

    You spend as much time in a tanning bed as he does and see how well your brain functions.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Surely a man so committed to fighting oppression, so pure, will be on the shortlist for the Nobel Peace Prize, right?

    He's got one, already, you fool.

    Wait- who were we talking about?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I really don't care that much about Snowden's motives or whether he's a pure hero or not. What's important about this story--pretty much the whole story--is that the NSA has been operating illegally. And still is. Without any visible consequence or change in their behavior to date. Perhaps a comeuppance is comeupping, but, either way, that's what really matters.

  • SweatingGin||

    That's the thing. I'm not sure there is any stopping it at this point. "Thinking about investigating the NSA, Senator? Let's just take a trip through your browsing and email history."

    Or hell. The ATF smuggles cigarettes to fund operations. The NSA buys zero-day exploits. Any bets on if they could also sell them? Of course they could.

    There was the loss of the RSA secureID seeds a few years ago. Could the NSA do something like that, sell the seeds off? of course.

  • General Butt Naked||

    He stuck his thumb in the eyes of this administration and the national security apparatus; exposing them for the petty tyrants they are. He did this knowing that his options were to either rot away rape cage for the rest of his life or never return to his home.

    I'd say he's a goddamn hero regardless of his motives.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    What's important about this story--pretty much the whole story--is that the NSA has been operating illegally.

    Did you sleep through Civics class in high school?

    IF THE PRESIDENT GOVERNMENT DOES IT, IT'S NOT ILLEGAL.

    Get with the program.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    People are petitioning for the arrest of political opponents of the regime. I'm sure that will stick with just the politicians, yea.

    "That man disagrees with me. Arrest him."

  • Loki||

    “If the highest officials in government can break the law without fearing punishment or even any repercussions at all,” he said, “secret powers become tremendously dangerous.”

    The fact that there are still some people out there who think this way almost makes me feel slightly less cynical. I say almost, because then I remember how many thousands of other people had to have known about these programs and chose to keep their mouths shut while their government raped what was left of the 4th ammendment.

  • JuiceHog||

    I'm of the opinion that the hero vs. villian conversation IS an important one. Yes, the NSA has been operating illegally. Shocker.
    But what remains terrifying [to me] is the scope of the utter contempt the government seems to have for the liberties of us peons, as well as the number of others who have remained silent while possessing the knowledge that Snowden leaked. Unless we win the 'hero vs. villian' debate, the 'NSA is operating illegally' news is moot.

  • thunderbolt||

    Snowden says turtles can fly. He said it. It must be true. I believe him.

  • GamerFromJump||

    Unlike the traitor unManning and the smug ITG Assmange, Snowden is a hero who has exposed the government's true perception of the American people as their enemy.

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