Edward Snowden in 2009: Leakers "Should be Shot in the Balls"


Joe Mullins of Ars Technica has posted some Internet chats from 2007-2009 that feature NSA leaker Edward Snowden. At the time, Snowden was about in his mid-twenties and living in Switzerland working for the CIA. As Mullins explains, Snowden would chat with just about anyone and wax philosophical and crack wise about all sorts of topics. These ranged from the status of prositution in Switzerland to the gold standard (Snowden in favor of it) to Ron Paul (Snowden said he voted for Dr. No) to New York Times stories about the Stuxnet computer virus that screwed up Iran's nuclear program.

Snowden was more than a little vexed by the Times' reporting on classified material.

In fact, posting as "TheTrueHOOHA" on various Ars chats, Snowden went ballistic over a 2009 Times story that discussed covert operations:

Are they TRYING to start a war? Jesus christ they're like wikileaks…

They're reporting classified shit about an unpopular country surrounded by enemies already engaged in a war and about our interactions with said country regarding planning sovereignity violations of another country…

you don't put that shit in the NEWSPAPER…

moreover, who the fuck are the anonymous sources telling them this?

And then there's this punchline:

Read the whole story here.

None of this changes what needs to always be the front-and-center—and even exclusive—focus with regard to Snowden: the actual NSA programs that he revealed. In the end, the whistleblower is far less important than what he or she reveals and it's a serious mistake to start thinking more about the person who revealed the scandalous behavior rather than the behavior itself. Yet this is interesting stuff, especially in light of recent revelations that Snowden pursued a job with the NSA expressly to reveal some of its operations. What made him flip from wanting to shoot leakers "in the balls" and trashing Wikileaks to his current state of mind?

I discussed related issues last night on HuffPostLive with Sibel Edmonds, Becket Adams, Tangerine Bolen, and moderator Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. Check it out here.

And read my latest Daily Beast column, "Cold War Remixed: Edward Snowden Moves into Graham Greene Territory."