Streetwise Professor

October 17, 2013

Snowden vs. Snowden

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 6:55 pm

The NYT’s James Risen allegedly interviewed Edward Snowden.

I say allegedly because (as @catfitz notes) Risen did not communicate with Snowden face-to-face, but communicated with someone via encrypted communications.  That someone could be anyone, as far as Risen knows.  Or it could be Snowden, playing the role of Charlie McCarthy with some FSB or GRU mouth breathers playing the part of Edgar Bergen.  Think of Sabu, communicating with all of his Anon pals, with FBI agents hovering.

These circumstances make the headline angle of the article-that Snowden made sure that neither Russian nor Chinese intelligence could access any of the files he stole-completely unverifiable, and actually dubious.  Would the FSB (or GRU) let Snowden say that yeah, the Russians have everything? Not bloody likely.  Would they require him to say the exact opposite?  Damn right.

So why couldn’t Risen travel to Russia and meet Snowden face-to-face?  Does Snowden-or the FSB-think that Risen is a US agent who will meet Ed with a concealed ice pick that he will plunge into his skull?  Then how about a face-to-face meeting, but with Risen and Snowden separated by bullet proof glass?  Come on.  There are so many ways to grant someone like Risen an interview with Snowden such that there is zero risk to Snowden’s safety.  The fact this hasn’t happened raises extreme doubts about whether Snowden is actually free to speak.

The fact that neither Risen, nor anyone else in the media, have pointed this out is beyond shameful.

But you know the way it is.  They are so invested in the Snowden narrative, that they will do nothing to call it into question.

If you read the article-and if you do, I suggest you keep a barf bag handy-you’ll see Snowden’s grandiosity on full display.  He claims he had identified security problems while on his Geneva assignment, and raised these with his superiors, who dismissed them.  According to Eddie, this is what planted doubts about the NSA in his hyper-developed mind, and started him on the path to Saving the World.

Yes.  Superiors sometimes engage in CYA, and slam those who point out their flaws.

If that’s the case, then quit.  Don’t use this as a pretext to steal highly classified documents and share them with the world.  Snowden arrogates to himself the duty of promoting national security, and does so in a way that could reasonably be interpreted as the actions taken out of pique by an individual who did not get his way.

Snowden’s superiors were accountable.  To whom is Snowden accountable?  Oh.  That’s right.  I forgot.  He fled the country to avoid being held accountable.

But this isn’t the worst part of the “interview.”  I call total bullshit on one of the last paragraphs:

Mr. Snowden said that the impact of his decision to disclose information about the N.S.A. had been bigger than he had anticipated. He added that he did not control what the journalists who had the documents wrote about. He said that he handed over the documents to them because he wanted his own bias “divorced from the decision-making of publication,” and that “technical solutions were in place to ensure the work of the journalists couldn’t be interfered with.”

First, “bigger than he had anticipated.”  Meaning that his judgment is not reliable in these matters.

Second-and this is the big thing-“he did not control what the journalists who had the documents wrote about.”  This is completely, totally, absolutely, utterly at odds with what Snowden has said before.  He claimed earlier that he vetted every document to make sure that nothing that truly compromised national security would be released:

Snowden said that he admires both Ellsberg and Manning, but argues that there is one important distinction between himself and the army private, whose trial coincidentally began the week Snowden’s leaks began to make news.

“I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,” he said. “There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”

Note the grandiosity.  He’s better than Manning and Ellsberg because he-and he alone-“carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest.”

Now, he says the exact-the exact-opposite.  Now he claims that his desire to ensure that what is published would not reflect his bias (like his f*cking bias matters a damn) led him to abdicate totally the decision on what to publish to Greenwald and Poitras.  Indeed, rather than vetting every document carefully before it is released, he now claims that he implemented “technical solutions . . . to ensure the work of the journalists couldn’t be interfered with.”  He tied himself to the mast.  He made it impossible for him to intervene.

So which is it Ed? Did you carefully control the release of every document to protect national security, or did you turn over the decisions completely-completely-to admitted, and ardent, anti-Americans?  Just so your bias-it’s always about you, isn’t it?-won’t interfere with momentous decisions about national security?  Apparently Greenwald and Poitras have no biases.  For crissakes, they are walking, talking, breathing biases.

It can’t be both.  In other words, Ed lied. Either to Risen now, or before, when he claimed that he was controlling the release of the documents.

And which is it, Risen? The quote about “every single document” is in the Guardian, from one of the few interviews with Snowden.  Obviously something you should have read while following the story-and re-read while preparing for your “interview.”  So why did you not call out Ed-or whoever the hell was on the other end of that encrypted communication-on that flagrant contradiction?  That’s beyond dereliction.

Will someone other than one of those lowly bloggers that Obama says should be ignored point out this fundamental, crucial, contradiction?  It strikes at the heart of Snowden’s credibility.

And, speaking cynically, this is precisely why I believe that the answer to my question will be a resounding “no”.

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1 Comment »

  1. Back in July, Greenwald was quoted saying that Snowden had “thousands” of NSA documents. And Greenwald added, in an interview with the Guardian “literally thousands of documents” that essentially are an “instruction manual for how the NSA is built.” Which makes me wonder “How the NSA is built, including lists of agents overseas, maybe?”

    But Snowden and his enablers have kept the emphasis on documents that provide evidence of NSA mobile phone and Internet surveillance. Now, what proportion of the NSA documents Snowden took are actually about NSA phone and Internet surveillance? Are we supposed to believe that the NSA spent its time composing thousands of powerpoint presentations about phone and Internet surveillance?

    If not, then a lot of what Snowden stole isn’t in “the public interest” at all, but simply espionage. The constant harping about phone and Internet surveillance is mainly to distract people, especially self-deluded and grandiose people who imagine their email is really interesting to anyone, from what Snowden really did.

    My guess, and I think we can only guess, is that Snowden took the thousands of documents Greenwald said he had as a form of currency that would ensure that he could buy refuge somewhere, and since he found refuge in Russia, I think that the chances are pretty high that he spent his “currency” buying refuge and FSB protection, and now the FSB has the documents.

    I can’t prove it, but I also can’t think of any other explanation that fits the facts as we know them.

    Comment by jon livesey — October 18, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

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