And Now, The Vilification Of Edward Snowden

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James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, lied to a Senate committee in March, in response to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Wyden had asked. To which Clapper replied: “No, sir.”

Called out on that denial in the wake of the phone-monitoring revelations, Clapper told NBC News: “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no.'” Clapper said he didn’t view the captured and stored metadata records as a “collection” if they weren’t looked at. — Information Week

Without the actions of Edward Snowden, we’d still believe that Clapper fellow, wouldn’t we? Now the world knows the truth, thanks to someone who abandoned everything from a $120K/year job to the proverbial smokin’-hot girlfriend in order to bring the American government’s treachery to the attention of the American people.

No doubt, the Obama administration would like to have Snowden killed. Unfortunately for said administration, it’s too late to kill him without raising eyebrows. Better to use the hand-in-glove relationship they enjoy with a tame media that permits everything from lying (to it) to spying (on it) — to send some character assassination Mr. Snowden’s way. If you can’t kill the man, kill his reputation…

The two best attempts I’ve yet read to marginalize Snowden and persuade Americans to return to watching TV and drinking Brawndo take surprisingly diverse tacks on the man. First up, we have noted mental defective David Brooks, who calls Snowden The Solitary Leaker:

Edward Snowden appears to be the ultimate unmediated man. Though obviously terrifically bright, he could not successfully work his way through the institution of high school. Then he failed to navigate his way through community college.

I’m sure Mr. Brooks would do fine in community college; his intellect appears to be bang-on for remedial English. What a bizarre accusation to level against someone: they couldn’t hack it in community college!

According to The Washington Post, he has not been a regular presence around his mother’s house for years.

Adam Lanza, on the other hand, hung around his mom all the time. So either way, you’re screwed.

When a neighbor in Hawaii tried to introduce himself, Snowden cut him off and made it clear he wanted no neighborly relationships.

My guess is that the neighbor in Hawaii actually wanted some neighborly relationships with Snowden’s pole-dancing girlfriend, and Ed told him to fuck right off.

he appears to be a product of one of the more unfortunate trends of the age: the atomization of society, the loosening of social bonds, the apparently growing share of young men in their 20s who are living technological existences in the fuzzy land between their childhood institutions and adult family commitments…

If you live a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society, perhaps it makes sense to see the world a certain way: Life is not embedded in a series of gently gradated authoritative structures: family, neighborhood, religious group, state, nation and world. Instead, it’s just the solitary naked individual and the gigantic and menacing state.

Put another way: If you don’t work for the New York Times and receive a daily anal insemination of doubleplusgoodthink, you might be vaguely disgusted at the idea that the government reads your email. But wait, the Stockholm syndrome is about to rear its dewey-eyed head.

For society to function well, there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation, a respect for institutions and deference to common procedures. By deciding to unilaterally leak secret N.S.A. documents, Snowden has betrayed all of these things.

Actually, the NSA has betrayed all those things. But nice try.

He betrayed honesty and integrity, the foundation of all cooperative activity. He made explicit and implicit oaths to respect the secrecy of the information with which he was entrusted. He betrayed his oaths.

No, dumbass. He probably made an oath to defend the Constitution against foreign and domestic enemies, and he upheld that oath by “betraying” a domestic enemy of the Constitution. Because when you knowing violate the Fourth Amendment on an international scale, you’re a fuckin’ enemy of the Constitution, even if everybody who works there has a government-issued photo ID.

Young people in positions like that will no longer be trusted with responsibility for fear that they will turn into another Snowden… He betrayed his employers. Booz Allen and the C.I.A. took a high-school dropout and offered him positions with lavish salaries. He is violating the honor codes of all those who enabled him to rise.

So did Frank Serpico. But wait some more, the insanity is about to appear.

He betrayed the cause of open government.

WHAT

He betrayed the cause of open government.

REPEAT THAT PLEASE

He betrayed the cause of open government.

When I read that, I thought I was going to literally piss myself.

He betrayed the cause of open government. Every time there is a leak like this, the powers that be close the circle of trust a little tighter. They limit debate a little more.

The NSA already lied to Congress! How much more “limitation” of “debate” can you get?

He betrayed the privacy of us all. If federal security agencies can’t do vast data sweeps, they will inevitably revert to the older, more intrusive eavesdropping methods.

Yeah, and if I can’t just rape some bitch on the street, I’ll break into her house, cut off her head, and rape her dead body. What? That makes me the bad guy? Not according to David Brooks.

He betrayed the Constitution. The founders did not create the United States so that some solitary 29-year-old could make unilateral decisions about what should be exposed.

I like the consistent references to Snowden’s youth that pepper this piece of trash. Note to Mr. Brooks: much of American history has been written by people twenty-nine years of age or younger. George Patton was twenty-eight when he led the US Army against its own citizens in the so-called “Bonus Army” affair. Heck, the Wehrmacht promoted a thirty-year-old to the rank of General during WWII. On the other hand, the Germans did lose WWII. As for why the Founders created the country, I guarantee you that “rash actions in the name of liberty” comes closer to the mark than “broad-based programs to violate the privacy of citizens”.

As portrayed by David Brooks, Mr. Snowden is a typical Asperger’s case, a Ron Paul supporter, a total nerd/dork/geek who let the voices in his head tell him to betray his country because he didn’t have any ties to a local bowling team.

I think we can pretty easily put this story down to what the fellows down at Orient Correctional Institution call “player-hating bitch-assedness” on the part of the NYT. After all, Snowden didn’t approach them with the story, and apparently there was reason for that. He felt that the NYT was an ally of the government, not the American people.

If that doesn’t make you feel sick to your stomach, you’re not thinking about it enough. An extraordinarily well-informed whistleblower felt that he wouldn’t be safe at the Times. Would that disgraced august institution have actually handed him over to the government? Only a fool would bet against it.

The problem with David Brooks’ ridiculous piece is that his efforts to paint Snowden as a total dork fall flat on their fact. The guy wasn’t bad-looking. He made good money. He lived in Hawaii with a nine-out-of-ten girlfriend. By the standards of normal American men, he was alpha as fuck. Which means, according to the HuffPo, that he was Sean Bean in “Goldeneye”. Michael Yaki argues that he is trying to sell American secrets to the highest bidder:

There is a sharp contrast between a conscientous whistleblower and the young man in the news this past week. Daniel Ellsberg faced the consequences and underwent trial. Bradley Manning, whose court-martial is underway, never made any attempt to flee and knows that the number of years he will spend inside a military prison may far outnumber the days he will live free. The civil rights heroes of the ’50s and ’60s stood their ground and paid dearly, sometimes the ultimate price, for standing against Jim Crow laws.

So because he refuses to martyr himself, he’s somehow fishy? How, um, only-a-witch-floats of you.

Instead of coming forward flanked by a phalanx of civil liberties lawyers who might have entered a lottery to defend him, Snowden ran. And he ran to a place whose history is entwined in piracy, smuggling, and the Cold War, Hong Kong.

It’s always extremely easy to demand monstrous sacrifices of other people. Snowden’s lost his job, his woman, and probably any chance of seeing his home country again, but until he agrees to be locked up in federal prison with 300-pound rapists, Michael Yaki considers him a pirate/smuggler/whatevs.

Hong Kong is not merely a doorstep away from China — 1997 irrevocably changed that — but a giant stride inside of China. Which a person as obviously gifted with grey matter as Snowden knows is a country that poses the greatest intelligence and potential military threat to the United States. Perhaps I have read too many le Carre novels, but there may be more tradecraft in Snowden’s actions than bravery.

Or it could be that the guy was terrified and he went to some place where he could hear English spoken and where the CIA couldn’t easily have his cap peeled. No, wait, that can’t be it. This guy’s a master spy.

His rationale for going public was to protect his coworkers from suspicion and to protect his family. But it can also be easily read as setting the terms for his information — money, protection — by revealing what he has to offer in return. Only the latter scenario requires him to leave his country for the freewheeling auction house known as Hong Kong. And auction that may include, ironically, the United States among his bidders.

Or any scenario where he wants to stay alive, un-drugged, and un-raped.

There are countless heroes, past and present, who willingly risked their freedom in our judicial system because they believe in our country and our system…. Edward Snowden, for all his initial declamations, has no such faith in our country. He prefers the judicial system of Hong Kong to a jury of his peers.

He worked for a CIA contractor. If he has “no such faith in our country”, he may have a reason to feel that way.

He claims he is “neither hero nor traitor. I’m an American.” But to be an American is to stand firm in your beliefs. It is to understand that we are not perfect, but we believe in the possibility of a more perfect union. We fight for our beliefs.

Who the ass-fuck is “we”? Michael Yaki has been an intimately enmeshed part of the Democratic Party political machine for twenty-four years. The guy worked for Nancy Pelosi, for Christ’s sake. If there’s ever been a “fight” in this country, Michael Yaki hasn’t seen any of it.

As a Civil Rights Commissioner, the notion of civil disobedience in furtherance of a greater good is instilled in my DNA.

No, the notion of race-based grandstanding has been instilled in your colon.

Free speech, a free press, are all fundamental cornerstones of our democracy. Evidence of a massive government domestic surveillance program, unchecked and unguarded, chills the notion of privacy to the very bone. If this is true then Edward Snowden, former NSA contract employee, may indeed be a hero, and acting in the best sense what it means to be an American.

But in the meantime, let’s undermine the guy in the court of public opinion, so when he “disappears” nobody will mourn.

Snowden, at present however, is not acting like an American… he may live in perpetual and perhaps comfortable exile, known for being, rightly or wrongly, a coward, or traitor, or both.

Holy shit, an authentic appeal to class warfare. He might be “comfortable” in exile! Which means RICH! Which means BURN HIM! Mr. Yaki, on the other hand, is no doubt just poor as a church mouse after twenty-five years of living on the taxpayer’s dole. I’m sure if you visited him in San Francisco, which is one of the most expensive places in the Western Hemisphere to call home, you’d find him living in a cardboard box. Or perhaps not.

If there’s value in the Snowden story besides the revelation of the basic, despicable facts of the PRISM program, it is this: institutions shape people, not the other way around. Messrs. Brooks and Yaki are “company men”, and the company they serve is that unique and loathsome government-media complex. They may not have started that way. They may have had ideals of their own, they may have stood for something besides the status quo. Whatever they believed in, those beliefs were long ago plucked out of their minds by the institutions they served and replaced with the company line, the beliefs of the institution, the Hivemind.

Edward Snowden threatened that Hivemind in a few different ways: he revealed that the government was violating the freedoms and privacy of its subjects, er, citizens, and he went to an overseas media source to tell his story. For those reasons alone, he is a hero. It doesn’t matter why he did what he did: Asperger’s syndrome, super-spy plans, or unvarnished principle. The proof is in the action. Brooks and Yaki might not like it, but Mr. Snowden is a genuine American. If that scares them, they should ask themselves what they are.

6 Replies to “And Now, The Vilification Of Edward Snowden”

  1. Tre Deuce

    And so it goes……….

    Great Post, Jack

    Most are duped on this issue of Home land security. It is really about protecting the government and the elite from the masses.

    For your consideration.. The ‘Snowden’ affair may be a deliberate diversion by…

    Reply
  2. Blaze

    Thank God I am not the only one who is pissed off at how easily my fellow comrades just shrug this story off as “oh well, at least I feel safe, dum da dum.” I fear that the citizens of this country are too comfortable to be bothered by this violation. Good article!

    Reply
    • Tre Deuce

      The argument is…’We can’t have ‘our’ enemies, know our capabilities.’ I say… ‘Make no enemies’. The world would be completely safe if governments were totally transparent…never going to happen, not in my lifetime.

      Reply
  3. Ryan Murphy

    Thanks for this – it’s very well done. The way in which many Americans are made uncomfortable by the possibility that the actions of the state need to be constrained in precisely the same ways the actions of individuals must be, and the lazy response that whatever the state is doing, it must be right, is deeply troubling. As you well point out, there is a difference between the principles of the American founding, and the actions of those wearing government IDs. The latter must continually be held to the standards of the former.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Perspectives: Expanding your circle of influence | St. George News | STGnews.comSt. George News | STGnews.com

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