Reason: “Demonization machine” revving up on Snowden

posted at 2:41 pm on June 11, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Reason’s right about this as far as the argument goes, but Matt Welch also fails to note the opposite — the sanctification machine that wants to transform Edward Snowden into a martyr for liberty and justice for all.  Matt collects a number of commentaries from normally liberal voices at mainstream media outlets sneering at Snowden as either a “loser” (Roger Simon at Politico), “Little Red Riding Hood” (Richard Cohen, Washington Post), “a grandiose narcissist” (Jeffrey Toobin at the New Yorker).  For good measure, we also have more conservative voices such as Bush White House speechwriter Marc Thiessen dismissing Snowden as “a Paulbot,” and Fox News military analyst Ralph Peters suggesting the death penalty for Snowden on account of treason.

Matt writes that we don’t have to pre-emptively declare Snowden a saint, but only after comparing him to something just shy of a Martin Luther King:

I for one am grateful that Edward Snowden leaked, because the United States government has too free a hand to conduct surveillance and espionage (and war, and kidnapping, and extrajudicial assassination) without anything like even internal oversight. (If you think Congress is well informed on these issues, you probably haven’t talked to a civil liberties-minded congressman on a key overisght committee; and if you think FISA courts amount to effective oversight then you’re getting the government you deserve.)

And while the gold standard for civil disobedience remains publicly accepting the punishment from the government whose laws you dispute, the fact is not every act of whistleblowing or defiance is going to be conducted by a perfect replica of Martin Luther King. Would Ari Fleischer be brave enough to stand and take the heat for such an act? The question answers itself.

Meanwhile–as in King’s case–the massive machinery of American police power will be focused on making the renegade look like a maximally traitorous deviant. You do not have to pre-emptively declare Snowden a saint (indeed, we will almost certainly hear word that he is not), to be repelled by both the status quo he aims to challenge, and the enthusiasm with which Fourth Estaters enable the executive branch.

Actually, we don’t know much about who Snowden is, whether he’s acting on his own, whether he’s passed this information off to foreign intel services, or much of anything about this case — other than, of course, that he broke some very serious laws relating to his security clearance. That’s not exactly civil disobedience in the Mohandas Gandhi sense; it’s a serious crime for good reasons.  Furthermore, the method chosen by Snowden to expose this program was hardly his only choice, as I’ve explained numerous times in relation to other leakers who ran to the media rather than contacting sympathetic members of Congress, a few of whom had been speaking out on NSA issues for years prior to this leak.

Until we know more about Snowden, it’s possible to be skeptical of both the NSA and the leaker:

At National Journal, Matthew Cooper and Garance Franke-Ruta also caution on rushing to judgment in either direction, given the circumstances:

Everyone should take a deep breath. For those tempted to lionize Snowden for partially unshading totalitarian “turnkey tyranny,” as he has dubbed it, a word of caution seems in order. For those who are panicked about the revelations, some calm’s in order, too. We don’t yet have a clear sense of how the programs work — and even less of a sense of Snowden, who has taken refuge in Hong Kong with more national security secrets than Barton Gellman of the Washington Post thinks it’s wise to disclose to the public. …

Another point: Snowden not only leaked the PRISM program but also the unrelated directive outlining how the U.S. plans to launch cyberattacks, even preemptively. One can make a case that leaking PRISM was whistleblowing. But announcing plans for cyberattacks doesn’t add any insight into domestic eavesdropping. It’s understood from Tehran to Pyongyang that the U.S. plans for everything. That’s what militaries do. Releasing such plans isn’t elucidating.

Likewise, Snowden’s casual allusion to “the CIA station just up the road here in Hong Kong” is probably no great revelation to Chinese intelligence services — but it’s of no service to the cause of trying to limit or eliminate domestic surveillance. Of course the U.S. has a CIA station in Hong Kong. Why narrow down its location publicly?

Leakers are rarely pure of heart. The best known of them, Mark Felt of “Deep Throat” fame, had many motives, including how the FBI was cut out of covert operations and his own personal jealousies over being passed over by Nixon to become the bureau’s director. But Hoover’s ally did the country a service and what he said was true and changed history. In time we may feel that way about Snowden, as Ellsberg already does. Snowden backers don’t think we should trust the government. Fair enough. But why reflexively trust Snowden?

We need to investigate both the activities of the NSA and the circumstances of the exposure of these programs.  It’s not that difficult to reconcile that lawbreaking of all kinds in this instance should be scrutinized.  Today, I took part in a symposium at the New York Times on how to deal with Snowden, and the response was surprisingly split … and rational.

Richard Moberly, a professor of law and assistant dean at the University of Nebraska, argues that Snowden actually subverted democracy rather than defended it:

Like Pfc. Bradley Manning, Snowden ignored ways he could have objected to the program without publicly disclosing it, such as through an inspector general or to a sympathetic member of Congress. Whistle-blowers should disclose inside information about illegalities and abuse of power, but they should do it responsibly, especially when dealing with national security. Because Snowden chose the irresponsible route, the law rightly permits his prosecution.

Although we may not like the decisions that our leaders made regarding the N.S.A. program, the choice before us is whether we would rather live with their judgment or encourage unelected, unaccountable people to decide instead.

The more libertarian-minded Jonathan Adler of the Volokh Conspiracy also says that Snowden should be investigated and prosecuted, but as a background to the more serious matter of government surveillance:

Investigating and prosecuting Edward Snowden is a priority, but it should not distract from the far more important issues raised in the past week. Although some Americans may be unnerved by the details of the National Security Agency’s surveillance efforts, the more troubling revelations are that relevant members of Congress may not have been adequately briefed on the programs and that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seems willing to accept a broad and aggressive reading of the N.S.A.’s authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Secrecy is necessary for national security programs, but so too is democratic accountability.

Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project says whistleblowers shouldn’t be prosecuted at all:

As happens in every whistle-blower case, the government attacks the messenger rather than listening to the message. Whistle-blowers like Snowden are invariably smeared as being deviant misfits who are out for fame, profit, revenge, or self-aggrandizement. Already, Snowden has been called a “grandiose narcissist” and traitor, and he’s been public for 72 hours.

Focusing on Snowden is a distraction from the government’s law-breaking massive domestic surveillance program. Criminally prosecuting Snowden has little to do with Snowden’s alleged crimes and everything to do with making an example of him and sending the most chilling of messages to anyone even thinking about exposing government wrongdoing, especially criminality. There is no such crime as “leaking.” Snowden may have violated a secrecy agreement, which is not a loyalty oath but a contract, and a less important one than the social contract a democracy has with its citizenry.

A war on information that targets whistle-blowers and journalists is more characteristic of a totalitarian state than a free and open democratic society.

Be sure to read it all, including my contribution at the first link.

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The left will call him “gay” soon.

Schadenfreude on June 11, 2013 at 2:44 PM

There sure are a lot of experts out there trying to convince us that this super-duper-top secret program is no BFD and Snowden is a liar.

myiq2xu on June 11, 2013 at 2:45 PM

The left will call him “gay” soon.

Schadenfreude on June 11, 2013 at 2:44 PM

As a pejorative or accolades for moral authority? They use the term both ways, depending on the needs of the moment.

Liam on June 11, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Why all the overwrought angst over the nature of Snowden’s soul?

Angel or scumbag, the truth is that a massive surveillance apparatus has been built using taxpayers’ money and in the name of defending American freedom. Both sides agree that this is true. The question is: should said apparatus exist? Do we trust the people in power to manage it?

Those are the issues. Not the particular personality of Snowden.

Robert_Paulson on June 11, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Many of those guilty of sanctifying the traitor Edward Snowden can be found right here in HotAir’s comment pages. I don’t mean Ed. I mean the commenters here.

It’s pathetic.

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:48 PM

the sanctification machine that wants to transform Edward Snowden into a martyr for liberty and justice for all.

Who are the members of this “sanctification machine”? We keep hearing about how everyone who doesn’t think Snowden is a traitor thinks he’s a “hero” — which in itself is bulls**t oversimplification of the matter…

…but where are these voices? Or are some pro-surveillance “conservatives” just auto-invalidating anyone who disagrees with them?

MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Many of those guilty of sanctifying the traitor Edward Snowden can be found right here in HotAir’s comment pages. I don’t mean Ed. I mean the commenters here.

It’s pathetic.

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Feel free to list them off. 99% of the comments I’ve seen have been one of the following:

1. Snowden is a traitor.
2. Snowden isn’t a traitor, or isn’t as much of a traitor as our elected officials.

I’ve seen very few consider him a “hero”. Are you making these people up? And if so…why? Just to ensure that nobody considers a point of view other than your own on Snowden?

MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Those are the issues. Not the particular personality of Snowden.
Robert_Paulson on June 11, 2013 at 2:47 PM

No, we can focus on several things at once. Maybe you’re one of feeling guilty for having supported Bradley Manning’s bosom buddy Edward Snowden. Too bad.

Yes, of course the surveillance should continue with oversight. I’m happy to hear that it will.

Also looking forward to the announcement of Snowden’s arrest and long term imprisonment.

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Fox News military analyst Ralph Peters suggesting the death penalty for Snowden on account of treason.

Great. Obama can just drop a drone strike on him. Problem solved.

Johnnyreb on June 11, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Sure, let’s make it about Snowden and his lifestyle,
because Hussein and his malice needs to stay out of any discussion about anything !

burrata on June 11, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Maybe you’re one of feeling guilty

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Who isn’t guilty, according to you?

MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 2:53 PM

We need to investigate both the activities of the NSA and the circumstances of the exposure of these programs.

No, “we” don’t. The entire weight of the US government will be brought to bear to crush the life out of Snowden; that’s guaranteed to happen, irrespective of anything “we” do. And it will happen slowly, and visibly, because that’s how our criminal justice system works. “We” can all sit back and let that process play out over the upcoming months and years.

Meanwhile, the NSA either is or is not conducting massive dragnet surveillance of the domestic communications of millions upon millions of American citizens, and we don’t know which. Without constant and aggressive public attention to the issue, that will get hushed up and forgotten. So what “we” need to do is demand clear, trustworthy answers, right now, while the issue is in the peripheral vision of the low-information voters who choose the rulers of this country.

Or, hey, we can talk some more about whether Snowden makes $200K or $122K, because that’s way more interesting than all this boring 4th Amendment stuff.

Fabozz on June 11, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Meanwhile back in D.C.

MELT THE PHONES…….CLOTURE VOTE on AMNESTY THIS AFTERNOON.

Ask for your Senator’s office, they will connect you.

1 (800) 839 – 5276

The Capitol Hill switchboard number: (202) 224-3121

PappyD61 on June 11, 2013 at 2:55 PM

MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Asking a troll for facts is like asking a snail to jump…

right2bright on June 11, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Yes, of course the surveillance should continue with oversight.

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:52 PM

If Snowden had access, whether authorized or especially not, NSA did a great job of that ‘oversight’ you keep worshipping, didn’t they?

Liam on June 11, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Feel free to list them off. 99% of the comments I’ve seen have been one of the following:
1. Snowden is a traitor.
2. Snowden isn’t a traitor, or isn’t as much of a traitor as our elected officials.
I’ve seen very few consider him a “hero”. Are you making these people up? And if so…why? Just to ensure that nobody considers a point of view other than your own on Snowden?
MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Then you need new glasses. Most comments here have been defending the traitor.

I understand that you may be feeling a bit guilty now, and you want to back off from sanctifying Bradley Manning’s bosom buddy. You sheep thought this was just another Obama scandal, maybe the one to bring him down. Commenters here giddily rallied behind Snowden, parroting Rush’s “coup” line.

At least Ed had his head on straight this while time and didn’t fall for the bait.

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:56 PM

The fact that you people believe that a whistle-blower can run to the government (congressman) to report government transgressions is utterly laughable. Crying for prosecution will only prevent future whistle-blowers from coming forward with information as damning as this. You are furthering the progress of the police state.

Kanyin on June 11, 2013 at 2:59 PM

It’s undisputed that he broke the law, but I doubt he committed treason. Al-Q already knows that we’re monitoring all their communications, that’s why OBL didn’t have any communications equipment in his house and used a courier.

Lou Budvis on June 11, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Then you need new glasses. Most comments here have been defending the traitor.

Not calling him a traitor is not the same as defending him. Have you the depth to understand that? Just because I don’t consider him a traitor doesn’t mean I think he’s a hero. It’s not one or the other. He exposed a horrifyingly invasive intrusion into American citizen’s personal privacy, and no amount of your desire to see him hang can change that. So, instead, you start accusing people of wanting “the terrorists to win”. Your irrational fear and loving embrace of a surveillance state demonstrates that they already won.

I understand that you may be feeling a bit guilty…

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:56 PM

There you go again. I already addressed this. Why are you repeating this senseless projection? Why are you trying to cast guilt on everyone who doesn’t want their life under a microscope?

You’re quite the Obama administration supporter, it seems.

MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Snowden is a traitor and a leaker. We ought to stop referring to him as “whistleblower.”

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 3:02 PM

You sheep thought this was just another Obama scandal, maybe the one to bring him down. Commenters here giddily rallied behind Snowden, parroting Rush’s “coup” line.
bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:56 PM

All of that is true and those “sheep” should be commended for their perception.

tommyboy on June 11, 2013 at 3:03 PM

We ought to stop referring to him as “whistleblower.”

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Now you’re trying to redefine words?

You poor thing. You’re in the denial stage of grief.

MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 3:04 PM

You’re quite the Obama administration supporter, it seems.

MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 3:01 PM

I think that’s the creature’s biggest fear — that Obama might look bad. In almost every one of its posts, Obama’s name comes up. Like this most recent one:

“You sheep thought this was just another Obama scandal, maybe the one to bring him down.”

Liam on June 11, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Until we know more about Snowden, it’s possible to be skeptical of both the NSA and the leaker

Are we forgetting the actual issue at hand – the massive spying on innocent American citizens?

whatcat on June 11, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Snowden is a traitor and a leaker. We ought to stop referring to him as “whistleblower.”

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Hey idiot, maybe you should wait until more facts are released.

idesign on June 11, 2013 at 3:05 PM

The comparison of Snowden to Manning is ridiculous. Manning made a massive dump of files without regard to their content. Snowden was disclosing the existence of a particular program. [That's not to say what Snowden did was right or wrong, just that Manning was definitely a traitor for abusing his position to steal almost any documents that he could get his hands on at grave risk to operational safety in the field.]

blammm on June 11, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Why all the overwrought angst over the nature of Snowden’s soul?

Angel or scumbag, the truth is that a massive surveillance apparatus has been built using taxpayers’ money and in the name of defending American freedom. Both sides agree that this is true. The question is: should said apparatus exist? Do we trust the people in power to manage it?

Those are the issues. Not the particular personality of Snowden.

Robert_Paulson on June 11, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Because, and I’m sure you know this, Snowden himself is being turned into a big SQUIRREL!!! to distract the issue of the actual issue of the spying on citizens.

kim roy on June 11, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Snowden is a traitor and a leaker. We ought to stop referring to him as “whistleblower.”

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 3:02 PM

You should STFU and get to sending all your personal information to the NSA and save them from the trouble of collecting it, since you’re perfectly ok with them collecting it.

RickB on June 11, 2013 at 3:09 PM

blammm on June 11, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Mannings disclosures also endangered American assets and assisted its enemies. There’s not a shred of evidence Snowden did either. He’s a whistleblower cut and dried.

tommyboy on June 11, 2013 at 3:10 PM

Snowden is a traitor and a leaker. We ought to stop referring to him as “whistleblower.”

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Perhaps, perhaps not. I’ll wait until an actual fact shows itself first.

Now how about them spying issues and lack of constitutional adherence, of which oaths were taken (oooooo traitorous to go against the oath howz about that!)?

kim roy on June 11, 2013 at 3:10 PM

82-15 amnesty bill in Senate

cmsinaz on June 11, 2013 at 3:12 PM

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:52 PM

What are you even talking about? Certainly have never been a Manning supporter (he’s obviously a petulant traitor), and am less a Snowden supporter than someone who thinks that the revelations about PRISM involve fundamental constitutional issues that deserve the public’s attention.

There are currently roughly a dozen scandals plaguing the current administration for ABUSE OF POWER against millions of Americans. While you fight your long, twilight struggle against Edward Snowden, the rest of us will be debating whether we should be giving the federal government yet MORE power.

Robert_Paulson on June 11, 2013 at 3:13 PM

Hate to tell you this Ed, but Snowden has done more for liberty than you and all of your armchair pundits combined. More than any sitting member of Congress too. I don’t claim the man is an angel but he exposed Obama’s lies and Obama sees us as the enemy, not terrorists. Why you would trust him to not use this against us when we already have documented incidents of institutional revenge I have no idea. You and your ilk are all lightweights.

echosyst on June 11, 2013 at 3:14 PM

The Conflation Machine is also busy conflating Manning with Snowden.

All aboard.

faraway on June 11, 2013 at 3:15 PM

82-15 amnesty bill in Senate

cmsinaz on June 11, 2013 at 3:12 PM

There were those opposed?

All America-first Dems, right? /

Liam on June 11, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Manning released actual intel that benefited the enemy. Snowden told us we are being monitored, huge difference. I can be “for” what Snowden did and not lionize Manning.

echosyst on June 11, 2013 at 3:17 PM

Taken in the context of what has been happening at the IRS, I’m more concerned about what this regime is up to than Snowden. This surveillance appears to be a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The Federal Government is out-of-control and completely unaccountable at every level.

TarheelBen on June 11, 2013 at 3:17 PM

Robert_Paulson on June 11, 2013 at 3:13 PM

bluegill is pegging anyone who doesn’t think Snowden is a traitor as both a Snowden and Manning supporter. Fact is, few people on HA have ever thought Manning wasn’t a criminal. I certainly think he is. However, that’s because he leaked actual data produced by one of our government agencies. Snowden leaked the existence of, effectively, a government agency.

Perhaps if Manning had revealed the existence of a sixth, unknown branch of the armed forces, bluegill’s loaded, bullying fallacy might hold a bit of water. However, it’s as bogus as his implication that anyone who disagrees with him is “feeling guilty”.

Watching a statist disintegrate is an ugly affair.

MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 3:19 PM

I found a couple of people who have called Snowden a hero. Glenn Beck and Michael Moore.

Kind of a small “sanctification machine”.

I will say, though…how bad do things have to be for those two to agree on anything?

MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 3:21 PM

“a grandiose narcissist”

Obama?

John the Libertarian on June 11, 2013 at 3:22 PM

Watching a statist disintegrate is an ugly affair.

MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 3:19 PM

+1

Robert_Paulson on June 11, 2013 at 3:23 PM

The Federal Government is out-of-control and completely unaccountable at every level.

TarheelBen on June 11, 2013 at 3:17 PM

Which begs the question of who will be doing the ‘oversight’ to keep them honest and within the law, Constitution, and Bill of Rights?

Liam on June 11, 2013 at 3:24 PM

kcewa on June 11, 2013 at 3:27 PM

I cannot tell you how much I do not care about the messenger, assuming that the message is accurate.

S. Weasel on June 11, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Even Megyn Kelly had a soothsayer on today that was literally just making stuff up about what she thought about Snowden, and you couldn’t tell the difference from her and one Obama’s apparatchiks.

HopeHeFails on June 11, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Watching a statist disintegrate is an ugly affair.
MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 3:19 PM

When one’s hero is caught red handed constructing a massive represive police state what else can he do except try to distract attention to trivial matters?

tommyboy on June 11, 2013 at 3:29 PM

Many of those guilty of sanctifying the traitor Edward Snowden can be found right here in HotAir’s comment pages. I don’t mean Ed. I mean the commenters here.

It’s pathetic.

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Unlike your freedom, databases are forever.

LaughterJones on June 11, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Even Megyn Kelly had a soothsayer on today that was literally just making stuff up about what she thought about Snowden, and you couldn’t tell the difference from her and one Obama’s apparatchiks.

HopeHeFails on June 11, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Of course they did. People are becoming more aware of the gravy train so those that are trying to demean and distract are only trying to protect their standing at the trough.

Which is most of the media including Fox news and a lot of people who you’d think are on “our side”.

If the NSA falls or the government falls and the people take it back to a constitutional government who loses? That’s who to watch the closest for the approaching long knives.

kim roy on June 11, 2013 at 3:35 PM

PERSONS OF INTEREST, and THE MACHINE

What information did Edward Snowden release?
Can not seem to get an answer to that question.
What information that dose seem to be attributed to him can be back traced to news and info pieces published earlier in other sources written by other people. Any revelations and release of insider operations is being made available by the Intel Community and various government agencies. This is most important, let me try it another way. If there was 100 lbs of poop coming out of this, 98 lbs is being leaked by the government in their denials and cover-ups. Only 2 lbs is coming from Edward Snowden.

Something about this whole thing smells of set-up.
Just like a script from the TV show “Persons of Interest”.

jpcpt03 on June 11, 2013 at 3:37 PM

2. Snowden isn’t a traitor, or isn’t as much of a traitor as our elected officials.

MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Exactly. He’s guilty of espionage (probably doesn’t reach the level of full treason) and the program violates the 4th. I’m not sure why people think it has to be one or the other.

emz35 on June 11, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Truth, Snowden and the Surveillance State

Islam rises alongside our collectivist Superstate. Mosques prolierate in this country, sharia advances, the superstate flexes, freedom of speech constricts, policing becomes more thuggish, the superstate stockpiles bullets, crowd control becomes more restrictive, fear grows, privacy is extinct, the superstate imposes, requires, invades, provides, rewards, punishes, socializes medicine, targets individuals, covers up everything, ramps up the IRS for your “health,” tracks your electronic life, your phone calls, your travel, your mail.

Snowden strikes, grabs our attention about what we should have known was happening.

It was a gigantic act of courage, it has struck me so far, seemingly from idealism, seemingly to unmask the machine secretly grinding away any remaining semblance of the American republic. Then again, as others have noted, this is a young man who seems to consider himself a citizen of the world. Then again, given that he is a creature of his time, how could he not? What school system in America teaches youngsters pride in the founding of this country?

Is Snowden real? Was he duped? Is he dead? We don’t know. Is he a hero? I think so, but if it turns out he is working for China or takes refuge in Russia — both totalitarian enemies of liberty — then I will think again.

What I do know for sure is that Edward Snowden has thrown down the gauntlet.

The heroism is up to us.

VorDaj on June 11, 2013 at 3:45 PM

So, what the heck does this HA ad mean?

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Fallon on June 11, 2013 at 3:50 PM

Actually Snowden isn’t to blame for this mess–it’s two lower level rogue government employees in DC–Obama and Biden.

BTW has anybody heard from Biden lately? Look for any loose, upturned earth in rock creek park.

MaiDee on June 11, 2013 at 3:53 PM

BTW has anybody heard from Biden lately? Look for any loose, upturned earth in rock creek park.

MaiDee on June 11, 2013 at 3:53 PM

My guess? Biden made so many silly comments during the gun-banning debate that it’s best to keep him miles from a microphone, in case Obama gets nailed so hard he has to resign or the Senate has no choice but to remove him after House impeachment proceedings.

Liam on June 11, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Many of those guilty of sanctifying the traitor Edward Snowden can be found right here in HotAir’s comment pages. I don’t mean Ed. I mean the commenters here.

It’s pathetic.

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Who, exactly, did Edward Snowden betray the US to?

JohnGalt23 on June 11, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Many of those guilty of sanctifying the traitor Edward Snowden can be found right here in HotAir’s comment pages. I don’t mean Ed. I mean the commenters here.

It’s pathetic.

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:48 PM

I usually agree with you on a lot of issues, however, not this time

Our government is massive and intrusive, destroying people lives and you think that’s ok? IRS must not have targeted you YET? Trust me they will…if you don’t agree with this government’s agenda you are already a target. Realize you’re a staunch Republican, me too, but I know right from wrong. Snowden did the honorable thing….this isn’t about ‘terrorism’ and you know that

Redford on June 11, 2013 at 4:03 PM

bluegill

Under the false flag of patriotism you are demonizing all those who object to the demonizing of Snowden. This is usually an Obama trick but Republican cowards like Boehner have joined in on the piling on. this is what happens when God, morality, duty, honor are no longer taught in school. People are unable to discern that despots are making a bold bid to totally annihilate our Fourth Amendment rights under the guise of patriotism (protectingus from terrorists)and security. This is FALSE FLAG RECRUITING. Protect our country by handing over all your freedoms–but don’t worry-we w3on’t screw you. The Nazis said that. The communists said that. The Japanese militarists said that. But as Lord Acton said: “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

BTW strict immigration policies would have stopped all terorists attacks.

MaiDee on June 11, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Who f’n cares about Snowden? What about the 4th Amendment??? Put Snowden in jail, but FREE my 4th Amendment rights now!!! The time for ‘debate’ was BEFORE wholesale surveillance began. If Bush did this the left would be screaming bloody murder right now (they were having a tantrum with targeted Patriot Act surveillance for C’s sake).

RedManBlueState on June 11, 2013 at 4:19 PM

Absurd… The NSA says, “Don’t worry, your information is safe with us”, the day AFTER their entire program is compromised. They can’t even keep their own information safe and we’re going to trust them to keep every single Americans information safe?

RedManBlueState on June 11, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Oh, and another thing… If this program was so friggin good, how come they couldn’t even figure out, or stop Snowden from doing outing their efforts?

RedManBlueState on June 11, 2013 at 4:27 PM

Ah, guys, who cares if Snowden wear boxers or briefs? Either the information he provided is legit, or it isn’t. He, the source, may cause you to question certain claims, but if he leaked programs tat actually exist, that’s the issue.

He can CLAIM anything, but he has documents and other tangible evidence of programs the US now ADMITS exist. Anyone can “say” they saw and UFO, but if I have the actual, confirmed corpse of ET in front of you bleeding on your carpet, that’s a whole new ballgame, no matter how shady I may be, or how grandiose, or if I only have a GED.

Trying to make this guy Jesus or Satan is taking the focus off of the programs (which is the whole point of focusing on him, rodeo-clowning attention). Praise him or crucify him, whatever, but the programs are the issue, and always have been. Demonizing him or making him “the issue” is like dismissing an argument for lower taxation because Sarah Palin made it.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think he’s acting alone or out of pure virtue – my bet is there are a lot of other people that either had a problem with these programs from the get-go, or developed one later after they’ve seen their reach.

The points to remember:

1) This spying is on American citizens on a massive scale without individualized suspicion, treating everyone as a suspect, and warehousing the info for a later date.

2) It collects huge amounts of data on people from multiple sources in a “wide net” which can and will be sued against them, if required. Despite assurances of saintly behavior at the NSA, they cannot be trusted with this, and it places WAY too much power in the Executive over the Legislative an Judicial branches.

3) It is law enforcement at it’s laziest – giving preference to preemptive info gathering over boots on the ground investigation and spying. Police work is easiest in a police state.

4) It hasn’t stopped any recent terror attack, even when the suspects were personally id’ed by a foreign govt. as a terror risk.

5) The previous and current Administration cannot bring themselves to label the terror threats we face ‘radical Islam”, so how can they justify using this info to “narrow” suspicion wen they cannot do it publicly?

6) Any “judge review” was done in a closed, private hearing, most likely rubber-stamped, without any real counter-argument at the time.

7) Recent scandals clearly show that govt. cannot be trusted with this level of power/access without abusing it.

8) Recent scandals show that said “wrong-doers” who abuse this info will not be disciplined or charged or punished; they will likely be promoted or moved laterally or allowed to retire, so no real consequences will befall them, allowing future misuse.

9) And lastly, this is “ask forgiveness, not permission” at it’s worst. We were all lied to and played. We would never know about this until it was leaked, and had no chance to consent or refuse such a expanse of power. This was done without our knowledge or approval, and makes a mockery of the 4th Amendment that states we are individuals and not surfs – govt. much show particularized, individualized reasons to search our possessions, not just assume they can access whatever they want unless they decide to grant us privacy.

Saltyron on June 11, 2013 at 4:32 PM

The fact that more people lent credibility to the NSA surveillance claims when they were coming from an “Anonymous Source” then they do now should show everyone what is happening.

Is “Anonymous Source” more credible then a named person who actually worked as a contractor for NSA? Incredibly, that is the perception I am getting from all the demonization of Snowden.

At the end of the day, all the demonization does is prove us right. Snowden could be the worst person in the world…and the NSA gave him security clearance and access to information on these programs. Our nation’s finest terrorist trackers couldn’t stop him and they actually gave him access!

Doesn’t that just make you feel warm and fuzzy that the NSA will absopositively be able to prevent misuse of this stuff in the future.

I know I certainly will sleep comfortable tonight knowing that the government is granting access to information and programs that apparently collect information on millions of Americans to people. Especially with their track record of granting access to “Traitors”.

In the interest of national security, we must continue this data collection. The fact that Snowden is being demonized now just showed they made a mistake by granting access to him, not that they shouldn’t be collecting the info on Americans. I mean come on, they have promised that no one else could possibly ever in the future use this information against Americans right?…right?

weaselyone on June 11, 2013 at 4:32 PM

My late mother often cautioned me against reacting too quickly by reminding me to “always consider the source.”

A true whistle-blower might have gone on any network news show, or to Congress, because evidence of law-breaking is protected. Instead, this guy leaks to serial fabricator Greenwald and flees to Hong Kong before the story breaks, and I’m supposed to take him at face value?

Gee, do you have any bridges in New York for sale, too?

I must admit, though, the story has accomplished much to distract attention from the several actual criminal scandals enveloping the Obama Administration, not to mention the monstrosity of a new welfare program being railroaded through Congress under the label of “immigration reform.”

Adjoran on June 11, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Snowden is a traitor and a leaker. We ought to stop referring to him as “whistleblower.”
bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Fair enough. So what are your thoughts on the NSA spying on you?

Spliff Menendez on June 11, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Adjoran on June 11, 2013 at 4:34 PM

We haven’t forgotten. Problem is, there is so much going on it becomes a question of which to get to first. I imagine there is more to come, though we’re at saturation level already. I bet that somewhere there is hope in the riling elite we’ll just throw up our hands and walk away from it all. Then they can walk right in to do whatever they want — maybe even remove from public view that original/early copy of the Constitution that’s on display in Washington.

Liam on June 11, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Adjoran on June 11, 2013 at 4:34 PM

And all the attention has been on discrediting the source rather than denying his claims.

weaselyone on June 11, 2013 at 4:41 PM

Snowden’s story seems a bit suspect, though he has definitely unveiled some legitimate information.

If he was so concerned, though, why not contact a Congressman? Rand Paul, for example? He didn’t have to flee to Hong Kong.

Also, why head to a place where China can get at you? There are plenty of other places that have limited extradition. Is he being paid by Beijing?

hawksruleva on June 11, 2013 at 4:44 PM

This guy, whom you’d never heard of a week ago, tells you something completely awful, and you believe him? Why?

Uh, because the government confirmed it?

Oh wait–they confirmed it, but promised not to “target” Americans. They’ll just store our communications for safekeeping.

They’ll only read emails sent by scary Muslims.

EddieC on June 11, 2013 at 4:45 PM

To those accepting every misstatement in The Guardian as if it were Gospel and Snowden were the Christ himself, note that he is unavailable to answer simple questions his revelations raise, as posed by Mandy Nagy at Legal Insurrection.

Of course, his most voracious defenders aren’t interested in any of that since he merely reinforced their already deeply held beliefs.

Adjoran on June 11, 2013 at 4:45 PM

6) Any “judge review” was done in a closed, private hearing, most likely rubber-stamped, without any real counter-argument at the time.

Saltyron on June 11, 2013 at 4:32 PM

All good points. But think about this one for a bit. If those judges really know how much information PRISM can uncover, wouldn’t it be pretty easy to subtly threaten a judge who has sent/received questionable email, or at least find judges most likely to support the NSA’s efforts?

One other point. If you’re collecting emails and phone records on people, it become a lot easier to CREATE a set of data points that a judge might see as basis for a warrant. A few emails from some Gmail account, a few unanswered phone calls, and VOILA! Our John Doe is tied in to the nefarious plot of the month. That’s crazy talk though. Uncle Sam would never frame an American citizen for something bad going on in the Middle East, right?

hawksruleva on June 11, 2013 at 4:54 PM

To those accepting every misstatement in The Guardian as if it were Gospel and Snowden were the Christ himself, note that he is unavailable to answer simple questions his revelations raise, as posed by Mandy Nagy at Legal Insurrection.

Of course, his most voracious defenders aren’t interested in any of that since he merely reinforced their already deeply held beliefs.

Adjoran on June 11, 2013 at 4:45 PM

A moderate defense of Snowden is warranted when he is not available to defend himself. Else, the demonization will continue unabated to the point that everyone will automatically assume he was making it up or some such nonsense.

Unless/Until the government can promise that data is not being collected/stored on millions of Americans, then Snowden will have credibility with me to a certain extent.

It’s not anyone defending him because they agree with what he did necessarily. Some, like myself, are defending him because we know what happens when people are allowed to be smeared unabated.

Let’s see what additional information comes out.

Let’s get some assurances from our government that they are not accumulating private data on millions of Americans.

Until that time, I will hold off on attacking the messenger in a transparent attempt to make the story go away.

weaselyone on June 11, 2013 at 4:54 PM

To those accepting every misstatement in The Guardian as if it were Gospel and Snowden were the Christ himself,

Adjoran on June 11, 2013 at 4:45 PM

I’ve found two people who have called Snowden a hero, and neither of them characterized things as you have.

Put up, or shut up. Either show us this massive Snowden cult(as opposed to people who don’t immediately dismiss him as a traitor), or stop constructing this mammoth straw man.

MadisonConservative on June 11, 2013 at 4:55 PM

If Snowden were just a kook or a crank, why are so many government officials livid at him over his disclosures? You don’t call for prosecution if the allegations are false.

As for those people who claim he should have gone through official channels… this is the freaking NSA we’re talking about. Does anyone honestly believe the agency that has been violating the 4th amendment rights of every person in this country is going to do anything other than make sure that potential whistleblower is destroyed?

Wendya on June 11, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Demonization Machine vs. Sanctification Machine

No contest, demonization is winning hands down.

Both are unwise positions given that this is just beginning.

weaselyone on June 11, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Wendya on June 11, 2013 at 4:57 PM

So true!
If he isn’t credible, then he isn’t guilty!

A person cannot be called a “traitor” if they are making stuff up.

weaselyone on June 11, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Bradley Manning’s bosom buddy Edward Snowden. Too bad.

bluegill on June 11, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Now, it’d be nice if you could provide some proof that Snowden and Manning ever met; let alone are tight pals.

If you do not provide that proof, then we’ll have to simply assume that you are just being bitchy. (That PMS is hell, isn’t it.)

We’re waiting, fish.

Solaratov on June 11, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Of course, his most voracious defenders aren’t interested in any of that since he merely reinforced their already deeply held beliefs.

Adjoran on June 11, 2013 at 4:45 PM

HE didn’t reinforce any deeply-held beliefs.

The INFORMATION about Prism and its related programs merely confirmed our darkest fears of what our government might be doing TO us.

Solaratov on June 11, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Okay, I admit I’m pretty confused. I’ll go back and look. The possibilities are:

1. There is no PRISM/Boundless Informant
2. PRISM is less than S says it is
3. PRISM is more than S says it is
4. Booz Allen coordinated the leak
5. A higher authority at NSA leaked via a patsy
6. A higher authority at Booz Allen leaked via a patsy
7. China turned Snowden
8. China turned the higher authority

My immediate guess is that #1 is the case, and Snowden just wanted a holiday in HK. He did no spying. He revealed no secrets. The gov’t doesn’t know what is going on and so they just accept that he’s telling the truth and needs to be prosecuted.

flicker on June 11, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Like Pfc. Bradley Manning, Snowden ignored ways he could have objected to the program without publicly disclosing it, such as through an inspector general or to a sympathetic member of Congress.

Certainly – how about someone like John Bonehead Boehner?

Oh, wait – Bonehead called him a “traitor”. Tell me again which “sympathetic member of Congress” you had in mind?

psrch on June 11, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Who gives a damn about the leaker when what he leaked turned out to be true. The focus should be on the NSA, both parties in Congress, the FISA court, and the Obama administration.

Let the government handle Snowden, that’s what they do, but we should be putting heat on our officials because that’s is what we are supposed to do.

Daemonocracy on June 11, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Oh, and the limousine liberal nerds in Silicon Valley need more public scrutiny as well. Snowden is a non-issue.

Daemonocracy on June 11, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

That’s how the Constitution defines treason. Manning is a traitor, releasing information that assisted Islamists in their war against us. Snowden is not a traitor because the information he is claiming to have unlawfully released does not yet pass this test.

That said, Snowden is a criminal who should be run down, captured and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law – but let’s keep the indictment correct. He is not a traitor, not a whistleblower – he is an oath-breaker and a criminal.

If a government analyst had lawful knowledge of PRISM and believed that classification of PRISM was unlawful (I agree that it is unlawful), that analyst can mount a classification challenge. Section 1.8 of Executive Order 13526, “Classified National Security Information” provides for classification challenges by an authorized holder who believes that the classification status of certain information is improper. His rank and position do not matter: he can force the challenge all the way up the chain of command, even above his Agency Administrator or Department Secretary, to the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO).

Throughout the challenge, his actions are shielded by law and his claims must be adjudicated. Now, ISOO is the end of the line, so if our analyst receives no satisfaction there, he is expected to just shut up and do his job.

It has been said he could go to a congressman – I’m not so sure, but perhaps. For the sake of our hypothetical, let’s just say he does and the congressman is not sympathetic.

At that point, our analyst can ask himself whether his oath has in fact already been broken by a government that is using it to shield what he firmly believes to be an illegal operation against his countrymen. (I’d hate to be the analyst in this position.) If he then makes the decision to release the information to the public, he must stand his ground, accept arrest and make his argument in court that, under these circumstances, his actions were lawful.

To our knowledge, Snowden has not in any way attempted to pursue the available, lawful, options to declassify PRISM. Until we hear otherwise, he is a confessed criminal on the run. Whether he becomes a traitor may depend on where he runs.

Knowing about PRISM is a good thing. But that does not vindicate his actions because he made no attempt to to legally declassify the program and, in my view, the cowardice he has displayed by running and dangling out the possibility of running to America’s enemies, demonstrates he does not possess any patriotic qualities.

Beyond this point, thar be treason.

Cricket624 on June 12, 2013 at 1:22 PM

Oops, just realized I used the Bush order, the current Executive Order for National Security Information is 13292. Also, under section 1.7, the EO says that in no case shall information be classified in order to:
(1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;
(2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency;
(3) restrain competition; or
(4) prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.

That’s what I mean by a leaker releasing the information and willingly stand trial, arguing that his release was lawful because PRSIM is a violation of the law he had exhausted every means to gain declassification and considered himself bound by law to release the information.

Cricket624 on June 12, 2013 at 1:33 PM