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Snowden walks free in Russia
August 1, 2013 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Russia grants Snowden asylum ; US government goes apeshit.

Wikileaks thanks Russia.
What's in it for Russia?
Russians overwhelmingly support Putin's decision.
(prev Snowden)
posted by allkindsoftime (295 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Welp
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:43 PM on August 1, 2013


I'm not sure if the US being “extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step” constitutes going "apeshit."
posted by jonathanhughes at 8:46 PM on August 1, 2013 [58 favorites]


"Snowden asylum may presage rocky period in U.S.-Russia ties"

Oh please. Is the Obama administration really going to spend political capital on THIS?

"Russians overwhelmingly support Putin's decision."

And not a few Americans.

The asylum offer places a significant new strain on already-corroded relations with Washington amid differences over Syria, U.S. criticism of Russia's human rights record and other disputes.

LOL.
posted by JHarris at 8:49 PM on August 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


As we know, Vladimir Putin is a hero of democracy and civil liberties, specifically the right to privacy and freedom of the press
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:49 PM on August 1, 2013 [92 favorites]


Apeshit?

We have nuclear weapons. We regularly invade wherever-the-fuck. This is not our government going apeshit.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:50 PM on August 1, 2013 [22 favorites]


Is it just me or does it look like Russian did this just to piss off the US? I can imagine them sitting back and laughing as several US Gov agencies go into meltdown.
posted by greenhornet at 8:51 PM on August 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


Julia Ioffe talks with Snowden's lawyer about the leaker's plans. Earlier, she wrote about how FSB agents let journalists know that they are being watched.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:53 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


We have nuclear weapons. We regularly invade wherever-the-fuck.

Well, so far US invaded only wherever-the-fucks that have flip-flops and rusty AK's for defense. With pretty mediocre results.
I think that's about as apeshit as they can go on a country that also has nukes.
posted by c13 at 8:54 PM on August 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


Dunno man I been watching West Wing. I think Obama keeping the Snowden asylum story alive as a distraction from the main story, which is the NSA, is some kinda 12 dimension ninja chess.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:54 PM on August 1, 2013 [30 favorites]


As we know, Vladimir Putin is a hero of democracy and civil liberties, specifically the right to privacy and freedom of the press

We should be clear, he is not. But as one of the articles notes, he might be doing this to deflect criticism towards his regime.

It's a complicated situation Snowden is in. He'll have to take whatever he can get.
posted by JHarris at 8:54 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Putin is much smarter than our current "leaders." This gives him a free move, so to speak: he gets to piss off the Americans, make people who don't like America happy, make people who support Snowden happy, and gain some popularity locally.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:56 PM on August 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, the first thing he even tried to get was the support of the People's Republic of China; he doesn't have particularly high standards on that front
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:56 PM on August 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


The asylum offer places a significant new strain on already-corroded relations with Washington amid differences over Syria, U.S. criticism of Russia's human rights record and other disputes.

LOL.


This thread is going to turn into a "The US is just as big a human rights abuser as Russia!" thread, isn't it? And by noticing it I'm probably contributing to that phenomenon, aren't I? Well, fine, but let's everybody at least get out their appropriate scholarly references for the fight.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:58 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Whenever he does leave Russia, I really really want Snowden to declare that he's bisexual as he exits their airspace.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:58 PM on August 1, 2013 [18 favorites]


I think that's about as apeshit as they can go on a country that also has nukes.

Olympic boycott? There's precedent...
posted by mr_roboto at 8:59 PM on August 1, 2013


This thread is going to turn into a "The US is just as big a human rights abuser as Russia!" thread

I think we have enough Snowden threads to devote one to that viewpoint.
posted by nightwood at 9:01 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Edward Snowden’s Life Just Flat-Out Fun And Exciting
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:02 PM on August 1, 2013 [17 favorites]


Oh please. Is the Obama administration really going to spend political capital on THIS?

He has a record of spending political on all sorts of stupid things, or in all sorts of stupid ways.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:02 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


As we know, Vladimir Putin is a hero of democracy and civil liberties, specifically the right to privacy and freedom of the press

Does this mean we get to be the good guys again? Instead of, you know, the ones gunning down first responders with drones when they come to the scene of a dronestrike? I for one am glad our President is nothing like that evil monster Vladimir Putin.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:02 PM on August 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


Olympic boycott? There's precedent...

Sounds like a plan. Let's embarrass ourselves some more.
I mean really, we have so much freedom here, we can just prohibit all of our athletes from participating in the event of their lives. Because John McCain is upset..
posted by c13 at 9:03 PM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


There are now Republicans calling for a US boycott of the Olympics over this, but holy fuck would that be an embarrassing contrast with the last time we did that.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:03 PM on August 1, 2013 [28 favorites]


I for one am glad our President is nothing like that evil monster Vladimir Putin.

They're both pretty dashing in a suit though.
posted by elizardbits at 9:03 PM on August 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


It is a shame that the Obama administration is more upset about Russia granting Snowden temporary asylum than it is about their propping up Bashar Assad.
posted by Flashman at 9:03 PM on August 1, 2013 [16 favorites]


This thread is going to turn into a "The US is just as big a human rights abuser as Russia!" thread, isn't it?

Oh, no no. It's just the US has eroded its moral ground in that area a lot since the Cold War, and the original quote was humorous on its face. Especially considering exactly what it is that Snowden finds himself on the run to escape, which is probably Bradley Manning-level prisoner abuse.
posted by JHarris at 9:04 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Does this mean we get to be the good guys again? Instead of, you know, the ones gunning down first responders with drones when they come to the scene of a dronestrike? I for one am glad our President is nothing like that evil monster Vladimir Putin.

Yeah, sorry. The drones and the domestic spying stuff (not to mention the international intercepts) and Zimmerman and Iraq and torture and Guantanamo Bay have kind of eroded whatever moral high horse American had at the end of the Clinton years. You guys are just another country now.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:06 PM on August 1, 2013 [38 favorites]



Olympic boycott? There's precedent...


America should do that for Russia's stance on gay rights alone
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:06 PM on August 1, 2013 [40 favorites]


I think this is American arrogance finally coming home to roost. Russia, China, and Latin America have all been antagonizing the US government over Snowden, but I think their threats turned into promises when the US had the gall to divert President Morales' plane by leaning on NATO.

As we know, Vladimir Putin is a hero of democracy and civil liberties, specifically the right to privacy and freedom of the press

I am bothered by comments like this. What about Russia's pathetic human rights record makes the situation in the United States better? That we aren't assassinating journalists in the street, but instead, threatening to jail them?

Other times we just silence the whistleblowers directly:
While it's impossible to say just exactly what a fair financial award should be for a person who reports bad corporate activity to the public, it's certainly true that when these whistleblower suits end in failure, it has a chilling effect on other people thinking about coming forward. Not many people are willing to risk their jobs if they think it will cost them every last dime in the end. This is just one more example of how hard it is for whistleblowers to come out even, even if they win jury trials.
You may remember that Russia does pretty much the same thing to anyone exposing the oligarchy... the only difference is how far they are willing to go to stifle dissent.

And, let's not forget, Putin isn't the only head of state who has people killed at his command.

It's true that America isn't Russia, but that doesn't mean they don't have anything in common, or that saying we're better than Putin's Russia is exactly a ringing endorsement of our government. We have problems of our own.

Does that mean that we shouldn't have made an effort to protect Chen Guangcheng? Sure, it's political, but I'll take a little justice due to international politics instead of the usual injustice any day.
posted by deanklear at 9:07 PM on August 1, 2013 [23 favorites]


There are now Republicans calling for a US boycott of the Olympics over this

That will lower DEFCON by one, but it's been at 5 for a while. It'll grant the Russkies 4 Ops though. Twilight Struggle forever!
posted by JHarris at 9:07 PM on August 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


This thread is going to turn into a "The US is just as big a human rights abuser as Russia!" thread, isn't it?

Oh, no no. It's just the US has eroded its moral ground in that area a lot since the Cold War, and the original quote was humorous on its face. Especially considering exactly what it is that Snowden finds himself on the run to escape, which is probably Bradley Manning-level prisoner abuse.


Well, good! Then I think we agree. And people are using lots of citations in their complaints, which makes me happy and gives me material to read later.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:15 PM on August 1, 2013


Olympic boycott? There's precedent...

Winter Olympic boycott. Winter. Referring to the Winter Olympics as 'the Olympics' is like referring to Fox News as 'the news'. It's not quite the same thing.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:15 PM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


John McCain:
“Russia’s action today is a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States,” he said. “It is a slap in the face of all Americans. Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Putin’s Russia. We need to deal with the Russia that is, not the Russia we might wish for.”

carsonb:
“The NSA's actions recently are a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States,” he said. “It is a slap in the face of all Americans. Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with The War on Terror, The Security State, and The Constitution. We need to deal with the NSA that is, not the NSA we might wish for.”
posted by carsonb at 9:21 PM on August 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


"Winter Olympic boycott. Winter. Referring to the Winter Olympics as 'the Olympics' is like referring to Fox News as 'the news'. It's not quite the same thing."

Try telling that to the hundreds of American athletes who have dedicated their lives to winter sports they will not be in the same shape for in four years. Telling them to go fuck themselves might have been defensible in the 80s when it was in defense of the freedom of the Afghan people from foreign invasion but to do so now in pursuit of persecuting a global hero, much less after our own invasion of Afghanistan, would be way too fucking rich. Even for us.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:24 PM on August 1, 2013 [19 favorites]


I'm glad the guy finally got a bit of a break. I hope he has a long happy quiet life.
posted by MikeWarot at 9:28 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


It might be a long happy life, but possibly all of it in Russia (assuming the Russkie spooks don't eject him after they've drained him.)
posted by anadem at 9:32 PM on August 1, 2013


In Canada the Winter Olympics IS the Olympics so a US boycott, well, more medals for us basically.
posted by unSane at 9:33 PM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


What are the odds of him being snatched? Is that even a thing that could happen?
posted by Sebmojo at 9:36 PM on August 1, 2013


Sen. Lindsey Graham: Snowden has 'gotten some people killed probably'

"Pressed by Blitzer if there was evidence that Snowden had directly put American lives at risk, Graham said 'a ton' exists, but that he could not share it publicly."
posted by homunculus at 9:49 PM on August 1, 2013


Try telling that to the hundreds of American athletes who have dedicated their lives to winter sports they will not be in the same shape for in four years. Telling them to go fuck themselves might have been defensible in the 80s when it was in defense of the freedom of the Afghan people from foreign invasion but to do so now in pursuit of persecuting a global hero, much less after our own invasion of Afghanistan, would be way too fucking rich. Even for us.

Sport is the answer to hate and divisiveness. Federal politicians should not be boycotting any international sporting event but rather using the opportunity for diplomacy. There isn't a country on earth innocent of all things. I'm not sure how the US can contemplate boycotts when its own states still treat gays like second class citizens, depriving them of basic rights. Every athlete must decide on their own whether they can visit a place and compete in it. I said the comments about the Winter Olympics in jest simply because I was a track athlete and view the Olympic ideal as sacred, something that has been fucked over by corruption and Coca-Cola, and Red Bull-fuelled half pipe snowboarding for 14 year olds with their pants around their asses. I respect real winter sport athletes, yes, but a lot of it these days just looks like a commercial.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:50 PM on August 1, 2013


Hey guys. I'm pissed about the LGBT rights thing in Russia too, but can we put that in a different thread?
posted by schmod at 9:50 PM on August 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Can the press please, please stop quoting Lindsey Graham as though he's a serious person with important things to say?
posted by 1adam12 at 9:53 PM on August 1, 2013 [26 favorites]


Or at least refer to him as Senator Huckleberry Closetcase.
posted by peeedro at 9:55 PM on August 1, 2013 [29 favorites]


Hey guys. I'm pissed about the LGBT rights thing in Russia too, but can we put that in a different thread?

There's an open thread here.
posted by homunculus at 9:55 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That Onion article is awesome.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:59 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey guys. I'm pissed about the LGBT rights thing in Russia too, but can we put that in a different thread?

Unfortunately, nobody at all's talk about an Olympic boycott is being described as "going apeshit," in the FPP, so everyone has got to talk about it. Since Russian legislators can't stop going on TV saying that Russia is going to enforce its incredibly anti-gay laws, pro-gay people also want a Sochi boycott. So the two issues are magically linked by the FPP.

More importantly, you're not helping your own case by appearing defensive about Russia's absolutely shitty human rights record. Hey, let's be honest--it is sorta not cool that this dude is saying the US is such a terrible place while gladly accepting Putin's help to avoid prosecution for acts he knew were crimes when he committed them.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:03 PM on August 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


Snowden did good but when he said of Princess Margaret, "You look like a Jewish manicurist and I hate you", he was dead to me.
posted by unliteral at 10:06 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


As we know, Vladimir Putin is a hero of democracy and civil liberties, specifically the right to privacy and freedom of the press

Which is why the United States should be doubly ashamed that we'd ever give a guy like that the moral high ground.

That he's fleeing to Russia is not a statement that Russia is good. It's a statement about how low we've sunk.
posted by straight at 10:06 PM on August 1, 2013 [44 favorites]


Funny sight today at Black Hat: A life size cardboard cutout of a grinning Edward Snowden directly across from the Booz Allen booth.....they must have been furious.....he's not high up on their alumni mailing list I suspect.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:08 PM on August 1, 2013 [32 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that Russia wasn't high on Snowden's list of places he wanted to end up in, but given that he has a justifiable and human fear of ending up with a bag over his head and never seeing the light of day ever again, I'm guessing his choices weren't many.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:15 PM on August 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


That he's fleeing to Russia is not a statement that Russia is good. It's a statement about how low we've sunk.

Bullshit. It's nothing more than avoiding prosecution.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:20 PM on August 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


I wonder how long he'll stay in Russia? Until they get what they want from him? Until Putin gets bored with him? Until it becomes advantageous for Putin to trade him back to the US? Until Snowden gets a better deal somewhere else? Until Snowden has an unfortunate freak accident?

I'm really glad that I'm not Edward Snowden.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:32 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Onion article aside, Snowden is pretty much fucked for life. Right now all he knows is that he can stay in Russia, maybe, for a year. So he's on the clock to figure out where else in the world he can live after that.

Its pretty easy for us to snark at this, while we maintain the freedom to travel pretty much the entire planet as we see fit and can reasonably afford. How would you feel if you found out tomorrow that for the rest of your life, you can never, ever, ever return to your home country? You will never, ever visit a long list of countries (the majority of them, more than 100) that have an extradition treaty with the US. You will - at best - be restricted to a very short list of what are generally considered (but by no means clearly legally defined) non-extradition countries, and of those you'll have to go hat in hand, begging for graces to enter and reside in their state. This is unfathomable for 313.9 million Americans minus maybe 100, probably less.

Even there, in those far flung places on the planet where you might be granted residency, you will always have to be watching your back, because who knows how far the most powerful government in the world might go to cover their collective ass? They certainly don't see covertly (or overtly) crossing international borders with teams of SEAL squads or scores of drones as outside the realm of options when it comes to eliminating enemies of the state. How much more information Snowden has, and how much more mud he could put on the face of the NSA, has a direct correlation with this consideration.

Snowden believed that what is going on today in the US, what our own government is perpetuating every day, unconstitutionally delving into whomever's private information whenever they feel like it with absolutely zero accountability, was wrong. He believed the fact that the same people perpetuating it are actively trying to cover it up is also wrong. He believed it enough to ruin the rest of his life for it - and that's his best case scenario.

People can say what they will about the man and what he's done, but you have to respect that kind of conviction.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:41 PM on August 1, 2013 [92 favorites]


Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden made the right call when he fled the U.S.
posted by homunculus at 10:45 PM on August 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


"I wonder how long he'll stay in Russia? Until they get what they want from him? Until Putin gets bored with him? Until it becomes advantageous for Putin to trade him back to the US? Until Snowden gets a better deal somewhere else? Until Snowden has an unfortunate freak accident?"

It's hard to say. If the situation were reversed and Eduard Snowdenski was seeking sanctuary in the US after revealing the secrets of the FSB, I'd say he had some real worries. The Russians would keep trying to kill him, even years later, as as example to any other leakers.

Would the US do the same? I'd like to think not.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:46 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bullshit. It's nothing more than avoiding prosecution.

By the same government that refuses to prosecute torturers and war profiteers? The same government which refuses to properly regulate and hold accountable the capitalists currently destroying our planetary ecology and social fabric? The same government that tortured Bradley Manning? The same government currently involved in like at least ten different proxy wars as we speak?(and those are the ones that one can easily find information about on the internet) Yeah the rule of law is dead in this country and any prosecution of Snowden would be a Kangaroo Court bereft of all legitimacy. We as a nation have lost all credibility. So good on Snowden I hope he never sees a day in Jail or stands trial for any charges leveled by our sham of a government.

What's Bullshit is the idea that Snowden should be prosecuted when he is very clearly a whistle blower. He has done the American people, and really the people of the entire world, a great service.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:48 PM on August 1, 2013 [66 favorites]


And as allkindsoftime notes he has exhibited more conviction and guts than any piece of shit elected official in our federal government ever has...at least in my living memory.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:50 PM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


Sen. Lindsey Graham: Snowden has 'gotten some people killed probably'
The sentencing hearing for Army whistleblower Bradley Manning began Wednesday with a prosecution witness undermining the state’s own claims Manning’s disclosures to WikiLeaks harmed the United States. On Wednesday, retired Brigadier General Robert Carr, who oversaw the Pentagon task force assessing the leaks’ impact, admitted that not a single person lost their lives as a result of the WikiLeaks disclosures. Pressed by Manning’s defense on deaths resulting from the WikiLeaks cables, Carr said: "I don’t have a specific example." Carr suggested the WikiLeaks cables’ main harm to the United States was in souring relations with foreign governments and villagers in Afghanistan. Manning is facing 136 years in prison after being found guilty on 20 counts for leaking hundreds of thousands of government documents to WikiLeaks. He was acquitted on the most serious charge against him, aiding the enemy. The prosecution is expected to call up to 20 witnesses during the sentencing phase.
Second verse, same as the first.
posted by deanklear at 10:53 PM on August 1, 2013 [18 favorites]


And, let's not forget, Putin isn't the only head of state who has people killed at his command.

It's true that America isn't Russia, but that doesn't mean they don't have anything in common, or that saying we're better than Putin's Russia is exactly a ringing endorsement of our government. We have problems of our own.


Mercy. Then why make a comment at all, when you have to go through these painful contortions? (I'm certainly reserving comment, because going into contortions for one reason or the other is pretty much the only thing I know I can do here.)
posted by raysmj at 10:53 PM on August 1, 2013


Winter Olympic boycott. Winter. Referring to the Winter Olympics as 'the Olympics' is like referring to Fox News as 'the news'. It's not quite the same thing.

Indeed. One is in Summer, the other in Winter. And one has events generally more dangerous than the other. Both are the Olympics however and the events require skill, athleticism, and dedication. Or is this a case of more people like Brittney Spears than Pavement so like referring to Pavement as a band is like referring to Fox News as "the news"? Or those assholes in the North, pfft, they don't do real sports?
posted by juiceCake at 10:55 PM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


That Ellsberg piece homunculus linked to is really something. It's mind blowing to think that after Ellsberg surrendered to authorities (after three days as a fugitive) he was released on his own recognizance, instead of being thrown into hellish solitary confinement like Bradley Manning. And at his trial the government lost the case because they committed various illegal actions that would all be legal now. In some ways, Nixon's America during the Vietnam War had more freedoms than America today. At least for whistleblowers.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:05 PM on August 1, 2013 [24 favorites]


Exclusive: NSA pays £100m in secret funding for GCHQ
The US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ over the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain's intelligence gathering programmes.

The top secret payments are set out in documents which make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment, and that GCHQ has to work hard to meet their demands. "GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight," a GCHQ strategy briefing said.

The funding underlines the closeness of the relationship between GCHQ and its US equivalent, the National Security Agency. But it will raise fears about the hold Washington has over the UK's biggest and most important intelligence agency, and whether Britain's dependency on the NSA has become too great.
posted by deanklear at 11:09 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, those easy, breezy Nixon-era '70s. Pretty widely known, but ... from Wikipedia:


Ellsberg later claimed that after his trial ended, Watergate prosecutor William H. Merrill informed him of an aborted plot by Liddy and the "plumbers" to have 12 Cuban-Americans who had previously worked for the CIA to "totally incapacitate" Ellsberg as he appeared at a public rally, though it is unclear whether that meant to assassinate Ellsberg or merely to hospitalize him. In his autobiography, Liddy describes an "Ellsberg neutralization proposal" originating from Howard Hunt, which involved drugging Ellsberg with LSD, by dissolving it in his soup, at a fund-raising dinner in Washington in order to "have Ellsberg incoherent by the time he was to speak" and thus "make him appear a near burnt-out drug case" and "discredit him". The plot involved waiters from the Miami Cuban community. According to Liddy, when the plan was finally approved, "there was no longer enough lead time to get the Cuban waiters up from their Miami hotels and into place in the Washington Hotel where the dinner was to take place" and the plan was "put into abeyance pending another opportunity."

posted by raysmj at 11:18 PM on August 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Right, but remember that this was the Nixon administration going rogue. Today there'd be no need for those theatrics because they'd just put Ellsberg in jail as soon as he turned himself in, and he'd never see daylight again.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:21 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just wish this had happened closer to an election year, as my impression is that the US government's actions with regard to the NSA leaks are being viewed in a heavily negative light all around and both parties would have some level of political pressure to diminish the level of surveillance the government places on Americans and on the internet.

Please don't let these events go forgotten three years from now.
posted by LSK at 11:32 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I won't be baited into making contortions about this, but I didn't like, don't like, seeing the Nixon era romanticized (except for the music, maybe). The prison and justice system in America is, as a whole, undoubtedly more harsh now, for everyone, not just whistleblowers or military prisoners. Vastly more harsh. (That being said, Thomas Drake has seen daylight.)
posted by raysmj at 11:33 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not romanticizing the Nixon era. My point is that, in a time when the US was at war and the public sharply divided between left and right, and under a President who started the drug war, secretly bombed Cambodia and committed many blatantly illegal acts, you could still leak thousands of pages from the Defense Department and live a regular life afterwards. Now, not so much.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:49 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait until Putin has Snowden killed and claims it was his the work of some political rival backed by the CIA.
posted by humanfont at 12:01 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, if we can get the US to harbor Gary Kasparov because of this, then I'm going to count this as a win-win.
posted by Avelwood at 12:09 AM on August 2, 2013


Is this so?:
On Obama's election website www.change.gov until a few days after Snowden' s revelations:
"Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process."

Please stop the nonsense about Snowden fleeing to Russia. He was en route to a further destination when the USA annulled his travel documents.
That Russia has granted Snowden a years asylum does not equal that Putin has his best interests at heart. Putin is quite happy scoring cheap points as America scores own goal after own goal.
posted by adamvasco at 12:12 AM on August 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


Choosing to stay in Russia is, man, to my, most likely, poorly informed opinion indicative of flopping, intentionally or not, out of the frying pan and into the fire.

The actual, substantial worth or worthlessness of Snowden's revelations aside - the real sad part is that no one thinks he would receive a fair trial or not be flat out tortured (cf, Joseph Padilla - yeah, remember him?) to near death in prison.

Seriously, there's no assumption of his receiving a fair and impartial trial. That's deeply distressing.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:12 AM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


I really really want Snowden to declare that he's bisexual as he exits their airspace.

You're thinking of Lord Snowdon, sorry.
posted by dhartung at 12:40 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Who'd be silly enough to make that mistake!!
posted by unliteral at 12:45 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


won't be baited into making contortions about this, but I didn't like, don't like, seeing the Nixon era romanticized

No one is doing this.

And just to reiterate what adamvasco said...the people berating him for staying in Russia have got it all ass backwareds. He's not fleeing to Russia he is fleeing from the U.S. and the U.S. government made his flight much more difficult if not impossible by revoking his passport.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:47 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or does it look like Russian did this just to piss off the US?

That's why to do things against the US. For the lulz!
posted by telstar at 1:04 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The US is just as big a human rights abuser as Russia!"

Of course it is. It's just a fact. The US has for the past hundred years, been complicit in genocides, massacres, torture, illegal invasions of foreign countries, illegal spying on a massive and unprecedented scale, creating and supporting oppressive police states and dictatorships around the world, and gives no indication that it's going to stop. Not to mention having the largest percentage of its population imprisoned in for-profit prisons and a burgeoning police state. Just because life is pretty good if you're a middle class white person, doesn't mean that a whole lot of people aren't suffering or haven't suffered to secure that wonderful lifestyle for you.
posted by empath at 1:12 AM on August 2, 2013 [26 favorites]


which isn't to say that Russia hasn't been far worse in the past, but if you want to talk about the world since the fall of the Soviet Union? I don't think there's any comparison which country does more damage
posted by empath at 1:19 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


which isn't to say that Russia hasn't been far worse in the past, but if you want to talk about the world since the fall of the Soviet Union? I don't think there's any comparison which country does more damage
posted by empath 5 minutes ago [+]


To be fair, I'm sure Russia would love for the roles to be reversed.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:26 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure! They absolutely would, and most countries would. It's not like the US is unique in ruthlessly acting in its own self-interest. We've just been able to get away with a lot in the 'court of public opinion' because we weren't as bad as Hitler or Stalin, but that isn't going to last forever.
posted by empath at 1:31 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


If Russia is as bad as the US, then the US is not as bad as Russia.

...

Brilliant!
posted by Pyrogenesis at 2:01 AM on August 2, 2013


I'd so love if if any country security recorded and then published a summit with the U.S. in which they rapidly turned every discussion point back onto the U.S. torture record. Talk about Snowden? Nope, try the torture of Bradley Manning. Talk about Assad? Nope, try bringing the Bush Six to justice. Talk about journalistic freedom? Why not whistleblowers? Why not Weev, Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown, etc. Oil? Americas drug wars. Obama's kill list. etc. Even our police state like culture and police militarization if time allows. Just nail home the message that the American government has lost all credibility. And then I'd enjoy seeing a second and a third country do so.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:59 AM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hey, let's be honest--it is sorta not cool that this dude is saying the US is such a terrible place while gladly accepting Putin's help to avoid prosecution for acts he knew were crimes when he committed them.

With you it's always CRIME or NOT CRIME. Nothing at all about severity, nothing about whether the laws are just, about how our dysfunctional system currently makes it hard to fix them, nothing about public good, nothing about casting light on terrible actions, nothing about the power of the state being used to keep things from the citizens they really really should know.

Bullshit. It's nothing more than avoiding prosecution.

Running to a nation known to have a horrible human rights record, to escape a nation that was long thought to have a pretty good record, for the crime of telling its citizens about how it's not as good as they thought it was.
posted by JHarris at 3:34 AM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Pressed by Blitzer if there was evidence that Snowden had directly put American lives at risk, Graham said 'a ton' exists, but that he could not share it publicly."

Ah yes. The political version of "I know more about this than you can possibly imagine."
posted by MuffinMan at 3:46 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


But isn't it all public now, anyway, given that a great deal of it has been in newspapers? I don't understand what the point is now of keeping mum and being cryptic, given that he apparently took most of the NSA's files with him.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:48 AM on August 2, 2013


Nice one Snowden. You've received temporary asylum in a country where its President monitored foreigners, consular officials and students as a member of the secret service, maneuvered his way around pesky laws to remain President, despite massive protests and whose first act as President was to guarantee that corruption charges against the former President would not be pursued.

Frankly, this just reads as Snowden thinking he shouldn't haven't to face any consequences for his actions and that whatever he can do to stay out American reach is justified. Hardly commendable.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:00 AM on August 2, 2013


Unless he gets a job with the KGB, I don't really think it's all that hypocritical. He clearly didn't want to stay there. I doubt he'll be there for the full year. He'll probably move around a bunch trying to lose the CIA and then fly to south america.
posted by empath at 4:03 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Frankly, this just reads as Snowden thinking he shouldn't haven't to face any consequences for his actions and that whatever he can do to stay out American reach is justified.

Within reason, I think that's close to what Snowden thinks.

On the first point, Snowden believes that the NSA is acting against the interests of the American people and against the law. That makes him a whistleblower, not a turncoat. The view of Snowden as a bona fide whistleblower is widely shared. Viewed from outside the US, the extent of its monitoring of its own citizens is grotesque and unnecessary abuse of privacy based on the ticking timebomb theory of domestic security that has prevailed in the US since 9/11.

On the second, most countries with better human rights records also have close relationships with the US. He has provably tried to get asylum in a bunch of other places but either can't get there safely or pressure has been applied to remove the offers. It's a bit tough to blame the guy for finding the only available port in the storm.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:08 AM on August 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


"Snowden asylum may presage rocky period in U.S.-Russia ties"

That was the third sequel, right?
posted by fairmettle at 4:10 AM on August 2, 2013


I can't really blame anybody, even really guilty people, for not wanting to subject themselves to our cruel and unusual prison system. I don't really buy the idea it's a requirement for civil disobedience. Going to prison should only be part of that ideal if doing so can actually help you achieve your goals. In this case, if the goal is to encourage more whistleblowing, showing you can get away with it is more likely to help with that than sitting in jail.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:19 AM on August 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Snowden: Bigger than a 46 pound fish.
posted by gman at 4:23 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


But isn't it all public now, anyway, given that a great deal of it has been in newspapers? I don't understand what the point is now of keeping mum and being cryptic, given that he apparently took most of the NSA's files with him.

As long as they are cryptic and hide things, they make it seem as though there is a deep well of knowledge that they have; and, crucially, proofs of lives being saved that never have to stand up to peer review. This is essentially government by secrecy: he is a villain, because of this evidence that we know but that you can never see!
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:24 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Frankly, this just reads as Snowden thinking he shouldn't haven't to face any consequences for his actions and that whatever he can do to stay out American reach is justified. Hardly commendable.

And where is his hair shirt? Doesn't he know what a terrible thing it is that he's done?
posted by indubitable at 4:43 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowdens plight is further hampered by the recent revelations that the US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ over the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain's intelligence gathering programmes.
This makes him public enemy number one to both of these countries and their clandestine networks.
I really have no idea what his outcome will be.
It could be in the interests of Russia that they keep him occasionally in the news otherwise they will be accused of disappearing him which could well happen, either disappeared dead or rendered not necessarily to US home territory but one of their other now not so secret prisons.
Dubious source but worth digging into.
In a document revealed by RIA Novosti in October 2012, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is running prisons in Poland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Morocco, Thailand, Lithuania and Romania.
posted by adamvasco at 4:48 AM on August 2, 2013


Especially considering exactly what it is that Snowden finds himself on the run to escape, which is probably Bradley Manning-level prisoner abuse.

Yes, they have a comfy concrete cell at ADX Florence with his name on it.
posted by killdevil at 4:49 AM on August 2, 2013


That passport photo makes Snowden look like a Muppet.
posted by Z. Aurelius Fraught at 5:00 AM on August 2, 2013


So, asylum for Snowden, continued imprisonment for Pussy Riot. That Putin eh? Barrel of laughs.

Oh, there is no chance in hell Snowden will 'get a job with the KGB FSB', unless it's some propaganda post.
posted by edgeways at 5:24 AM on August 2, 2013


Nice one Snowden. You've received temporary asylum in a country where its President monitored foreigners, consular officials and students as a member of the secret service, maneuvered his way around pesky laws to remain President, despite massive protests and whose first act as President was to guarantee that corruption charges against the former President would not be pursued.

This so misses the point. It is a tired observation. The flaw in this argument is the belief that Snowden leaked the information for his own personal benefit--meaning he just couldn't live in the USA anymore because of the oppression. So he lashed out and fled with the intention of finding a more transparent country to live in, with lots of unicorns, butterflies, and glitter. But--oops--he ended up in one with a similarly oppressive regime, or worse. His bad!

This is ridiculous. He didn't leak the NSA information to reveal the oppressive actions of the Russian state. He leaked the information to reveal more about the true nature of the USA. That has nothing to do with the nature of the country that he ultimately finds safe harbor in. Christ--maybe he should have shot himself into outer space. Would that allow you to better handle the irony?

Frankly, this just reads as Snowden thinking he shouldn't haven't to face any consequences for his actions and that whatever he can do to stay out American reach is justified.

Franky--I agree with him. What is it about Obama's rhetoric (aka lies) about whistleblowers don't you understand?
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:49 AM on August 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


I'll remember the line "It's nothing more than avoiding prosecution" when some nation 'renders' the Bush Six, the U.S. stymies the ICC, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:54 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


there's something that kind of puzzles me about this business - why didn't snowden flee to one of those latin american countries that are supposedly so willing to give him asylum before he went public?

didn't he think things through - or could it be that those latin american countries aren't as welcoming as we think?

i do know that anyone who bets their future on the stability of some of those governments is making a dangerous bet
posted by pyramid termite at 5:57 AM on August 2, 2013


there's something that kind of puzzles me about this business - why didn't snowden flee to one of those latin american countries that are supposedly so willing to give him asylum before he went public?

Doesn't like the food?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:59 AM on August 2, 2013


I'm really glad that I'm not Edward Snowden.




Me too. If you were Snowden we would never have found out how deeply NSA is delving into our private lives.
posted by notreally at 6:01 AM on August 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


And as allkindsoftime notes he has exhibited more conviction and guts than any piece of shit elected official in our federal government ever has...at least in my living memory.

Representative John Lewis.
posted by Etrigan at 6:02 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Winter Olympic boycott. Winter. Referring to the Winter Olympics as 'the Olympics' is like referring to Fox News as 'the news'. It's not quite the same thing.

I am not sure where you're coming from, but I know a lot of people who would name figure skating, slalom skiing, and ski jumping as the main Olympic sports think of when they think "Olympics," right up there with the track and field and swimming events.
posted by aught at 6:05 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


There weren't afaik any nations offering asylum before he went public, pyramid termite, well that sounds self-contradictory even. I've no idea why he selected a nation with an extradition treaty with the U.S., but maybe he perceived political gain in Hong Kong's status as a U.S. ally, while perceiving safety in how the NSA spied on them, obviously they at least warned him to get out.

I'd presume the South American countries look pretty attractive to all whistle blowers after the U.S. stopped President Morales' plane. I'd love if it Bolivia would simply pass legislation automatically granting asylum to any Americans that publicly reveal classified information, that'd simply matters for future leakers.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:09 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a good thing that we have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights so this kind of shit will never happen.

It's truly disheartening that there's always a long list of "legitimate reasons" why we can't live up to our ideals or have the courage of our (supposed) convictions.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:11 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


why didn't snowden flee to one of those latin american countries that are supposedly so willing to give him asylum before he went public?
My guess and it's only a guess is that there are no dierct flights to S. America from Hawaii and that when he left Hawaii he did not want to pass through any US territory.
I think this was pretty thoroughly addressed in one of the earlier threads.

Interesting post from Juan Cole: Putin as America’s Frenemy: The Snowden Paradox.
...countries don’t have friends, only interests.
posted by adamvasco at 6:15 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is ridiculous. He didn't leak the NSA information to reveal the oppressive actions of the Russian state. He leaked the information to reveal more about the true nature of the USA. That has nothing to do with the nature of the country that he ultimately finds safe harbor in.

You can't complain about X as you're accepting aid from someone or a country that a the very least does X and more likely does X, Y and Z. Or rather you can, but can't expect to be taken very seriously for it.

You can't say claim irony or fear of the US judicial or prison system while merrily hanging out in the country that cheerfully tossed Pussy Riot in prison. Will Russia toss Snowden into prison. The chances are slim and now, but allowing himself to be used as a political tool just weakens any moral or legal claims he might have. At the very least, it's just desperate grab to stay free, but it legitimately calls into question just far Snowden and his defenders will go to excuse his actions.

Christ--maybe he should have shot himself into outer space.

This is a ridiculous argument, Snowden hasn't been trained to fly a Soyuz module.

Franky--I agree with him.

So it's ok for Snowden to place himself above the law, but not anyone else?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:23 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Snowden broke the law for nobel goals that could not realistically be achieved in other ways, this make him the good guy. The Bush Six broke the law to commit war crimes, including torture, this makes them evil.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:28 AM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]



You can't complain about X as you're accepting aid from someone or a country that a the very least does X and more likely does X, Y and Z. Or rather you can, but can't expect to be taken very seriously for it.

You can't say claim irony or fear of the US judicial or prison system while merrily hanging out in the country that cheerfully tossed Pussy Riot in prison. Will Russia toss Snowden into prison. The chances are slim and now, but allowing himself to be used as a political tool just weakens any moral or legal claims he might have. At the very least, it's just desperate grab to stay free, but it legitimately calls into question just far Snowden and his defenders will go to excuse his actions.


This is bonkers. His being taken seriously is irrelevant. His moral or legal claims are irrelevant. His personal moral or ethical failings, things we all have, are irrelevant.

Snowden saw something wrong, and took great personal risk to rectify that wrong.

People who are inflexibly critical of all whisteblowers will seize on literally anything in order to advance the idea that Snowden is the bad guy. In their mind, he has to do literally everything perfectly--He didn't graduate high school!

AT least he's a white, straight, cisgendered man.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:29 AM on August 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


You can't complain about X as you're accepting aid from someone or a country that a the very least does X and more likely does X, Y and Z. Or rather you can, but can't expect to be taken very seriously for it.

You can't say claim irony or fear of the US judicial or prison system while merrily hanging out in the country that cheerfully tossed Pussy Riot in prison. Will Russia toss Snowden into prison. The chances are slim and now, but allowing himself to be used as a political tool just weakens any moral or legal claims he might have. At the very least, it's just desperate grab to stay free, but it legitimately calls into question just far Snowden and his defenders will go to excuse his actions.


This is fairly disingenuous. Instead of making an actual substantive argument you must use the variables x, y, and z because you know that if you use actual real things Russia is supposedly doing bad one can probably find instances where the U.S. government has done the exact same thing.

Snowden is "accepting aid" from Russia because the U.S. government revoked his passport. And as for Pussy Riot they got what they deserved, I mean they did break the law and all amirite? Desecrating a Russian Orthodox Church is very much something that they knew was illegal when they did it so they and their supporters should probably just shut up and accept the consequences of their actions...what's the sarcasm tag again?

This purity test people are requiring of Snowden is ridiculous, and it really just makes the people proposing it look like a bunch of propaganda swilling dandies.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:41 AM on August 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


You can't complain about X as you're accepting aid from someone or a country that a the very least does X and more likely does X, Y and Z. Or rather you can, but can't expect to be taken very seriously for it.

Beggers can't be choosers. I don't really see any reason to judge Snowden based on what country he ended up boxed in to. As a nation we sure don't seem to mind having all kinds of friendly connections with Russia despite the complaints we have about what goes on there. X, Y, and Z issues we have with Putin aren't going to stop our trade relationships or attendance at the Olympics.

AT least he's a white, straight, cisgendered man.

I really doubt that is factoring into BB's views on this issue.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:48 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really doubt that is factoring into BB's views on this issue.

So do I. I'm speaking in generalities, and Manning's gender identity and sexual orientation was used to attack him.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:56 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Germany Nixes Surveillance Pact With US, Britain
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:58 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is fairly disingenuous. Instead of making an actual substantive argument you must use the variables x, y, and z because you know that if you use actual real things Russia is supposedly doing bad one can probably find instances where the U.S. government has done the exact same thing.

There's nothing disingenuous about it and it's odd that anyone would call it such. The point is that Russia has done some fairly bad things under Putin's watch. For instance, his handpicking of his successor, who immediately turns around and names him prime minister and then running for President for a third, non consecutive term is something that the US has yet duplicated.

We can go back and forth, comparing and contrasting various illegal and immoral actions Russia and the US have done and no doubt continue to do. So why stay in one and not the other? Just the practical reason of staying out of jail, probably.

Snowden is "accepting aid" from Russia because the U.S. government revoked his passport. And as for Pussy Riot they got what they deserved, I mean they did break the law and all amirite? Desecrating a Russian Orthodox Church is very much something that they knew was illegal when they did it so they and their supporters should probably just shut up and accept the consequences of their actions...what's the sarcasm tag again?

Pussy Riot is starkly different from Snowden because they knowing did what they did, went to trial to fight the charges and accepted their sentence as a further illustration of problems with the Russian legal system. That's a step up from Snowden's leaving the US to escape any sort of confrontation with the US legal system.

Beggers can't be choosers. I don't really see any reason to judge Snowden based on what country he ended up boxed in to.

He said he doesn't want to live in a society that does these things, yet is willing to go other countries which have similar or worse systems. If such a system is so morally wrong, why live under any such system? That's the part I don't personally don't get.

AT least he's a white, straight, cisgendered man.

Not just that, but he's an "educated", white, straight male who isn't in the military. What horrors was he going to face in a widely publicized press conference or trial in the US?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:09 AM on August 2, 2013


So why stay in one and not the other? Just the practical reason of staying out of jail, probably.


Yeah, so? Snowden doesn't want to go to jail. He didn't leave the US because of its policies, he left the US because he doesn't want to go to jail.

He said he doesn't want to live in a society that does these things, yet is willing to go other countries which have similar or worse systems. If such a system is so morally wrong, why live under any such system? That's the part I don't personally don't get.

Do you live in a society that does these things? WTF? You must approve of them then, otherwise you would move! I mean if you live in a society where bad things happen, then it logically follows that you tacitly approve of all those bad things happen. I mean, come on. /sarcasm
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:11 AM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


He said he doesn't want to live in a society that does these things, yet is willing to go other countries which have similar or worse systems

The man has no passport. In many countries, you can't apply for asylum unless physically threre. Even if he did have a passport, he can't transit through or over a country aligned with the US, or where the US can exert sufficient pressure to extradite him. This limits his options enormously. He spent more than a month in Moscow airport before taking asylum there so it's pretty clear Russia wasn't his first choice. In theory Russia could have issued him with an exit pass but why would they when it gives them considerable political capital to have him under their wing and the risk of Snowden being arrested would put egg on their faces.

Here is a list of the countries to which he applied for asylum before finally accepting the Russian offer.

The only one on that list which really qualifies for "similar or worse systems" is China and at a push Cuba and even then it's not clear to me if Snowden applied to Hong Kong rather than mainland China.

To repeat - Snowden's choice of options is entirely determined by a) not having a passport and b) having to pick countries that will not yield to US demands for extradition.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:19 AM on August 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


The point is that Russia has done some fairly bad things under Putin's watch...He said he doesn't want to live in a society that does these things, yet is willing to go other countries which have similar or worse systems. If such a system is so morally wrong, why live under any such system?

So what? What does this have to do with the actions of Snowden? He can't control the actions of Russia's government. This is nothing more than an Ad hominem tu quoque fallacy.

Pussy Riot is starkly different from Snowden because they knowing did what they did, went to trial to fight the charges and accepted their sentence as a further illustration of problems with the Russian legal system. That's a step up from Snowden's leaving the US to escape any sort of confrontation with the US legal system.

There's the nagging fact that two of the five members that participated in the church protest escaped the clutches of Russian law enforcement and are currently in hiding. I would assume the three captured were also trying to evade arrest when they were captured given that they had masks on when the did the protest and probably assumed that the government didn't know who they were. So there's that.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:27 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


So why stay in one and not the other? Just the practical reason of staying out of jail, probably.

Yes, that is certainly the reason. He is absolutely not claiming he is in Russia because it has a better government or that he desires to live outside the US away from his friends and family. He wants the US to debate and reform our policies on spying, he is not trying to make a point about the legal system.

Martyring yourself into a jail cell can be one way to communicate a message, but it isn't the only way and it isn't always a good way.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:31 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's nothing disingenuous about it and it's odd that anyone would call it such. The point is that Russia has done some fairly bad things under Putin's watch. For instance, his handpicking of his successor, who immediately turns around and names him prime minister and then running for President for a third, non consecutive term is something that the US has yet duplicated.
Yes, America has no problem with nepotism or despotism. It's not like the same Administration has been recycled in and out of all Republican governments since the Nixon years. And the fact that the United States was either run by a Bush or a Clinton for 24 consecutive years means we're totally and completely different. Right?
Snowden is "accepting aid" from Russia because the U.S. government revoked his passport. And as for Pussy Riot they got what they deserved, I mean they did break the law and all amirite? Desecrating a Russian Orthodox Church is very much something that they knew was illegal when they did it so they and their supporters should probably just shut up and accept the consequences of their actions...what's the sarcasm tag again?
I don't know, but you should probably look for how to turn the "exasperated self-righteous bs" tag off. You are being ridiculous.

Do you think the United States is a shining symbol of freedom of speech?
Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff’s department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than “fire code violations,” and early this morning, the Sheriff’s department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.
But hey, I'm sure they knew they were violating those firecodes, so fuck'em, amirite?
Pussy Riot is starkly different from Snowden because they knowing did what they did, went to trial to fight the charges and accepted their sentence as a further illustration of problems with the Russian legal system. That's a step up from Snowden's leaving the US to escape any sort of confrontation with the US legal system.
I hate to point out the obvious, but Pussy Riot simply has more faith in the Russian government's justice system than Snowden does in the American justice system. And in this instance, based on the alleged crimes of each in their respective political climates, and seeing how they are treating Bradley Manning, I don't think that's an unreasonable viewpoint.
He said he doesn't want to live in a society that does these things, yet is willing to go other countries which have similar or worse systems. If such a system is so morally wrong, why live under any such system? That's the part I don't personally don't get.
He wasn't trying to stay in Russia. He wanted to go to Iceland, or anywhere in Europe, and has offers in nations with better human rights records than Russia, but America phoned everyone up and said, "Touch him and suffer the consequences." He's not even allowed to fly over Europe, which is apparently airspace controlled by the Americans. But that's life under the thumb of Team America.

You get it. But you're pretending not to. For what reason, I'm not sure.
posted by deanklear at 7:32 AM on August 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't know, but you should probably look for how to turn the "exasperated self-righteous bs" tag off. You are being ridiculous.

I don't think that Pussy riot should have been imprisoned or tried for what they did, I was regurgitating the same tired argument being used against Snowden to illustrate the double standard. When we do it it's justice when they do it it's injustice. Sorry I wasn't more clear about that.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:39 AM on August 2, 2013


Here is a list of the countries to which he applied for asylum before finally accepting the Russian offer.

Some of the countries on that list have systems that are just as bad or worse the NSA that Snowden just can't stomach living under. So what's the goal here, to only protest the NSA system in America, all other systems are fine.

It just seems Snowden didn't really think this out and doesn't have much a leg to stand on. Thoguh to be fair, he's said he's neither a hero or traitor, just an American.

He wants the US to debate and reform our policies on spying, he is not trying to make a point about the legal system.

Bu is debating and reforming US policies on spying actually happening in any sort of substantial way?

You get it. But you're pretending not to.

It's impractical to respond to everyone in this thread, so I'll just stick to those that aren't presuming to know what's going on in my head.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:02 AM on August 2, 2013


Some of the countries on that list have systems that are just as bad or worse the NSA that Snowden just can't stomach living under. So what's the goal here, to only protest the NSA system in America, all other systems are fine.

Snowden is a citizen of the US. Obviously, he is going to be much more invested in the actions of his government, rather than someone elses.

What do you want him to do? What could he do that would make you not criticize him? Seriously, I'm asking. What country, specifically, would Snowden have to go in order to be immune from your ire.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:07 AM on August 2, 2013


Bu is debating and reforming US policies on spying actually happening in any sort of substantial way?

A measure to end the NSA program came within 12 votes of passing the House, and Democrats supported it in greater numbers (and thus a far greater proportion) than Republicans, which would be a good sign for the Senate, so...yeah, I'd say the needle is moving, in a legislative sense.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:10 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some of the countries on that list have systems that are just as bad or worse the NSA

Which ones? China I'll grant you. Cuba is oppressive. Both acknowledged upthread. What other countries parallel the US in terms of monitoring its own citizens?
posted by MuffinMan at 8:10 AM on August 2, 2013


Bu is debating and reforming US policies on spying actually happening in any sort of substantial way?

Debating? Yeah, sure. Reforming? Eh, if it's gonna happen it will take a while.

Some of the countries on that list have systems that are just as bad or worse the NSA that Snowden just can't stomach living under. So what's the goal here, to only protest the NSA system in America, all other systems are fine.

You keep framing this in a way that makes it sound like he left the country because he didn't like the spying. That isn't why he left. It's why he revealed the information he had access to. He doesn't have access to secret information about the policies of other governments and he does not have the same moral responsibilities to nations that are not his own.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:11 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why does Snowden need "a leg to stand on"? He's not debating anything. Him being the wrongest worst person ever wouldn't magically make what the NSA is doing A-Okay.
posted by lucidium at 8:11 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


So what's the goal here, to only protest the NSA system in America

Given that he's American, yes. Unless you expect him to spend the rest of his days traveling to every country that doesn't pass your litmus test for being better than the U.S. and crusading for radical change...I mean wtf? Your're arguments are beginning to border on the farcical and ludicrous. The goal at this point is probably to not get tortured.

all other systems are fine.

You're being obtuse.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:13 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


What other countries parallel the US in terms of monitoring its own citizens?

France, for one.

Which doesn't surprise me. Indeed, I'm thinking that there's a lot of disingenuousness in the claims to be shocked, shocked at Snowden's revelations. The Blue noted this six years ago. And that not-exactly-secret complex out in Utah, that's been a known quantity for years. ("Domestic Surveillance Directorate","Promoting Transparency"- you gotta love it.)

It's all lovely political hay in other countries, of course, and for domestic consumption they too have to profess to be surprised and outraged at such goings on, but good Lord, of course they knew about this stuff.

As to Snowden and Manning, they were being reckless and irresponsible. The way to play the government whistleblower thing is to find a sympathetic legislator or two and go there. Stupid the secrets may be, but handing them over to foreign agencies or hostile foreign newspapers should not be Plan A.

Regardless, it's the sloppiness bothers me. Manning, for example, could have cherry picked the offending videos, and I could respect that.

Instead he and Snowden did data dumps of hundred of thousands of documents, far in excess of what they could actually read or vet. Even assuming 99% was nonsensical, or "revealed" stuff that attentive citizens already knew about or suspected, there was the genuine risk that something marked top secret really was legitimately secret. Could they not have made their political points with a fraction of that material? Did this not occur to them, or did they simply not care? You don't want to encourage this sort of thing.

I hate to point out the obvious, but Pussy Riot simply has more faith in the Russian government's justice system than Snowden does in the American justice system.

Or they're simply nuts, which, given some of their other stunts, I would not rule out. But what it boils down to is, Snowden doesn't want to go to jail, he'd rather live in Switzerland. So did Marc Rich. Given the choice, so would I.

A measure to end the NSA program came within 12 votes of passing the House, and Democrats supported it in greater numbers (and thus a far greater proportion) than Republicans, which would be a good sign for the Senate, so...yeah, I'd say the needle is moving, in a legislative sense.

Cynical me suspects grandstanding. Plenty of votes on controversial issues are cast to show that the legislator is in line with the constituency, votes that would not be cast if there were any real chance of the legislation actually passing.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:55 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Guardian is a hostile foreign newspaper?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:00 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Some of the countries on that list have systems that are just as bad or worse the NSA that Snowden just can't stomach living under. So what's the goal here, to only protest the NSA system in America, all other systems are fine.

Hey, I know this is a radical notion, but maybe there are TWO goals that Edward Snowden has had, one after the other, in succession. You know, people do that sometimes; first I want a bowl of cereal, and then I want a glass of milk, and the fact that I didn't want milk on my cereal (yes I'm one of those people) is not in some way robbing me of the "moral high ground" from which I was apparently supposed to be sipping my glass of milk.

First he wanted to expose the NSA's spying. So he did that. Then he wanted to not spend the rest of his life the way Bradley Manning is looking at spending the rest of his life, so now Snowden's working on that the best he can. I bet that if you actually looked at the timeline of events here, you might even discover that while Snowden was leaking documents about the NSA's wrongdoings, he was in fact *not* simultaneously checking the real estate listings for his new Russian Dream Home.

I agree with AElfwine, you're usually a much smarter poster than this, so I have to assume you're being deliberately obtuse. Or else that you haven't followed Bradley Manning's trial (and pre-trial treatment) at all, in which case you might want to read up on the America where you seem to fantasize that Snowden could come back and turn himself in and have some kind of legal "showdown" where he gets defended by Atticus Finch and goads the NSA's Jack Nicholson into yelling "You can't handle the truth!" and gets to walk away having dealt a blow for truth and justice and live happily ever after. We don't live in that country anymore; we probably never did, but nobody in power seems to be even trying to pretend we do anymore.

Edward Snowden has to stay in Russia. Not because he wants to, or because Russia is teh awesome!!!!1!!! or because Russia isn't guilty of all the same and worse, and in spite of the fact that Russia is only letting him stay because Putin wants to score cheap political points against the US. He needs to stay in Russia because a lot of people work for the US government and see all kinds of bad wrong bullshit every day but don't say anything because they don't want to be a martyr. He needs to stay in Russia because 1984 didn't have a happy ending; it ended with a crushing sense of hopelessness and despair that is exactly the same feeling that most people around here get, I think, when they contemplate how far astray their own government has gone and yet how powerless they seem to be to fix things, and Edward Snowden getting away is proof that we are not that far gone yet, that the state is not all-powerful yet. He needs to stay in Russia not because he deserves to "get away with it" but because it needs to be possible for someone to fight back against the evil (and I do not use that word lightly) of the overreaching security state and "get away with it".
posted by mstokes650 at 9:08 AM on August 2, 2013 [29 favorites]


Yeah, IndigoJones, I'm not buying anything you're selling. I'm sure sympathetic legislators will solve aaall our problems.

Even assuming 99% was nonsensical, or "revealed" stuff that attentive citizens already knew about or suspected, there was the genuine risk that something marked top secret really was legitimately secret.

1. Part of their points were about the severe amount of things the US classifies.
2. Neither Manning nor Snowden were actually all that imporant people! Hundreds of thousands of US citizens have access to these kinds of things. Snowden in particular was not directly employed by the US Government at the time! A strong argument could be made that, if it wasn't them, it would have been someone else, eventually.

If you believe that the US doesn't classify things willy-nilly, that leaves the even-more-uncomfortable realization that their secret programs are so big that their size demands lots of official secrecy. One way or the other, that's bad.

Cynical me suspects grandstanding.

Don't talk to me about cynicism, at this point I'm nearly 80% prune.
posted by JHarris at 9:10 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


And now, a short digression --

Why did Manning and Snowden do what they did? Actually, it was the opposite of cynicism. They believed in the United States, they wanted the nation to be better than it is, they saw an example where it wasn't, and they took direct action to remedy it. In short, they did what all those movies, TV shows, stories, and if we have family worth a damn our own parents have told us all this time is the thing to do: brave persecution, the wrath of the powerful, and physical and legal peril TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT.

That attitude, more than anything else, is what makes the United States a great nation -- not the Founding Fathers, not our government, not our bevy of natural resources, certainly not the FBI, CIA or NSA. Public responsibility is part of our national character. Sometimes it's subverted, even perverted, but even in many bad cases at least their hearts are in the right place.

So long as that exists, we're going to have Snowdens. The only way to stop it is to take steps to destroy that wonderful motivation. And what I hate about the system as it stands is, the folks in charge actually seem to think that might be a correct answer.
posted by JHarris at 9:17 AM on August 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


A measure to end the NSA program came within 12 votes of passing the House, and Democrats supported it in greater numbers (and thus a far greater proportion) than Republicans, which would be a good sign for the Senate, so...yeah, I'd say the needle is moving, in a legislative sense.

Ah I missed that, thanks. Here's a few more details for others who missed it.

You keep framing this in a way that makes it sound like he left the country because he didn't like the spying. That isn't why he left. It's why he revealed the information he had access to.

Based off what he said,
"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."
there was some moral principle he was trying to apply that has now gone out the window. Supposedly he had to agree to stop harming the US in order for Russia to let him stay, which may work out fine if Wiki Leaks continues doing what its doing. That way he and Russia can say "Hey, wasn't me/him" but it's astonishingly lame and comes off more as grandstanding. Christ, he's living in another survelliance state to talk about how awful that other particular state is. It makes no damn sense.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:21 AM on August 2, 2013


It makes no damn sense.

It actually makes perfect sense. He doesn't want to live in a surveillance state, so that's why he doesn't live in the US, because if he lived in the US, he would be in prison, and being in a US prison is being in much more of a state of surveillance than being in Russia.

Do you want to live in a surveillance state? No? Then why do you live in the US?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:27 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Christ, he's living in another survelliance state to talk about how awful that other particular state is. It makes no damn sense.

Again, you're being obtuse. He's not "living in another survelliance state to talk about how awful that other particular state is;" he's living in another surveillance state because his whistleblowing activities in "that other particular state" precludes him from travelling anywhere else. You're just trying to assassinate his character at this point while not addressing the underlying issues that have been verified by his leaks. Any legal or moral transgressions he has committed pale in comparison to the actions of our own government. The fact that you are using this venue to rail against Snowden instead of the national security state seem to me to imply that you tacitly support the surveillance state as it currently exits.

This is not a fine distinction. An open society is a prerequisite for the existence of any type of democracy. The act of prosecuting whistleblowers serves the interest of the totalitarians among us and creates a chill in the ranks of civil servants whose responsibility it is to tell us when shady shit is happening. So as much as I hate to say it this is one of those make or break moments for a democracy...one of those "you're either with us or you're against us" moments...you either choose to stand on the side of open government and the open society or you choose to stand on the side of the totalitarians in support of the incipient fascism that is currently metastasizing in this country. Shit is getting real and the clock is ticking. In the words of Jon Stuart: "Please, please stop hurting America."
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:35 AM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Lets keep in mind that snowden was making six figures and living in Hawaii and had a cush, basically lifetime job where he personally was in no danger from being spied on.

And now he can never go back to the us, and will spend the rest of his life on the run from the most powerful nation in the world, while having very tenuous protection from a fickle dictatorship.

Whatever reason he did it, it wasn't for personal gain.
posted by empath at 9:38 AM on August 2, 2013 [16 favorites]


Instead he and Snowden did data dumps of hundred of thousands of documents

You're conflating the two cases. Manning dumped hundreds of thousands of documents. Snowden did not. Please stop embellishing the truth to further your rhetorical goals.

The way to play the government whistleblower thing is to find a sympathetic legislator or two and go there

Just like the most famous whistleblower of them all Daniel Ellsberg did, right? Oh wait that's not what he did at all.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:38 AM on August 2, 2013


it's only fair to point out that if pussy riot had done what they did in the u s, they could have been arrested for disturbing the peace and perhaps trespassing
posted by pyramid termite at 9:41 AM on August 2, 2013


he's living in another survelliance state to talk about how awful that other particular state is.
Snowden, like Manning was just the messenger, and you know the phrase ''Don't shoot the messenger'' right.
The US powers that be want the actual debate about what has been revealed to go away as fast as possible because it directly affects the bottom line of those with the highest vested interest; the opaque Military Industrial Complex, a billion dollar industry, complete with revolving door politicians and sleezy sleezy lobbyists.
So what does the behemoth do? It grossly mistreats Manning and and other 'whistleblowers' to terrify any other dissidents into inaction.
The politicians scream traitor and cry for vengence. They are aided by the compliant mainstream media, themselves shackled by their advertisers, who often have cross investment with said Military Industrial Complex.
But its easier to talk about Snowden and his girlfriend's employment or Mannings sexual preferences.
Snowden and Manning are but puppets being thrown on the fire of vast corporate greed.
What is being exposed is how the 1% keep the 99% under control as slaves to their system, and they are very angry about it because the curtan has slipped.
posted by adamvasco at 9:49 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


if pussy riot had done what they did in the us
They could expect sell out concerts for the next 5 years.
posted by adamvasco at 9:51 AM on August 2, 2013


Based off what he said,

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."

there was some moral principle he was trying to apply that has now gone out the window....Christ, he's living in another survelliance state to talk about how awful that other particular state is. It makes no damn sense.


Okay Brandon, two can play at the "willfully obtuse" game. Given the possibilities for where Edward Snowden can or cannot live right now, are you advocating for Edward Snowden to commit suicide? Because as far as I can tell that's the only option you're giving him in which he can retain his moral high ground, according to you.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:54 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


the opaque Military Industrial Complex, a billion dollar industry

Closer to a trillion dollar industry, actually.
posted by killdevil at 10:08 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Based off what he said,

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."


I think you are reading that too literally. When I say I am not willing to live under a government that tortures what I mean is that I will make an effort to change that government if I can, donating to and voting for candidates who will change the policy. It does not mean I am literally unwilling to remain in the country. Moving permanently between nations is a complicated matter full of practical barriers.

He said he wanted to go to Iceland because he felt they shared his values. He also said what he really wants is to return home. He doesn't want to be in Russia, he wants to not be in jail.

In the US an available choice was to take a grand action with a chance of setting off real change. He was willing to do that even though it put himself in serious danger. He doesn't have that option available to him in Russia.

I guess I'm just applying a more generous reading and getting different implications from it than you. I see it as:

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things (If I can prevent it.)… I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. (If I can do something about that.) That is not something I am willing to support or live under. (If I have a choice.)"

I think that is a fair interpretation in the context of the question he was answering, but this is subjective territory.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:14 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's no where on earth he can move that isn't under the watchful eye of American surveillance.
posted by empath at 10:23 AM on August 2, 2013


There's no where on earth he can move that isn't under the watchful eye of American surveillance.

How about the moon? or Mars? I've heard that Valles Marineris is wonderful this time of year. If he chooses the moon, though, most of the good real estate has already been scooped up. Although several governments have spacecraft currently orbiting those bodies so in some people's mind that level of surveillance might preclude those places from being an acceptable residence for Snowden.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:28 AM on August 2, 2013


raysmj: "Yeah, those easy, breezy Nixon-era '70s. Pretty widely known, but ... from Wikipedia:


which involved drugging Ellsberg with LSD
, by dissolving it in his soup, at a fund-raising dinner in Washington in order to "have Ellsberg incoherent by the time he was to speak"
"

.......

Hey Dan, knock knock... Get the fuck off the stage, ya idiot!...
posted by symbioid at 10:32 AM on August 2, 2013


Snowden? He's toast. If he's lucky, he'll get to live out his natural life somewhere on the globe that isn't jail. Though probably not out of surveillance of some kind. Doesn't matter if he was right. Doesn't matter if he stands for Truth, Justice, and The American Way. Sure, he may have had good intentions. But good intentions won't even pay for a cup of coffee.

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things (If I can prevent it.)… I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. (If I can do something about that.) That is not something I am willing to support or live under. (If I have a choice.)"


Good luck with that. Look, technology is not going to allow that to happen, unless unless you want to live like the Unibomber. Not even under the most liberal of governments. And it's just going to become more difficult a goal as time and technology advances. There is no way around this. No government is going to give up that kind of power. Ever. Governments do not do that and remain in power. It's the very nature of government.

The best we can do is hope our elected leaders are reasonably benign in the execution of power. As always. Given history, this will probably be the case. For most of us. Some of us will unfortunately be consumed for the greater good. Of something.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:38 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you believe that the US doesn't classify things willy-nilly

My favorite example of willy-nilly classification is an example of two different declassification on the same weekly terrorism threat report from December 1974. When the CIA reviewed the document for declassification as part of their own records, an entire paragraph about a specific Christmastime threat was blacked out. However, when another CIA reviewer processed the document for inclusion in the records of the Gerald Ford Presidential Library, that very same paragraph was deemed suitable for public consumption.

The paragraph was a lighthearted jest about how the "Group of the Martyr Ebenezer Scrooge" planned to sabotage the annual courier flight of the Government of the North Pole.

We all need to ask ourselves: Do we want to live in a country where it's okay for the CIA to redact hilarious jokes? I think the answer is no.
posted by compartment at 10:51 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Its pretty easy for us to snark at this, while we maintain the freedom to travel pretty much the entire planet as we see fit and can reasonably afford. How would you feel if you found out tomorrow that for the rest of your life, you can never, ever, ever return to your home country? You will never, ever visit a long list of countries (the majority of them, more than 100) that have an extradition treaty with the US. You will - at best - be restricted to a very short list of what are generally considered (but by no means clearly legally defined) non-extradition countries, and of those you'll have to go hat in hand, begging for graces to enter and reside in their state. This is unfathomable for 313.9 million Americans minus maybe 100, probably less.

Even there, in those far flung places on the planet where you might be granted residency, you will always have to be watching your back, because who knows how far the most powerful government in the world might go to cover their collective ass? They certainly don't see covertly (or overtly) crossing international borders with teams of SEAL squads or scores of drones as outside the realm of options when it comes to eliminating enemies of the state. How much more information Snowden has, and how much more mud he could put on the face of the NSA, has a direct correlation with this consideration.

Snowden believed that what is going on today in the US, what our own government is perpetuating every day, unconstitutionally delving into whomever's private information whenever they feel like it with absolutely zero accountability, was wrong. He believed the fact that the same people perpetuating it are actively trying to cover it up is also wrong. He believed it enough to ruin the rest of his life for it - and that's his best case scenario.


Snowden brought this on himself. He knew it was illegal.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:52 AM on August 2, 2013


A testament to his bravery.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:57 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Snowden brought this on himself. He knew it was illegal.

Absolutely. At the same time, it's not a shock that someone who is trying to stop what he perceives as an abuse of the government's police power would not want to submit to arrest for fear of abuse by the government.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:59 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Snowden brought this on himself. He knew it was illegal.

I yearn for the day when we can say "Bush/Cheney/Obama brought this on himself. He knew it was illegal."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:04 AM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


He knew it was illegal.

Martin Luther King, Jr:
Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself.
I'll concede that MLK was more concerned with racial, social, and economic justice than he was with secrecy laws. But according to his definition, I think that our secrecy laws have been unjustly applied. In the nearly twelve years since 9/11, how many "anonymous, high-ranking officials" have been prosecuted for selective leaks that benefited the White House agenda?
posted by compartment at 11:08 AM on August 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yeah, my first that was: whew, good thing Snowden isn't a gay.
posted by MoxieProxy at 11:11 AM on August 2, 2013


As we all know, following legal orders morally justifies anything, and breaking any law is morally wrong.
posted by empath at 11:14 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


He said he wanted to go to Iceland because he felt they shared his values. He also said what he really wants is to return home. He doesn't want to be in Russia, he wants to not be in jail.

Is there a particular reason he didn't go Iceland and instead went to Hong Kong? Why not start where he wanted to go, you know?

In the US an available choice was to take a grand action with a chance of setting off real change. He was willing to do that even though it put himself in serious danger. He doesn't have that option available to him in Russia.

But in retrospect, it wasn't a very grand action that motivated a lot of people. He boasted of being able to perform searches on anyone, even the President, if he had a personal email address. Has that been proven? Did he show that Bob Jones of XX lane in middle of nowwhere, Nebraska has been secretly jacking off to photos of the abandoned Soviet Lunar Program or some such? Did he show emails from politicians personal account? No, he merely said it was totally possible and we should all be deathly afraid of this. Maybe so, but he hasn't demonstrated much proof of what this system can supposedly do and abuses.

Did he or Gleen Greenwald ever point out specific abuses that have occurred with the NSA's powers?


I guess I'm just applying a more generous reading and getting different implications from it than you. I see it as:

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things (If I can prevent it.)… I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. (If I can do something about that.) That is not something I am willing to support or live under. (If I have a choice.)"

I think that is a fair interpretation in the context of the question he was answering, but this is subjective territory.


I hear what you're saying and yes it's subjective as I see it as Snowden quietly grandstanding, combined with a poorly thought out plan and naive about the world.

The story now is about US and Russia relations and various US politicians getting pissed about this. Supposedly he's going to give a press conference in a day or two, but I just want to shake him and yell "It's not about you, just shut up and stay out of the spotlight."


I'll concede that MLK was more concerned with racial, social, and economic justice than he was with secrecy laws.

Tha
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:16 AM on August 2, 2013


I mean, look, if you have a badge, you can murder, harass, spy on or assault anybody for basically any reason you feel like. If you inconvenience anybody with a badge or a title, your life is basically forfeit. That's how democratic society is supposed to work, right? The government can follow or enforce laws at their leisure, and anybody that tries to hold them to account is a traitor. I'm basically disgusted with several people in this thread.
posted by empath at 11:17 AM on August 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


As we all know, following legal orders morally justifies anything, and breaking any law is morally wrong.

So true, empath.

Legalism was the last vestige of those who supported the genocide of the Native Americans. Legalism was the last vestige of the slaveholders in the antebellum south. Legalism was the last vestige of the misogynists who opposed women's right to vote. Legalism is/was the last vestige of those who would try to prevent minorities from voting. Legalism is the last vestige of those who would prevent our homosexual brothers and sisters from getting legally married. In all these cases when the moral tide in the country had shifted the immoral and unjust clung to their sick and twisted institutional racisms by justifying them through legalisms. If one acquaints oneself with history one will find that this is a reoccurring pattern.

Legalism is the last vestige of those who would support the continuance and indeed expansion of the stasi-like national security/surveillance apparatus. There is no excuse.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:22 AM on August 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Supposedly he's going to give a press conference in a day or two, but I just want to shake him and yell "It's not about you, just shut up and stay out of the spotlight."


You know, he didn't reveal himself until after the leaks. He waited because he knew he was going to be outed, but when the leaks were revealed, he didn't want to be known then or else the story would be all about him.

Reading your comments, there is just nothing that he can do that you won't attack him for, you never give him the benefit of the doubt, you're acting like a prosecutor and he is on trial. I don't know why that is but it has me scratching my head.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:24 AM on August 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is there a particular reason he didn't go Iceland and instead went to Hong Kong? Why not start where he wanted to go, you know?

I would speculate such a flight would have required a stop in the US.

But in retrospect, it wasn't a very grand action that motivated a lot of people.

I think he has had an impact on how people view these issues and reform may be possible in part thanks to his actions but this is all still developing. Anyway, the point was more about why he has made the choices he did. Even if he was wrong about the impact he would generate, that was still the motivation.

Did he show that Bob Jones of XX lane in middle of nowwhere, Nebraska has been secretly jacking off to photos of the abandoned Soviet Lunar Program or some such? Did he show emails from politicians personal account? No, he merely said it was totally possible and we should all be deathly afraid of this.

I think making his case that way would have been hypocritical considering he is doing this in the name of personal privacy. He has instead attempted to prove his case by releasing documents from the NSA that explain in their own words what they are capable of.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:27 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is there a particular reason he didn't go Iceland and instead went to Hong Kong? Why not start where he wanted to go, you know?

I seem to remember that this was actually covered in the early days of the Snowden leak. IIRC he went to Hong Kong because he could reasonably get to Hong Kong without making his employers suspicious that he was planning something (the NSA and Booz Allen apparently have legitimate [to them] reasons for their employees to be in Hong Kong), whereas up and flying off to Iceland without a good reason looks much more like "I'm planning to fly the coop".

But in retrospect, it wasn't a very grand action that motivated a lot of people.

I think it's way to early to decide what the history books will say about this.

He boasted...


And here's where I lose any remaining belief that you're actually arguing in good faith. If you believe leaking the NSA's powerpoint slides and documentation to Glenn Greenwald so he can vet and then publish them constitutes "boasting" then you are clearly more interested in smearing Edward Snowden than you are in actual facts.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:32 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ahh, I found what I was thinking of re: "Why didn't he go straight to Iceland?", it was back when he answered some reader questions through the Guardian, one of the questions and answers was:

Question:
ewenmacaskill
17 June 2013 3:07pm

I should have asked you this when I saw you but never got round to it........Why did you just not fly direct to Iceland if that is your preferred country for asylum?

Answer:

Leaving the US was an incredible risk, as NSA employees must declare their foreign travel 30 days in advance and are monitored. There was a distinct possibility I would be interdicted en route, so I had to travel with no advance booking to a country with the cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained. Hong Kong provided that. Iceland could be pushed harder, quicker, before the public could have a chance to make their feelings known, and I would not put that past the current US administration


So there you have it, in the man's own words.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:38 AM on August 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


Snowden brought this on himself. He knew it was illegal.

That's why he's a hero.
posted by anonymisc at 11:51 AM on August 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


Btw, mlk was a philanderer and and kind of an egomaniac, Ghandi was sexually perverse, Nelson Mandela was involved in terrorism, Steve jobs was by all accounts an asshole, etc, etc. People who make bold, dangerous choices tend not to be paragons of virtue in all things. They're zealots, ideologues, narcissists, and probably a little nuts. It's not a sane thing to believe that you can change the world. But sometimes people do.
posted by empath at 11:56 AM on August 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'll concede that MLK was more concerned with racial, social, and economic justice than he was with secrecy laws.

Tha


Whoops, meant to note that MLK didn't leave the country and was willing to face jail and other possible consequences. It's something I personally think gave his cause an undeniable moral weight. I do wonder if Snowden's particular lifestyle meant he more keenly felt he had a lot to lose, where MLK's (and black people in general) second class treatment meant he up against a wall, was sick of it and didn't have to lose in the bigger picture.


I think making his case that way would have been hypocritical considering he is doing this in the name of personal privacy. He has instead attempted to prove his case by releasing documents from the NSA that explain in their own words what they are capable of.

A concern about privacy would be reasonable, but comparing an hypothetical vs actual action is difficult, particularly in the general public or with politicians.

Sure, it's easy to look back in retrospect and say X could have worked better and the perfect shouldn't be enemy of the good, yadda yadda. But I do wish the revelation had a greater impact than it seems to be having in terms of propelling people towards actual change.

We have immense power to save, track and categorize data about ourselves and others and that's obviously only going to increase as time goes on. There are important questions to ask about who's going to be save, track and categorizing that data. Note that I didn't ask "Should we" because that's a moot point by now. It's literally just too easy for business and government to do so. Hell, even Snowden noted in the interview that it was efficient to do so.

So what are we going to do with all the information, who has access to it and who owns it? We should be working on those answers before something bad happens, but most of us keep getting distracted from doing so and many in power may not want those questions answered.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:58 AM on August 2, 2013


Did he or Gleen Greenwald ever point out specific abuses that have occurred with the NSA's powers?

Let's check in with Ron Wyden:
On top of that, as I indicated at the beginning, there have been a number of serious violations of those rules. For the senators who got the letter last Friday, you know that. I want to tell all the other senators on both sides of the aisle that the violations that I touched on tonight were more serious, a lot more serious, than the public has been told. I believe the American people deserve to know more details about these violations that were described last Friday by Director Clapper. Mr. President, I’m going to keep pressing to make more of those details public. And, Mr. President, it’s my view that the information about the details, the violations of the court orders with respect to the bulk phone record collection program, the admission that the court orders had been violated has not been, I think, fully fleshed out by the intelligence community, and I think considerable amount of additional information can be offered without in any way compromising our national security.
Regardless of what was in the documents themselves, their publication is bringing abuses to light. Some of us would say that the programs themselves are the abuse.

There is also the issue of the 300 terrorists that the were captured as a result of the XKeyscore program. What happened to these people? When and where were they tried for their crimes? If we — or our partners — must circumvent meaningful judicial processes in order to achieve our aims, do you think we are advancing or retarding the cause of justice?

Moreover, how can the body politic ever exercise informed consent to our surveillance and policing programs if even the DOJ's interpretation of the law is held in secret? How is that not an abuse of power in and of itself?
posted by compartment at 11:59 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


But in retrospect, it wasn't a very grand action that motivated a lot of people.

I don't know what rock you've been living under, but in the world where I live, the NSA's abuses have been leading and lasting national and global news as a direct result of his action, and vast numbers of The People have become legally empowered and/or focused on how they can attempt to rein in the rogue institution.

His "grand action" has already been wildly successful beyond what I ever thought likely. But maybe I'm jaded about the extent to which Americans drink the kool-aid.
posted by anonymisc at 12:02 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


To those so fond of saying, "freedom isn't free," this is what paying the price for that freedom actually looks like. Democracy everywhere is work, it doesn't just fall into your lap because you had the good fortune to be born in a certain place.

It is work, it is hard work, and it is relentless. Get lazy, and you will lose it. It is inconvenient and messy and not always the thing you want to be fighting for on a Saturday night when you'd rather just chill with friends over a beer. It means putting principle before personal advantage. It means speaking up against something you know is wrong even when it seems that everybody around you thinks it is okay, and when you know the consequences of doing so will be (very) unpleasant.

Snowden is an example to all of us. Let's not waste the lesson. Turn off the TV. Write letters. Call your representatives. Get angry. Pay something for that freedom you enjoy.
posted by rhombus at 12:05 PM on August 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


Alan Grayson was on c-span the other day and mentioned that NSA was recording phone sex calls between soldiers oversees and their wives and passing them around, if you're looking for specific abuses.
posted by empath at 12:13 PM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Rude Pundit: Dear Russia: Thanks for Snowden; Now Go Fuck Yourself
posted by homunculus at 12:14 PM on August 2, 2013


Here.

If you don't think they are doing this or worse with your email or phone calls, you are kidding yourself.
posted by empath at 12:15 PM on August 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


We should be working on those answers before something bad happens, but most of us keep getting distracted from doing so and many in power may not want those questions answered.

If you truly believe this then why in god's name would you want to prosecute the one person who made this debate possible? At this point it's hard to take you seriously as your arguments and positions are so cross wired and contradictory that it seems you don't really know what you believe. If you really believe what you just said than I don't see how you can justify prosecuting the very same class of people who make this type of change possible just because they don't meet some personal litmus test as to what constitutes the correct form of whistleblowing.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:15 PM on August 2, 2013


Here.

If you don't think they are doing this or worse with your email or phone calls, you are kidding yourself.


Sweet, thanks empath. To be clear, I'm under no illusions that this sort of thing isn't happening and hasn't been happening for a while. It's just too damn easy to do and humans are incredibly fallible.

And thanks Dinky Die for having a reasonable discussion about all this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:19 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pussy Riot is starkly different from Snowden because they knowing did what they did, went to trial to fight the charges and accepted their sentence as a further illustration of problems with the Russian legal system.

This is not true. Pussy Riot did not give themselves up, they did not "accept" their sentence. The three who were arrested at first denied being part of the group and used false names. Two others successfully fled the country.

Don't get me wrong: I love them. But you're ascribing qualities to them that satisfy your own notions of responsibility and civic duty.
posted by jammy at 12:23 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pussy Riot Denied Parole: Tolokonnikova on Russia’s ‘Absurd’ Justice System

Recent thread.
posted by homunculus at 12:29 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here.

If you don't think they are doing this or worse with your email or phone calls, you are kidding yourself.


I forgot about that. Classy.
posted by homunculus at 12:32 PM on August 2, 2013


Here.

If you don't think they are doing this or worse with your email or phone calls, you are kidding yourself.


Relevant fictional scene from The Wire.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:34 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is not true. Pussy Riot did not give themselves up, they did not "accept" their sentence. The three who were arrested at first denied being part of the group and used false names. Two others successfully fled the country.

So noted and thanks for the correction.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:35 PM on August 2, 2013


GLOBAL TERROR ALERT

And now I have to start wondering whether the conspiracy theorists are correct about the news. Obviously Alex Jones is still full of it, but just imagine how this security state is going to radicalize the nation as a whole.

For that fact alone this program and the entire intelligence apparatus should be gutted and rebuilt from the ground up.
posted by deanklear at 1:14 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


GLOBAL TERROR ALERT

I presume the U.S. State Dept has some intelligence (of whatever reliability) that some Islamist group intends to act when Ramadan concludes in a few days, not that it has anything to do with NSA / Snowden / Russian asylum timing. I understand this idea is not as fun to gnaw on as a conspiracy theory is, however.
posted by aught at 1:21 PM on August 2, 2013


aught, I just want to make it absolutely clear that I agree with you. I'm just saying, when you terrorize a population with spying and militarized raids, and that population happens to be armed to the teeth, I don't think it's a recipe for a good time.
posted by deanklear at 1:27 PM on August 2, 2013


GLOBAL TERROR ALERT

lol
posted by klue at 2:07 PM on August 2, 2013


GLOBAL TERROR ALERT
"The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."
Yeah I just quoted Bill Hicks, throw me in hipster Gitmo.
posted by empath at 2:12 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Alan Grayson was on c-span the other day and mentioned that NSA was recording phone sex calls between soldiers oversees and their wives and passing them around, if you're looking for specific abuses.

Assuming both the soldiers and their wives are U.S. citizens, this is blatantly illegal.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:22 PM on August 2, 2013


Alan Grayson was on c-span the other day and mentioned that NSA was recording phone sex calls between soldiers oversees and their wives and passing them around, if you're looking for specific abuses.

Assuming both the soldiers and their wives are U.S. citizens, this is blatantly illegal.


It is likely that Grayson is referring to this ABC story from back in 2008, mentioned by empath. It is illegal, and quite troubling. It happens when people are given access to wiretaps.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:45 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


GLOBAL TERROR ALERT

Speaking of embassies (and leaks): The CIA is Taking "Unprecedented Attempts" to Stop Leaks About Benghazi
posted by homunculus at 3:26 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Russia's physical size seems like it could be an advantage for Snowden, too, should he ultimately want to reach a country like Iceland without doing any official border crossings. Especially with a year to do it. That's one long and remote land border Russia has with Scandinavia, not to mention the volume of commercial shipping traffic out of St. Petersburg and Murmansk, if he or one of his allies wants to sneak him out that way. He'd still need some super-savvy local advisors (and a lot of money), but it sure seems like it's a lot more physically feasible to slip out of the huge Russian land mass than most other countries'... and for all we know, that could be a much more important factor than the PR of his current host's politics.

This is only speculation, of course, but I guess I would be very VERY surprised if Snowden hasn't plotted out his next steps very deliberately, and I wouldn't be at ALL surprised if such a thing (including the month-long transit zone stay) has actually been explicitly negotiated between his and Putin's people.
posted by argonauta at 3:32 PM on August 2, 2013


I assume you mean Finland. I'm not sure walking to Iceland is as easy as you think.
posted by unSane at 3:49 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


(cut to Edward Snowden jumping his way on dolphins, a la Super Mario World)
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:18 PM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


homunculus: I was just about to mention that. I feel like this is the beginning of a sci-fi novel. I hope it isn't one of the dystopian ones.
posted by deanklear at 4:35 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Look, technology is not going to allow that to happen, unless unless you want to live like the Unibomber.

look, if this keeps happening, people are going to start wanting that

it would be nice if we could find a compromise that affords people privacy and dignity before everyone decides en masse that technological civilization just isn't worth it and burns it to the ground
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:05 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Yes, for the record, I just meant from Russia into Finland (or Norway), i.e., Schengen Area. I consider Snowden a hero, but not QUITE at the walk-on-water level.)
posted by argonauta at 6:01 PM on August 2, 2013


I feel like this is the beginning of a sci-fi novel. I hope it isn't one of the dystopian ones.

I think cstross has it right.
posted by homunculus at 6:42 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowdens plight is further hampered by the recent revelations that the US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ over the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain's intelligence gathering programmes.

There's more: Telecom giants give GCHQ unlimited access to networks, develop own spyware – Snowden leaks
posted by homunculus at 8:40 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Christ, he's living in another survelliance state to talk about how awful that other particular state is. It makes no damn sense.

So anyone who protests things like this in say, Russia or other countries, it would make no sense if they sought refuge in the States? Where then? How do they get there given the collaborative enforcement between a number of nations?
posted by juiceCake at 10:56 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yes, revealing "secrets" about a surveillance state, then leaving that country to go live another seems a bit silly. On a practical level it may make sense to avoid staying out of jail and continue fighting, but the irony is bitterly sad.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:17 AM on August 3, 2013


NSA Collects 'Word for Word' Every Domestic Communication, Says Former Analyst
posted by ryoshu at 8:01 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


The cool thing is his big reveal wasn't really that much of a reveal and will change nothing about how the government operates in terms of surveillance.
posted by tarvuz at 8:17 AM on August 3, 2013


>technology is not going to allow that to happen

Technology isn't a conscious entity with agency. Technology is a tool which humans can use in any way they choose. In your scenario there seems to be only one outcome that you can conceive. Reality doesn't work that way, there are many other possible avenues to an open society which don't involve a totalizing police state.

>So noted and thanks for the correction.

You're welcome.

>Yes, revealing "secrets" about a surveillance state, then leaving that country to go live another seems a bit silly. On a practical level it may make sense to avoid staying out of jail and continue fighting, but the irony is bitterly sad.

Arguing for the prosecution of whistleblowers, then claiming that you are against a surveillance state seems a bit silly. On a practical(read legalistic) level it may make sense, but the irony is bitterly sad.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:49 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


NSA Collects 'Word for Word' Every Domestic Communication, Says Former Analyst
RUSSELL TICE: This was in 2002-2003 time frame. The NSA were targeting individuals. In that case, they were judges like the Supreme Court. I held in my hand Judge Alito's targeting information for his phones and his staff and his family.
It will be fun to read Justice Alito's dissenting opinion wherein he argues the constitutionality of his own warrantless surveillance.
posted by compartment at 9:25 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Snowden brought this on himself. He knew it was illegal.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:52 PM on August 2 [+] [!]


A testament to his bravery.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:57 PM on August 2 [+] [!]

Both of these comments have the element of truth. The kind of truth that is the foundation on how one percives this event and subsequint (si sp) actions there after. But one thing that has not been discussed is if Snowden acting as a 'double agent' wiether witting or unwitting.
posted by clavdivs at 9:27 AM on August 3, 2013


This anonymous comment submitted to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) is very interesting. It asks the board to compare a pre-9/11 NSA program called ThinThread to post-9/11 programs that are allegedly ThinThread derivatives stripped of certain safeguards. ThinThread was the program championed by NSA whistleblower William Binney. The comment draws on some of Binney's allegations.

One of the closing arguments is nicely worded:
On a more general plane, there is the matter of societal expectations of privacy, which figure in fourth amendment jurisprudence. These are no legal fiction but a precious thing. We know that now. They're like the limb lost in combat: we feel where they were.
posted by compartment at 9:53 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wasn't the very foundation of the United States an illegal rebellion?
posted by klue at 9:54 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Snowden picks up 'Epic 0wnage' gong in Vegas... well, not literally
posted by homunculus at 11:15 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


See above. Also, "General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, who delivered to opening conference keynote, was mischievously named at (sic) the joint nominee for the award."
posted by Mister Bijou at 11:48 AM on August 3, 2013


Mr. NSA, you failed to keep 'Merica safe. Hara-kiri is your only option. Good luck and god-speed.
posted by JJ86 at 3:25 PM on August 3, 2013


Reps. Conyers & Massie on Bipartisan Campaign Against NSA Spying; Call for James Clapper to Resign
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:22 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is a U.S. senator trolling Snowden's Wikipedia page?
posted by homunculus at 5:13 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reps. Conyers & Massie on Bipartisan Campaign Against NSA Spying; Call for James Clapper to Resign

It's almost like Rep. Massie was reading this thread.

AMY GOODMAN: But do you feel that Mr. Snowden did the right thing?

REP. THOMAS MASSIE: I think initially he did. And now, it would be hard for me to fault his actions at this point. He’s a person who fears for his life, and so, you know, he’s doing what he can, I think, to stay alive at this point.


...

REP. THOMAS MASSIE: Can I just add that some people say he should have come to a congressman with this information. But there are actually probably 20 or 30 congressmen that already knew about this program. And if he had went to them, I think we wouldn’t be having this discussion, and he may already be in jail without the disclosure happening.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:37 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


The idea that Snowden is kicking back in his exciting new life in Moscow is completely silly. He has basically no negotiating power whatsoever; for all intents and purposes he is a prisoner of Russia.

To be cynical (but realistic), Russia seems like a more secure choice than the Latin American nations that offered Snowden asylum; the longer those countries continue to choose leftist governance, the more inevitable it seems that they will be invaded, couped, or otherwise co-opted by Washington Consensus interests. Russia might be fucked up but it isn't going anywhere.
posted by threeants at 3:58 AM on August 4, 2013


We protect information related to nuclear weapons under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, but any non-nuclear information is classified under executive order and protected by executive privilege.

As I understand it, executive privilege says the president doesn't "answer to congress", which includes him not answering congress' questions. In principle, executive privilege should never restrict anyone unless they subject themselves voluntarily, say by obtaining a security clearance, etc. Executive orders are not legislation!

It's especially onerous that an executive order restricts some congressmen and judges. Imho, our separation of powers demands that congress and the federal court cannot even voluntarily subject themselves to any executive order and furthermore that no executive order may limit citizens' communication with congress or the court.

There would be several beneficial consequences of this legal approach : Anyone could reveal classified information to congress or the court, except atomic weapons secrets. FISA court judges could tell the public anything they wished. Executive privilege would still restrict what representatives of the executive branch could reveal in open session or court, and permit them to refuse to answer questions, but may not restrict what they say in chambers.

In practical terms, we dislike army privates running around with terabytes of classified documents in their pockets. We'd might therefore implement this change by creating an electronic archive for all classified documents, excluding atomic secrets, through which anyone with access could share documents with congress or the courts. Ideally, the executive branch should be prohibited from even knowing who granted access.

So our future Manning or Snowden first makes himself a massive RSA key, encrypts this key with the classified document archive's public key, submits this key to the library of congress who assigns it his classification level, forgets his identity, and passes it anonymous to the classified document archive. Finally he digitally signs the the documents ids that bother him and drops them off with his senator who does whatever he feels like with them.

I loved that so many news agencies analyzed the State Dept cables, but anonymous direct disclosure to congress might produce a steady stream that proved more significant in the long term.

posted by jeffburdges at 5:32 AM on August 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Showed 'Star Wars' to my daughter. She denounced Princess Leia for fleeing after exposing Death Star plans. I’ve been in DC too long." - Daniel Lin @DLin71
posted by jeffburdges at 5:33 AM on August 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


the irony is bitterly sad

There is some irony, sure, but bitterly sad, I don't agree. He did what he did for the reasons stated and now he's trying to avoid prosecution. It's rather simple.
posted by juiceCake at 7:29 AM on August 4, 2013


Wasn't the very foundation of the United States an illegal rebellion?
Ah, no.
posted by clavdivs at 8:41 AM on August 4, 2013


Wasn't the very foundation of the United States an illegal rebellion?

Ah, no.


It depends on who you talk to.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:42 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Saxby Chambliss is crediting the current "global terror alert" to one of the NSA programs that Edward Snowden revealed. It's yet another NSA quantum state!
1.) Terrorists are changing their communication methods as a result of the leaks, crippling the usefulness of these programs, and

2.) The formerly secret NSA programs continue to deliver crucial, specific, actionable intelligence.
Let's not also forget that:
3.) These programs alert the United States to specific terrorist plots, and

4.) The current threat is either in Yemen or is "possibly occurring within or emanating from the Arabian peninsula", or it is also possibly somewhere else on planet Earth including the entire Middle East or North Africa.
It does seem like a bit of a coincidence how the most serious terrorist threat in several years, with "chatter" reminiscent of what preceded 9/11, would come less than a week after the House narrowly voted against rollbacks on the NSA's authority, and less than a week after Ron Wyden described revelations of specific abuses that remain classified.
posted by compartment at 10:27 AM on August 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


How the Snowden Saga will End
posted by homunculus at 1:30 PM on August 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


It is possible that the terrorists are up to something, independent of any scandals ongoing in America. And after what happened in Benghazi, the Obama Administration probably wants to take no chances at all.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:03 PM on August 4, 2013


Isn't simply that so many opponents just escaped jail in both Pakistan and Libya?
posted by jeffburdges at 3:22 PM on August 4, 2013


The link that homunculus posted is really something. It's an opinion piece by a Cornell professor named Emin Gün Sirer that takes a wide-angle look at Snowden's revelations in the context of society as a whole. Sirer has an interesting, impersonal way of looking at groups of people as if they were vectors competing in a classical physics environment. Fascinating stuff.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:51 PM on August 4, 2013


Ain't so clear. All the surveillance contractors like Booz Allen depend upon this, while the cloud service providers could merely spin off or acquire foreign subsidiaries not subject to U.S. law. See Assange on the fiscalization of power.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:18 PM on August 4, 2013


The Snowden Inevitability
A few months ago a number of trains traveling at high speeds arrived at the same station at the same time. Considered together, the epic train wreck known as Snowden was inevitable. The creation of an increasingly privatized intelligence-industrial complex, the opening of state secrets to high-tech novices (some might say geeks), the massive collection and storage capacity of “mega-data” (phone calls, emails, internet searches) by modern technology, and the sense on the part of at least a small number of these privately-employed novices that the public should know what is going on, all combined to give us…Edward Snowden.
posted by ryoshu at 8:15 PM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans
A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin - not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to "recreate" the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant's Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don't know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence - information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.
posted by ryoshu at 5:53 AM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Other Agencies Clamor for Data N.S.A. Compiles
posted by jeffburdges at 6:09 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I expect this has been posted previously but I hadn't seen anything
What the Occupy Wall Street Crackdown Can Teach Us About NSA Spying
Meanwhile The House Intel Committee is stonewalling Congress.
All of this proves in so many ways how thoroughly democracy is broken.
There is no such think as a free society anymore. I wonder if there ever was one.
Your American dream is a dystopian totalitarian state.
posted by adamvasco at 10:12 AM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Every sideshow needs a sideshow:
On Friday night, a still-unknown person using an internet protocol address tied to the U.S. Senate edited the Wikipedia page for NSA leaker Edward Snowden to change the description of him from "American dissident" to "American traitor."
posted by tonycpsu at 11:25 AM on August 5, 2013


US embassy closures used to bolster case for NSA surveillance programs.
Amie Stepanovich, a lawyer with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said: "The NSA's choice to publish these threats at this time perpetuates a culture of fear and unquestioning deference to surveillance in the United States."
posted by adamvasco at 11:31 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans

New thread.
posted by homunculus at 11:38 AM on August 5, 2013


Wasn't the very foundation of the United States an illegal rebellion?

Ah, no.

It depends on who you talk to.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar

Well I'm not going to listen to the losing side. Any rebellion is illegal as is spitting on the walkway. The document was to put right an already illegal situation, i.e. The British love of control beyond the measure of acceptable polity.
posted by clavdivs at 12:18 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


"...Legalism is the last vestige of those who would support the continuance and indeed expansion of the stasi-like national security/surveillance apparatus. There is no excuse."
posted by AElfwine Evenstar

But there is a precident..."In Chinese history, Legalism was a philosophy emphasizing strict obedience to the law system. It was one of the main philosophic currents during the Warring States period. It was a utilitarian political philosophy that did not address higher questions like the purpose and nature of life."

Fa is applicable

Shu...now were talking.

"Special tactics and "secrets" are to be employed by the ruler to make sure others don't take over control of the state. Especially important is that no one can fathom the ruler's motivations, and thus no one can know which behavior might help them get ahead, other than following the Special tactics and "secrets" are to be employed by the ruler to make sure others don't take over control of the state. Especially important is that no one can fathom the ruler's motivations, and thus no one can know which behavior might help them get ahead, other than following the 法, or laws."

then Shi brings us to the action part.

Legalism is a bitch.
like Han Fei at traffic court.
posted by clavdivs at 12:26 PM on August 5, 2013


Broad U.S. terror alert mystifies experts; ‘It’s crazy pants,’ one says
posted by homunculus at 5:18 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NSA Leaks Put Our 'Methods' At Risk, But Bragging About Monitoring Al Qaeda Emails Doesn't?
posted by homunculus at 5:35 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NSA Leaks Put Our 'Methods' At Risk, But Bragging About Monitoring Al Qaeda Emails Doesn't?

That's one awful article. Unless he's reading a different article than he links to, nowhere in the NYTimes article does it claim that "we directly intercepted emails between Al Qaeda's top leaders"
posted by nightwood at 6:07 PM on August 6, 2013


So apparently Obama's meeting with Putin has been canceled.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:36 AM on August 7, 2013


Obama Cancels Meetings With Putin.

He'll still be attending the G20 summit, which is in St. Petersburg this year.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 AM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Broad U.S. terror alert mystifies experts; ‘It’s crazy pants,’ one says

I seriously thought this was going to be an Onion link. Huh.

The guy (Will McCants, an academic and former State Dept counter-terrorism analyst) apparently has a sense of humor, since this is a follow up tweet:

Will McCants ‏@will_mccants 1h
@ParraV @HannahAllam - if only I had used a phrase that didn't rhyme with my name so well. i'm going with "ridonkulous" next time


Maybe he's about to write a book and wanted some viral attention? Which he's getting with the "crazy pants" line. Personally, I'm not sure one has to do anything other than say "Fear of another Benghazi" to explain the alerts.
posted by aught at 7:05 AM on August 7, 2013


All of these people somehow claiming Snowden is somehow betraying his principles by going wherever he needs to go to escape prosecution are speaking with the delicious privilege of people without the huge might and influence of the United States brought to bear on them.

In stark terms, he does this, or he gets brought back, is probably given a trial that won't really be entirely fair, complete with trumped-up charged designed to make him plea bargain in the typical American style, with all kinds of stuff added in in the hopes some of it will stick. For reference see Swartz and Manning getting attacked extra harshly because the prosecutor made a spooky voice, did his hands like Dracula, and incanted "Ooooh HACKER hacker hacker. Boo!" And even before the trial they'd probably throw him in some kind of hole like they did with Manning. The US legal system isn't a pretty thing even in the best situations.
posted by JHarris at 9:40 AM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


All of these people somehow claiming Snowden is somehow betraying his principles by going wherever he needs to go to escape prosecution are speaking with the delicious privilege of people without the huge might and influence of the United States brought to bear on them.

This is because they didn't reveal any classified secrets. Snowden may have his reasons and they may even be good ones in the long run, but let's not pretend that he just happened to find himself wanted about the US government.

The US legal system isn't a pretty thing even in the best situations.

Therefore it makes perfect sense to stay in an even worse system? Ok then.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:50 AM on August 7, 2013


The US legal system isn't a pretty thing even in the best situations.

Therefore it makes perfect sense to stay in an even worse system?


As has been said over and over again in this thread by many different people, Snowden is much less "staying in Russia" than he is "staying out of the U.S.", and he doesn't exactly have carte blanche to pick a better place, given that the U.S. has demonstrated that it will take significant measures to keep him from going anywhere that he can't walk to.

Get back to us when he starts writing articles about how no one is starving in the Ukraine.
posted by Etrigan at 10:06 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


To follow on from ''crazy pants''
The US view of Yemen as an al-Qaida hotbed is a travesty of the truth.
posted by adamvasco at 10:45 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Veteran civil rights campaigner praises Snowden's act of 'civil disobedience': John Lewis, the man Obama called the 'conscience of the US Congress', said whistleblower was continuing MLK's tradition
posted by homunculus at 12:06 PM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Obama Cancels Meetings With Putin.

It's frankly pathetic and embarrassing to see what makes politicians take a stand.
posted by juiceCake at 12:17 PM on August 7, 2013


It's frankly pathetic and embarrassing to see what makes politicians take a stand.

What stand is Obama taking and what made him take it? I'm not sure I follow.
posted by nightwood at 12:35 PM on August 7, 2013


Exclusive: Al Qaeda Conference Call Intercepted by U.S. Officials Sparked Alerts.

Did the CIA Just Run an Intel Operation on the Daily Beast?
posted by homunculus at 12:52 PM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd say Obama just fears answering Putin's questions on press freedoms, torture, etc.

Isn't it perfectly sensible for al Qaeda to communicate so soon after they broke so many people out of prison? It's likely they're simply trying to figure out how much their organization has just grown.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:13 PM on August 7, 2013


The theory that Obama would be afraid of an encounter with Putin doesn't sound realistic.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:32 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snowden may have his reasons and they may even be good ones in the long run, but let's not pretend that he just happened to find himself wanted about the US government.

Let's not forget what he did to find himself wanted by the US government, namely, telling us about the myriad ways it's spying on us. That should be worth something when it comes time to vote for the people who are so determined to catch him.

Therefore it makes perfect sense to stay in an even worse system? Ok then.

It's a worse system that isn't currently trying to STAMP HIM UNDER FOOT. Snowden never said he thought Russia was any better, generally. It's just not chasing him, personally. It's surprising to me how many people here are ignoring this. Russia wasn't his first choice, after all.
posted by JHarris at 4:48 PM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Russia wasn't his first choice, after all

True, it was China.
posted by nightwood at 6:19 PM on August 7, 2013


I always thought it was ultimately Iceland, or somewhere Scandinavian. Whatever it was, it's a distraction.
posted by JHarris at 6:29 PM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


John Lewis, the man Obama called the 'conscience of the US Congress', said whistleblower could lay claim to 'higher law'
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:04 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


More quantum states at the NSA.

Can NSA Director Keith Alexander Explain His Contradictory Claims?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:07 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


John Lewis, the man Obama called the 'conscience of the US Congress', said whistleblower could lay claim to 'higher law' Interesting bit from the article, emphasis mine:
Asked in interview with the Guardian whether Snowden was engaged in an act of civil disobedience, Lewis nodded and replied: "In keeping with the philosophy and the discipline of non-violence, in keeping with the teaching of Henry David Thoreau and people like Gandhi and others, if you believe something that is not right, something is unjust, and you are willing to defy customs, traditions, bad laws, then you have a conscience. You have a right to defy those laws and be willing to pay the price."

"That is what we did," he added. "I got arrested 40 times during the sixties. Since I've been in Congress I've been arrested four times. Sometimes you have to act by the dictates of your conscience. You have to do it."
Putting up an interview with Lewis, who was arrested so many times, as some sort of exoneration of Snowden, who is going to great lengths to avoid being arrested and paying any price he doesn't want to pay, doesn't make sense to me. It highlights nothing, except Snowden's globe hopping to escape arrest at seemingly any cost.

To be fair, Snowden isn't perfect, none of us are. His heart seems to be in right place and this imperfect person may wind up being one of many links in an anchor that sinks various NSA policies. But the various contortions he's going through to avoid arrest make his actions appear less like civil disobedience and more like a sort of immature grandstanding for a noble cause.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:52 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


More quantum states at the NSA.

They are talking about different things here, the data the programs collect and powerpoints about the programs.
posted by nightwood at 7:06 AM on August 8, 2013


NSA Is Searching 'Vast Amounts' Of Americans' Emails
posted by futz at 8:40 AM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


God Bless you James Bamford

Drake reportedly inspired Edward Snowden to leak information on the NSA spying program PRISM in June 2013.
posted by clavdivs at 9:09 AM on August 8, 2013


TechEye.net: Greenwald said that he had recruited experts to help understand some of the 15,000 to 20,000 classified documents from the National Security Agency that Snowden passed him.
-
It is not clear however how Moscow will view this. One of the conditions that Snowden had for receiving temporary asylum in Russia was that he stop leaking. But Greenwald already has access to these files - so technically speaking - these will not be fresh leaks but the disclosure of already leaked material.

posted by Drinky Die at 9:13 AM on August 8, 2013


Putting up an interview with Lewis, who was arrested so many times, as some sort of exoneration of Snowden, who is going to great lengths to avoid being arrested and paying any price he doesn't want to pay, doesn't make sense to me. It highlights nothing, except Snowden's globe hopping to escape arrest at seemingly any cost.

It is odd that Lewis doesn't address this discrepancy while he's defending Snowden, but Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out why Snowden had to do it the way he did, at least at first. But when everything Snowden gave the Guardian has been published, I don't think he'll have that particular excuse anymore.
posted by homunculus at 10:21 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is odd that Lewis doesn't address this discrepancy while he's defending Snowden.

Perhaps because he wasn't defending Snowden.
posted by nightwood at 11:39 AM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well that certainly explains it. The Guardian should make that explicit with a follow-up.
posted by homunculus at 12:00 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


" In fact, The Guardian itself agreed to retract the word “praise” from its headline."

Huh, if they manipulated that story, I wonder if it's possible that they manipulated any other stories they published.

I had wondered about how much Greenwald might be slanting the story after watching his interview with Snowden, where it's clear that strategic editing cuts have been been made, amidst the leading questions. Is there a raw and unedited original of that interview?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:02 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh, if they manipulated that story, I wonder if it's possible that they manipulated any other stories they published.

It's too bad people don't take this attitude with their government and elected officials.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:24 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh, if they manipulated that story, I wonder if it's possible that they manipulated any other stories they published.

It's too bad people don't take this attitude with their government and elected officials.


What are you talking about -- of course they do. People are intensely cynical about what public officials say.
posted by aught at 12:59 PM on August 8, 2013


in keeping with the teaching of Henry David Thoreau and people like Gandhi and others, if you believe something that is not right, something is unjust, and you are willing to defy customs, traditions, bad laws, then you have a conscience. You have a right to defy those laws and be willing to pay the price ...

Putting up an interview with Lewis, who was arrested so many times, as some sort of exoneration of Snowden, who is going to great lengths to avoid being arrested and paying any price he doesn't want to pay, doesn't make sense to me.


The willingness to get arrested for being a whistle-blower is certainly noble and an effective way of taking the moral high ground (as well as a statement of priorities -- a claim that the harms you are revealing are so bad they're worth going to prison to stop them). But surely there's nothing wrong with wanting to put a stop to government wrongdoing without having to personally go to prison for it?

It's heroic for a firefighter to risk her life to save someone, but I'm no less grateful to a firefighter who saves my life if she can do it without risking her own.
posted by straight at 1:03 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Snowden isn't engaging in nonviolent resistance in the tradition of Thoreau, Gandhi, and King; he's engaging in whistleblowing in the tradition of Ellsberg and Serpico. It's a completely different form of activism. In nonviolent resistance, the activist violates an unjust law and allows the state to act against him to demonstrate its unjustness. In whistleblowing, the activist reveals secret information that implicates a more powerful party or parties in wrongdoing. Whether the whistleblower is arrested does not particularly matter; his actions are all about making secret information public so the public can judge the wrongdoing.

It was nice of Lewis to compare Snowden to Thoreau and Gandhi, but I don't think it's a particularly apt comparison.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:15 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I believe that most Americans are in agreement with the work that firefighters do, but not every American agrees that all spying is wrong.
posted by nightwood at 1:16 PM on August 8, 2013


For instance, Snowden probably doesn't.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


> NSA Is Searching 'Vast Amounts' Of Americans' Emails
But she said the agency’s activities were lawful and intended to gather intelligence not about Americans but about “foreign powers and their agents, foreign organizations, foreign persons or international terrorists.”
Yeah, so that's pretty much everyone in today's global economy. I don't want anyone to pretend this is targeted anymore.
posted by ryoshu at 1:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you've already established that you don't care about legality, why bother limiting the scope at all?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:30 PM on August 8, 2013


For instance, Snowden probably doesn't.

He believes that we can only spy on countries that Congress has declared war on. That list is quite small at the moment.
posted by nightwood at 1:30 PM on August 8, 2013


I believe that most Americans are in agreement with the work that firefighters do, but not every American agrees that all spying is wrong.

I'm just saying that the question of whether or not Snowden has done a good thing shouldn't have anything to do with whether or not he's willing to go to jail for it.
posted by straight at 1:42 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Edward Snowden’s Email Provider Shuts Down After Secret Court Battle
posted by homunculus at 1:43 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


A Former NSA Chief Thinks Privacy and Free Information Activists Are Potential Terrorists
posted by homunculus at 1:59 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Julia Ioffe: Dear Lawrence O'Donnell, Don't Mansplain to Me About Russia
posted by homunculus at 5:19 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why It Might Be In The US's Best Interests To Grant Ed Snowden Full Immunity From Prosecution
posted by homunculus at 5:20 PM on August 8, 2013


Julia Ioffe: Dear Lawrence O'Donnell, Don't Mansplain to Me About Russia

She really sounds like she knows her shit. O'Donnell really gets on my nerves some times.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:31 PM on August 8, 2013


Why It Might Be In The US's Best Interests To Grant Ed Snowden Full Immunity From Prosecution

I had never read techdirt before the links in these Snowden threads, but man, these articles are terrible.

techdirt: "Obama recently stated he won't be meeting with Putin, stating Russia's harboring of Snowden as a factor (rather than Russia's multiple issues with human rights)"

which links to their article:
"Obama Cancels Putin Meeting Because Of Snowden, Because Diplomacy Is Like Kindergarten"

which links to the more sober Politico article which states:

"The White House said Russia’s decision to grant asylum to Snowden was just the latest indicator for the administration that talks with Putin this fall would not be productive, officials said. After modest successes during Obama’s first term, meetings with Russia over the past year have been less successful, ending without progress on issues including missile defense, trade and human rights."
posted by nightwood at 6:30 PM on August 8, 2013


Welcome to post-Constitution America.
What if your country begins to change and no one notices?
posted by adamvasco at 5:36 AM on August 9, 2013


On July 30, 1778, the Continental Congress created the first whistleblower protection law, stating “that it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds, or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states.”

I'm not sure the Continental Congress meant Wikileaks when they said "proper authority".
posted by nightwood at 6:34 AM on August 9, 2013


nightwood ever hear of Trailblazer
Drake, Loomis, Wiebe and Binney more here
By using the NSA to spy on American citizens, Binney told me, the United States has created a police state with few parallels in history: “It’s better than anything that the KGB, the Stasi, or the Gestapo and SS ever had.” He compared the situation to the Weimar Republic, a brief period of liberal democracy that preceded the Nazi takeover of Germany. “We’re just waiting to turn the key,” he said.
posted by adamvasco at 8:07 AM on August 9, 2013


I'm not sure the Continental Congress meant Wikileaks when they said "proper authority".

I'm also sure the Continental Congress never envisioned a malevolent, far-reaching super-structure of citizen surveillance, empowered by secret courts and accountable to no one. Or, for that matter, automobiles, television, radio, telephones, shitting in a toilet, or the internet.
posted by JHarris at 8:32 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually, I'm pretty sure that the Continental Congress did envision such a thing, just not the technology used, which is understandable. Hence the 4th and other amendments.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:35 AM on August 9, 2013


What stand is Obama taking and what made him take it? I'm not sure I follow.

Approach to Russia changes because of Snowden.
posted by juiceCake at 8:48 AM on August 9, 2013


Eh, at this point it amounts to Obama saying

"Look, we need a break. Fine, I'll come to your party, as previously agreed and everyone else will be there, but I'm not going to get into any deep discussions about you and/or our relationship. However, I'm still coming to the party and our deputies can talk whatever. So are you serving the good caviar this time or what?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:53 AM on August 9, 2013


I'm also sure the Continental Congress never envisioned a malevolent, far-reaching super-structure of citizen surveillance, empowered by secret courts and accountable to no one. Or, for that matter, automobiles, television, radio, telephones, shitting in a toilet, or the internet.

They did however see three branches of government oversee things like owning other human beings. They also knew a strong, free press, but probably did not see that as the 'proper authority'.

We should be focussed on repealing the Patriot Act and not wringing our hands over being 'post-constitutional' which seems to be more click-bait than an insightful analysis of our political situation.
posted by nightwood at 9:08 AM on August 9, 2013


There are lots of things we should be focused on. The idea that we should be focused on just one is itself a terrible fallacy -- real change generally comes as a thousand little measures. If we each only focus on the one thing we think is most important, then all our efforts will become unusably diffuse.

As for the "proper authority," well, the founding fathers designed a government, not a reality. If good comes from an extra-governmental source, indeed actively despite it, I'm prepared to accept it.
posted by JHarris at 3:50 PM on August 10, 2013


Jennifer Hoelzer's Insider's View Of The Administration's Response To NSA Surveillance Leaks
posted by homunculus at 5:46 PM on August 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Once again homunculus posts a link in a comment in a week-old thread I wish could have been a FPP.

In it, a former NSA director is quoted as saying his opponents are a bunch of "nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twenty-somethings who haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years." This second-rate schoolyard bully is a man who was in CHARGE of the massive domestic surveillance effort. Whether anyone should be in control over that much information on his fellow man is a question that could theoretically be debatable, but if someone has to be, I'd hope he was more mature than that.
posted by JHarris at 9:34 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd agree the Jennifer Hoelzer piece warrants another FPP. Any opinions on what links should be bundled with it?
posted by jeffburdges at 5:07 AM on August 11, 2013


There are currently three open threads, two of them in the last week, about the NSA and/or Snowden. Another one isn't needed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:21 AM on August 11, 2013


Yeah, we've been snowed under by Snowden lately (har har). I just wish it could be FPP'd. Maybe the post could be made in a couple of weeks jeffburdges, the time could be used to build up links and watch for Further Developments?
posted by JHarris at 11:08 AM on August 11, 2013


I think James Risen is more deserving of a post, but maybe after the case has developed more.
posted by homunculus at 11:46 AM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hoelzer was on Democracy Now this morning: Ex-Wyden Staffer on Secret Laws, Domestic Spying and Obama’s NSA Reforms
posted by homunculus at 9:30 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Snowden Effect, Cont'd
posted by homunculus at 4:56 PM on August 12, 2013


Huh. Person of Interest predicted that an NSA analyst would try and blow the whistle on a massive digital domestic spying program.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:20 AM on August 13, 2013


Wow - Charlie Pierce was in the CIA. Was supposed to know that?
posted by From Bklyn at 10:26 AM on August 13, 2013


On the first anniversary of the Pussy Riot conviction, August 17
posted by homunculus at 11:25 AM on August 17, 2013


AP editor Tom Kent tell staff Do not describe Edward Snowden as a 'Whistleblower'.
via Etats Enomena who notes that AP said roughly this about WikiLeaks too.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:25 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


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