Glenn Greenwald Interviews Edward Snowden

…the guy who broke the NSA story:

Transcript here.

Very smart of these guys to get out ahead of the story, because right on time, here comes the State with the attempt to paint him as a traitor:

Former CIA Officer: ‘Potential Chinese Espionage’… Extradition Calls Begin… REPORT: Intel officials overheard saying NSA leaker should be ‘disappeared’…

These guys deserve the Medal of Freedom.  As it is, pray for them because what happens to them will be a real measure of this country is morphing into.

  • Imp the Vladaler

    Snowden may be a national hero. May be. Lizzy Scalia counsels caution, though, and I agree that it’s best to wait before we trust the uncorroborated word of someone we don’t know and could be as self-serving as anyone else.

    • jaybird1951

      Bradley manning thought the same thing, that he was protecting the people from the government. Even though his actions resulted in a number of deaths overseas of people whose identities were disclosed.

      • Imp the Vladaler

        So far there’s no reason to think that Snowden has revealed any information that puts any individuals at risk.

        • Rosemarie

          +J.M.J+

          From the Guardian article:

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

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

          ‘He purposely chose, he said, to give the documents to journalists whose judgment he trusted about what should be public and what should remain concealed.’

          From: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance

          • Ghosty

            Indeed. We don’t know much about him so far, and it’s way to early to lionize (or demonize) him. What we do know, however, seems to bear out the notion that he’s at least worth listening to for the time being. What he’s done is simply pull back a curtain that many of us suspected was there, but didn’t have proof of; now this can all be a matter of public discussion without any individual being taken down or destroyed (except perhaps the head of the NSA, who clearly lied before Congress).

            I’m very interested to see how this story develops. Hopefully it leads to an honest discussion and appraisal of what we will permit our government to do in the name of “national security”. It may be that most people are perfectly happy to accept these programs, but we at least deserve to know that they exist, and to have some oversight on how they operate, and for how long.

            Peace and God bless!

      • Ghosty

        People may get hurt or killed with any release of information, but that doesn’t mean that information shouldn’t be released. Fear of injury to the innocent is a very worthy and powerful concern, but that also makes it easy to take advantage of when building a much more dangerous and socially damaging apparatus of control.

        That said, there is a big gap between this release and that of Bradley Manning, IMO. From what I remember of the Manning release, the aspects that got people killed were field reports about informants in Afghanistan and other areas of military operations. The release of that information did not open our eyes to a growing break with the Constitution, nor did it pave the way for a discussion about where our society is headed behind the veils of “national security”. Rather, Manning’s release of information was little different than exposing the names and photos of undercover police officers. I don’t know what Manning thought he was helping, and perhaps his motivation was purely personal (I seem to recall that he had a lot of private issues that built up).

        Regardless, I don’t think there’s much parity between these two releases.

        Peace and God bless!

  • http://Culture11.com Joe Carter

    Mark,

    You’ve been very consistent about how lying is always wrong. Why do you make an exception for an oath-breaker like Snowden. When he was issued his security clearance he was given access to such documents only under the consideration that he would keep his word and not disclose it. Can he be a hero and commit the sin of lying?

    • chezami

      I’d want to know the terms of his oath. If it is to protect the Constitution and the country, he did. Also, bear in mind that he is not a Christian, so far as I can tell and so allowance for culpability must be made. If he did in fact lie (and my assumption is that his job virtually required him to lie) then this is one more point in favor of saying that the whole “How dare you say that lying is wrong since undercover cops and spies do it!” line of argument is radically flawed. If he lied, he committed at least a venial sin. How culpable he is for that God alone knows. Meanwhile, I would say what Thomas says of the Hebrew midwives: that they were trying to do good but that their lies were “not meritorious”. But I’d need to know the details of what Snowden did to know he really lied. At present, all I know is that he’s done us a huge service.

      • John Schaefer

        I would agree with Mark. His oath is to to protecting the constitution, and it’s that interpretation that is the arguing point. Does this make him a traitor, or a great American?

        What’s interesting now, as Victor points out, it’s time for the Ad Hominem spin from the state: HS dropout…traitor…Reality is always somewhere in the middle.

        • B.E. Ward

          I’m waiting for the “I’ve got nothing to hide!” series of public service announcements starring Lady Gaga. The catchy tune just writes itself!

        • chezami

          Don’t forget “He should be dropped from an airplane”. The people who say that stuff are the real enemies of the United States.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

        It actually seems unreasonably difficult to find any separate oath that is used other than the usual one for federal civil servants. And under the terms of that one, it is quite possible that his release of information was upholding his oath.

    • Ken Crawford

      Joe, while I don’t want to completely dismiss your point, I think lying is the wrong sin to be labeling him with. From that interview one can infer that when he said that oath, he intended to comply with it (thus was not lying at the time). Now that he’s seen the info and determined (in his opinion, at a minimum) he was wrong to have made that promise, I don’t think you can call it lying.

      That’s not to dismiss that when we make a promise, we are bound (to a certain degree) to carry out that promise, nor that I think it’s an uninteresting question to discuss in regards to Catholic teaching… but it’s not an issue of lying.

    • Joseph

      He knew of the US government breaking the law by directly opposing the Constitution. When he took the oath, he had no intention (presumably) of leaking information because he had obviously not discovered it yet. But once he discovered that the government he was working for was knowingly engaging in activity that was against the very laws that government is mandated to uphold, illegal activities, he had an obligation to reveal it for the benefit of his country. You’re seriously comparing apples and oranges here and I really can believe that you’re serious.

  • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

    Fox’s “Fascist Friends” program this morning featured their jar-headed “Strategy Expert” who called Snowden a “high-school dropout” (irrelevant) a “traitor” (debatable, at best) and a “thug” (non-sequitur) who is of the sort of those whom should be “dealt with” outside of the courts (by being “tossed out of a plane”). That brief spot — namecalling and death threats, presented without challenge from any of three program hosts — did more to frame my opinion of Snowden than just about anything else.

    • chezami

      Curious, is it not, that the most gung-ho proponent of Obama’s Spy State is the same network that routinely compares him to Hitler. And yeah, that’s pretty damn creepy rhetoric.

      • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

        I can’t confirm now the airplane comment (it may have been on one of the other news channels I was flipping around this morning, but I definitely heard it), but here’s the piece from this morning: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/10/fox-news-analyst-bring-back-the-death-penalty-for-nsa-leaker/

      • Imp the Vladaler

        Well, at least Fox has revealed itself to be not reflexively anti-Obama. But of all the issues to march lockstep with him on, there are few that could be worse.

        It’ll be interesting to see what sort of rifts this opens up on the left and right.

        • chezami

          FOX has always staunchly supported Obama on War on Terror stuff. It’s the only thing he does they like.

      • jaybird1951

        Fox News ‘routinely’ refers to Obama as Hitler? Really? Please document that ‘routinely’ accusation.

    • Dave G.

      I saw a similar take down on a debate on CNN. It seems it’s not so easy as ‘this side’ thinks one thing and ‘that side’ thinks the other. It looks as though people of different stripes are cheering him, and people of different stripes are against what he did. Same with the NSA issue. I don’t know enough yet to make a call. I’m getting a little nervous in our Wikileaks age. I’m just as bothered by what i see happening in the government of course. Have been for some time. But still trying to put things together about this.

  • B.E. Ward

    I fear that this is the point in the dystopian novel that has become real life where Americans – eyes swollen and bleeding from the Internet and tv, one hand shoveling fast food into their mouths and the other hand down the front of their pants – scoff at one of the few that tell them about reality before turning back to the trough.

  • Clare Krishan

    In case you missed it on twitter
    re: NSA Kids Books, Pam Besteder’s (Fundamental, Independent Baptist,
    Reagan Conservative (Republican), love God and Country and the American
    flag) pithy Jun 8 rejoinder

    The Princess and the Pea-Sized Listening Device She Found Under the Mattress. Published by Random Household Sweepers

    turned into slide show of photoshopped-spoofs (>>via Darth >>via Guardian’s Erin McCann “‏@mccanner 9 Jun @darth Hi there. We at @GuardianUS are huge fans of #NSAkidsbooks. May we repurpose a few for a gallery?”)

    ::| NSA surveillance as told through classic children’s books |:: As
    news of the NSA’s secret surveillance programs spread this weekend,
    Twitter did what it does best: mockery. User Darth asked followers to
    contribute titles for #NSAKidsBooks, which were then turned into
    beautifully hilarious works of art. Darth has kindly allowed us to share
    them

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/medi

    Enjoy!

  • Pavel Chichikov

    He is now a Chinese asset, and may very well have become a Chinese agent. The Chinese will draw out of him everything he knows, and if he knows even some of what he claims, he has put people and national security at serious risk.

    Do you think the Chinese will respect his delicate sense of confidentiality? Does anyone think that he has resorted to a country that respects freedom of speech?

    Mark, you apparently have no sense of the damage he may have done.

    I don’t think he will ever be permitted to leave China, or at least not until the Chinese security services have exhausted what they can get out of him.

    • Dave

      Yes, I think that his decision to go to Hong Kong was not a very wise one…though I’m not sure where else he could have safely gone, either, which only goes to underscore his point.

      • Pavel Chichikov

        Who gives a **** about his safety.

        • Dave

          Well, he does…but he was misguided in thinking he’d be safer in Hong Kong. Either that, or we should be very worried indeed about the USA.

          • Pavel Chichikov

            Misguided, perhaps. Is he still living at that “plush” hotel, which he claims not to be able to afford, on the 200k he claims to have been earning?

            • Imp the Vladaler

              What’s with the animus, Pavel? Really. I have to know. I’m not ready to name him a hero, but I don’t get why you seem to despise him so much.

              He may have broken no oath. There’s never a responsibility to obey an unlawful order.

              • Pavel Chichikov

                He has defected to China with classified material he had sworn to keep secure.

                That’s OK with you?

                • Imp the Vladaler

                  Proof that he defected to China with classified material. Now.

                  In fact, he’s said that he’s gone out of his way to prevent the disclosure of information that could put individuals in harm’s way. What basis do you have for believing that he’ll turn that information over to a foreign government?

                  • Pavel Chichikov

                    Because the Chinese security services will know how to extract what he knows from him. He is at their mercy.

                    However, it is not implausible that he is already at their service as an agent.

                    And since he has already proven himself a liar, how do you know that he has not already put others at harm’s way?

                    • Imp the Vladaler

                      So the answer to my request for proof that he defected to China with classified material is “I don’t know that Snowden has any classified information in his possession, but I’m sure the Chinese will torture information out of him.”

                      Weak, dude. Weak.

                      And you have no evidence for his lying. Stop it. Violation of an oath is not a lie, and there is no obligation to obey an unjust order pursuant to an oath.

                    • Pavel Chichikov

                      ‘So the answer to my request for proof that he defected to China with
                      classified material is “I don’t know that Snowden has any classified
                      information in his possession, but I’m sure the Chinese will torture
                      information out of him.”‘

                      Please carry on with your two-headed conversation.

                      Best wishes.

                    • meunke

                      GAAAAHHH!!!! I can tell that SOMEONE has watched WAY too many Tom Clancy movies.

                      OK, FIRST of all, as soon as it was clear to the
                      intelligence services in the US that he was no longer ‘their boy’ they would have shut off every bit of access he had. It’s not like he can access anything.

                      Second, anything he had access to: codes, passwords, addresses… all of that’s going to be changed. Basically, as soon as he left US soil, any actionable info he had becomes almost totally useless. That’s why when hostile governments recruit spys, they don’t jerk them out and interrogate them, but keep them in place to get actionable intel.

                      Next point: CHINA IS NOT AT WAR WITH THE US. Seriously, you sound like a neocon here.

                      “However, it is not implausible that he is already at their service as an agent.”
                      It’s also totally plausible that he doesn’t have ANY. You’re just guessing. Nothing more.

                      As far as oath violation… think on this. Where I work I have to sign a non-disclosure statement that I won’t violate my company’s confidentiality with regard to business practices and terms. Pretty much everybody that works in the financial sector does. Now, if I discovered that our institution was illegally laundering money for Mexican cartels for mass weapon purchases, would I be violating my ‘oath’ for exposing this?

                    • Pavel Chichikov

                      “GAAAAHHH!!!! I can tell that SOMEONE has watched WAY too many Tom Clancy movies.”

                      Can you?

                • Joseph

                  Classified material that exposes my government of breaking its promises to me by not obeying the Constitution it has sworn to obey? Get your head on straight, bro!

                  • Pavel Chichikov

                    He has defected to China. He’s gone over to the other side, to a country that could use what he knows against us and our people. That’s OK?

                    • Joseph

                      Dude, since when is China the enemy of the US government? We have a huge amount of corporate interest there that our government is keen to protect and China gets heaps of praise from our officials and corporate leaders. Not to mention how close they are to Russia in proximity (making them a strategic ally because the US still hates Russia for reasons that are too much of a divergence to talk about in this post). China has an extradition treaty with the US. There is nothing this guy knows that China doesn’t already know. China is actually dormant in the eyes of the State Dept/CIA. Anyhow, let’s see how this develops.

        • Imp the Vladaler

          Who gives a **** about the safety of Russian dissidents, Pavel?

          • Pavel Chichikov

            Russian dissidents, if they are really dissidents, don’t make off with state secrets and defect. Those are not dissidents, they are agents.

            • Imp the Vladaler

              Did Snowden “make off with state secrets”? So far all we know is that he disclosed the existence of an espionage program.

              • Pavel Chichikov

                He claims that he could have accessed comprehensive lists of US security personnel.

                If that claim is true, how is he going to keep the Chinese from knowing what he knows, or how he could have known it?

                And you don’t think that disclosing the details of a classified program to a foreign power is a big deal?

    • Ghosty

      Democracy depends on open discussion, and the “damage he’s done” is open up a very controversial and potentially dangerous government project up for open discussion. It’s a discussion that should have happened years ago, but we were to busy being scared of Muslim boogey-men to actually have it. Now he’s splashed a bit of cold water on our collective face and given us at least an opportunity to openly discuss, and possibly even vote/contact our representatives (what a concept!) about a matter of grave importance to the very foundation of U.S. policy and values.

      People die, sometimes by the thousands. It can happen in bombings, and it can happen in tsunamis. More dangerous, however, is destroying the very fabric of a country in order to attempt to prevent inevitable deaths. Remember, Al Qaeda wasn’t out to just kill a few thousand Americans, it was out to destroy America. I would argue that 9/11 was merely the injection site of a particularly dangerous virus, a virus that has manifested itself in such symptoms as the Patriot Act and domestic spying and data collection. We don’t yet know the fallout of this man’s actions, but I can’t fault him morally if he’s trying to cure the wound that Al Qaeda delivered.

      Peace and God bless!

    • Joseph

      You still think that the US government is somehow at odds with China?

      • Archaeopteryx

        Someone needs some friends in the cyber-security field.

        China is the number one source of serious cyber attacks today. Chinese hackers are CONSTANTLY testing the network security of not just government computers, but defense contractors, banks, everything.

        We’re not living in a Tom Clancy novel. We’re living in ‘Ghost in the Shell’ with less cyborgs.

  • Pavel Chichikov

    If he lied to the people who trusted him, who else is he lying to? What lies is he telling?

    • Ghosty

      I think it’s a stretch at this point to suggest that he lied. He possibly broke an oath, but we don’t even know the details of that oath, and to my mind support of the Constitution would trump any other oath to a government agency which depends on the Constitution as a foundation.

      I also think it’s a stretch to suggest that he’s a Chinese agent. He would seem to be much, much more valuable as a mole then as a compromised public figure who will not be allowed within a hundred yards of any U.S. intelligence assets for the rest of his life. While he may indeed be at risk in China, it may also be the best move possible if his story is true. China won’t extradite him, the U.S. won’t risk picking him up off the streets there (unless they hire The Batman), and the Chinese government has an interest in keeping him relatively safe if only as a very handy “in your face” the the U.S. government when it makes hypocritical demands about intelligence gathering and data monitoring.

      The Chinese government may pick him up to extract information from him, but it seems likely that the most damaging information he has is already released. He put himself at risk, but he did that just by releasing the information in the first place.

      Peace and God bless!

      • Pavel Chichikov

        I doubt that your concept of what trumps an oath would get a pass from a grand jury.

        • Imp the Vladaler

          What oath do you think he broke? Details please.

          Members of the military take an oath, too. They swear to obey their superiors. But they never have to obey an unlawful order.

          • Pavel Chichikov

            Let him try that defense before a jury.

        • Ghosty

          Then let him face a grand jury, but let’s not devolve to personal attacks and accusations without information. You accuse him of immorality in lying, but breaking an oath is not necessarily immoral, nor is it lying. Would a mafioso who turns state evidence be immoral for testifying against other criminals?

          Furthermore, just because his actions may be considered criminal doesn’t make them immoral. The entire question at hand is whether or not we, as a supposedly democratic society, wish to actually discuss these matters and make informed decisions about what we allow our government to do in the interest of “national security”. Had it not been for these leaks we would not even be able to have this democratic discussion, and that is serious matter of “national security” in my opinion.

          Peace and God bless!

          • Pavel Chichikov

            I’m not making personal attacks. I’m noting the evident – he has defected to China with classified information in his possession.

            • Ghosty

              This isn’t evident at all, though. He is in China, yes, but there is no evidence of his defection to serve their government. You have also called him a liar, which you have no evidence of.

              As for possessing classified evidence, you are presuming that he has more information beyond what he has already made public, a baseless assumption. While what he released was indeed classified, it is now public knowledge thanks to Glenn Greenwald and The Washington Post.

              His actions may be technically criminal, but that doesn’t make them immoral, nor does revealing this information make him an agent of a foreign government. In charity we should not assume that he is acting maliciously against the U.S. government or its people; everything he’s said, and his actions bear this out, points to a belief that the Constitution is in danger or has already been violated by the very agencies sworn to uphold it, and he’s doing what he can to bring it to light and open up public discourse on the matter.

              Peace and God bless!

  • Pavel Chichikov

    Permit me to recapitulate the main point. He is a defector, in possession of classified material. That should be simple enough to understand.

    • Ghosty

      How do you know he’s a defector? It seems a baseless accusation to make at this point.

    • Imp the Vladaler

      And how do you know that he’s in possession of classified material other than what he’s already disclosed?

      You imply that he’s interested in or indifferent to disclosing state secrets to the ChiComs. Evidence please.

      And seriously Pavel… you of all people. You should understand the bravery of those who stand up to unjust laws.

  • Pavel Chichikov

    His present location should make it obvious.

    • Ghosty

      His location tells me that if he was indeed a defector he would be out of sight in Chinese hands, not conducting interviews with Glenn Greenwald. China won’t extradite him, and isn’t beholden to U.S. interests. If there is a country that would not only look dimly on any U.S. attempts to “disappear” him on their territory, but has the power to prevent it, it would be China. Furthermore, China would have an interest in making sure he stays safe and visible as he provides a handy political trump card in talks with the U.S. regarding cyber-security and surveillance. Standing in the shadow of a rival giant may be the safest place for him, or at least he perceives it to be.

      Again, there is no evidence that he absconded with any information beyond what he’s made publicly available, no basis for accusations of “turning traitor”. It is more likely, IMO, that any information he has is now out in the open, and China may try to pry more from him, but I doubt there’s much more to get. If his intentions were espionage related he would have been better served keeping quiet and not outing himself, allowing him to remain a mole within the NSA. Showing his face and name makes him next to useless for the Chinese to exploit as anything other than a political showcase, and I’m sure he knows that.

      Peace and God bless!

      • Pavel Chichikov

        You seem to know so much about Snowden and the intentions of the Chinese government that you would have much to offer the US authorities in the way of information and analysis.

        It would probably look forward to hearing from you.

        Best wishes.

        • Ghosty

          Actually, I’m merely pointing out what is public information and offering a contrary interpretation to yours, which is that he’s a liar and a traitor. I’m saying we can’t “convict” him of some moral crime without some actual evidence, of which you’ve presented none.

          I don’t pretend to know the intentions of the Chinese government, but I can easily see the calculation that could be made as to why it’s safer to hide in their shadow than it would be to remain in Hawaii, or go to Europe, or some small country that the U.S. could easily bully to extradite him. His calculation could be mistaken, but it’s not clear that he’s defected. As I said, if there was a true defection why go public with all this information?


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