I've spent the last year writing reams of blog posts and finally an entire book -- Privacy for Thee and Not for Me -- about Snowden and his adversarial journalists, led by Glenn Greenwald, his hacker supporters, led by Appelbaum, and his cast of fellow travelers led by WikiLeaks Julian Assange.
We critics of Snowden have nothing of the resources that Greenwald has in mainstream and alternative media and intelligentsia opinion has been so whipsawed by them it's hard to have a normal debate about this subject.
Even so, I'll try yet again and try to boil it down to three bite-size sound byes.
There are three hard questions that every media person reviewing Greenwald or talk show host interviewing him need to ask, and not flinch from asking:
1. Why did Snowden go to Moscow? And no, he did not have to go there. Be ready to go the second and third round on this by reading this blog post with the time-table.
Snowden deliberately took a job at Booz Allen he held only for a very short time to steal certain documents and then left that job May 18, 2013. He didn't go to Russia until June 23! So let's not be children. Let's ask ourselves why Snowden CHOSE to go to Russia instead of the many other places he could have gone in the MONTH before that.
If he had his heart set on Hong Kong for various reasons (and we haven't heard them all), then he already knew by June 11th that the Chinese authorities were NOT going to give him asylum despite his bringing to them of hot stuff from the NSA which he deliberately leaked to them on the eve of Obama's meeting with the Chinese, to harm relations and up the ante for his own value as a defector.
So he still had 10 days or so to get the hell out of Dodge once China fell through and go directly to Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador or Iceland. There was even a plane to take him to Iceland. If Iceland also fell through, he can't claim that Latin American countries did. We have no proof of that. Fidel Castrol himself said it wasn't true Cuba was intimidated. There were still other countries. He could have flown directly to them on May 18th to ANY of them and put some facts on the ground; Iceland would find it hard to deny his application process at least.
BUT HE CHOSE TO GO TO RUSSIA. And that's because he oriented toward Moscow in the first place, thinking they were great because they could "stand up to America" and because WikiLeaks strongly advised him to go there. It has said this openly and recently.
Let's not get distracted about why whistleblowers who leak state secrets -- you know, like the information about what we are hacking of China's -- which isn't anything to do about privacy for Americans -- and please, spare as any baloney about economic espionage. That's not what Snowden brought to the Chinese; he brought URLs of what we were hacking in China.
2. What documents or verbal accounts or information or ideas, willingly or unwillingly, did Snowden give to the Russians and what trade did he make for asylum? And no, don't accept bristling hostility and distraction by insisting there are "no facts" of any of this. Keep asking. Be persistent. Why? Because Snowden deliberately brought the Chinese documents to make himself attractive to be given asylum as a defector; he offered documents to Brazil if they would take him; he offered documents to Germany. We all know he made these offers AFTER he already ostensibly turned over all the documents to journalists. So if he can do this for China, Brazil, and Germany, what, he can't do this for Russia to get asylum where he actually did get asylum? Again, let's not be children here. Let's use a little parallel construction and conceptual thinking here instead of rigid rejectionism about any line of reasoning concerning Snowden's treason.
He did it once for China; he could do it again for Russia. Did he?
3. Now that he's in Russia, just what is Snowden's real service to the Russians, willingly or unwillingly? Why has no Russian journalist ever been able to interview him? Why has not even a Western supporter, lawyer, or insider journalist been able to physically see him for six months in Moscow? What's up? Why haven't we heard anything from his Russian lawyer lately? Is there a deal in the works with the US government to turn him over?
There are many more complicated questions one can ask about the time-line - which has famously changed with every re-telling (and now, I suppose, that Greenwald has put it in stone in a written book, it might be settled). But it's worth going over again, asking the dates of when Greenwald -- and Poitras and Appelbaum -- really first dealt with Snowden.
Few people will likely get past Greenwald's bluster, bluff and bullshit. But few try. These three questions have never been asked and no one has ever really had it out with him. I hope some will try. Because he hasn't had any good answers to these questions and they really are crucial to unravelling his constructed narrative.