I hope snowden sleeps well tonight in Moscow after compromising all possibilities of intercepting intel on those retards inside #Westgate— Kenfrey Kiberenge (@KenKiberenge) September 22, 2013
Let's just pause and consider that, shall we? There is so much hype around Snowden and his excellent adventure to Hong Kong and Moscow, that I feel as if there has to be some pushback.
In the videos released by WikiLeaks from his "Sam Adams Award" ceremony given by the four ex-intelligence whistleblowers, you can hear him eerily still using the term "we" and talking about reform of the NSA as if he is still in the US and is still part of the society there -- which of course, he is not.
In fact, even when he was in the employ of the US government, and nattering away on Ars Technica, he didn't speak for everyone and only spoke for the arrogant geek elite -- the shifting tribe of gold bugs and technolibertarians or technocommunists and Ron Paulians or Assangist anarchists who think they run everything now because everything is wired and coded.
Yet that royal "we" persists. That may take awhile to dawn on him, it always does with refugees. I've noticed for many refugees and defectors I've dealt with that it can take 2-3 years for the break to occur in one's psychology, and then be devastating. Until then, he may continue talking in a bubble as if he is on a telephone not hooked up to anything. Notice that while more pale and thin than he was in well-fed Hong Kong eating at the $300-a-day Mira Hotel, he still comes across as over-confident and absolutely arrogantly sure that his theory of the world is right.
What galls me is the persistence that he has done the world a favour, and that if it weren't for him, we "wouldn't know what is being done in our name". Um, we have people to work in our name. They are called "our elected and appointed representatives". They did have oversight and did exercise checks and balances on the NSA. And the hacking and exposure of our nation's secrets haven't been shown to serve the purpose of enhancing privacy rights or forcing "reform" that I'm not sure is needed, instead, they've handed more help to the enemy, including Russia.
I was quite struck reading the tweet of a Kenyan journalist the other day who said bitterly, thanks, Snowden for giving us Westgate by making it much harder to track terrorists and stop them. That's what I wondered myself.
So from the snippets of the speech we get from Snowden, we see he hasn't the slightest remorse, the slightest doubt, the slightest hesitation that he is right, and on the right course. That techie self-assurance and that deep voice that goes with it coming out of a slender frame is oh-so-familiar to anyone who has followed the geeks in the software autocracy movements. I think probably nothing short of our planet's heat-death from the sun would shake them from that certitude, and even then they might object, as according to their calculations, it shouldn't be happening yet.
This is not about any sort of particular program. This is about a trend in the relationship between the governing and the governed in America which is increasingly coming into conflict with what we expect as a free and democratic people. If we can't understand the policies and programs of our government, we cannot grant our consent in regulating it. As someone very clever said recently we don't have an oversight problem, we have an undersight problem.
Oh, it's not about a particular program? Then why all this endless leakage about specific programs from Glenn Greenwald, Barton Gellman and company?!
The thing is, we do have understanding of policies and programs more than Snowden is willing to admit. And in fact when this was put to the test, and came to a vote in Congress regarding the "need" to "reform" the NSA, those who thought it needed reforming due to Snowden, goaded by Wydell and a few others who have long been assaulting cybersecurity, well, lost -- even if the vote was close.
Snowden gabbles that the USG is unwilling to prosecute high officials who "lied to Congress" but willing to persecute people "who tell the truth". I will repeat what I always say about this: Clapper doesn't strike me as lying so much as having to apologize for misleading people who made assumptions about things, given that his initial effort was to protect secrecy. I don't see Clapper has done anything at all that he has to be prosecuted for, that's absurd -- Snowden artificially contrived this situation and the gotcha-gang have been making hay of it ever since. I also don't view somebody who can't tell me what he was really doing from March to May 2013 and before that, and who ends up hiding in Moscow as "telling the truth." Sorry, I'm conditioned that way.
He goes on with other false theses: "These programs don't make us safer. They limit our ability to think and live and be creative and to have relationships to associate freely." Really, Edward? I don't feel a single thing stopping me from thinking and being creative and associating freely whatsoever since your hacks. Grow up.
"And they don't make us more safe," he whines, "they make us less safe and put us into conflict with our own government."
Well, no. They do that *for you and your gang* but not a lot of other people. Truly, you aren't interested in a debate, but just your own sect.
I really question the idea that these programs a) haven't in fact protected us from terrorism -- a claim Snowden and Greenwald and company don't accept and b) we aren't suffering harm from Snowden's hacks and their coverage of them -- and will continue to do so.
And speaking of heat-deaths from the sun, I suspect that unless announced in advance that he was commiting terrorism due to NSA files Snowden leaked, and emailed this around to every journalist, and then blew himself and others up somewhere, they won't believe that harm has been done -- and frankly, maybe not even then. I'd love for someone to have a debate with these freaks about what they think constitutes proof of harm, and whether they think we should all sit back and let it materialize to prove their point. Would 3,000 more people being killed with buildings toppling do it for them, or maybe a subway exploding?
He continues, to imply -- unlike Jacob Appelbaum and some of the other crypto kids and cypherpunks -- that he is for "legitimate" espionage and law-enforcement. But this is "a far cry" from what we have now; instead, it should be "targeted" and "based on reasonable suspicion, individualized suspicion and warranted action," and not this "dragnet surveillance" by this big eye that sees everything "even when it is not needed".
But wait a minute, Snowy. That's exactly what the NSA and its works *are about already*. They are individualized and they do have warrants. The "dragnet" you hype so hysterically is a comb through files that are not individualized encroachment with human awareness to penetrate privacy; instead, they are matching metadata to existing intelligence targets. I just can't get exercised about this, truly. It is necessary.
Then Snowden winds up for the punch and says as a "very smart person" said "we don't have an oversight problem, we have an undersight problem." That's meant to imply that the oversight we think we have in Congress and various secret courts and committees monitoring intelligence is "undersight," i.e. insufficient. I tend to disagree about this because I've never seen a single case come out of this or a single really troubling fact.
So who was that bright person who said that quote?
Well, Tom Engelhardt of the Nation Institute and Truth-out has this concept in his "dictionary of the global war on you". Isn't it typical that these lefties imagine the "surveillance states" are watching only them, and are heedless of terrorists in Kenya or Iraq or Pakistan slaughtering thousands?
To be sure, the concept of sousveillance has been around the tech set for ages, in discussion of wearables, Google Glass type of contraptions and such, I remember hearing about it years ago at virtual worlds and augmented reality conferences.
But there's someone else, closer to home who is using this term, and that's Kevin Gosztola, the Firedog/The Dissenter blogger who has avidly supported Manning, Occupy and of course Snowden, too, as one of the anti-government radicals who wants to entirely re-cast the world. Here he is on Twitter using the term. And he also covered Jesselyn Radack reading the statement from Edward Snowden to European parliamentary committee.
But there's someone else I think said this in chat to Edward Snowden, whom he wouldn't want to mention for "security reasons," and that's likely Jacob Appelbaum. Gosztola covered his famous "Not My Department" speech to 29CCC I should listen to it again and see if he uses the term there.
EVEN IF you agree that "we" need to have more oversight, surely you could concede that the way to get it is not to first hack and slash at secret files, then dump them into the enemies' view, then flee first to China, then to Russia. Seriously. No one can ever prove to me that this is a legitimate way to "start a national conversation" and any "national conversation" begun that way is suspect unless and until Edward Snowden is prosecuted for espionage.