Stacy McCain asks, and I think, answers the hero vs traitor questions about Edward Snowden
As soon as Edward Snowden came forward as the “face” of the NSA leaks, the question immediately suggested itself: “Hero or Traitor?”
Revelations about the NSA surveillance program had made worldwide headlines. Coming on the heels of other scandals, it seemed to fit into an emerging neo-Nixonian picture of the Obama administration. As I wrote Friday at The American Spectator:
Welcome to America in 2013, where Hope and Change have transmogrified into Fear and Loathing, where even a liberal reporter who last year praised Obama as “one of the most talented politicians around” could not resist the pervasive paranoia inspired by what voters were once promised would be “the most transparent administration in history.” Between the IRS secretly punishing the president’s political enemies, the Justice Department secretly seizing reporters’ phone records and the NSA’s secret surveillance, the only thing transparent about this administration is its dishonest hypocrisy.
One little problem: The IRS scandal and the DOJ scandal are genuine scandals — clear-cut abuses of power — whereas the NSA surveillance program had no actual victims. That is to say, while the NSA’s access to phone and e-mail records raises Fourth Amendment concerns about potential abuse, there is no one who can point to an instance where actual abuse has occurred. So far as we know, no one has been arrested on the basis of illegally obtained information or targeted by the NSA because they’re on Obama’s Enemies List of political opponents.
Apparently, Glenn Greenwald’s idea to solve this problem was to present the world with Edward Snowden as the hero-victim, making him the symbol (as Greenwald saw it) of how the administration was punishing courageous truth-tellers. However, rational people (a category from which Greenwald long ago excluded himself) recognized this as problematic: Snowden wasn’t an IRS employee revealing important truths about unlawful political abuse of government power, or a DOJ staffer disclosing the surveillance of journalists. Snowden had top-secret clearance at an agency whose express mission it is to gather communications (“signals intelligence,” or sigint) about America’s enemies. There is a world of difference between these two categories, and my antennae detected this difference when I saw the quote from Snowdenpraising Army Pvt. Bradley Manning as “a classic whistleblower” who “was inspired by the public good.”
Of course the NSA news troubles me, it ought to trouble all of us. Frankly, anytime the government has that much power I get worried. But, Snowden has chosen some odd nations to seek refuge in hasn’t he? China, Russia, and he seems to be looking to get to Venezuela via Cuba. What North Korea was not on his list? Talk about things that make you go HMMMM. Stacy McCain also looks at some other eyebrow-raising facts about Snowden at Viral Read
If leaking top-secret information made Ed Snowden a hero, then everyone with access to classified information who doesn’t leak it is a villain. And the more I looked at the backstory, the less I liked it:
After leaving the CIA a few years later, however, Snowden seemed disillusioned and suspicious toward government. In a comment on an Ars Technica article about surveillance software developed by Cisco, Snowden expressed concern about “how little this sort of corporate behavior bothers those outside of technology circles.” Criticizing what he called an attitude of “unquestioning obedience,” Snowden suggested that such surveillance had “sneaked in undetected because of pervasive government secrecy.”
Oh, what fresh hell is this? When I see the word “corporate” used as a pejorative, coupled with a jab at “unquestioning obedience,” I don’t think of Jefferson, Madison and Patrick Henry. Instead I think of Theodor Adorno, C. Wright Mills and Herbert Marcuse — the leftist indictment of 1950s America as proto-fascist oppression. I also think of every disgruntled misfit I’ve ever had the misfortune to know, malcontent whiners grumbling about the “bosses” and doing their best to spread demoralization throughout the organization.
Edward Snowden sounds a lot like a Leftist, he runs from Communist paradise to Communist paradise (no Russia is not Communist any more, but, they are not our friend either) and uses “corporate as a slur? Yep, that makes the Leftist Detection Meter go off alright. I just wonder what he is talking to all those Communists about? HMMMMMM. Like I said, I do not trust the NSA, or this administration, there is some “there” there in this story. But the Snowden as Patrick Henry Meme? Not buying that!