But first its important to recognize that Snowden is being handled. The question is "by whom?" Yesterday we saw that his father (and his father's lawyers) are starting to speak out about what's happening.
More fractious is the relationship among Lon Snowden, WikiLeaks and Mr. Greenwald. Mr. Fein's wife and spokeswoman, Mattie Fein, said Lon Snowden's legal team doesn't trust the intentions of Mr. Greenwald or WikiLeaks and worry they are giving Edward Snowden bad advice.In response, the Huffington Post received an email that is reportedly from Edward Snowden saying everything is cool. But its important to note that the HuffPo article is based on an email (that anyone could have written). I found this portion particularly sad:
"The thing we have been most concerned about is that the people who have influence over Ed will try to use him for their own means," Ms. Fein said. "These guys have their own agenda here and we aren't so sure that it has Ed's best interest in mind."
Neither my father, his lawyer Bruce Fein, nor his wife Mattie Fein represent me in any way. None of them have been or are involved in my current situation, and this will not change in the future. I ask journalists to understand that they do not possess any special knowledge regarding my situation or future plans, and not to exploit the tragic vacuum of my father's emotional compromise for the sake of tabloid news.In other words, we should not pay any attention to his father's anguish over what is happening to his son.
So, who are these people that are handling Edward Snowden? To understand the stakes, one of the best examples to look at is the battle that raged between Wikileaks and Bank of America. The story starts with the troves of donations Wikileaks was banking based on their "handling" of the Bradley Manning leaks (20,000 euros a month). Several banking institutions responded by refusing to process these donations. And Julian Assange (founder of Wikileaks) fought back by hacking into the hard drive of an executive at Bank of America and threatening to "take them down."
What we know now is that the Bank of American began working with HB Gary to develop a strategy to go after Wikileaks. We know that because the group Anonymous (which works closely with Wikileaks) hacked HB Gary's system and released 44,000 of the company's emails - including a plan to go after Wikileaks and Glenn Greenwald (who they saw as the critical spokesperson for Wikileaks...interesting).
Personally, I don't have a dog in the fight between Wikileaks and the Bank of America. But I tell that story to point out the agenda of some of the players involved in the Snowden situation. Does it strike you that they're really interested in anyone's "privacy" when their modus operandi is hacking into other people's computer systems? Take just a moment to review that Wikipedia article I linked to above about Anonymous and count up all the private information about innocent people they've hacked and released. And then take a moment to read the speech Jacob Applebaum (Wikileak's promoter) gave about the importance of the work of Anonymous.
THE ISSUE HERE IS NOT ABOUT PRIVACY!!!!! Its about who controls the world-wide web. The battle has also been engaged in the fight between those who oppose any effort to control piracy and the proprietary rights of creators/artists/entrepreneurs. As with privacy in this technological age, that is a complex issue. But those that are screaming the loudest about government surveillance have planted themselves squarely on the side of open access, regardless of individual/business claims to proprietary rights.
Enter China and Russia. We know that the United States is in a heated battle with China over this issue. We should not forget that the Snowden revelations came out (with Snowden safely ensconced in Hong Kong) just as President Obama was about to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to talk about cyber security. No one can doubt that the leaks significantly weakened the President's hand in those negotiations. Here's how Catherine Fiztpatrick explains it:
...the purpose is to weaken and discredit America as a champion of Internet freedom; to claim that it is a hypocrite and not true to its ideals; to act as if it is no different than the surveillance states of Russia and China; and to make it seem as if the "sovereign Internet" plans of these authoritarian governments then are justified due to the discreditation of both US commercial and government involvement in the World Wide Web.By now we all know that Snowden has received asylum in - of all places - Russia. But it is Julian Assange's relationship with Russia that is most revealing. Perhaps the best example of that is that back in April 2012, he got a talk show on Russian-sponsored media. We also know that Snowden's legal issues in Russia have been jointly handled by Wikileaks and Anatoly Kucherena.
...he is a political supporter of Mr. Putin’s and serves on the Public Chamber, an advisory body that critics have long derided as a Potemkin construct of actual government oversight. He also serves as a member of another board that oversees the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B.When folks like Julian Assange, Jacob Applebaum and Laura Poitras say that they are being surveilled by the US government (and therefore we should all be scared shitless about being surveilled ourselves), this is why. They are not innocent players in this world-wide battle over the internet. And they're fighting back...with the likes of Edward Snowden. Just like they fought back against Bank of America by hacking their secrets.
There are HUGE issues at stake here...privacy, piracy, hacking, who controls the internet, and the international balance of power with cyber security threats. But the idea that the Assange's and Greenwald's and Applebaum's of the world are taking up this cause on behalf of everyday Americans is pure hogwash.