Monday, June 10, 2013

Before we anoint him "hero" status, there are a few questions I have about Edward Snowden (updated)

Now that we know that the guy who leaked the information about NSA is 29 year-old Edward Snowden and we've heard what Glenn Greenwald wants us to know about him, there are a few questions that real journalists should pursue about this story. On twitter I ran across a potential candidate: Jan Crawford with CBS News.

I would add to that things like wondering if it is a coincidence that this information was leaked just prior to President Obama's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and the leaker chose Hong Kong as his hiding place.

We also know that Snowden made some outlandish claims - like the idea that he personally could wiretap the president and that he chose Hong Kong because "they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent."

And we know that he supported Ron Paul's presidential candidacy but enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2003 because, as he said, "I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression."

So there's a lot to this story that doesn't add up. Most of that is related to the fact that Snowden chose Glenn Greenwald as the person to tell it. Bob Cesca explains:
In the context of this story, Greenwald ought to be serving in the capacity of a hard news reporter. But what sets off a red flag in my head is how his reporting and his tweets totally blur the line between an agenda-driven opinion blogger and reporter. I know this isn’t exclusive to Greenwald, but it’s a problem that’s getting worse. If you’re going to be an opinion/agenda journalist, be that, and be clear about it. If you’re going to be a hard news reporter, be that, and be clear about.
In other words, Glenn is approaching this as a litigator rather than a reporter. He's got a position and he's presenting evidence to prove it. To be fair - that's how a lot of journalism is done these days and its why we have a Crossfire-like atmosphere amongst most news outlets.

But in a story this important - we need better than that. I'm hoping that a few more like Jan Crawford emerge to help us get some answers.

UPDATE: We also know that Glenn Greenwald lies exaggerates. From the transcript of his appearance on ABC:
[T]hat is for the American people, at least to learn about what this massive spying apparatus is, and what the capabilities are, so that we can have an open, honest debate about whether that's the kind of country that we want to live in. And if the people decide that they--yes, they do want the government knowing everything about them, intervening in all of their communications, monitoring them, keeping dossiers on them, then so be it. But at least we should have that debate openly and democratically.
FFS - the government doesn't know everything about us and isn't intervening in all of our communication. People have legitimate concerns about the privacy issues involved in this NSA story - but Greenwald regularly takes it to Glenn Beck fear mongering tin foil hat territory. Shame on him!


  1. First, I love your blog. The pragmatists will win the serious debates of our time, one can only hope.

    I saw Crawford's tweets - as well as many others with serious questions about this story. As you note, in today's Opinion-as-News media - these voices are absolutely necessary.
    I've mostly sworn off TV "news". I go to Twitter for folks I trust, see links [to various POV's] and read.

    Funny - it may be electronic, but reading beats watching. In that vein > I really don't care if the government can gather info about me - I'm not a criminal so it never has and won't affect my life or LIBERTY. Heck, Every store I use a card in and every stroke I make on the Internet is tracking me... why not the Gov? At least I have a vote there.

    Take care. Smart Smartypants

    1. First of all - thanks.

      But I take issue with the position of "I'm not a criminal so it won't affect me." Here's why:

      I'm not sure I have a problem with the government collecting this info. People's privacy is affected whey someone actually looks at it. We have a long history in this country of using profiling to make that determination - be it the color of someone's skin or their religious affiliation.

      So as a white person - my privacy is probably never going to be an issue. But in the current climate, it might be different if you are Muslim - criminal or not.

  2. Just listening to Snowden's interview tells you that the guy seems to be enjoying the thought that he might be persecuted. He's a drama queen. And his talking about secret CIA stations gives the lie to his claim that he is merely concerned about NSA breaking the law. He's a type - telling secrets makes him feel important. And thanks, buddy, for endangering people's lives needlessly.

  3. What does have to say about the people we entrust with classified material?...A three-year contract employee! It takes that much time to learn how to use the office machines and make a good cup of coffee.

    I don't feel sorry for the legislators who said they did not know about the program. They said they weren't allowed to bring in their staff. Huh? A three month contract analyst with a GED understood it well enough to leak it...A Ron Paulite at that.

    I agree Smartypants,I hate that "I have nothing to hide" because it might not matter until you go to the airport and discover you are a "NO FLY" list.

    Greenwald gets feisty if he's asked a question..This morning he accused Mika of using WH talking points.

  4. I've been more than a little annoyed by the breach of privacy that happens whenever you visit any number of sites on the internet. The consumer information gathered, and shared by who knows whom with whomever, follows you around to any other site in the adnetwork. Yeah, you can proactivly decline to be followed by the SAME product ad's but that doesn't stop the overwatch. The message is: You're being watched whenever you use the internet.

    Cell Phones were never secure communications by the very nature of the technology. The internet isn't secure as often demonstrated by prank hackers intent on destroying your computer. I'm not worried about anyone listening or reading my private messages. I'm concerned with EVERONE who chooses to hack my privacy.

    Perhaps we shouldn't spend our time, energy and outrage tilting at NSA windmills and instead start proposing changes to undo unreasonable intrusions into our privacy. The first step might be keeping a revised 4th Amendment issue out front and in 2014 electing folks willing to do the people's bidding regarding this issue.

    Outrage comes and goes. Change takes commitment. Talk is cheap.

  5. I'm a little behind the curve on Edward Snowden, and I may not have my facts straight. That being said, here's what strikes me. Within the space of 3 months this guy:
    * Goes to work for a Govt contractor
    * Is sent to work for the NSA
    * Observes what he considers unconscionable
    * Decides to expose classified NSA programs and information -- again, all in just a three month time period, including the time it took him to move the Hong Kong.

    This just sounds like a guy who was on a mission from the get go. Again, correct me
    if I have the facts wrong. I may be off base, but guess is there are going to be some interesting revelations about this guy, and possibly Greenwald, in the coming weeks.

    1. It gets even worse. Greenwald tweeted that he had been working with Snowden on this story since February. Snowden didn't start working for that government contractor until March.

    2. Off topic: I think Jan Crawford is the CBS reporter who is BFF with Clarence and his wife. If she is the one she is allowed to report on the SC without any acknowledgment in interest of full disclosure. I dont think that is right and it colors all of her reporting for me.

    3. You guys dont pay attention. Snowden worked for NSA since 2009 for different contractors, including Dell. Your focusing on just the last three months at Booz Allen is weird.

    4. Anonymous @ 11:11 PM

      You're missing the point here. He was working with Greenwald when he took the job at Booz Allen. So he took a job working w/ the NSA already knowing he was going to leak. That begins to reek of a criminal conspiracy.


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