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Jun 10 2013

And on cue the attacks on Snowden begin …

Watch how Ed Kilgore, a supposedly ‘liberal’ news commentator who has been a Democratic party operative, contributes to the government counter-offensive to bringing down Snowden. See if you can count how many innuendos he packs into the short passage. He pretty much follows the expected script. Kilgore’s contribution is to call Snowden a narcissist.

It is a perfect example of innuendo and we can expect much more of this type of thing in the days to come, especially from Obama supporters.

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  1. 1
    slc1

    Ah gee, it that’s the best that Snowdon’s critics can do, he doesn’t have much to worry about.

  2. 2
    Socially Extinct

    For many, Obama’s reputation is more important than our Constitution.

  3. 3
    jamessweet

    For a putative martyr, Snowden’s had a pretty cushy existence, it seems,

    Wait, so because he makes (correction: made) a comfortable salary, that lowers his credibility? It’s class warfare, I tell ya!

  4. 4
    Mano Singham

    I know, I found that a pretty risible line of reasoning too.

  5. 5
    jamessweet

    I do have to admit, Kilgore’s spinning of Snowden “giving Obama a chance” into an example of narcissism is really a clever move. What Snowden was really saying, quite clearly, was along the lines of “I thought the problem might fix itself, so I’d rather let that happen than break the law and destroy my career.” But Kilgore manages to spin it into some sort of holding ransom. Of course, what’s missing from that equation is that, for it to be the narcissistic move that Kilgore implies, Snowden would have to have told the administration he was going to go public if they didn’t change.

  6. 6
    Corvus illustris

    The early Christian martyrs who made the biggest impression seem to have been the ones who came from the upper classes and thus had the most to lose. Kilgore needs to catch up on reading hagiography.

  7. 7
    Marcus Ranum

    A media figure calling anyone “narcissistic” is just the punchline of a very bad joke.

  8. 8
    gshelley

    Yeah, I am not sure what he thinks the alternative should have been “Obama has criticised this sort of thing while as a Senator, promised the most transparent administration ever and has expertise in the constitution, but I don’t care, I’m going to reveal everything anyway, no matter what he does”?

  9. 9
    Marshall

    This sentence really irks me:

    “Neo-connish Republicans, and somewhat more quietly, Democrats of a non-libertarian bent, tend to view Snowden as a narcissistic fraud who insinuated himself into a position where he could do the maximum damage to his country, knowing he’d have plenty of powerful or at least noisy allies when it all hit the fan.”

    Snowden himself addressed this in his interview–he could have done far, far more damage for much greater personal gain. He essentially minimized the damage to national security, carefully sifting through documents and selecting only those that did the least possible harm.

  10. 10
    Mano Singham

    I know. This is why his pre-emptive self-revealing interview was such a good move.

  11. 11
    brucegee1962

    The media has been talking about him pretty much nonstop all day, but one critical piece of information that I haven’t heard anyone discuss is what his security clearance was.

    I think that even people who take principled stands should pay some kind of penalty if they break a promise that they made — such as the promises one makes when they get a security clearance. Now, in a case like this one or Manning’s, maybe that price should be minimal — two or three years in a low-security lockdown, certainly not life in the slammer. But they should be at least a token penalty, so as not to encourage others in a similar position to steal secrets with perhaps less justification.

    But if his employer was giving him access to all this information without the proper clearances, then they were the wrongdoers, not him.

  12. 12
    Marcus Ranum

    what his security clearance was

    It would have to be TS/SCI (top secret / compartmented information) since PRISM was a named program.

  13. 13
    Marcus Ranum

    Life in the slammer? Sgt Bales shoots 19 civilians in Afghanistan and he’s looking at life (but I bet they’ll parole him quietly after 5 years) and Manning is looking at life and he’ll never, ever, ever get parole.

    Violations of domestic and international law regarding torture, and obstruction of justice on the torturers – they get let off scot free, as do the helicopter pilots who gunned down the Reuters news crew and kids, but meanwhile the whistle-blower was tortured and spent a year (more or less) in solitary under conditions even the UN complained about.

    Something very wrong here.

  14. 14
    Mano Singham

    I heard that it was ‘top secret’ and that he did have proper access to the information, but I am a little hazy on the whole security clearance thing and am not sure if ‘top secret’ is an umbrella term within which there are gradations. I can’t image that Snowden would have the same clearance as (say) the head of the CIA. But I don’t really know.

  15. 15
    Marshall

    Hi Mano–Wikipedia may have some information. I’m at work (well, grad student here :o) ) and already spending more time reading blogs and articles than I should, but these two articles might help clarify:

    Security Clearance (United States)

    Classified Information

    Not sure why the formatting is looking like this.

  16. 16
    unbound

    And here is the start of the “journalism” taking off regarding the kid… http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/10-things-to-know-about-edward-snowden-92491.html

  17. 17
    Mano Singham

    Thanks. That was helpful.

  18. 18
    slc1

    A man with no college degree earning $200,000/year from Booz Allen? WTF?

  19. 19
    Socially Extinct

    He bucked the education-industrial complex. I actually like the guy mostly for this reason.

  20. 20
    Jeffrey Johnson

    I don’t feel the same sense of alarm that seems to be a visceral reaction of many people to PRISM and other data gathering programs the government is using. This stuff shouldn’t come as a big surprise, first of all, since there has been plenty of discussion of this since 9/11, and plenty of signs that this kind of thing was happening. So the sense that this is some kind of shocking sudden revelation seems kind of phony sensationalism to me. Anyone who is shocked and surprised just hasn’t been paying attention.

    Whether Snowden is an attention-seeker or a patriotic hero or both is really irrelevent. Snowden himself doesn’t matter to the real problems at hand.

    The key point for me is to ask the question of whether we should be upset about the mere gathering and storage of the data, or should we rather be focusing on the procedures and controls that determine exactly how and when the data will be used and by whom?

    If we consider the government’s possession of military power and lethal weaponry, how is the gathering of this data worse than that? Anyone who feels very unsafe because the government is collecting this data should have been quaking in their boots for their entire lives over the power the government has to kill anyone, or even multitudes, anytime they decide to.

    What is protecting us from these weapons? It is rule of law, the Constitution, and our shared sense of purpose to defend the Constitution. So can’t these same protections also prevent the potential misuse of this data?

    Is the mere gathering of the data a violation of Constitutional rights? I can’t see how, but I can see many ways that once gathered the data might be used to violate constitutional rights. At best one might make a 4th amendment argument to say that gathering the data is illegal search and siezure, but is this data really our own personal property? It is in fact already in the possession of a variety of private corporations, and these are organizations whose primary motive isn’t to defend the Constitution and the security of the American public, it is to make a profit. So why should we be more trusting of these corporations possessing this data than the government? Corporations are probably the least democratic institutions in our society.

    There is a lot of potential good that could come from the government having the ability to comb through this data when investigating crime and terrorist threats. For example, if there is probable cause to expect someone of planning a terrorist attack, so that an honest judge would find reasonable justification for granting surveillance warrants, then this data could be used to perform surveillance not only in the future, but in the past as well, going back in time to learn about the suspect’s contacts and activities in the period prior to the granting of the warrent. If this data is never used prior to the granting of the warrant, is it’s mere existence in storage really a problem? The data also could be useful, if processed anonymously, in measuring the impact of policies or in recognizing trends that could lead to better policies in the future. The mere existence of the data in government hands does not in and of itself automatically represent a dangerous threat to the public at large, or to the freedom of individuals.

    Just like any technology, including the awesomly powerful military lethality possessed by the government, this data gathering and the ability to analyze it is a double edged sword.

    Given these considerations, it seems to me like the best response is not to object to the actual gathering of the data, but rather to insist that the procedures and uses of the data are transparent and regulated by checks and balances that prevent abuse. I can’t see how the govenment possessing the data is more dangerous than the government possessing the world’s largest arsenal of deadly weapons. Clearly, in either the case of weaponry or powerful data analysis capabilities, the potential for abuse is there. We have to decide whether the right approach is to take away the data and the weapons from the government, or whether instead we need to extend the laws and rules governing how these things are used.

  21. 21
    Cullen Tillotson

    Jeffrey Johnson – a well written rebuttal, but I respectfully disagree.

    Investigation of a crime is one thing, and the ability to store data another. You sign an agreement (EULA, that no-one ever reads) granting or refusing access to your data when you use services.

    The point here is the use of the toolset, in that you can’t control it. This has been proven numerous times in the past, including the recent past. Having a tool, powerful people would seek to use it. Perhaps they’d bother to cloak this in legal speak now, but what’s to stop them from changing the law in future to allow them easier access to it? What’s to stop them from criminalizing speech, in secret, that the administration (perhaps not this one, perhaps a future one, but what about this one? Not exactly a sterling record of transparency from the Obama administration) then uses as a political cudgel?

    Giving them the data is one thing, and I agree that I trust the government slightly (very slightly) more than I trust corporations (who I don’t trust at all), but at least the corporations are held accountable to the government. This potentially changes that.

    And who watches the watchmen?

  22. 22
    Corvus illustris

    Of course the congresscritters (Mrs Feinstein among others) are shouting “Treason” and thus presumably calling for Mr Snowden’s head. They might refer to Article III, Section 3 of our former constitution and explain how Mr Snowden is levying war and/or to which enemies of the US he might be adhering.

  23. 23
    Corvus illiustris

    Well, at last report it was down to $122k. But since he lacked mandarin credentials one has to consider that perhaps Booz Allen hired him for his competence.

  1. 24
    The NSA flap and where I part ways with many of my “friends” « blueollie

    [...] yes, some who I respect are defending them (here and [...]

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