Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jun 11, 2013 in Crime, Featured, International, Media, Politics, Terrorism, War | 36 comments

Hit-and-Run Whistle Blower is No Hero

edward-snowden (1)

When no one trusts anyone, paranoia sells and produces “heroes” like 29-year-old Edward Snowden, who is being hailed by the self-selected morally superior for revealing, in the words of his sponsor Glenn Greenwald, that the “US government is building this massive spying apparatus aimed at its own population.”

That this is not even remotely true seems to matter not at all, as the White House and Congress struggle to explain how surveillance works with safeguards of a FISA court to limit intrusion on Americans who have not been in contact with suspicious foreign sources. (If they had been aggressively bugging the Tsamaev brothers, might we have been spared the Boston bombings?)

Now in Hong Kong, Snowden has taken his conscience out of criminal reach, counting on odds that the US will not try to extradite him to avoid prolonging debate on the issue, but that does not make him a First Amendment hero. In times of moral darkness, a one-eyed whistle blower is no king.

JeffreyToobin observes in the New Yorker: “The American government, and its democracy, are flawed institutions. But our system offers legal options to disgruntled government employees and contractors. They can take advantage of federal whistle-blower laws; they can bring their complaints to Congress; they can try to protest within the institutions where they work. But Snowden did none of this. Instead, in an act that speaks more to his ego than his conscience, he threw the secrets he knew up in the air—and trusted, somehow, that good would come of it. We all now have to hope that he’s right.”

Now we learn about ego-driven squabbles at the Guardian over publishing Snowden’s scoop that tend to confirm the motivation of all involved.

Right on cue, Daniel Ellsberg who made public the Pentagon Papers in 1971 shows up to proclaim that the US has fallen into an “abyss” of total tyranny but that Snowden’s revelations offer “the unexpected possibility of a way up and out of the abyss.”

Those of us who recall those days can testify to the legal process back then that the New York Times and other publications had to go through to publish details…


Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 The Moderate Voice
  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Well done, Robert.

  • yoopermoose

    I was not surprised about the data mining our government was doing. Anyone with half a brain could have guessed what was happening after the Patriot Act was passed. What did, and still does, alarm me is that some IT guy who didn’t even graduate high school had access to top secret documents. What kind of safeguards do these contractors have in place? The answer appears to be none.

  • dduck

    Richard Branson, Paul Allen, Michel Dell, and then the billionaire college dropouts, Bill Gates and Larry Ellison, among others.

  • The_Ohioan

    I object to the term “self-selected morally superior”, and the Tsarnaev brothers escape from the purported “massive spying apparatus aimed at its own population” may be a fact that the massive spying is not happening, or it may indicate that such a system is inept even with all its technological splendor.

    Nothing will replace human intelligence gathering and the fact that the sequester is causing the layoff of government employees right and left has made its presence known in the intelligence communities as well as in the least important of government bureaus. Efforts to prevent the intelligence departments cuts have so far failed.

  • Willwright

    A bit off the subject but DD you are correct about these dropouts, I doubt if any of them would be hired today by the companies they head, they would simply viewed as not having the right credentials(i.e. the right degree from the right college). I’m not against higher education I just find it ironic in a world today that often seems obsessed with credentials.

    I agree with Robert completely, if you really believe you are righting wrongs why run away? Wouldn’t you want to stay and keep the spotlight on these activities? Is there another motive or payday involved?

  • The_Ohioan

    Too true, yooper. A former CIA type was on MSNBC (that liberal bastion) this morning and he said that Homeland Security had to hire many contractors because of the time constraints to get up and going. The question is why those contractors weren’t replaced with the CIA’s own employees eventually. I don’t know the legal restrictions on contractors vs employees, but this could just as well have been an employee. It just took the right person in the right place and it certainly could have been predicted to have happened some time.

    We all knew that certain words in phone and email correspondence would trigger a response; as sheknows mentioned Quest was the one holdout when that happened years ago. The bombshell, if that’s what it was, was the totality and scope of the collections. I thought it was limited to foreign calls/emails and to known U.S. citizen suspects.

    The fact that this high school dropout was later hired by the CIA would seem to make his dropout status irrelevant. My spouse was a high school dropout and ended up a systems engineer. That’s what GED degrees are for.

  • yoopermoose

    dd, my main point was not his high-school drop out status, although the examples you gave did not become successful by stealing and exposing government secrets. My point was that we need to take a closer look at what these contractors are doing with the information they are provided, how they are safeguarding it, and who has access to it. I would also like to see a healthy debate on privacy v security, somthing that should have happened before the Patriot Act was passed.

  • yoopermoose

    I also apologize for my “high school drop out” comment. Obviously, there are many reasons that someone has to drop out that has no bearing on his/her intelligence or their chances of success in the future.

  • The_Ohioan

    Good on you, yooper. More apologies and fewer snarks would make us all happier and better informed. I also apologize for my snarks, but plead guilty to the inability to sometimes being unable to resist returning one snark for another. My bad.

  • sheknows

    I am really trying very hard not to form an opinion about the information that he released based on an opinion of HIM. The media is doing it’s job and successfully shooting the messenger to minimize and/or discredit the importance of the information he released.
    It is more than obvious that his actions have greatly disturbed and angered people. ” It’s not what he did, it is the WAY he did it” is the common response I hear. The truth though is much deeper than that. It is a frightening revelation that our government may be guilty of abject wrong-doing. We all love our country and to shoot the messenger is the best, perhaps only way we know to protect her and preserve our trust in her.
    I don’t agree with so much of how this has been handled, either by Snowden, the Guardian, our press, our media or our politicians. It has become a 3 ring circus and the real issues that no one wants to explore are still waiting to be dealt with.

  • slamfu

    Even if the US govt is not looking to do something bad to this guy, I guarantee you his former employers are. This guy did exactly what we hope people will do. Was the American public somewhat informed as to the repercussions of the Patriot Act and all the various FISA bills coming through? I imagine they were as up to speed on the minutiae of that as they are on the minutiae of tax code or environmental regulations. I think guys like this spilling information like he did are a critical way for the public to actually get some insight into an ever more obfuscated govt that more and more tends to throw whatever it wants under the heading of “National Security” in order to hide what it is doing. If we learned anything from the wikileaks dump awhile ago its that many, many govt officials tend to use that heading as a memory hole for things less related to nation security than for hiding personally/professionally embarrassing incidents from scrutiny.

    To say we all had the information before us and this stuff is ok because we effectively signed off on it is absurd, like saying getting screwed by a shady salesman because you didn’t read the fine print is your fault. They know how to slip this stuff under the radar. If they do have a valid reason for it, great, let them explain. We WANT them to have to explain.

    On a side note, the intelligence community loves highly intelligent “under achievers”.

  • dduck

    Yupper and Ohio, I welcome snarks, especially combined with wit, how could I not. 🙂

  • The_Ohioan


    Who has said we all had the information and we signed off on it? What we had was some information and we relied on Congress and the courts to understand the total information and to keep in balance the need for knowledge of possible attacks, both cyber and physical, and our legal protections under the 4th amendment.

    Now we need to know whether Congress and the courts did their job, not whether the executive branch is overreaching – that is a given, and that is why the other two branches were given their powers in the first place.

    Explicit knowledge, and this is anything but explicit, can help convince citizens to decide what those balanced choices should be. Falling into Tea Party conspiracy mindset upon learning about them, is not helpful though healthy skepticism is.

    All three branches should explain what they are doing to achieve the balance between liberty and protection, without damaging that protection, and if we are satisfied they have been right, Mr. Snowden may be seen as a valuable catalyst. If we are not satisfied and believe them wrong, we can call him a hero. I personally still reserve hero status to those who act within our system, not above it or outside it, but understand others disagree.

  • The_Ohioan


    Yes, well wit is the operative word. 🙂

  • The_Ohioan


    I see little evidence that the media is shooting the messenger, though they probably will spend more time than warranted on him. When the messenger is flawed, the message may or may not be flawed. Mr. Snowden may or may not be flawed, but he is not (yet) heroic in some people’s eyes. Those of us who are skeptical until we know more are not unconcerned about his revelations, but are also increasingly concerned about the more that his revelations imply.

    If improperly classified information is easily accessed, may not properly classified information also be easily accessed? And do we not care if it is? Anyone with imagination can speculate on what that could mean.

  • abufarsi

    If there are 10 million people in the US who “pretend” they are citizens, and the government can’t find them, how in the heck could a general information surveillance system tell whether or not the people they are watching are citizens or not? “not US citizens spied upon” is obviously bogas.

  • dduck

    It ain’t what he did it way that he did it. Let’s put maximum effort into making sure our secure data is secure from easy access from anyone. Too many over-classified documents and programs with too many people having access is just plain careless.

  • wreynor

    My goverment’s use of classifying information has become way too commonplace. The American people can no longer make real judgements on how we should cast our vote because we aren’t even allowed to legally know half of what our government does. Congressional oversight of classified information has proven itself to be inadequate and I sometimes wonder if the American media isn’t complicite in failing to keep the public informed. I did take note that Snowden released his story to a British journalist instead of an American. So is Snowden a hero? I think so. His life is ruined; he will be extradited, tried, and imprisoned. All for the crime of letting the American public know what its government is doing.

  • SteveK

    My goverment’s use of classifying information has become way too commonplace.

    How do you know this to be the case?

    That was not meant to question the commenter personally, many here are coming across as they ‘know’ what’s going on but from what I’ve seen and in my opinion none of us really have a clue.

    With this cluelessness some decided that they sure as hell don’t like it… Whatever ‘it’ is; and, some, myself included, would rather wait until more is known before coming across as outraged and offended for maybe being personally invaded and abused.

  • yoopermoose

    There are several issues involved in this matter.

    1. What information is the government collecting? (I assume everything possible)
    2. Who has access to it? (besides pissed off IT guys)
    3. Is the FISA court rubber stamping requests or actually doing due diligence?
    4. Is congress fulfilling its roll of monitoring the data collection program?
    5. What changes need to be made to balance privacy v security?

    I hope there is a robust debate by the public and our elected representatives and does not devolve into accusations and finger pointing, although I am sure it will.

  • sheknows

    Than you must also chastise the authors of these articles here at TMV Steve. Everyone of them has interjected their personal “opinion”. I am not aware that anyone here is saying that they KNOW anything for certain. Only that they have an opinion ..about the man, our government, whatever.
    Perhaps it would be easier for you to accept if everyone prefaced their statements with ” I feel”.

  • slamfu

    “How do you know this to be the case?”

    Take a stroll through the 720,000 leaked reports Assange released awhile ago Steve. It’s not a maybe, they classify all sorts of stuff not because its valuable to our enemies, but to shield themselves from scrutiny and embarrassment. They range from the extreme, calling in airstrikes to destroy evidence of civilian casualties, to the mundane, agency supervisors fudging reports to cover up their own incompetence and financial expenditure on absurd things. The categorizing of things as “National Security” is used today like the “memory holes” from 1984, and its not just paranoid conspiracy. BTW, the 720k files is less than 1% of the classified reports, totaling 77 million that year. I don’t mind using secrecy to protect actual national secrets, but when bureaucrats, soldiers and agency management are just using it to cover their asses to save face and hide incompetence, I have a problem with it. So should everyone.

  • SteveK

    Than you must also chastise the authors of these articles here at TMV Steve.

    I do include the authors if they have jumped on the “The Government’s Doing too much… The Government’s too big” Bandwagon. Sound familiar? Heard that before? What ever has happened to Darrell Issa’s Follies (phoof disappeared)?

    Authors who argue that we, with little to no knowledge of what’s actually going on, shouldn’t jump to conclusions… And/Or authors who say that this should be looked into by capable, competent, knowledgeable individuals to assure we and our liberties are protected don’t IMO fall into the ‘the sky is falling’ category that I mentioned above.

  • sheknows

    First Steve I want you to know that I respect you a great deal and think you are intelligent and funny. I often look for your comments here at TMV because I DO respect your opinion. But I have to say that in all the time I have known you on this site, I have never seen you take such a position.
    I do not see that anyone here is saying “the sky is falling”. They are saying they have genuine concerns about blanket trust in our government. It appears though, that is how you interpret those concerns and I feel it angers you.

    The article posted by Kathy yesterday gave IMO us more information as to how this data mining works and it’s inherent dangers than anything I have read so far, anywhere. Many keep saying they are” waiting for more information to come in” before making a decision but without knowing the exact content of the documents, the truth is we never will have enough information. So that leaves speculation and concern and yes, opinions.

  • ShannonLeee

    They can take advantage of federal whistle-blower laws; they can bring their complaints to Congress; they can try to protest within the institutions where they work. But Snowden did none of this.

    Because he was intelligent enough to know these options are all BS.

    I’ll say again, good for him, now someone toss him in jail.

  • zephyr

    As always it’s interesting to read how/where people come down on issues – as well as their various rationales for doing so. This one I find of particular interest because our views of privacy, govt. and security have been “evolving” considerably since 9-11.

    Now in Hong Kong, Snowden has taken his conscience out of criminal reach

    Yes, and this is forming a point of justification for some folks because civil disobedience in it’s classic form involves going to jail here in the USA. I’m willing to watch how this plays out and am comfortable resisting the temptation to tribalize the thing and gravitate based on persuasive content vs useful and real information. The motivations seem to be what people are playing with now and they do this while swimming through powerful media forces who often have a stake in driving a particular narrative. It’s times and issues like this that show the extent to which people can form opinions based on their own experience and thinking vs. the tides of a current popular gestalt. The challenge of this is in many ways a crucible.

  • SteveK

    I do not see that anyone here is saying “the sky is falling”. They are saying they have genuine concerns about blanket trust in our government. It appears though, that is how you interpret those concerns and I feel it angers you.

    Hi sheknows,

    First, thanks for you kind words prior to the comment of yours I pasted above. I appreciate it and feel the same way about you and the others whose skin I seem to have gotten under in this topic.

    We all have genuine concerns about blanket trust… Not just our government but in most things we deal with in our lives… Concern is healthy, paranoia not so much.

    I’m not saying that you, or anyone else here is paranoid but, IMO, when one topic generates 90%+ of all comments on the TMV website while other things that should be equally or more of a direct threat to ‘our’ (‘our’ meaning middle America) way of living seem to have lost their importance I do get a little bothered by the same things being said over and over again when WE STILL DON’T KNOW. I get angry because in keeping this going above and beyond everything else is what the failing Republicans want.

    From the start I’ve agreed that the way OUR government gathers information needs looking into. In my opinion, that is and will continue to be done… What about everything else?

    Early in this ‘Earth Shattering Story’ [sic] some tried to act as if congress was left in the dark about this so I posted links to both the House and Senate Intelligence Committee websites… There is no doubt, our elected representatives knew what was happening.

    In another thread I replied to one of your comments regarding “SECRET interpretations by the government.” I changed it to “ALLEGED SECRET interpretation by the government.” Because none of us know what has happened… And then I provided a link to the A.C.L.U website you referred to earlier.

    The intent of my comment was, a) provide a link to the ACLU story; and, b) repeat, once again, that these allegations are ALLEGED and not proven. Your response was to ask me what I had against the ACLU.

    Do I interpret what I see as overreaction differently than you do? Yes. Does this extended soap opera (my opinion of course) have me piqued? Again yes, because it’s let the Republicans bury their foolish and much disproved witch hunts.

    Please someone write something about Darrell Issa continuing to hide the transcripts generated by his own committee

  • sheknows

    🙂 I am sure that will be forthcoming. I have noticed not just here but in the talk shows as well, other topics are once again being generated. Perhaps because the media has gone as far as it can to get us all excited about a well now running dry for lack of information. Let’s get some scandals fired up!!

  • sheknows

    LOL For some reason it is harder to take criticism from a fellow blogger than it is family or friends. I am used to having political discussions at family gatherings and have a relative across the table from me place their tongue between their upper and lower lips and blow as hard as they can in response to my opinion. I am even used to friends at a bar-b-que looking at me while I speak as though it was Martian and respond with Pssshaw….while waving the air in departure from me, but when a fellow blogger discredits my opinion, it hurts.
    You guys are the ones I can relate to, even with opposite opinions. You actually LIKE to discuss this sh**. 🙂

  • KP

    I get angry because in keeping this going above and beyond everything else is what the failing Republicans want.

    Chief! That is at once a strong recruiting tool and fence mender.

  • epiphyte

    Could it be that the reason this topic has generated more comments than any other is that it’s about an issue that is more important than the topics we normally discuss?

    For my own part, the reason I’ve commented on this at length is that, unusually for me, I feel reasonably well qualified to do so. With regard to technical capabilities at least, possibly more so than just about anybody who is free to voice an opinion in public.

  • SteveK

    Could it be that the reason this topic has generated more comments than any other is that it’s about an issue that is more important than the topics we normally discuss?

    Since you ask… NO it’s NOT all that important. What’s really important is for OUR government to start doing their job.

    This whole thing, in my opinion, IS something that needs to be looked into BUT the depth and breath it’s being made important is simply BS… BS magnified by the right to segue the conversation away from all their screw ups but BS all the same.

  • SteveK

    Edit to add: The Republicans have intentionally (and maliciously) taken a 4+ year hiatus thinking it would make the black Democrat look like he is incapable of doing his job… They have failed!

    Does anyone (other than me) think it’s time for duly elected Republican politicians to go back to work?

  • epiphyte


    Since you ask… NO it’s NOT all that important. What’s really important is for OUR government to start doing their job.

    You think the two aren’t related? I’m sure Eliot Spitzer would disagree. (Note: read through to P3 for the reference)

  • epiphyte

    Does anyone (other than me) think it’s time for duly elected Republican politicians to go back to work?

    I think it’s time for _all_ of our elected politicians to start acting in good faith. Can anyone name even one that has been in office for a year and still places the interests of their average constituent at the top of their list of priorities? I can’t, and I’ve looked.

    Keith Ellison perhaps? wouldn’t that be ironic…

  • yoopermoose

    Epiphyte, I would add Al Franken, Bernie Sanders, and my own senator, Carl Levin.

Twitter Auto Publish Powered By :