National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is beating his chest, saying “mission accomplished” after he stole millions of classified surveillance documents and fled to Hong Kong. Um, the last time we heard ‘mission accomplished’ all hell broke loose in the aftermath. Remember former president George W. Bush landing on the aircraft carrier saying “Mission Accomplished” for the Iraqi war? Thousands of soldiers and Iraqi civilians died after that public relations fiasco.
He may have ‘won’ but he’s living off ramen noodles and chips in an arctic hellhole. Good luck to him as he relishes in his so-called victory. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty things to be upset with the NSA about its reckless invasion of privacy, but had he been a “Deep Throat” kind of guy, I would have more respect for him.
Here are five key points from Edward Snowden’s interview with the Washington Post:
1. Mission’already accomplished’
Snowden told the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman in Moscow, “For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished. I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”
“All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed,” Snowden said. “That is a milestone we left a long time ago. Right now, all we are looking at are stretch goals.”
2. Deems himself ‘an indoor cat’
Gellman said during his 14 hours of conversation with Snowden, he didn’t “part the curtains or step outside” at any time. Snowden describes his life as that of an “indoor cat.” He said he doesn’t drink alcohol and lives off ramen noodles and chips, as he continues to elude the U.S. government’s attempts to bring him back to face espionage and theft of government property charges.
Snowden said, “It has always been really difficult to get me to leave the house. I just don’t have a lot of needs. . . . Occasionally there’s things to go do, things to go see, people to meet, tasks to accomplish. But it’s really got to be goal-oriented, you know. Otherwise, as long as I can sit down and think and write and talk to somebody, that’s more meaningful to me than going out and looking at landmarks.”
3. He claimes to have raised flags before going public
Edward Snowden said there were other people working at the NSA who had misgivings about the agency’s surveillance activities. He also claims he raised his concerns to colleagues and superiors in the NSA Technology Directorate and the NSA Threat Operations Center’s regional base in Hawaii.
Snowden told the Post that his coworkers were often “astonished to learn we are collecting more in the United States on Americans than we are on Russians in Russia.” So, where are the superiors to who he voiced his concern? How about getting their side of the story?
Snowden says that because he did report his misgivings to NSA superiors, he didn’t circumvent the agency’s internal channels of disagreement. The NSA told the Washington Post that it had “not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden’s contention that he brought these matters to anyone’s attention.”
4. He was ‘elected’ by the intelligence community’s overseers
Snowden told Gellman he had no choice but to go public because the U.S. government left him no choice, with the barrage of criticism from the Obama administration and members of Congress. He was asked why he felt entitled to bring the NSA’s intrusive activities to the public’s attention. He responded that “That whole question — who elected you? — inverts the model. They elected me. The overseers.”
Singling out the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees, Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers, both of whom have been very critical of his actions, saying “It wasn’t that they put it on me as an individual — that I’m uniquely qualified, an angel descending from the heavens — as that they put it on someone, somewhere. You have the capability, and you realize every other (person) sitting around the table has the same capability but they don’t do it. So somebody has to be the first.”
He claims that his aim was not to bring down the NSA but to improve it. Snowden said, “I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.”
So, I am guessing that implicating other countries doesn’t count for anything in Edward Snowden’s eyes.
5. Personal attacks don’t faze him
Edward Snowden maintains that he has shrugged off personal attacks, saying, “Let them say what they want about me. It’s not about me.” He said “There’s no evidence at all for the claim that I have loyalties to Russia or China or any country other than the United States. I have no relationship with the Russian government. I have not entered into any agreements with them.”He added, “If I defected at all, I defected from the government to the public.”
This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.