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Response to Luminous Animal (Reply #60)

Tue Mar 11, 2014, 05:14 PM

61. So why does he want to come back to the US?

I'm not a Snowdenista but I do think he did a good thing in exposing the NSA's domestic spying. Where I think he and Greenwald went wrong is in revealing intricacies of our international covert operations.

On everyone of these Snowden threads the Eddie fan's don't seem to want to accept that this is a two-part issue. On the domestic side, imo, he is a legitimate whistle blower.

As far as the international revelations, I say it is not the business of a somewhat naive 29-year-old to make the decision to give away details of his own country's international covert operations. It's that simple. It was not his decision to make, especially when just a few years earlier when Bush was in office he was vehemently against this sort of thing.

When Obama came in, the right-leaning Snowden had a dramatic change of heart that has made him a hero to some progressives. If you want to know more just read the transcripts below from an online correspondence Snowden (TheTrueHOOHA) had with a User19 in 2009:


"This is the background of Snowden and his position on this very issue...

Another topic made him even angrier. The Snowden of 2009 inveighed against government officials who leaked classified information to newspapers – the worst crime conceivable, in Snowden’s apoplectic view. In January of that year the New York Times published a report on a secret Israeli plan to attack Iran. It said that President Bush had ‘deflected’ a request from Israel for specialised bunker-busting bombs to carry out the risky mission. Instead Bush had told the Israelis he had authorised ‘new covert action’ to sabotage Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons programme.

The Times said its story was based on 15 months’ worth of interviews with current and former US officials, European and Israeli officials, other experts and international nuclear inspectors.

TheTrueHOOHA’s response, published by Ars Technica, is worth quoting in full:


<TheTrueHOOHA> HOLYSHIT http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/ washington/11iran.html?_r=1&hp
<TheTrueHOOHA> WTF NYTIMES
<TheTrueHOOHA> Are they TRYING to start a war?
<TheTrueHOOHA> Jesus christ
<TheTrueHOOHA> they’re like wikileaks
<User19> they’re just reporting, dude.
<TheTrueHOOHA> They’re reporting classified shit
<User19> Shrugs
<TheTrueHOOHA> about an unpopular country surrounded by enemies already engaged in a war
<TheTrueHOOHA> and about our interactions with said country regarding planning sovereignty violations of another country
<TheTrueHOOHA> you don’t put that shit in the NEWSPAPER
<User19> Meh
<TheTrueHOOHA> moreover, who the fuck are the anonymous sources telling them this?
<TheTrueHOOHA> those people should be shot in the balls.
<TheTrueHOOHA> ‘But the tense exchanges also prompted the White House to step up intelligence-sharing with Israel and brief Israeli officials on new American efforts to subtly sabotage Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, a major covert program that Mr. Bush is about to hand off to President-elect Barack Obama.’
<TheTrueHOOHA> HELLO? HOW COVERT IS IT NOW? THANK YOU
<User19> Meh
<TheTrueHOOHA> I wonder how many hundreds of millions of dollars they just completely blew.
<User19> You’re over-reacting. It’s fine.
<TheTrueHOOHA> It’s not an overreaction. They have a HISTORY of this shit
<User19> with flowers and cake.
<TheTrueHOOHA> these are the same people who blew the whole ‘we could listen to osama’s cell phone’ thing the same people who screwed us on wiretapping over and over and over again. Thank God they’re going out of business.
<User19> the NYT?
<TheTrueHOOHA> Hopefully they’ll finally go bankrupt this year. yeah.

A few minutes later the chat continues:


<User19> It’s nice they report on stuff.
<TheTrueHOOHA> I enjoy it when it’s ethical reporting.
<TheTrueHOOHA> political corruption, sure
<TheTrueHOOHA> scandal, yes
<User19> is it unethical to report on the government’s intrigue?
<TheTrueHOOHA> VIOLATING NATIONAL SECURITY? no
<User19> meh.
<User19> national security.
<TheTrueHOOHA> Um,YEEEEEEEEEEEES.
<TheTrueHOOHA> that shit is classified for a reason
<TheTrueHOOHA> it’s not because ‘oh we hope our citizens don’t find out’
<TheTrueHOOHA> it’s because ‘this shit won’t work if iran knows what we’re doing.’
<User19> Shrugs
<TheTrueHOOHA> ‘None would speak on the record because of the great secrecy surrounding the intelligence developed on Iran.’
<TheTrueHOOHA> direct. quote.
<TheTrueHOOHA> THEN WHY ARE YOU TALKING TO REPORTERS?!
<TheTrueHOOHA> ‘Those covert operations, and the question of whether Israel will settle for something less than a conventional attack on Iran, pose immediate and wrenching decisions for Mr. Obama.’
<TheTrueHOOHA> THEY’RE NOT COVERT ANYMORE
<TheTrueHOOHA> Oh you’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Now the NYTimes is going to determine our foreign policy?
<TheTrueHOOHA> And Obama?
<TheTrueHOOHA> Obama just appointed a fucking POLITICIAN to run the CIA!
<User11> yes unlike every other director of CIA ever
<User11> oh wait, no
<TheTrueHOOHA> I am so angry right now. This is completely unbelievable.

The ‘fucking politician’ was Leon Panetta, appointed by Obama in 2009 despite his evident lack of intelligence background. The appointment was supposed to draw a line under the intelligence scandals of the Bush years – the renditions, the secret CIA prisons and the illegal wiretapping.


This should be required reading for you Snowden supporters.

Snowden evidently knew of WikiLeaks, a niche transparency website whose story would later intersect with his own. But he didn’t like it. At this point, Snowden’s antipathy towards the New York Times was based on his opinion that ‘they are worse than Wikileaks’. Later, however, he would go on to accuse the paper of not publishing quickly enough and of sitting on unambiguous evidence of White House illegality. These are somewhat contradictory views.

Certainly Snowden’s anti-leaking invective seems stunningly at odds with his own later behaviour. But there is a difference between what the Times arguably did – reveal details of sensitive covert operations – and what Snowden would do in 2013. Snowden nowadays explains: ‘Most of the secrets the CIA has are about people, not machines and systems, so I didn’t feel comfortable with disclosures that I thought could endanger anyone.’"


In 2009 he thought covert operations leakers "should be shot in the balls" (his words). Quite a change in philosophies he had from 2009 to 2013 don't you think?

I know I myself haven't went from being a progressive to a teabagger since 2009, yet Snowden has somehow managed just the reverse of this in his thinking from that of authoritarian right winger to a progressive beacon of human rights.

IMO that just doesn't happen. Obama happened.

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LineLineLineLineLineLineLineNew Reply So why does he want to come back to the US?
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