Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Edward Snowden; Hero or Fraud? Whistleblower or Liar?

Seriously, it's as if people never saw the movie Goodfellas. Why do you think Big Paulie Cicero (Paul Vario) didn't talk on the phone in the 1950s?

One important thing to note is thus far almost everything alleged by Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald has been revealed or known since the book The Puzzle Palace (1982) by James Bradford and leaked details about Total Information Awareness were revealed.

This isn't going to be a condemnation of Edward Snowden's personal life but the details of his past do need scrutiny and have bearing upon his overall credibility.

It's not important that Snowden *received a GED instead of a regular High School Diploma or was discharged from the Army due to a medical injury.* That he got a position as a CIA analyst, with a posting in Geneva, Switzerland, and with an NSA affiliated contractor Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) obviously shows he had technical skills and probably displayed a high degree of intelligence.

But, just because Snowden is claiming a massive NSA spying on Americans Conspriacy doesn't mean he's presented actual or truthful facts. There is very much a confirmation bias at work here across the political spectrum.

Achmad Chalabi and "Curveball" reported facts about Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi WMD Program. The Bush Administration wanted these facts to be true, too.

Snowden singed up for the Great Patriotic Iraq War but did not make it out of Boot because of an injury.

If he had he might have learned about Iridium phones (aka Satellite Phones). These satellite systems were launched in the 1990s and during the Afghan Invasion and Iraq War were 100% targeted. Any coms routed through the satellites was intercepted, US Spy Satellites were parked in geo-synch orbit over ground based rely stations.

If World War 1 was the Chemists War and World War 2 was the Mathematicians War, Post 9/11 is the IT SysAdmin War.

Also there is a serious question about Snowden's job at BAH. Glenn Greenwald claimed to have started worked with Snowden back in Feb 2013. Snowden wasn't offically hired by BAH until March 2013. Did he seek that IT systems analyst position soley for the purpose of accessing highly classified files in order to give them to Glenn Greenwald?

And what documents exactly did he come across which he was able to cobble together to present to Greenwald. His duties would not have included him having legitimate access to foundational doctrines of the Spying program. So did he open up a file labeled Shhhh! Top Secret Spying on Americans Program with powerpoint images of cartoonish top-hated villains twirling their moustaches and cackling Bru ha ha ha ha?

According to Snowden he became partially disillusioned in 2007 but wanted to give President Obama some time to rectify the situation. Barack must have failed in Snowden's opinion.

Should President Obama have unilaterally dismantled the Prism Program and ended NSA spying? We all know who would have paraded out the Political Circus of Impeach! Impeach! Impeach! for Obama defending the Rights of Terrorists post Boston Marathon Bombing.

Since October 2011, FISA and section 702 has undergone review with various members of the Senate and House 22 times. Why is SCOTUS debating repealing the Civil Rights Laws and the ACA instead of the NSA Prism Program?

I would love a real debate on Surveillance and Rights to Privacy. Does anyone believe such a debate will be genuine? Because there are too many dishonest liars and power hungry egomaniacs on Left, Right and Center who will only use this as a condemnation of their political enemies while seekingto preserve those power for their use.

Republicans, Faux News and the Right-Wing Fart Bubble are immediately trying to twist this into a condemnation of President Obama and the Democratic Party. They either have to know that this is going to immediately cause Democrats to reflexively set themselves up in defense instead of an open-minded inquiry or they seriously believe IOKIYAR.

Bob Cesca has a breakdown of the Rush Limpballs, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Joe Scarbourgh love for the NSA and spying back under Bush who seem, for some unfathomable reason, to now loathe it.

Let's not forget that Right-Wingers find any criticism of the Government when Republicans are in power to be Treason but such criticism when Democrats are in Power to be Liberty.

So, before I label Snowden the next Daniel Ellsberg, let's see if what he provided turns out to be something more than what's been known for decades and something that he embellished based on his own political beliefs. And let's see if he moves from Hong Kong to Bejing before calling him Kim Philby.

*- This sentence changed to eliminate prejudical language.


Syrbal/Labrys said...

Hmmm....I have to say to use the brand "Army washout by way of medical discharge" kind of tars with the same brush people like my eldest son. And the high school drop out bit would tar my youngest son, currently in Afghanistan.

There are many reasons to leave school, some are run like virtual prisons now with bright rowdy students constantly picked upon by administrators while actual dangerous bullies and drug dealers run unimpeded because the school authorities FEAR the real bad ones. And a medical discharge from military life indicates INJURY, not "washout" status.

And even if his life was less than stellar by your or anyone else's lights? His revelation about the spying on citizens and others still is important. I fear I couldn't read all of this post, it was a bit like being forced to watch Fox News.

BadTux said...

Regarding change of employment, projects go through multiple prime contractors over the years. When a project changes prime contractors, the original contractor fires all the people they had working on it, who are then hired by the new prime contractor. I.e., the people working on the project remain the same, only their nominal employer changes. This is how it's worked for government contracting for a number of years now, in case you didn't know.

Regarding the confirmation bias, the problem is that there are too many dots being connected by this revelation. We can argue about motivations and whether the NSA itself had a hand in this for some Byzantine palace politics reason (either directly via a "contractor" who is actually a NSA deep mole, or indirectly via dangling bait in front of him that they knew he'd take), but I think the actual details of what's being collected are pretty much in compliance with all the other leaks and facts that we know, such as that giant data center the NSA built in the Utah desert, or the fact that they had to stop expanding their Ft. Meade data center because they were at risk of crashing the entire East Coast power grid with their power requirements.


Grung_e_Gene said...


I'm sorry you feel that way. I did remove the prejudical wording because I think you are correct it does malign Snowden unfairly. However, Snowden did incorrectly state his year of enlistment as 2003 instead of 2004. Does that mean anything? I don't think so but it is an unequivocal error on his part. And I haven't seen his discharge but, I've known enough REMF who malignered their way out of tours claiming injury. I'm not asserting that for Snowden but to act as if it's not a possibility is incorrect.

Anyway I stand by my assertion that I don't know enough yet and am holding out my conclusion.

Sarge said...

Damn, I haven't heard that term in decades! Love it! Kim Philby? That is and old one too - Does Snowden smoke the pole and take it up the pooper?
USA Today had a thing on this - Like is Snowden a traitor or a patriot? I guess some folks ask the same about that faggot-ass PFC Bradley Manning - whose little limp-wristed ass is going to the USDB at Ft Leavenworth for a long, long, stay.
But, as to the NSA and the data farming - we are back to the Ben Franklin thing about trading security for liberty here. Manning and Snowden are traitors and deserve hard, hard time. I do think we need to review whom we give access to classified material to and, like in Manning's case; Where was the NCOIC. Surely to God a friggin E-3 isn't allowed to work unsupervised!

Gene, Good post...

Manning: thirty at hard labor and a DD.


Grung_e_Gene said...


I want a more Open Government but no so open our brains fall out.

I don't know what to think about this yet. But, there's such a rush to label him either way that it's invoking a 'Let's slow down and actually digest and read everything he's claiming.'

I hear a lot of arguments being made that since the NSA hasn't unequivocally denied his assertions it is therefore true. Usually, followed by the assertion that even if the NSA denies it that's what we expect therefore Snowden's claims are true.

Ergo the NSA is guilty of illegal unconstitutional spying either way.

His sexual orientation doesn't really matter. I feel bad for Snowden and Manning because Greenwald and Assange are playing them and are leaving them out to dry.

Constitutional Insurgent said...

"Ergo the NSA is guilty of illegal unconstitutional spying either way."

Concur. Don't forget the perjury of Clapper and Alexander either.

ChickenHammer said...

"Ergo the NSA is guilty of illegal unconstitutional spying either way."

Concur. Don't forget the perjury of Clapper and Alexander either.

Roger Clemons was charged with (and put on trial for) Making False Statements, Perjury, and Obstructing Congress for lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs. After setting the bar that low for bringing charges for lying to Congress there is no other option than to charge both Clapper and Alexander for their outright false testimony to Congress.

Dervish Sanders said...

What the NSA is doing sounds like a violation of the 4th amendment to me, and therefore unconstitutional. I know you don't like Glenn Greenwald, but everything I've heard from him gets some agreement from me. Anyway, I agree that we don't know enough yet to determine if what Snowden did is patriotic whistleblowing or stupidity. I certainly wouldn't have tossed away a life in Hawaii with a pole dancing girlfriend and a high paid job just to clue the American people in on stuff we already knew (for the most part) was happening. Especially given the fact that polls show a majority of Americans don't care.

I'm in the camp that sees Bradley Manning as a hero... and agree that his sexual orientation (which is something I never thought about even once until I read Sarge's nasty and offensive comments) has absolutely noting to do with anything. I think Manning should be released immediately.

Not because he didn't break the law (which he did) but because of the torture he has been subjected to. I think that by torturing him the government has forfeited any right it had to prosecute him. I find the way he has been treated unforgivable (and a stain on the president's record).

How about we prosecute those involved in the killing of reporters as shown in the "collateral murder" video? Has that even been looked into? NO. Wikipedia says "Pentagon officials told the Reuters news agency that US military lawyers were reviewing the video and could reopen an investigation into the incident, but said more recently that there are no plans to reopen the investigation".

Anonymous said...

Casablanca 2013: Captain Snowden: "...I’m shocked, shocked to find that
electronic data gathering is going on in here...."

Mr. Snowden has revealed no new groundbreaking facts
regarding electronic data gathering. There are numerous metadata mining algorithms floating around out there that the govt. and private industry use 24-7. Remember folks, those terms of agreement we never read??? By clicking/agreeing through those, you relinquish ownership of "your" information.
Carnivore and its progeny has been around for decades plus Snowdon is obviously a fan of the
Hollywood B movies "The Net" and "Enemy of the State". OK now make sure your tinhat Stetsons are on tight: I
truly believe he's been 1) co-opted by another govt. agency to embarrass the NSA; 2) more
likely recruited by the Chicoms to embarrass the US; 3) just a disaffected nerd looking for fame and fortune; or 4)my personal favorite, is in a conspiracy with his "pole dancing " gf to drive traffic to her youtube channel. Take your pick.

The real scandal is how a 29 y.o
HS/jr college/US armed forces dropout, with limited professional technical
experience, who reportedly worked as a security guard at the NSA and Dell(likely in customer service- Dell's not saying what he did), got a job at the CIA and Booz and Allen in the first place with ANY access to potentially classified info (at least to his little "narrative"). I'd more believe his story if was said he was a janitor at B&A and he overheard some real tech guys talking in the restroom. And don't give me a story about all the genious HS/college dropouts who are computer wizkids and get hired by major high tech corporations to make big bucks. I worked for the biggest one of those high tech corporations, and we did not hire guys without college degrees no matterhow smart they might be. While brilliant non-degreed folks are out there, I sincerely believe that the Army would have learned about any potential braniac capabilities Snowden had back when he first joined up during his short stint in the service and put him on a track where he wouldn't have broken a leg or two (btw, the Army cannot substantiate that claim). Besides if he was such a bright guy on his own, he would have already come up with the next newest thing and IPOed already.

" ...Move along, these aren't the droids we're looking for..."

BadTux said...

Hate to tell ya this, Anonymous, but I know a NSA type and he says it's usual for former military without diplomas or degrees to be hired by the CIA and NSA, and from thence be hired by contractors who need employees with SECURITY CLEARANCES. Which Snowden had. Which take over a year to get if you're a private contractor trying to procure one for one of your NON-cleared employees. So let's see. You have a college degreed computer programmer on your staff who's going to be twiddling his thumbs for the next year 'cause he doesn't have a security clearance, or do you put the high school dropout with the high ASVAB scores but who *DOES* have the security clearance onto the job?

Regarding hiring dropouts, here in the Silicon Valley nobody gives a shit what college or high school you went to once you've been on the job for several years with a record of producing product. One young man that I know went to work for a company owned by a friend of his father while he was still in high school, and by the time that company folded ten years later he'd been project lead on one project and co-lead on another project and was their lead of development. (The company folded because it was acquired and asset-stripped, BTW, not because of the product, which is still being sold by the company that bought the assets). He hasn't had trouble getting a job since, since he has a known track record. Nobody gives a sh*t about pieces of paper here in the Valley, all they care about is whether you can produce. Which is why all the innovation comes from here, not from the Big Company that you apparently worship...

- Badtux the Valley Penguin

Anonymous said...

Hey there Bad Tux:
...and exactly how would have Snowden gotten his security clearance while in his short stint in the Army. He reportedly didn't make it out of basic before his injury, which the Army cannot even confirm. As to hiring geniuses with no degrees, I worked for THE largest high tech firm on the planet that provided hardware, software, and IT services to all of the fortune 500 companies, and every branch of the government. An applicant without a degee would not have had a chance getting a job where I worked.

Anonymous said...

This whole story is moot now, since Snowden has admitted telling the Chinese about what little peripheral knowledge he knows about the US govt's cyber efforts against China. For that alone he could be charged with treason. He's done.
BTW all my previous conspiracy theories are copyright 2013 and have all been pitched to Hollywood, with the twist that the viewer gets to pick the ending of his choice for the movie.

BadTux said...

Anon, I know about your large employer. I don't work there because they don't innovate like we do here in the Silicon Valley. Here in the Silicon Valley we don't care who has degrees or not, what we care about is whether they can do the work.

And no, I don't know how Snowden got his security clearance. It was as part of his employment with the CIA after leaving the Army, clearly, not something that he got in the Army. According to my former NSA friend, the CIA likes hiring people with Special Forces training (even if not completed) because they work hand-in-hand with SF personnel in many theaters. From there he apparently graduated from security guard to IT security based on his ASVAB scores from the Army, and then when Rumsfeld privatized the IT staff, the IT staff apparently were put on staff at the new contractor because they had the security clearances and knew the systems and few people at the new contractor had the clearances and nobody at the new contractor knew the systems. According to my former NSA source, the prime contractors keep changing but the same people keep doing the same jobs that they did before it was privatized, just for more money. Sort of a sore point for him, since he views it as blatant corruption and a waste of taxpayer money and worries about all that data in the hands of private contractors, he keeps complaining that they don't run as tight a ship as when he worked at the NSA -- something which the affair de Snowden verifies.

Finally, regarding Snowden supposedly giving intelligence to the Chinese, thus far I've only read that in the U.S. news media, the same U.S. news media that uncritically said that Iraq was brimming, brimming I say, with Weapons of Mass Destruction. They're a disinformation outlet for the intelligence services. Period. Always have been, always will be. I'll believe it when I have some independent verification from people who aren't intelligence services mouthpieces. A fine example of how our media works is Walter Pincus of the Washington Post. Who is, err, a past CIA employee who likely still is on the payroll, but everybody pretends that he isn't just a mouthpiece for the CIA. How ridiculous is that?!

Note that I have no idea about Snowden's personal character or personal life and really don't care. Snowden did not actually say anything revolutionary. He just provided some pretty Powerpoint slides to go along with the same revelations that a multitude of other whistleblowers have already leaked. Snowden the person is irrelevant, in the end, what matters is that we have one more data point in plotting the National Security State's reach.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Anonymous and BadTux,

I still hold Snowden's personal details are mostly irrelevant. His background doesn't discount the allegations he's made but do perhaps undermine his credibility.

Especially, since all the Tech Companies have denied it, NSA honchos have denied it and The Guardian has altered it's original reporting.

This doesn't seem to be the breathless OMG!!! Constituional Crisis first alleged but it does open up the need for a Real Discussion.

Congress, the SCOTUS and Executive Branch can have a debate about Modern Technology, Surveillance, and the 4A without revealing methods or specific current details.

Thus far the claims that Snowden's giving info to China smack of the Chinese Media/Government smiling while the US government is suffering international loss of face.

Dervish Sanders said...

I was undecided on this topic when I submitted my first comment. I have since chosen a side and written a post for my own blog. I called it "Troubling Attacks on Edward Snowden From The Left", so you can probably guess which side it is I decided is correct. BTW, Daniel Ellsberg says he thinks Snowden is a hero. Al Gore says he thinks what the NSA is doing is unconstitutional.