After debating Snowden with 3 people on Facebook yesterday, I decided to draft this post to explain a few things in detail. As a refresher, I wrote a similar post two years ago on Snowden. In that post, I explained why Eric Snowden is a traitor to the U.S. To those who might have forgotten, here is why this American informant is living in Russia and is now trying ot negotiate with the U.S. Government the terms of his return:
- A few years ago, Eric Snowden was working as a subcontractor for the NSA. His position granted him access to classified information only those who worked in US counterintelligence and counterterrosism agencies or the Pentagon had access to.
- Some of the files Snowden and other subcontractors had access to revealed U.S. intelligence was actively monitoring the phone conversations of the leaders of some of its allies in Europe and the Middle East. Other files revealed the U.S. was actively also monitoring phone conversations and email accounts of U.S. citizens.
- Bothered by this, Snowden decided to send the classified information to Julilan Assange–the owner of the websiteWikiLeaks–which immediately posted the data Snowden provided on its website for the world to see. Up until then, WikiLeaks was a tabloid-like website that openedly shared data and information provided to them by hackers and hacking rings online.
- After sending the data to WikiLeaks, Snowden fled the U.S. and went to Russia–which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.–to seek assylum. Russia granted his request for Assylum and has been living in hiding in Russia ever since.
- In the days immediately following the Snowden Leak, Jullian Assange was arrested in London for his role in the leaked files and unrelated sexual assault charges. A U.S. soldier working in the Pentagon was also implicated for leaking classified data to WikiLeaks and will likely spend the rest of their life in prison. The Hactivist group Anonymous also formed shortly afterward.
- Snowden and Assange quickly became the faces of the Internet Privacy Rights Movement. Assange is out on bail due to the massive amount of donations sent to him online from around the world. He still maintains WikiLeaks and has taken steps to ensure it stays online after he is eventually convicted and imprisoned.
- Snowden, who has been living in hiding in Russia has spoken at several conferences on internet privacy in the U.S. via live stream. In the last two years, he announced he is looking into negotiating the terms of his return to the U.S. with the federal government.
…And there you have it. This is an outline of the events involving Snowden up to now. A movie about the incident is coming out in two months but Snowden himself was not involved in the film’s development. The director used accounts from two books written about the Snowden Leaks. The movie will do to Snowden what The Social Network did to Mark Zuckerberg: show the OTHER side of him the media didn’t tell. The books used as reference material are The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena, both of which I have read. Oliver Stone taking creative liberties aside, the movie asks viewers to ask themselves the question “Was Snowden right to do what he did?”
The clear answer when you look at the facts is no.
This is the point I told the three people I debated this with yesterday: He didn’t disclose anything that wasn’t already publicly accessible. The government spies on its own citizens? That nothing new. Patriot Act says hi. Martin Luther King’s phones were wiretapped by the FBI. The FBI wiretapped international calls from Japan and Germany during World War II. It’s nothing new and should be expected.
Like I said on Facebook, the Feds don’t give a damn about the porn sites you visit from your mother’s basement. They don’t care about you telling a coworker how much you hate your boss for giving you a hard time about vacation time. They don’t even care about the extreme political views you share on Twitter. The only things they give a damn about is monitoring people who deal in illegal, illicit and criminal activities.
What the IPRM isn’t concerned about that the government has to be is who’s listening to them. Earlier this year, a locked iPhone became the belonged to a mass shooter who carried out an act of terrorism in the U.S. brought the subject back to light. The story goes the FBI asked Apple to create a backdoor on the dead suspect’s iPhone so they could gather the data on it. Apple refused, saying unlocking the phone would violate their obligation to protect user privacy. The hypocrisy of that statement aside, the FBI later announced they found a third party who was able to crack the phone for them.
The media followed the “standoff” between Apple and the FBI for several weeks but the truth is the FBI likely gained access to the locked phone from the beginning. Of coure, they wouldn’t want to tip off any possible co-conspirators the suspect may have known know so they created a distraction to give the illusion they were unable to unlock the phone. The Feds can hack government networks overseas. There’s no reason to believe they can’t crack one guy’s iPhone on their own. Like I said, the “controversy” was just a distraction to buy the Feds time to go through the phone. CNN found it odd Law Enforcement released the suspect’s house as a crime scene within days of the shooting. Do you think they’d actually do that unless they already had all the intel they needed? Remember: It took 15 years for 31 classified pages from the 9/11 report to be declassified.
Anyways my main point is the Snowden Leaks made the world a much more dangerous place. The only good thing Wiki Leaks did is it forced developed nations to take securing their databases more seriously. Aside from that, it galvanized anti-government groups and conspiracy theorists who belive beyond reason the government wants to monitor and control everyone 24/7. That aside, the renewed aggression from Russia can be directly attributed to the Snowden and Wiki Leaks. The Russian military hasn’t openly provoked the U.S. military since the fall of the Soviet Union 20 years ago.
Russian President Vladomir Putin is clearly looking to pick a fight with the U.S. Sure, he’s gone out of his way to undermine the U.S. at every opportunity in the past but he’s never been this openly hostile before. The U.S. considers the Russian government a Rogue State for a variety of reasons. Two facts that can’t be ignored or argued and were likely WHY Snowden decided to go THERE are the country is a safe haven for cyber criminals and the U.S. can’t ask for him to be sent back. Nevermind the obvious fact he has intel the Russians clearly made use of.
Let’s not kid ourselves: Clearly, Snowden has been sharing some of the intel he stole with the Russian government. That’s the only possible reason they extended his visa twice. Because of where he is, he was prettymuch cut off from his contacts back in the U.S. as well as his parents. Rumor has it they are smuggled in and out or Russia when they visit him due to how many people worldwide are actively looking for him.
Based on several accounts, anyone going to Russia to see him have an extensive vetting process they must clear before he will agree to meet with them. Not entirely his call as the Russians want to make sure he’s not talking to an informant from the U.S., which will get him in trouble with the Russian government since his apartment in Moscow is under 24-hour surveilance. They want to know everyone from out of the country who wants to talk to him and why prettymuch.
All that said, let’s get back to the so-called “damage” the Snowden Leak caused the U.S. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was explcitly named as one of the heads of state the U.S. was monitoring. Her public statement after confirming the findings were true was just lip service. There has been ZERO harm th U.S.-German relations since then. I have two friends deployed overseas at the U.S. Base in Hamburg. I know with certainty given the passage of time.
The bigger “smoking gun” is the “revelation” the U.S. is spying on its own citizens. This has been widely known for decades. The U.S. has been monitoring telecommunications domestically for decades. The Patriot Act, which was rushed through Congress after 9/11 gave law enforcement the power to illegally monitor international phone calls and domestic phone calls without a warrant before it was eventually defunded and gutted. It was quickly modified to take back some of the blatant civil rights violations it allowed. Still waiting for the TSA to follow suit on that note. LOL. To say the last paragraph another way: Government surveilance, or the fear of it is the least of the average American’s problems. I’ll speak more to this in a separate blog post but the much larger threat is from websites, companies and social media websites that buy and sell user infromation online and in worse cases, release it on the Dark Web and Black Market.
Make no mistake, the only people who benefited from the Snowden Leaks were criminals and terrorists. While everyone was looking at Snowden and Assange, they used the anti-tracking software the IPRM started pushing out to hide their movements online, making it much harder for the government to track them. While obviously not intended, the IPRM is indirectly making it easier for terrorists and criminals to freely move without being caught by law enforcement.
I’m not anti-privacy though I do believe a government has a duty, obligation and certainly should have the authority to access the accounts of suspected criminals, terrorists and their informants who are within their boarders. Two years ago, CNN ran a story about the creator of an email provider whose service encrypted messages sent and received that were untracable. The Feds apparently asked him to make a backdoor for them and he refused, electing instead to shut down the email service. These people think they’re doing the little man a service but in reality, they’re just being egotistic.
This is why I consider Eric Snowden an enemy of the state and a traitor. He should be punished to the fullest extent of the law when he eventially returns to the U.S. He’s kidding himself if he truly thinks he can set terms for his return. His supporters will view him as being a martyr and a symbol when that happens of course but it’s to be expected. I don’t have a problem with that happening personally but Snowden himself needs to anwer for what he did in court. Everyone else except him has so far. It’s only fair.