Exiled by his own doing in Russia since July 30, 30-year-old National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden continues his propaganda war, hoping to strike an immunity deal with the U.S. government. Snowden fled the country for Hong Kong May 20, 2013, after leaking classified documents, stolen from NSA-contractor Honolulu-based employer Booz Allen Hamiliton, to the Washington Post and U.K.’s Guradian newspaper May 16. Since dropping out of college and the U.S. military, Snowden was hired as a computer hacker by the CIA somewhere in 2004, eventually moving to the NSA where he reportedly earned over $200,000 for his hacking skills, earning around $122,000 before fleeing the country. Whatever epiphany Snowden had in 2011, the college dropout was comfortable earning six-figures compromising the privacy of governments and private citizens.
Snowden’s Christmas message—most likely scripted by his WikiLeaks handlers—paints him as a whistle-blowing hero exposing the NSA’s feeble attempts in a post-Sept. 11-world to monitor electronic communications to prevent the next terror attack on U.S. soil. “Great Britain’s George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information. The types of collection in the book —microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us are nothing compared to what we have available today,” said Snowden, sharing a fraction of his routine activity while working as a computer hacker-electronic spy for the CIA, NSA and spy contractors. Snowden hopes to blow enough smoke about his heroic intent to convince U.S. authorities to cut him an immunity deal. Snowden knows he violated confidentiality agreements, stealing reams of classified national security documents.
Snowden wants the world to believe that he sacrificed his career to save the U.S. and world from nefarious spying activities. “We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go. Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person,” said Snowden, knowing, that for the average person, it means nothing. What possible harm comes to any private citizen or business if the government monitors cell-phone calls of possible terrorists plotting new terror attacks? Snowden projects his own nefarious actions on the NSA and other spy agencies. Boosting Snowden’s arguments, two weeks ago George W. Bush-appointed Judge Richard Leon opined that the NSA’s electronic surveillance activities were probably illegal. Today’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III vindicates the NSA and other spy agencies for protecting the public in a post-Sept. 11 world.
Pauley’s ruling, while not the last word, throws cold water on Snowden’s argument that he stole thousands of classified files for the purpose of exposing illegal U.S. spying activity. U.S.-haters around the globe welcomed Snowden’s message on Britain’s Channel 4’s “Alternative Christmas Message,” lending what seems like credibility to Snowden’s claims. Working in the spy business for years, stealing classified documents, blackmailing your government, fleeing the country, taking refuge on enemy or at least unfriendly territory hardly represents heroic action. If Snowden really believed in his case against the U.S. government, there was no need to become a fugitive from justice. With all his backing from left-leaning groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, WikiLeaks, Amnesty International, etc., Snowden could have mounted a respectable defense.
Snowden became a fugitive because he has no legal leg to stand on. His PR campaign from the former Soviet Union blows more smoke but won’t change Atty. Gen. Eric Holder’s mind about offering the renegade immunity. “A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all,” said Snowden on British airwaves, ignoring his long, well-paid career in the spy business. Listening to Snowden’s wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing presentation shows the clever, highly manipulative 30-year-old trying his best to excuse his treachery against the U.S. government. While there are always media outlets, journalists and governments that want to embarrass the U.S., Snowden can’t run-and-hide from his crimes against the government. Talking up his heroic actions rings hollow, showing the kind of clever manipulation rarely seen with garden-variety college dropout computer hackers.
Listening to Snowden blow smoke about his heroic actions need to be seen for what it is: Hoping for a new asylum or, better yet, immunity deal. With prospects for U.S. immunity slim-and-none, Snowden hopes to land somewhere with a warmer climate. “For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” said Snowden, referring to what he thinks are changes to the NSA’s surveillance programs. Snowden’s grandiosity either shows an adolescent streak or the kind of sickness seen in certain personality disorders. “The conversations occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it,” said Snowden. If his mission were betraying his country and becoming a fugitive, he’s succeeded. Snowden could have found other ways to change the system.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neural commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.