Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Snowed Under

If there was any doubt that mainstream news programming hadn't become a reality show, the coverage of Edward Snowden's mad flight should do away with those doubts once and for all.  John Oliver had a field day with the coverage on The Daily Show, and it still continues with so-called news hounds sniffing around the Moscow airport for his whereabouts, when apparently he has been seeking asylum in Russia.

Putin appears to have given him the green light with the interesting caveat that he "stops inflicting harm on our American partners."  He probably meant embarrassment, because that is all it has been thus far.  Still, the "29-year-old hacker" (as Obama referred to him) couldn't resist yet another dig, lashing out at the administration for revoking his passport, essentially making him a "stateless" person.  Shades of Tom Hanks' Terminal here.  One can only assume that Snowden has very little to offer, if Russia is treating him so blithely, but maybe this is Mr. Putin's way of concealing some valuable information he might have received from America's latest "whistleblower."

Snowden did cause a fair amount of harm recently by releasing information to Der Spiegel that implied that the United States had bugged EU offices in New York and Washington, DC, but London's The Guardian remains his prime source, which has been extolling the virtues of Snowden ever since he took flight.  Apparently this latest Snowleak went through The Guardian and Washington Post, thereby verifying it in the minds of the editorial staff at Der Spiegel.

This did put the Obama administration on the defensive, forcing it to offer some kind of explanation, which Obama did, essentially saying it is all about getting additional information on our allies.  I'm sure the EU won't be satisfied with this answer, having already voiced indignation over these allegations of spying, saying it is a return to the Cold War, feeling that it is being treated as an enemy.  I can almost see the smile on Putin's face.

One can certainly read into this mad flight what one wants, and every news pundit has been doing exactly that.  Why they haven't had this much fun since Julian Assange managed to evade Swedish and American authorities last year and gain asylum in Ecuador, where he continues his ongoing quest to rat out international intelligence agencies!


  1. I support both of them, although the widespread dumping of diplomatic cables by Assange as opposed to all the war horrors was perhaps counter productive. But he wasn't in a position to operate as an editor which was too bad.

    Governments do what governments do -- spy and pursue those who try to tell about it. In fact that was, as I understand it, Obama's defense: well, they all do it too.

    But I think in our case an open discussion of how much as a people we are willing to put up with on the domestic spying front is long overdue. It may be "legal" given that so-called "patriot" act (or maybe not) but it should be a little more transparent.

    Personally I hope Snowden finds a home in Iceland. But I fear they may be too afraid of the US, as are most countries apparently.

  2. Snowden just strikes me as someone who wants to peddle information to the highest bidder. Don't like Assange either. However, I do agree that there needs to be an open discussion on the level of "surveillance" going on, as much of it seems to be counter-productive.

    1. But what if no funds have changed hands as appears to be the case? He could make a fortune selling this information but he apparently isn't interested in that.

      Should someone who sees that Americans are being routinely spied upon without their knowledge and without any oversight simply do their job and say nothing? What if Ellsberg had done that?

      You can argue with the way he did it and even his motives I suppose, but I would be surprised if you think Americans don't have the right to know about this (although as I said, this crying foul by Congress as if they hadn't a clue seems a little off to me).

      I give Wyden and Udall huge amount of credit for trying to alert the public but being silenced, and wish Snowden safe passage wherever he is now and ends up eventually.

  3. Needless to say, this case is garnering way too much attention,


  4. You'd have to be a pretty closeted American not to know the US has been spying on you, even before the Patriot Act. The FBI has long been doing it. I would be more worried about how Google, Facebook and other online services use your information.

    I agree that Obama should address the issue more fully to alleviate tensions that are arising, especially with the EU. But, Snowden is no hero. He's a huckster, hoping to either cash in on the information (why else fly to China and Russia?) or simply enjoys putting world leaders on the spot, like Assange seems to relish, making himself feel like a "big guy."