Who Is This Guy?

So Michael Moore and Glenn Beck, who probably wouldn’t agree that today is Monday, are both calling Edward Snowden a hero, while Donald Trump says he’s a bad guy.

Over at the White House petition site, tens of thousands have signed a petition asking that Snowden be given a full pardon.  But only five of the 41 slides in the PRISM PowerPoint Snowden wanted released have been made public.  Would these people feel the same way if they saw the rest of the slides?  Apparently neither the Washington Post nor the Guardian believed that publishing those slides was a wise thing to do.

Just as it’s impossible to figure out the merits of our current surveillance programs without more information, I feel the same about judging Snowden.  I know I don’t feel comfortable signing that White House petition, but I wouldn’t sign one calling him a traitor either.

A couple of things jump out at me.  First, that he went to Hong Kong.  Hong Kong may be China with benefits, but it’s still, you know, China.  Second, that he didn’t finish high school.  Look, if you want to drop out of Harvard and start a company, go for it.  I just feel bad for the poor schmuck on the waiting list who would have appreciated your slot.  But finishing high school is kind of a minimum attainment in our society.  Even if you’re some brilliant computer geek, you sit there and get your credits and finish.  That unwillingness to finish high school tells me he sees himself as different, as superior, as not subject to the same rules as the rest of us.  Perhaps someone who should not have had a security clearance in the first place.   Working in anti-terrorism requires creativity, but it also requires a degree of conformity that Snowden clearly lacks.

11 comments on “Who Is This Guy?

  1. ekimp252 says:

    He did get his GED. A lot of debate over his supposed military record over here, http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=36139. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

  2. momshieb says:

    I’m hesitant to pass judgement on his lack of high school, not knowing a single thing about what was going on in his life or in his school, not knowing where he lived or with whom. I think its a very big leap from “didn’t finish HS” to “thinks he is superior”. He did get a GED and take courses at Community College (according to what I have read so far).
    I don’t personally think that it matters who he is, what he thinks, or where he ran. To me, what matters is that the government and a huge portion of US citizens think that it is OK for all of us to be watched, for all of our information to be screened and kept- in secret! What happened to the fourth amendment?
    The issue to me is this : If this is all being done in secret, then there is no public scrutiny and it is a baby step from “trolling our metadata” to arresting and holding people who seem subversive. We’ve seen this move before, in various dictatorships around the globe.
    “Those who fail to learn from history……..”

    • To some extent, I agree with the WSJ that there is kind of a safety in numbers thing — that they’re getting so much info (which no human is looking at and is basically sitting there) that they’re not looking at us individually. The WSJ believes that without the “metadata,” more of us would be more closely scrutinized.

      • momshieb says:

        I just can’t get past the fact that these are warrantless searches, and that all of this was being done in such secrecy. It all goes along, in my mind, with the right to indefinitely detain citizens, the attempts to control the internet, the suppression of the press……
        We are going in a very bad direction, and it saddens me enormously that it is Barack Obama who is taking us there.

      • I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just not as freaked out as you are, assuming what the government says about this is true (Prism is just foreigners, etc.), which is a big assumption. I mostly feel that all of us civilians have too little information, both about what they’re doing and how effective it really is, to reach a solid conclusion. I wish this weren’t happening, but I wish 9/11 and the Marathon bombings didn’t happen either. What if the Tsarnaevs had killed your daughter in Watertown?

      • momshieb says:

        The thing is, if we follow the logic that more government observation keeps us safer, then we need to allow cops to come in our front doors whenever they want. If observation equals safety, then the government should be able to open our mail, to monitor our visitors, to listen in on our conversations.
        I don’t think that snooping on hundreds of millions of phone calls keeps me, my children, or any of my friends any safer. I think that snooping on hundreds of millions of phone calls (and emails and Facebook messages and Skype sessions) allows the government to decide, all on its own, who is “a threat” and who should be restrained/silenced/arrested.
        I would gladly sacrifice some of my so called “safety” for the privacy that is guaranteed to me in the Constitution.
        And let’s ask this question: if the government program is so “helpful” in stopping terrorism, why the hell didn’t it stop the Tsarnaevs? Or Adam Lanza?
        Because its real value is not in capturing terrorists; its real value is in monitoring the conversations and thoughts of its own citizens.
        I have not seen one single solid piece of evidence that this totally illegal operation has stopped one single crime.

      • If you read the WSJ editorial from yesterday, it explains that they aren’t snooping on phone calls, they are just gathering data that algorithms, not humans, review. They say the alternative is more personal and individual surveillance and that makes sense to me. I think the share size of this thing protects those of us who aren’t terrorists. If Martin Richard could be alive today because of this, I’d be happy to conference the government in every time I make a phone call.
        As to its effectiveness, I have no idea. Plots seem to be stopped more by old-fashioned police work and dumb luck and terrorist incompetence, by relatives or strangers seeing something and saying something. Some or all of the surveillance going on now domestically may be useless, but the people getting paid to do the work don’t want to say so, and people in Congress don’t want to say so in case there’s another attack, and they get blamed for lowering our defenses. I think the Prez has been comfortable leaving Bush-era stuff in place because he doesn’t want to be called soft on terror if there’s another attack. He may think it’s silly or useless, but, given his domestic enemies and all the Kenyan Muslim garbage, he may be afraid to dismantle it.
        We talk about balancing liberty and security, but we don’t have the facts needed to assess how well we are achieving that balance.
        You come from the days of protests, much of the country that is younger than us (and you’re younger than I am) just takes this stuff in stride. There hasn’t been a big outcry from the middle about the Snowden revelations. Imagine the reaction if there were a video of the Prez kicking Bo, how the WH switchboard would light up. This stuff, not so much.

      • momshieb says:

        I just don’t see how mining all of this could have saved Martin. More obviously; since this program was in effect, why the hell didn’t it save him?
        Because that isn’t its real aim. It didn’t save anyone.
        It can’t.
        It is designed to keep tabs on us, pure and simple. I think they are doing it because they can.
        One fine day it will be decided, in some back room, that bloggers who criticize the government should be watched.
        Or that people who send FB messages to friends in Tunisia should be watched.
        Or arrested.
        Where is the probable cause?

      • I’m saying “if” it could have saved Martin, it obviously didn’t, and our government was handed the ball on the Tsarnaevs and dropped it. Maybe the argument should be about effectiveness rather than constitutionality. There should be tangible results to do this, not just because they can.

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