Oliver Stone’s new movie Snowden is mostly fiction since it is based on Edward Snowden’s self-serving account of how and why he stole 1.5 million highly classified documents from both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Defense before fleeing to China and then Russia.
The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence committee report on Snowden by contrast is all facts. The full report – unanimously endorsed by the committee’s 16 Democrats and Republicans – is 36 pages long and has 230 footnotes. Because the full report is highly classified – like the material Secretary Clinton put out onto the open internet via her private, unsecured Blackberry-linked email server – it is only available to members of the House. From the four-page executive summary of the full classified report, we learn the following about Snowden:
- Snowden began stealing highly classified documents en masse two weeks after being reprimanded for adding a senior NSA executive to an email flame war about how software updates should be managed.
- Snowden began stealing highly classified stealing documents in July 2012, eight months before Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s March 2013 Congressional testimony that Snowden claimed triggered him to leak.
- “Snowden failed the annual basic training for NSA employees on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and complained the training was rigged to be overly difficult. This training included explanations of the privacy protections related to the PRISM program that Snowden would later disclose.” (p. 4)
- Snowden obtained the usernames and passwords of NSA staff by misleading them into thinking he needed their security credentials for his duties as a systems administrator. He searched his co-workers’ personal drives and stole their personal information and the personal information of thousands of intelligence community employees and contractors.
- Snowden never used any of the existing official channels for whistleblowing to report abuses of power or illegal activities. This corroborates reporting by Vice News which found only one vaguely worded email by Snowden to the NSA’s Office of General Counsel asking for clarification regarding Executive Orders and federal statutes. Snowden’s email said nothing about the abuse of power and illegal or unconstitutional acts. As the report dryly notes: “disclosing classified information that shows fraud, waste, abuse, or other illegal activity to the appropriate law enforcement or oversight personnel –including to Congress – does make someone a whistleblower and affords them with critical protections. … The Committee routinely receives disclosures from IC [intelligence community] contractors pursuant to the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 (IC WPA). If Snowden had been worried about possible retaliation for voicing concerns about NSA activities, he could have made a disclosure to the Committee. He did not.”
- Snowden is a serial liar and fabricator. He claimed to have left Army basic training because he broke his legs when in fact he had shin splints. He claimed to have a high school degree equivalent — false. He said he worked for the CIA as a “senior advisor” when in fact he was a computer technician (the proverbial “IT guy”). He doctored performance evaluations and stole answers for an employment test. He claimed he never shared stolen documents with a foreign government but the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament’s defense and security committee admitted that Snowden “did share intelligence” with the Kremlin.
- The vast majority of documents Snowden stole have nothing to do with domestic spying programs and everything to do with military, defense, and intelligence programs abroad.
The awful truth about Edward Snowden is that he is not a brave truth-telling whistleblower but a lying coward who fled the country and defected to Russia to avoid facing a jury of his peers like Daniel Ellsberg did when Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers. Like Hillary Clinton, Snowden deserves to be prosecuted for mishandling highly classified information.
So what, though? This may all very well be true, but what does it matter to us? He shared classified documents with the Russians, all right. What does that matter to the workers and oppressed? Just inter-imperialist bickering that the proletariat has no side in. Where exactly are you coming from? Just trying to understand.
He’s coming from a reality where taking all your security service secrets and handing them to your primary adversaries (and telling their press that was your intention) has been a crime due to it’s inherent detriment to the country, it’s prosperity and it’s citizens.
“What does it matter to us” pretty much summarises the debate. A narrow focus on “but I like this one part” that has defined his myth to date.
Yeah his FSB lawyer has one part he likes too.
LikeLiked by 1 person
What does it matter to the oppressed and exploited that Snowden is helping the Russian regime interfere with the normal functioning of American bourgeois democracy and trying very hard to elect Trump, the most reactionary and dangerous Republican since Goldwater who is anxious to use America’s nuclear arsenal?
Jill Stein made Snowden a relevant issue by declaring that he would serve in her cabinet. Working people and the oppressed on a mass scale aren’t going to go for this kind of cheap demagoguery, especially when they find out he put their lives in danger by helping ISIS terrorists evade detection by the NSA.
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall you claiming (or at least strongly entertaining the idea) that Snowden is/was a Russian agent, not simply a “defector.”
I’m not one to quickly believe the “official” story, including Snowden’s, but he did reveal NSA mass surveillance to the public. However you slice it, that is a big deal and a victory for the people. Government is not always on the side of its citizens — as you know. In your Snowden witch hunt (however based on facts it is) you seem willing to overlook the crimes and injustices of our own government and unwilling to give Snowden credit for any good deed.
The ends don’t justify the means.
I never said or meant to imply they did. Edward Snowden did the public a large favor by revealing unjust and potentially unlawful NSA mass surveillance. That doesn’t mean he is excused in everything he did. But you are willing to discredit him because he did not go through approved U.S. government protocol? Do you really believe the NSA and other government bodies would have approved of him going through “official” whistleblower channels, even if it were only to reveal the surveillance program? I don’t — not quite. Being interested in the truth about Edward Snowden means being skeptical of both NSA claims and the popular Snowden story. It also means acknowledging that at least part of what he did was beneficial to the American people.
Is Snowden a “Russian Agent,” or not? Because it seemed you really believed he was. I think that would make a huge difference in this story. You are quick to believe certain accounts and not others. Or did you not believe he was a Russian agent?
Real whistleblowers are willing to face a jury of their peers; they don’t flee and defect to hostile nations to avoid prosecution.
I’ve read that article on Edward; very interesting, but it doesn’t make it true. The jury is still out for me on Snowden.
I have some reservations about that writer. For one, he seems nationalistic.
Do you believe Edward Snowden is a Russian agent?
How can you call yourself a Bernie Sanders progressive and spout this neo-liberal/ultra conservative BS about Snowden, and share warhawk propaganda from people like Michael Weiss and the Daily Beast?
The same way Bernie Sanders can call himself a progressive and then vote to confirm Generals Mattis and Kelly as part of Trump’s cabinet.
If you’re looking for regurgitated ‘left’ groupthink, you’ve come to the wrong place my friend.
That’s a terrible analogy. The problem is that your analysis of Snowden, Stein, and Corbyn are based on propaganda from the same kind of bullshit artists who smeared Bernie Sanders. You can’t blame criticisms of that on “groupthink.” Get over your love affair with conspiracy theories and smearing people you don’t like.
LikeLiked by 1 person
You’re the one smearing me fam because you keep losing arguments here. Truth hurts. Get over it.
If by “keep losing arguments” you mean I argued with you a few times, months ago, and you only parroted other peoples’ allegations but never proved your point — okay. But instead of crowning yourself the winner of arguments (linking to an op-ed someone else wrote does not mean your argument “wins”) try not having arguments built on shit premises that Rachel Maddow and ultra-conservatives would slobber on. You do it sometimes, try all the time. Good luck.
I don’t even watch Rachel Maddow. 😀
Clearly facts are not your strong suit.
But since you brought unrelated topics (Stein and Corbyn) into this thread, let’s look at my record.
1. I said Stein wouldn’t come close to getting 5% of the popular vote despite the two major parties picking the most-hated candidates for president in American history. I was proven right.
2. I said Corbyn was a disaster. He is now polling third behind “don’t know” and Theresa May in surveys asking people who would make a good prime minister.
If you think these facts prove my analysis is wrong you need your head examined.
Your arguments were not simply that Stein wouldn’t reach 5% or that Corbyn would lose popularity. Your arguments were that Stein and Corbyn are enemies to a leftward movement, and that Snowden is a Russian secret agent and did little service to the U.S. public and deserves to be destroyed by the U.S. government. Clearly all wrong. You “supported” these arguments with dubious, unproven, and simply bullshit statements that may as well have been lifted from Trumpettes or Hillary Clinton. But I’m not the one to convince, I don’t follow you anymore and obviously you’re losing a lot of your “left” readers, so maybe the problem is not me, or “groupthink,” but what you are saying. You are intellectually dishonest and obtuse, so I’m done arguing with you.
“Your arguments were that Stein and Corbyn are enemies to a leftward movement”
And that has been borne out. Corbyn failed to fight Brexit (he waited 2 months to campaign) and used a three-line whip to threaten Labour MPs to vote for Brexit while Stein helped hand Michigan to Trump in the electoral college. How progressive.
The funniest part of all this? Stein flip-flopped on Russia’s interference in the U.S. election and took big donor Clinton money for the recount effort. Big win for leftism! 😀