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Snowden Speaks: Why Prosecuting Him Is Unfair — Until NSA Answers For Misconduct

Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers.

Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003).

Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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  1. MVH1 May 30, 2014

    I agree with you so much I thought it would be 100%. I do not, however, on this one. There is always injustice in the world and people are prosecuted all the time when someone else guiltier isn’t. Snowden is the most unsympathetic twerpy cretin to come down the pike in a long time. It’s impossible to tell whether any benefit outweighs the damage he’s done and we’ve ALWAYS known our spy agencies were spying on us. What evidence is there that any American was harmed by the surveillance? I don’t want someone like Snowden deciding what should be revealed or not. Period. He’s committed enough crimes he should be prosecuted or stay forever in Russia.

    1. nana4gj May 30, 2014

      It’s unfortunate that some of that “spying” on American citizens did not, apparently, include Snowden. If it were as universal and as harmful to us, he and his subversive activities would have been picked up before he wrought so much damage and harm. Obviously, though we all may be in a big pool, there are some very specific “targets” and if Snowden was not considered a “target” and got by with what he did, undetected, the rest of us should feel we are “at risk”, either.

      1. S.J. Jolly May 30, 2014

        IOW: “Put the NSA surveillance information to work, quickly!” ?

    2. S.J. Jolly May 30, 2014

      Do you really trust the intelligence community, including officials in the White House, to tell the truth about what documents Snowden took, and what harm his doing so did?
      As to what harm the NSA surveillance program has done, it is like a crazy neighbor, across the street from you, setting up a loaded .50 cal machinegun on his porch, aimed at your house. Sure, he hasn’t fired it — yet, that we know of — but he, or one of his even crazier buddies, could, at any time.

      1. MVH1 May 30, 2014

        I trust them as much as I trust him. I’m old and I worked for the government requiring I be cleared for that level of information I would come in contact with. I don’t trust anybody particularly when it comes to my welfare. But you pick and choose and for the most part, the government has shown no propensity for spying on its citizens and causing this wholesale harm. The country wanted to be safer after 9/11. So Congress let Bush get away with taking away all sorts of civil liberties. Why wasn’t anybody screaming bloody murder about it then? There were plenty of people who objected to it but the public outcry was more inclined toward being safe and allowing the invasion of privacy at that time. So now it’s suddenly a surprise to everyone? Yeah, they spy on us. It’s the detail and level of spying and the harm done by it that’s a real concern. You want to be safe, you’ll have spying. You don’t want to be spyed on, then you’re vulnerable to all sorts of attacks. There’s a great discussion out there all the time about just how safe all this spying makes us. You give up a little to get a sense of safety. That sense may be worth nothing. Me, I don’t care. Whatever spying they’re doing on me, they haven’t used against me. And should they knock on my door one day and say we think you’re some kind of terrorist, spy or whatever, I will just laugh and let me tell you, that’s enormously disarming right there. I just don’t care. To me, it’s gone on all my life and I’ve known it, as most of my contemporaries. So this newfound outrage has a huge element of ridiculous silliness to it. Meanwhile, the jerks of the Republican party are in my town being jerks. And that bothers me a whole lot more than some NSA monitoring.

        1. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

          Yeah, because we are willing to sell our very souls to be “safe.” Safe from what?

          1. MVH1 May 31, 2014

            I haven’t sold my soul for anything so I have no idea what you’re talking about. And I’m not sure what you’re responding to. You like Snowden or something?

        2. S.J. Jolly June 2, 2014

          As Cardinal Richleau (of 3 Musketeer fame) said, “Give me 5 lines written by the most honest man, and I’ll find reason to hang him.” How many lines that you’ve written do you suppose are in NSA intercept files? Thousands?
          Comes a day when someone in government decides to use the NSA intercept files to hunt down “domestic terrorists,” or maybe just plain members of some group they don’t like, and your name is in that list, you’ll soon stop laughing.

      2. JPHALL May 30, 2014

        What world do you live in? Yes, the NSA collected data on millions of Americans. What is new about that? Hoover started doing that in the 1930″s. And he was not alone. he government has been using satellites to keep track on some people.

        How about the corporate spying that increases yearly? Now corportions want to run drones here in America. You can’t go into a store, walk down the streets or soon sit in your backyard without someone observing you. If you do not believe this check Goggle. So where is your indignition for all of these things. Snowden belongs under the jail because he did more rhan was necessary to expose what was going on.

        1. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

          So. does illegal government spying’s not being a new thing make it OK? Crapping on the Constitution may be fine with you, but don’t insult the people who actually think we should try to run our government that way.

          1. MVH1 May 31, 2014

            Unfortunately it was legal. So don’t you insult people until you do some research. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s illegal. Maybe you wish it were but it’s not.

          2. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

            So rather than being childish and insulting, you just lie down and take it. And yes, I know it was “legal.” I guess if a spineless Congress passed a law legalizing rape and murder, they would be “legal” too. Speaking of insulting and “shouting,” looks like you’re doing most of that. Maybe you’re remembering what Benjamin Franklin said about being “safe.”

          3. MVH1 June 1, 2014

            My-my. Angry kitty. Hissssss

          4. Mark Forsyth June 1, 2014

            Much better that she is angry rather than ignorant.

          5. Mark Forsyth June 1, 2014

            Perhaps it is you who is not adequately informed or perhaps you just prefer to ignore certain facts.Facts that would make your argument about the” possibility” of not being protected,rather disingenuous, when considering that spying and intelligence gathering programs were in operation long before the Cowboy/Bush administration existed and the fact that Bush ignored the pre 9/11 info concerning imminent attack and then once again ignored the intell on the lack of WMD’s.The call for ramped up surveillance was as disingenuous as your suggestion to Sandy that she would complain about a lack of protection.

          6. S.J. Jolly June 2, 2014

            Is said about Washington, D.C., “It’s not what is done that is illegal that is the problem, but how much is legal.”

          7. JPHALL June 3, 2014

            No I agree with you. My point was where is the indignation over commercial spying. You are being observed and your information is being sold daily. When you go online, dozens of companies are watching what you are doing. This was revealed on 60 minutes.
            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Snowden Speaks: Why Prosecuting Him Is Unfair — Until NSA Answers For Misconduct

        2. Mark Forsyth June 1, 2014

          If you are going to put Snowden under the jail,be sure that he has plenty of company.Whether or not the people know about being spied upon does not equate to condoning it.Don’t worry about someone elses indignation but rather concern yourself with your own.

          1. JPHALL June 3, 2014

            So why is your indignation only over what was recently revealed? Most of it dates from 9/11. I merely said that this process has been going on for decades. Let’s talk about that also and not blame one Administration..
            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Snowden Speaks: Why Prosecuting Him Is Unfair — Until NSA Answers For Misconduct

          2. Mark Forsyth June 3, 2014

            You are quite out in left field.Not only do you assume that I reserve my concerns for recent revelations but you also assume that I am indignant and ignorant of U.S. spying history.I would suggest that you tend to your own observations and subsequent perspectives,they are in need of adjustment.

          3. JPHALL June 3, 2014

            So why did you respond to my initial post? Therefore you should follow your own prescription.
            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Snowden Speaks: Why Prosecuting Him Is Unfair — Until NSA Answers For Misconduct

          4. Mark Forsyth June 3, 2014

            You keep posting the same crap with each of your comments.Are you a troll? Why don’t you try reading the entire thread for some enlightenment.If that doesn’t work for you perhaps you should try a different page.It appears that the dialogue on the Memo is over your head.

  2. Eleanore Whitaker May 30, 2014

    Snowden is part of that Whiny, Irresponsible, “NOT MY SON” Daddy’s Boi Twerpie Generation. The New York Post on May 20, 2014 reported on Page 11 that 90 spyjackers were nabbed in a “sick global plague.” Ever hear of an online spyjacking aide known as “Blackshades?” It helped those 90 spyjackers to steal thousands of personal records and spy on victims by hijacking computers and web cameras. One of those held for “ransom” was Miss Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf. Blackshades is the software a CA man used in a “sextortion” scheme to get naked photos of Miss Teen USA using the access tool RAT, for Random Access Tool. For $40, this guy was able to spread a computer plague not only on someone’s personal property but also invade their privacy in most personal spaces. Whereupon they hold these victims hostage or threaten to expose the stolen data and graphics online unless they pay up. Still think Little Boi Snowden is a hero? When you allow one little Twerp who knew going in what his responsibilities and duties of his job were and then he abjectively decides he doesn’t have to commit to those rules and regulations, you get spyjackers believing your personal property is open season. How much open season are you willing to pay for?

    1. S.J. Jolly May 30, 2014

      What does Snowden’s actions have to do with spyjackers? Isn’t what the NSA was — and still is — doing much more like spyjacking?

      1. JPHALL May 30, 2014

        Do you even know what the job of the NSA is? Its job is to try and keep the US safe in through seeking data that can be used to protect the US. Congress and the courts are suppose to be providing oversight. If you want to feel insecure about the NSA, then also feel insecure about the US Congress. Snowden is no hero, he could have gotten the same effect from less damaging information.

        1. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

          It’s job is not, or shouldn’t be, to trash the Constitution and laws of the country. It’s truly shocking how many totalitarian practices people are happy to accept to be “safe.” Never heard the story about not speaking up for anyone, until when they came for you, there was no one left to speak for you?

          1. MVH1 May 31, 2014

            Just preposterous. Grow up.

          2. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

            Out of arguments?

          3. MVH1 June 1, 2014


          4. JPHALL June 3, 2014

            And again my point is that it is not only government spying on us. What about the companies who are spyibg on us without our permission??
            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Snowden Speaks: Why Prosecuting Him Is Unfair — Until NSA Answers For Misconduct

        2. S.J. Jolly June 2, 2014

          It’s not the NSA collecting information that worries me, but what other organizations will do with the information. J. Edgar Hoover, for example, kept himself in office as head of the FBI for decades beyond when he should have been replaced, via using FBI files to threaten those who objected to the agency’s failings and excesses. And that was with paper files; J. Edgar would have totally salivated over all the information the NSA collects.

          1. Allan Richardson June 2, 2014

            Hoover even kept files on people whose activities were not in the least political. He had a spy in the office of Lucille Ball’s doctor, who called him personally and told him when Desi Jr. was on the way. Hoover, apparently for no other reason than ego, or to demonstrate how good his spying was, called up Desi and told him before his wife had a chance to do so! What does a movie star’s pregnancy (or anyone else’s) have to do with protecting the United States from either criminals or communists (the terrorists of that era)? Nothing, he just wanted to have files on EVERY citizen, just in case they came in handy. And those files, on his legally elected superiors, kept any of them from firing him.

          2. JPHALL June 3, 2014

            You are so correct!

            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Snowden Speaks: Why Prosecuting Him Is Unfair — Until NSA Answers For Misconduct

      2. Eleanore Whitaker May 31, 2014

        Snowden’s actions set a precedent that’s what it has to do with spyjackers. Do you Great White Angry Middle Aged Males ever face your responsibilities? Or do you just refocus blame and throw everyone else under the bus?

        When Snowden got allowed to breach his obligations to the NSA, he showed half the nation’s middle aged Twerpie Generation nitwits, they also don’t have to play by rules.

        In case you missed it, a society without rules and regulations is no different than the Wild West. Sorry but if Snowden felt at the get go he couldn’t abide by the terms of his employment, he doesn’t get off like Snow White pure and innocent.

        Growing up is all about doing your job. Something this Middle Aged Generation thinks is a joke. No surprise there…They age out of the McMansions at 35 and expect to retire at 40. When that dirty 40-letter word they hate most, W-O-R-K hits them upside their moronic heads, they start looking for all manner of skankola ways to get out of complying with rules and regulations.

        Men who live by trying to get away with it all, end up in orange suits. That’s where this traitor Snowden belongs.

        AS to the NSA..Let’s drop the convenient memory BS..In 2005, Bush and Cheney propagated that BS story about the NSA and their “extraordinary executive privilege,” until they had the dumbed down Americans of the right believing Bush and Cheney were Emperors with “privilege.” The same GOP that didn’t utter a peep about the NSA in Bush’s 8 years suddenly discover there are massive problems? Time for them to change their muddy Pampers.

        1. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

          Yes, you are absolutely correct about societies without rules and regulations. That’s why some of us oppose those who act as if that’s what we have, such as the NSA, the CIA, etc.

          1. MVH1 May 31, 2014

            No laws were broken. You don’t hear anybody who knows anything at all saying any laws were broken.

          2. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

            That’s what every scoundrel in a government position has said for as long as I can remember. “No laws were broken.” What an excuse! How about the highest law in the land; guess that doesn’t count when Congress passes any old thing.

    2. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

      So you think allowing the government to do the same thing as all these creeps you mention is a good idea?

      1. MVH1 May 31, 2014

        You angry little kitty cat. Hiiiisssssss.

        1. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

          Wooooo… more insults for opposing views.

          1. MVH1 June 1, 2014

            Pointing out your obvious unhinged rage is not commenting on your views, just their tenor. Hisssssss

    3. Mark Forsyth June 1, 2014

      It is a fine line Eleanore that you walk between privacy and protection.Your question would be better directed inward.

  3. charleo1 May 30, 2014

    This entire episode is concerning for so many reasons, at so many levels, it overwhelms. It’s at once bizarre, and absurd, to haul the Country’s top spy in front of a public Congressional Committee, then act appalled when it’s later discerned he had lied. Spies are now lying? What is the World coming to? And how can democracy be safe, Snowden asks, if we have the Gov. covertly going around spying at will, then when ask if they are doing so…. I am deeply concerned Americans are evidently no longer reading spy novels. Seriously. Because there are some really great ones, both fictional, and biographical. They can be inspirational. Nathan Hale was a bright young, highly educated man. So inspired by the ideas of freedom, and self Gov. that although the Continental Army, poorly equipped, under the command of an inexperienced George Washington, had lost every battle they had been in. And that surprised exactly no one. But, he signed up anyway. And when Gen. Washington, desperate to know the location of Howe’s forces, asked for volunteers to go behind enemy lines, and spy. A 21 year old Hale, was the only one to step forward. He had never fought in a single battle, as the story goes. But seen this as an opportunity to contribute to a cause in which he had obviously come to deeply believe. It was a small town world, that territory in those days around what is considered the greater New York City area today. And we are not certain how Hale was found out. Some claim Hale, in disguise, was recognized at a tavern that British soldiers frequented, and tricked into revealing his mission by a man whom he thought was a Patriot. Some say it was his own cousin, a Loyalist, that turned him in. He was brought before Gen. Howe, and was, for what was considered an act so unbefitting an honorable man. So distasteful, in a day when armies stood a few yards apart, leveled their rifles at one another, and fired. Sneaking into one’s opponent’s private camp, pretending, lying to honorable men about one’s loyalties, was considered even worse than attacking one’s enemy by ambush, and a hanging offense. And remains so in many part of the World today. So Americans forgot that spies, spy? And are beside themselves with indignation, some of them, to discover they also lie about it? Well, Mr. Snowden, when he says he was trained as a spy, is not a spy, but a fraud. Or, was a terrific spy that got turned, or a double agent that was about to be found out. Or just an ignorant, poster MVH1, says twerp. Perhaps just that. But when he says the United States Gov. “owes,” the American people the truth about our espionage capabilities, and how we use them. He reveals himself to be at least one of the above. And, for betraying the trust his Country, from Washington forward has always been forced to bestow on only those thought to be most worthy of it, a traitor. A confused one, a disillusioned one, perhaps. Or, a hero of enormous repute. But only to our enemies. Reality check. This is spying, a nasty, necessary business.

    1. sigrid28 May 30, 2014

      PURLOIN, a euphemism for what Snowden has done: “how can its [US] legitimate secrets be protected if any contractor or agent may purloin them with impunity?” An odd 21st century feature of Snowden’s act is buried in the French origins of this word of Conason’s, “purloin,” meaning literally “take far away.” Yet all that Snowden “takes” the US still has total access to within its intelligence data bank. What he has stolen is the CONFIDENTIALITY of these data, and that is what puts Americans in the field and Americans within our borders at risk. He and Mr. Greenwald turned their calculated betrayal of the public trust into a cause de celebre, in which they are richly enjoying their fifteen minutes of fame. So much for secrecy.

      It must be said that other US agencies offer whistleblower’s legal protections, but the NSA is an exception. Some have said this justifies Snowden’s decision to leave the country. He might have conducted his cause through back channels without bringing along his megaphone, Mr. Greenwald. But what would be the fun in that? Meanwhile, even Amnesty International has taken the bait, featuring these two at its annual gathering, while millions of African Americans are unfairly imprisoned in the US, little girls are kidnapped in Nigeria for going to school, and the Russian Federation has renewed the old policy of imprisoning political dissidents. No wonder Mr. Snowden would like to leave that country.

      1. charleo1 May 30, 2014

        PURLOIN. You’re absolutely right here! There is simply no excuse that justifies Snowden’s actions. When the stakes may hold the safety, and well being of millions of Americans in the balance. How many possible terrorist acts against how many possible sites, have the potential, if not stopped, and are carried off successfully, of killing how many of us And there are those that are using this as a vehicle to spout their grievances against a system, ours. That without knowledge of the subject, or much, perspective at all, asserting Snowden’s patriotism in order to grid their own ax against some cause de jour, popular at the moment. And I’ll trumpet their Right to protest, sure. But, I’ll attribute their lack of appreciation of the real world, to their youthful exuberance, and feelings of invincibility. With the acknowledgment given, at the current pace of technology, it would be a miracle if laws were keeping pace. But, we can’t hamstring ourselves. And security experts know it. Fortunately members of Congress on both side of the isle seem to know it as well. Not that the Right ever passes up an opportunity to demagogue an issue. It’s a bit like, if we were to tell astronomers who are looking for extra terrestrial life, by locating planets similar in important respects to our own. To winnow down the places they look, by some other process. Because sweeping in every direction, and depth. Or following every possible indicator, was just too much searching. How much sense would that make? And, very right again. There’s so much compelling injustice in the World. And so little time to stop it.

        1. sigrid28 May 30, 2014

          We could take just one tiny aspect of espionage, wiretaps. My dad, born in 1921, never lived in a world without a telephone, yet think of how that technology alone has evolved in ways that touch all of us. The argument that the government shouldn’t use this technology as part of its intelligence branch is absurd. Are some people gathering intelligence with this evolving technology bad actors? Of course. Should operatives in the field die because of these weak links? Whoever would want that, no matter how much Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Snowden like being famous?

      2. mamasnothappy1 May 30, 2014

        You obviously don’t know what happens when a lower ranking employee points out the mistakes that are not being addressed. Snowden felt the country needed to know we are in danger of contractors having access to records they shouldn’t have access to. You have no idea how fast they would jailed him and we would have never heard from him again. Watergate may have seemed like something new but it was just the first time someone got caught. Don’t be so naïve.

        1. S.J. Jolly May 30, 2014

          Bravo, Mamasnothappy! ! Of course, your argument is thrown out in front of a discussion forum thick with people who don’t care what the government does as long as it claims to be doing it to protect them.

          1. MVH1 May 30, 2014

            What a loaded comment. Only thing wrong with it is “thick with people who” — blah blah blah. So your assessment may apply to some but not all, including me. I know nobody can protect me all the time no matter how much they might try. Nice try but wrong.

          2. S.J. Jolly June 2, 2014

            If the shoe don’t fit, don’t wear it.

          3. sigrid28 May 30, 2014

            Many liberals and Democrats see themselves as protectors of the nation and not only those who serve in the military. As we mamas know, protection is part of the role of parenthood and adult life. We see this as a form of citizenship, protecting ourselves, our families, and our land itself by electing lawmakers who make good choices.

            Republicans are the ones who offer no protections–except for oil fields in Iraq or Texas. They are responsible in the state of Texas, for example, for prohibiting the EPA from protecting wells polluted by fracking or in Louisiana from protecting the pollution of swamp lands that used to safeguard New Orleans. Elsewhere Republican legislatures have allowed fossil fuel producers to expose the aquifer providing huge populations with fresh water to toxins, exposure that might have been avoided if state lawmakers had cared more about the safety of their consituents and their chances of re-election.

          4. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

            Republicans are also the ones who normally favor the kind of intrusions the NSA and similar organizations do routinely. After all, they’re just keeping us safe. I’m sure that’s what Nixon would have said about the “Plumbers,” or any totalitarian about the “security” services.

          5. S.J. Jolly June 2, 2014

            As a general rule, conservatives & Republicans care about profits, liberals & Democrats care about people. Conservatives & Republicans know that caring about people will cost them money — in the short term, though it may repay handsomely in the long term.

          6. charleo1 May 30, 2014

            See, that’s where you you make your first bad assumption. This forum is literally brimming with people who care very much about what their Gov. is doing. And your next opinion, that we trust the Gov.
            like little children, is what people that don’t trust the U.S. Gov. at all usually say. Which is worse in it’s own
            way. Wrong, ridiculous, and gets us nowhere. You say, “Bravo, Mamsanuthappy!” But, Mama thinks people that call attention to errors, and malfeasance, happening within the Gov. disappear, and are never
            heard from again. That would be because, she don’t
            trust the Courts either. Or the Press. Or thinks, maybe
            like you, the people who work for the wicked, criminal, Gov. are not really people at all. But just nameless, faceless bureaucrats. Much like the people on this forum, the Gov. Bio-dots, all Liberals, half human-half robot, don’t care about what they are doing, as long as whatever directive from within the bowels of the beast, or the powers that work tirelessly to install a new world gov. to enslave the peoples, tells them, it’s going to keep them safe. And if you want to have a
            conversation starting out from that point,or anywhere
            near that point, it’s a waste of time.

          7. sigrid28 May 31, 2014

            Such a great post!

          8. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

            Sorry, but just because I believe government can do many good things and can often be trusted, it does not follow that I trust them when there is actual, credible evidence that they are abusing that trust. Letting them get away with gross abuses is no way to assure you’ll be able to trust them in the future.
            I respect your views, and I can see that your concerns are genuine, but I must disagree.
            As an extreme example, apparently many German generals and other officers who were with Hitler on a daily basis offered the excuse of their oaths of loyalty to him before “God” for their not taking action to stop the mass murders and other horrors until it was really too late. If there is indeed a god worthy of worship, did they think him such a monster as to expect such oaths to be honored?
            Sometimes people are able to change things without breaking the rules, but more often than not that is not an option. How would anyone even know about the abuses without whistle-blowers? All employees of these agencies are required to take pretty much unconditional oaths of perpetual secrecy. Should these oaths take precedence over one’s duties as a citizen of a nation which cannot remain “free” without an informed citizenry?
            Yes, all governments have legitimate needs for secrecy, but does that make anything they choose to do in secrecy legitimate?

          9. charleo1 May 31, 2014

            Sure, that’s reasonable. Let’s wait and see what is revealed over the next few months to see if indeed,
            breaking the rules to whistle blow was necessary. And to break them, in such an unprecedented way. My problem with this, is Snowden downloaded and shared information he had no idea as to it’s value to any possible ongoing investigations, or it’s subjects. It’s a bit like he, at overhearing two undercover cops talking outside a hotel room, where a drug bust is
            planned. But not understanding that, or believing cops should never hide their identity. Enters the room and asks the dealers, you do know these guys
            are cops? Congress has a mandated oversight responsibility here. If it’s determined those within the NSA, or private contractors, (whoever,) intentionally failed to report what is the law, to the proper oversight committee. Or, if efforts were made to circumvent those rules. I believe those are criminal offenses. A couple of things to consider, is that we don’t yet know, what, if any case has been presented to the non-public FISA Court? And did that Court, rightly, or wrongly, sanctioned these information gathering techniques? As to an oath, I would say, the one to the Constitution trumps all others. Right? And, as such, I wouldn’t think another oath could legally be required, that would conflict with the primary one. The thing that demonstrated as much as anything, just how messed up Germany became. Was in changing their oath to their Constitution, to an oath to a man. That hasn’t happened here, and won’t of course. Nor do I think there is anything particularly dark intended towards the law abiding citizen with all this. Which is my cranky little problem with posters like jolly. If I’m wrong, I’m a fool, and that’s that. But my sincere belief is it’s not so much Big Brother. Than the politics that rules his life. Everything is highly politicized as you know. Including terrorists attacks. Maybe especially terrorists attacks. The Chief walks in and says, not one on my watch! Does everyone hear me? One, and I’m toast. Or, that seems to be the common wisdom. And I believe politics has driven the NSA as much as anything, outside the bounds of the Constitution. That said, there is no one on these boards I consider any better informed, or, that I personally have more respect for in their opinions, than, “The Sand Cat,” Or fundamentally agree with
            more. And anything the Gov. does in secrecy, say, even with the best intentions, is absolutely not legit. I’m sure some would make the case they interred the Japanese with all the best intentions. I wouldn’t.
            And boy, was it ever not legit.

          10. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

            I do not consider you a fool, regardless of what happens. It’s hard to decide when breaking the law is justified or is simply self-serving, and Snowden seems to be the only one talking about specifics, so it’s especially difficult.

          11. Mark Forsyth June 1, 2014

            Please forgive my interjection here,but while reading your comment I began to wonder whether the oversight committee you mention should merely wait for the NSA to provide info and assume that it will.or should it take a more proactive approach to insure that information of appropriate amounts and quality of content are provided.Given the supposed reason of its existence,I would say that the oversight committee need be ever vigilant and investigative rather than to be merely reactive.No doubt that would lead to complaints of interference.

          12. charleo1 June 1, 2014

            Your interjection is always welcome. And that is a very important question. As to how aggressively this oversight committee is investigating these abuses. And there are abuses. But beyond Mike Rogers, (R) and Dianne Feinstein, (D) I’m not even sure who is on this panel, their powers to subpoena, to communicate with those judges on the FISA Court, hear their opinions. Or what, the general opinion of this Congressional Panel is. Beyond Rogers’, and Feinstein’s statements directly after the Snowden story broke. Which was, they were in complete agreement, Snowden had severely compromised National Security. The problem is, this is all highly charged politically. And a very risky proposition for these Congress people to come out and advocate very strongly for either more, and closer oversight. Or take the tact, that we’re on it, so don’t worry. As either one, from their perspective, could could come back, and bite them in the ass. If they say we need to really crack down on these unConstitutional practices at the NSA, and FISA Court, then there is this huge attack. Come election time they’ll beat them to death with the sound bite. “Dianne Feinstein says we should reign in our ability to detect terrorist attacks against the Homeland.” Or they say, we must protect the Homeland. Then even more outrageous information comes out, that they’ve been turning on I-Phones in people’s bed rooms, and using the downloads for drunken stag parties, or some such. I don’t know. Do people still have stag parties? But a very good question you ask.

          13. Mark Forsyth June 1, 2014

            Seems that it is as much a delicate balance between privacy and protection for congress as it is for the public.It seems obvious to me that the public will never know not only the extent of the compromise but also the number and types of surveillance programs that exist.I understand the reason for this secrecy but as we have seen that secrecy also provided a curtain behind which abuses can occur.

          14. S.J. Jolly June 2, 2014

            Your point being what, that things will fall apart quickly and completely, unless we trust our government, at all levels, completely? If we could do that, we wouldn’t need elections — just let present officials appoint people to vacancies, endlessly. (Like with the Catholic Church)
            As for people disappearing, never to be heard from again, what do you suppose would happen to Snowden if he surrendered himself to US authorities? Sure, he would get a trial and all, but you could bet your bottom dollar all of it would be deeply classified for a long, long time.

          15. charleo1 June 2, 2014

            My point being, the Left is not inhabited by large groups of, “Sheeple, happily unconcerned with with the goings on in Gov. Because we naively believe it’s this inherently benevolent institution, the gov. holds the answers to all of societies ills. My point being, this is a transparent lie. With it’s sole objective to give the believer the impression there is but one set of responsible persons here. And that’s us. It is an extreme position, that refuses to engage with those who’s opinions are claimed to be so unacceptable, it’s better to simply insult them, than spend any amount of effort conversing with them. Which is what you related to the poster, “Mamasnothappy,” you recognized as an ally, and reminded, her/him, these are worthless Liberals, ignore them. This has become so ubiquitous from the Right, you may not be aware of it. Reread your last post. You set up an arbitrary and false characterization of the other side’s position. Make your charges condemning it in terms dictated in exaggerated, black, and white. Then, smugly knock over the straw man you just created, as if by parroting the same dogmatic responses to every situation, makes you the owner of the only valid position, and the smartest person. on the planet.
            The Left, by the way is not the espousing a doctrine
            that holds that the Gov. is too secular. Or is creating
            long lines at the polls to ostensibly reduce the total
            numbers of voters. Deducing smaller turnouts favor
            their candidates. And as I explained, truthfully I’ll
            wager. There will not ever come the day the Gov.
            will be forthcoming enough to satisfy such persons
            as there are, with a near complete dearth of trust in the institutions of their Gov. in these matters. There
            will be other institutions of verification. Elected officials. the Court system, Snowden’s defense.
            But they can’t tell you, satisfy you, or ultimately confirm your doubts. Without telling the World. And
            that they cannot do. So, you’ll just have to trust, or

          16. S.J. Jolly June 4, 2014

            As I parse your posting, you think I’m some sort of far-rightist. Yes? That would greatly surprise a lot of on-line posters, who think I’m a “loony leftist liberal.”

          17. charleo1 June 5, 2014

            I’m well aware of the divisions this issue poses for
            people on the Left, who may agree, or somewhat
            agree on the majority of the other issues. However,
            those that usually agree on the major issues, would
            not make the assumption this board is thick with
            people who so blindly trust the gov. we’re not concerned with it’s actions, or this issue. What I’m
            not concerned with, is people disappearing because
            they reported abuses to others, either up the chain,
            or to those charged with the oversight of these
            surveillance programs. To suggest there are people
            that have been examples of this is absurd. Unless
            the number, and names of such persons can be
            produced. This would suggest their families also
            disappeared, or are too frightened to hire a lawyer,
            or go to the press. No, that I don’t believe.

          18. S.J. Jolly June 9, 2014

            You don’t believe that the media, “liberal leftist” as many on the right believe, would ignore retaliation action against whistleblowers, as “not of pubic interest”?

          19. charleo1 June 9, 2014

            No, absolutely not. Whistleblower retaliations are
            not tried in the Court of Left, or Right, Public Opinion. But in real courts, with real lawyers, and include a wide variety of industries, and occupations. Including Snowdens.

        2. sigrid28 May 30, 2014

          Well, let’s see now. Dr. Foote was a “lower ranking employee” of the VA medical system, and yet his role as a whistle-blower has been to–practically single-handedly–overturn that huge bureaucracy and even displace the leader of it himself. Of course, he is a professional retired from his service in the system whose LOYALTY led him to try to fix it, as an extension of his service to the VA and the country as a whole. He has not run around from pillar to post, posing for photographs and granting interviews with sycophantic journalists to burnish his celebrity status. His reticence is no doubt due as well to the fact that veterans denied medical services may have died while waiting for appointments. He shows a deep respect and remorse for their deaths. Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Snowden, however, rarely express a serious regard for those whose lives are at risk because of their decision to carry their expose out as a dog-and-pony show. Feeling invincible themselves, I guess, they not only have no shame but they also show no decent respect for members of the intelligence community who risk their lives daily.

          1. S.J. Jolly June 2, 2014

            Shouldn’t “decent respect for members of the intelligence community who risk their lives daily” include blowing the whistle on leaders of that community who are directing their agencies into practices harmful to the nation?
            BTW: How many members of the intelligence community have their lives at risk in the revealing of the NSA’s mass intercept of the communications of American citizens? I’d dare say, Zero.
            Maybe you are one who would knowingly march over a cliff, lemming-style, rather than question the decision of The Leader who led the march, or the wisdom of those in formation ahead of you?

          2. Sand_Cat June 3, 2014

            Not trying to belittle you, but Dr. Foote was not a “lower ranking employee” of an organization that commits murder or aids and abets it and breaks or evades US law and those of allies as well as enemies on a regular basis, or at least one would hope the VA does not. And I have to agree with S.J. Jolly that it is extremely unlikely anyone’s life – other than Snowden’s and Greenwald’s – was endangered here. Unless someone starts shooting NSA or CIA employees on their way to work in the US as some guy did a few years back at the CIA, the overwhelming majority of employees of both agencies – NSA especially – are not risking their lives at all, and whatever Snowden released is unlikely to make such action against them any easier.

          3. sigrid28 June 3, 2014

            I accept that you do not belittle other posters on the National Memo comment threads as a rule, but you do belittle various forms of weak thinking. So I take no offense, but wish to explain myself more clearly.

            Dr. Foote was not a hospital administrator or a leader within the VA itself, so in that sense he was “lower-ranking.”

            I have not witnessed myself the various crimes that you attribute to the NSA and the American government. Have you?

            How can the government have been responsible for these crimes and yet not have put anyone in harm’s way, as you insist Snowden and Greenwald did not?

            Furthermore, if information they revealed exposed American intelligence agents in the field, wouldn’t their lives be in danger? These facts just stand to reason.

          4. Sand_Cat June 9, 2014

            Because you have not personally witnessed something, it did not happen?
            I remember when the CIA murdered Salvador Allende and unleashed the murderer Pinoche, and I’ve read reliable sources concerning the overthrow of the last elected governments in Guatemala and Iran, resulting in massive bloodshed, especially in the former. Although they denied it (what trust can one place in such denials), they probably overthrew or assisted in the overthrow of the Cambodian government that opposed US interference – leading to the Khmer Rouge’s genocides – and I understand they provided lists of people to be murdered when the Indonesian government of Sukarno was overthrown. They ran an assassination program in Vietnam, though that falls under the war, I guess. I believe they were the ones who recently kidnapped an innocent man from the streets of an Italian city and – despite his denials – tortured and abused him for something like three months before finally admitting they had seized someone with a name somewhat similar to the intended target, after which they simply dumped him back on the street somewhere in Italy.
            I’m sorry, but your question of how Snowden and Greenwald couldn’t have put anyone in harm’s way since the government did these things is unclear to me. If you’re trying to say that they put the people responsible for these crimes in danger, all I can say is that I certainly hope so.
            So far as NSA goes, I believe their “agents” do not generally go in harm’s way, but my understanding from James Bamford’s book, Puzzle Palace, their activities were illegal under US law from day one of the agency’s existence, and they certainly are now, if the Constitution is still the highest US law.

      3. JPHALL May 30, 2014

        Not all Liberals. Look the word up, do not use the right wing definition. Your point is true for may so called conservatives who look for any reason to blame others for mistakes or events in the news.

        1. sigrid28 May 30, 2014

          We agree in part. I was speaking of a small group of liberals/progressives who are attracted to the activism they see in Snowden’s behavior, and so pay more attention to his cause than to many others far more deserving of their time and attention.

    2. midway54 May 30, 2014

      What do you think ought to be done or not done about Clapper, who is still in his very high level office with no indication at this point that anything will be done to hold him accountable for his clear act of perjury before a Senate committee? Perhaps it is still another case that evokes the widely repeated observation among many average Americans that whether statutory penalties are sought against one who violates a felony statute depends upon the level of support and prestige in our society the violator enjoys among his/her peers.

      1. charleo1 May 30, 2014

        What do I think should be done about Clapper? I’m sure don’t know. My feeling is, it was improper to call Mr. Clapper into such a public forum. Thereby, politicizing, and making an, “event,” out of what should be a strictly fact finding exercise, to improve oversight, and accountability. The thing is, it’s hard to judge this matter, as a lay person, we can’t know, if Mr. Clapper was put in an impossible position of revealing things he’s sworn to keep secret. Or lying to Congress, and facing possible perjury charges. I think you got pretty much to the heart of the reason why the law states, a jury is to be made up of a group of the accused’s peers. So it’s difficult in this area of so called State secrets. If we acknowledge that the State must have secrets. Then, the regular rules, such as open records, defendant’s Rights to face their accuser, the accuser’s identity, and testimony being made public, the evidence, and how that evidence was collected, may compromise other operations. So it’s tough. Do you agree? Because, all this goes to trust. Whereas, other proceedings are usually open to the scrutiny of all such interested parties. So say a guy gets convicted of murder. And you are pretty sure he was railroaded. In our system, you can research, look at testimony, court records, witnesses, potential witness, etc. It’s all there. These cases, are totally different in that respect. Heresy evidence is often allowed to be introduced, without a defendant’s Rights to know who provided it, or to cross examine that person, if they could discern who, in fact that witness is. Did I mention it was tough? What do you think?

        1. sigrid28 May 30, 2014

          Not to mention the way in which Republicans have abused the system of hearings designed to provide Congress with “credible” information. I mention one name: Darrell Issa. Need I say more?

          1. MVH1 May 30, 2014

            You need not as we all go into immediate revulsion over that name. 🙂

          2. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

            Then why do you support tactics reminiscent of Issa’s? I’m sure he’d say he’s just “protecting” us, too.

          3. MVH1 May 31, 2014

            Grow up, mad kitty. You don’t know what I support. Quit projecting. Hiiissssss…….

          4. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

            You obviously haven’t a clue what I support, either. All I can say is that you come across as a thoughtless and self-righteous prig (or is that “prick”?), whatever you “support.”

          5. MVH1 June 1, 2014

            Oh, no, it’s petty obvious but since I don’t care it doesn’t matter. You are describing yourself as to how one comes across. Hissssssss. Go home, angry kitty.

        2. midway54 June 1, 2014

          Yes, I do agree that the issue of privacy vs. national security needs is very difficult and in the tension between constitutional rights claimed by both sides there must be a balancing test applied to resolve the arguments. I understand that there is activity now in Congress toward that end caused by the firestorm over NSA’s secret activity through remedial litigation. As to Clapper’s perjury with no formal action against him underway, I looked at what could be the reason for it, and felt that prosecutorial discretion possibly had been exercised following investigation by DOJ personnel which likely included many interviews of relevant personnel in the areas of security and their opinions of Clapper’s testimony and of his character as they knew it to be. It was clear from Clapper’s facial reaction and body language and hesitant, almost mumbling reply to Senator Wyden’s question that he was not telling the truth. Clapper likely didn’t expect it because he knew designated House and Senate leaders and committee chairs were being briefed regularly on security activity (However, after reports on the documents taken by Snowden began to emerge Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein angrily announced that her committee had never been informed about some information that was in those revelations). Wearing my Monday morning armchair expert’s hat, I will say that Clapper would have been better advised to tell Snyden that his answer would require the committee to be in executive session because a simple yes or no answer would not be a fully responsible answer and that highly sensitive qualifications would be required. In fact, I am quite sure that he and Alexander sitting next to him both answered along those lines to some of the other questions posed to them. I am only speculating of course but I suspect that everyone involved and interviewed by the DOJ and the prosecutor himself could see what kind of pressure Clapper was in: He did not want in his capacity to answer in the affirmative to the Nation and to the World and decided to well, answer falsely hoping at some point fully to explain himself (which he may have done in a private meeting with committee members and DOJ) I do not think that demonstrated perjury should go unpunished and lightly dismissed lest our justice system and its need to get to the truth soon collapse. But I am not the prosecutor having the discretion to decide. If you are still awake, I apologize for my going on and on.

          1. charleo1 June 1, 2014

            No need to apologize, as this issue is as complicated as they get. You are confirming a lot of the thoughts I recall having about Clapper’s answer, at the time it was revealed he had been directly untruthful to Wyden’s question. Like why didn’t he just say, that I’ll tell you that Sen. in a closed session? And, I think you’re right, that this entire issue needs to be revisited in a non political, bipartisan way. With the understanding many decisions were made in the aftermath of 9/11. The technological advancements have been unprecedented. No one believes the laws
            have kept pace. And I can see the political benefits for both sides, to like you said, provide a balance.
            And hopefully calm the justifiable concerns of a public that has the Gov. on it’s shit list right now anyway. Plus, when is reconfirming the commitment to upholding the Constitution, and the Rights it holds sacrosanct ever a bad thing to do? It’s probably even necessary every so often. But, here’s the one more thing. See, now I’m going on, and on! But if, in order to fully protect the privacy, and probable cause tenets of every American, here and abroad We roll back the data gathering operations. Always get formal warrants, with higher thresholds for issuance. Require, say, that a select oversight panel, and a FISA Court approve, unless a situation certain exists…Then, at the next attack, and who doubts there will be one? Are these same Americans going to start demanding heads to roll, because, “they,” should have seen it coming? “They,” should have stopped it! Yes, I’m afraid that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

  4. FT66 May 30, 2014

    There is one thing most of people are missing on this issue of Snowden. And that is the word: “stealing. In a simple explanation, it is taking away something which doesn’t belong to you without the owner being aware, just only for your own benefits. Snowden stole documents which didn’t belong to him. He run away and even up to now I can say he is still at large. If he believes he did something beneficial to people, why did he run away? Why doesn’t he come back home and explain why he did it? Myself I put him on a level of someone who broke the Bank. He didn’t steal money, but the documents he took along with him, I suppose it is worthier than money.

    1. nana4gj May 30, 2014

      And it was all pre-meditated. He stole what he knew did not belong to him to take or divulge; took it with him on his flight from the scene of the crime; and, once safely ensconced in a country that does not come close to the civil liberty protections that his country provides for, began the dissemination of this stolen and classified information to the world.

      Everything he did speaks to actions of a Coward. There is nothing admirable in what he did because of the treasonous, sneaky, underhanded way he did it which was nothing but dishonorable and full of betrayal. It’s the kind of thing a common criminal does. It certainly does not require Courage.

      1. S.J. Jolly May 30, 2014

        Ah, to be a “Coward”, in the land of the Ruskies? Or, to be “brave”, come home, and disappear into the US Federal gulag, with his arrest, trial, and imprisonment records sealed through the end of this century, for “national security” reasons?
        As to the civil liberty protections this country provides, ask the guys who have been locked up in Git’mo, for over a decade, without charges, legal representation, or trials.
        BTW: Capitalizing a word implies it is a person, place, or thing. I.e., “Maybe if Snowden drank a lot of Jim Beam he would have the courage to get on a flight back to the USA.”

        1. MVH1 May 31, 2014

          You intentionally miss the point and refuse to acknowledge there is a view with value other than your own very narrow and furious one.

          1. S.J. Jolly June 4, 2014

            “…. refuse to acknowledge there is a view with value other than your own very narrow and furious one.”
            The pot calling the kettle black?

    2. highpckts May 30, 2014

      Agree! If he did something so good then why doesn’t he come home! If, like he said, he was a highly trained agent with the full knowledge of the US then he shouldn’t have anything to worry about! Me thinks that isn’t all there is to it!

  5. longtail May 30, 2014

    Obviously, if you blow the whistle on me you are a traitor but if I blow the whistle on you I’m a patriot.

  6. nana4gj May 30, 2014

    If I am to believe Snowden is a Patriot and a Hero, a Whistleblower, he should have done what a Whistleblower would do, that is, take his concerns and his documents to where and whom it counted, the US Congress, where the issue of NSA activities were already in debate, naming Diane Feinstein, Ron Portman, Rand Paul, just to name a few. Talking amongst your co-workers, as he claimed he did in this last interview, and sending emails or raising your personal concerns with your supervisors, does not do anything to change what you consider to be illegal or immoral work.

    Snowden chose, instead, to steal the information, flee the country, and disseminate the stolen information all over the world. He committed a crime. Whether or not he is justified in what he did will remain a subjective determination. But, in this case, the ends did not justify the means because the both the ends and the means caused nothing but harm. Had he chosen a different means, he might have been a part of enabling a good end.

    The more I see and hear of Snowden, himself, my perception of him is that he has never found employment that met his highly principled ideas and values, yet, I question if he is able to live those high principles, himself. He seems to me unrealistic, immature, in need of ego validation, with delusions of grandeur, and with a distorted sense of values. The “intelligence” some believe they observed in this last interview is not evident to me. What is evident to me is a person who can rationalize, justify, and believe himself to be of higher integrity than anyone else, but, there is no record of that. He may also be a liar and not even know he lies; it’s part of the dynamics of his personality and his rationalization.

    Confirming my perception of him, he seems to take issue with the fact that the State Dept has withheld his passport, obstructing his ability to flee to the country of his choice and instead, he is “stuck” in Russia. It is not the responsibility or the duty of the country in which you committed a crime to aid and abet and enable your escape from the scene of the crime, even if your name is Edward Snowden.

    If the reason he feels he can “sleep at night” is that what he did was moral, ethical, legal, and just, he should fly home and present his case in the courts of Justice, where any number of ACLU high profile attorneys would be too happy to present his case.

    I suspect he knows he broke laws, committed a crime, and, indeed, intended to commit a crime, otherwise, he never would have fled the country.

    The real Heroes and Patriots are those in service to this country who remain nameless and receive little of the public praise they deserve, but whose lives are in more peril because of what Snowden has done.

    Snowden is not a Patriot, a Hero, or a Whistleblower. I will not know if he is a Traitor until that is determined in a Court of Law. But I do know that, at this time, he has committed a crime and, so, he is a Criminal who is in flight from Justice, fleeing to countries who would never give him his day in court for any crime.

    Unless he chooses to return to the US and defend his “nobility”, and unless Russia decides to sneak him out of that country to the country of his choice, he should try to get comfortable where he is and not bemoan the fact that he is “stuck” there and blame that, too, on the US.

    1. elw May 30, 2014

      To me he does not look like he is sleeping well at night. He is very pale and thin. He look miserable. I guess you could say he has built he own prison.

      1. mamasnothappy1 May 30, 2014

        No, he gave up a very comfortable life to keep our lives comfortable. Ungrateful people make me sick. And that you have this point of view, tells me I have even more to worry about. Keep your head in sand and keep saying, “I believe, I believe . . .”

        1. elw May 30, 2014

          Oh, pleaseeee!

        2. charleo1 May 30, 2014

          elw is very capable of speaking for himself. So, I
          wouldn’t try to do that. But, after reading several of your posts, I see your impression that Snowden gave
          up a comfortable life, “to keep our lives comfortable.”
          As rooted in your fundamental mistrust of most, if not all governmental institutions. Would that be a fair statement? A mistrust that existed before you ever heard of Edward Snowden. A man who’s word you take at face value, over a Gov. you seem to assume by default, must be lying to you. Is there something going on here, beyond this particular issue? Or is
          Snowden a fellow you just have this faith in, based on
          intuition? And if so, do you think the Gov. made the same leap of faith, then got burned? You can respond, if you’d like.

        3. MVH1 May 30, 2014

          This is laughable. You think he did any of this for you?

    2. mamasnothappy1 May 30, 2014

      You obviously don’t know what happens to people who turn in their employers. The people NOT DOING THEIR JOB PROPERLY ALL COME RUNNING AND SCREAMING “TRAITOR”. TO COVER THEIR OWN BUTT.

      1. MVH1 May 30, 2014

        Are you saying he didn’t know this from the get-go? We know what happens to people who turn in their employers. He didn’t actually do that. He turned in the system. The one most of us knew existed already and had for a long time. You either want to be protected by your government or not. He doesn’t have a good argument for his side. Even though you are trying desperately to provide one for him. Most of us weigh the consequences of our actions and take the subsequent results. He ran and hid and what on earth did he think, the government wouldn’t stop him where they found him? He acts like there’s some huge surprise he’s trapped in Russia without being able to travel. He’s an idiot.

    3. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

      Wow. Yeah, I’m sure the US Congress would really take action on this. Notice all the fine work it’s done over the last 5 or 6 years, or even before, to promote freedom and justice?
      The only reason the GOP House would do anything is to embarrass Obama for something of which Bush and a lot of others did just as much if not more, within the technological limits of the time. Who was it that passed the laws that gave the NSA essentially carte blanche and – while they were at it – gave immunity to the corporations who helped them break the law (something which I regret to say was aided by Mr. Obama himself). Did anyone go to prison or even lose his job?

  7. elw May 30, 2014

    The more Snowden talks the more sure I feel that he is a coward and a liar. If all he had done was take information about digital surveillance I would have thought of him as a hero, but he did not. He grabbed everything he could, has released information unconnected to surveillance of citizens and he has the nerve to talk about what is fair and not fair. He is a smart man who is both emotionally and intellectually immature who clearly did not have a clear agenda for his actions. The bottom line for me is if Snowden has so little confidence in the US that he thinks he will not be treated fairly, he should stay where he is. He broke the law, if he thinks he had good cause to do so, he should be able to stand up like an adult and face the music. Instead he wines about it every chance he gets. He made his own bed, let him sleep in it.

    1. mamasnothappy1 May 30, 2014

      Sheep. Baaa!

      1. MVH1 May 31, 2014

        Tunnel vision. Blah blah blah.

    2. docb May 30, 2014

      I find it puzzling that this young kid could steal 1.7 million documents but could not create a trail of the complaints he made to his superiors to provide the writer greenwald or the Wapo Journalist or the wiki producer before handing over his trove to them! I also find it erroneous that he claims to be trained as a spy but had no skills or handler and was accepted? at Ft. Meade where he washed out as an 18 year old High School dropout!! Additionally, he became concerned about this in January 2009…Why then, one would have to ask.

      He was well coached for this interview..Hats off to his counsel!

      1. elw May 30, 2014

        He is one of those people who does not think things out and is easily lead. I do think he may have been taken advantage of because I would bet it is easy to influence him. Sometimes really bright people’s emotions and social skills never catch up to their IQs.

        1. FT66 May 30, 2014

          I have a feeling Snowden had no clue at all what he was doing and had no plan in his mind. I think it was because of his age and may be making his name known. He has destroyed his life completely for nothing. He doesn’t know in what part of the world he will move to next. He sees his birth country as Mars as to come back is what he tries to dream of every night.

          1. elw May 30, 2014

            How can he plan now? Its too late for that, he should have thought before he stole all that information. His life is in the hands of politicians. Putin may even decide to extradite him.

          2. MVH1 May 30, 2014

            Won’t be good for him if Putin tires of him.

          3. elw May 30, 2014

            It could happen. Putin has the power to make his own rules.

          4. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

            Yes, Putin can make his own rules, in part because he has a “security” apparatus that need not justify or face scrutiny for its unwarranted intrusions into the private lives of the country’s citizens, just as – apparently – many here seem to wish for the next GOP president. Want Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, or Chris Christie, or maybe Scott Walker, drooling over your private conversations?

          5. elw June 1, 2014

            All of which mean exactly what?

          6. MVH1 May 30, 2014

            I was saying that early on. He’s might young to have put himself in this position. His life is truly ruined, one way or the other, forever. He will be neither hero nor villain by vote. He’s really nothing. Just a skinny, self-adulating kid who thinks he’s way smarter and more important than anyone ever is. He’s doomed his own life and maybe that’s punishement enough. I remember “the man with no country” when I was a kid. What a horrible thought to contemplate living that way.

  8. nana4gj May 30, 2014

    This article presumes there was “misconduct” at the NSA. This kind of “misconduct” has been going on for centuries and it goes on everywhere in the world and, since our world has shrunk and become more compressed because of the ability to easily communicate all over the world, and travel all over the world, that “misconduct” has had to adapt to meet the challenges.

    I am reminded of the scene in “Zero Dark Thirty” wherein the use of phone numbers, phone calls, etc., helped to narrow the location of bin Laden’s #1 aide who was in residence with him, and so, we found bin Laden, sheltering in plain site in Pakistan, less than a mile from their military academy. How many civil rights were abused in that phone technology used for surveillance? That is probably my favorite scene in that movie. I would not have minded, nor do I mind, who hears my phone calls or monitors the calls made and received by looking at the numbers. They would be very bored. But if it meant participating in a program that would intercept the “evil doers”, I am happy to do it.

    Since Edward Snowden slipped past this “misconduct” of the NSA and was able to engage in his own “misconduct”, I doubt any of the rest of us have anything to fear or complain about. It’s really too bad someone did not pay more attention to Snowden with all of the “misconduct” the NSA engges in. That’s my only regret.

    1. S.J. Jolly May 30, 2014

      Are you SURE that someone, somewhere, in government wouldn’t consider you an evil doer? If, nothing else, for the opinions you post on-line?

      1. nana4gj May 30, 2014

        Yes, I am, but I am more sure that I have the courage of convictions and enough integrity to stay and face any music and to defend my opinions that I post online because I would also state them publicly, since the exercise of that free speech is not causing irreparable harm to anyone, or stealing from anyone.
        That’s the difference, one of them, between Snowden and myself. If I believed I had not committed a crime, or knew that I had and had a good reason for doing it, I would defend it to the max where it counts, in a court of law, not in the press from a repressive, unjust, tyrannical country. I would not run like a guilty criminal.

        1. MVH1 May 30, 2014

          It is the gutless wonder and wonderment of Snowden that is perplexing.

          1. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

            What risk have you taken for your country? I mean a risk for which no one will give you credit, and which is likely to make you almost universally despised, but really needs to be taken. You sit here “safe” and complacent and talk about someone who got himself exiled and despised by those who should at least appreciate his intentions and declare him a “gutless wonder.” Maybe you should look in the mirror.

          2. MVH1 June 1, 2014

            People who are long on advice should usually think about taking their own advice, angry kitty. Hiiisssssss

  9. mamasnothappy1 May 30, 2014

    The average person may not realize the totality of Snowden’s claim and make a rash judgment against him. This man is a patriot who saw that he could only make a change this way. Secretary Kerry is just a mouth that spouts whatever his Party tells him to say.

    1. MVH1 May 30, 2014

      And some rash people will give him complete clearance on stealing property he knew would cause him a lot of grief. Kerry is no more a spouting mouth than the self-involved Snowden.

  10. ExRadioGuy15 May 30, 2014

    Those who know me well know my position on “Eddie Snowjob”. But, for those of you who don’t, here it is:
    The answer to the question, “Is Snowden a patriot or a traitor” is: neither.
    He’s not a traitor because his actions don’t rise to the level of Treason. Most likely, his actions rise to the level of Espionage, which, in most cases, has the same penalty as Treason: execution. But, technically speaking, he’s not a Traitor. You could call him a “spy” because Espionage is the crime of which spies are guilty.
    He’s not a patriot (or whistleblower) because, in 2005 and 2006, two major newspapers, the New York Times and Washington Post, “blew the whistle” on the domestic surveillance program, correctly attaching the plan to the Constitutional abomination of a law known as the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001.
    Edward Snowden is neither a traitor nor a patriot….he’s a DUMBASS

    1. ExRadioGuy15 May 30, 2014

      I, once again, call on Congress and the President to do something that should have been done years ago: fully repeal the Patriot Act!

  11. Royce Alexander May 30, 2014

    Snowden is an enemy combatant, give him a military trial followed by a blindfold and a bullet.

    1. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

      “Enemy combatant” just another Bush Administration evasion of US and International law. You can’t abuse a POW, but an “enemy combatant”? He’s not covered. If you recall, the original term they tried was “illegal combatant.” Maybe they had an uncharacteristic flash of insight and realized that term applied to themselves and the poor schmoes they sent to Iraq to conduct their little vanity war more than to those they captured resisting the unprovoked invasion.

  12. DoctorFaustroll May 30, 2014

    My goodness! Why would anyone believe a lowly programmer and top secret spy could even exist in these days of happy drones? Surely the NSA and CIA are protecting him.

    I often worked for unimpeachable scumbags at the federal, state, local, and family level and still feel some of joy when any of these douchebags or their friends and family is temporarily embarrassed by the entertainment media before getting their concrete boots.

    Kudos to Catch 22’s distant survivor. You’re not the bombardier, and you don’t deserve saving.

  13. shadowg May 30, 2014

    Snowden should be prosecuted to the full extent or make Russia his home for life.

  14. oldgirl70 May 31, 2014

    The government has worked hard to shift public attention away from what was actually revealed in those documents and focus it on exaggerated charges against Snowden. National security was not involved, government overstepping their right to monitor all of us is involved. Whistle blowers take a huge risk for very little personal gain. Domestic surveillance of citizens does little to insure national security and is not collected for that reason. People planted here to do us harm are very skilled at avoiding detection. They know how to get around such surveillance. We have lost many rights and privacy with the public attitude of “who cares, I have nothing to hide.” Those rights disappear so slowly no one notices and they will be gone forever, we won’t get them back. Once we lose a right or freedom we never regain it.

    1. MVH1 May 31, 2014

      What bs.

    2. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

      I like the bumper sticker “just ignore your rights, and they’ll go away.”

  15. FredAppell May 31, 2014

    It’s ironic how some people don’t trust the NSA but they will put their full faith in Snowden. There is a difference between a whistle blower and what Snowden did. A whistle blower doesn’t steal information and flee to a rival country. For me, this is a tale of two evils, I would like to see the NSA dissolved but Snowden can’t be trusted either. Both he and the NSA have betrayed their country.

    1. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

      Whistle blowers over the years have done many things, and I’m sure some have “stolen information.” Practically the only commonality is that they have been almost universally despised and hated, and often successfully prosecuted or sued, despite laws designed to protect them. You may not like Snowden, but would you have even known the NSA “betrayed their country” without him?

      1. FredAppell June 1, 2014

        Funny you should bring that up. I’ve known about the NSA for close to 15 years thanks to a former friend who served in the Air Force. He worked out of the Cheyenne Mountain military installation in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He had told me about a little known spy agency called the NSA. At the time, I thought he was lying to me but it turns out he was telling the truth. As much as I detest anyone spying on Americans I still can’t condone what Snowden did, he had to at least have had some knowledge before he was hired about what the job entailed because his prior job was as a computer technician
        with the CIA. He didn’t get along with his supervisors while employed there either. Snowden has a history of being a malcontent which is why I don’t trust him.

        1. Sand_Cat June 2, 2014

          I can understand your feelings, but have you any evidence of his being a “malcontent” other than the claims by the NSA and CIA? I know we’d all like to think we can trust our government, but based actions they’ve undertaken in the past, I’m not sure we can trust operatives of either of these agencies to tell us anything but what serves their interests, whether true or not.

          1. FredAppell June 2, 2014

            I listen to NPR radio whenever possible. I often receive news from them hours or days before it is reported anywhere else and my trust in them is unquestioned. Anyway, 2 weeks ago there was an interview with an investigative reporter who delved very deeply into both the NSA and Snowden. He wasn’t condoning the NSA but his critique of Snowden was equally as harsh. Snowden is a self admitted Libertarian which I know from all your postings you are not. He doesn’t believe in a Federal Government period. He is often known to be egocentric, believing himself to be the smartest person in the room at all times. He’s a high school drop who is brilliant with computers and because of that he managed to secure a job with the CIA as a technician to maintain their servers. While there, he was difficult, always fighting with his supervisors which eventually led to his termination. Somehow he ended up at the NSA and the rest is history. Although none of us can be certain whether or not the information he stole places America in any danger it is worth noting that Putin has increased
            his own provocative behavior since Snowden’s arrival in Russia. Now, one could easily make the case that if our own government was more honest, none of this would have ever happened which is true but two wrongs don’t make a right and although I have no doubts that the NSA is lying, I believe Snowden could also be lying. Only time will tell Sand_Cat. I do apologize for being so vague with what I have told you but I didn’t get to hear the entire interview due to time constraints.

  16. Alan Edwards May 31, 2014

    Trite as this old cliche is “two wrongs don’t make a right.” At best, Snowden is a vigilante who thinks he is above the law, at worst, he is a traitor. I think he is a traitor who put this country and people working for it in danger. He should be tried as an absentee if he refuses to come back on his own.

    1. Sand_Cat May 31, 2014

      How, exactly, did he put his country and the people “working for it” in danger?

  17. cgosling June 1, 2014

    Snowden’s complaint against Clapper is undeniable so the NSA has no moral right to prosecute Snowden? What utterly ridiculous reasoning. Clapper’s statements have nothing to do with Snowden’s theft. That is like saying the justice system can’t prosecute one crime until it prosecutes someone accused of lying.

  18. Alan Edwards June 1, 2014

    Sand_cat, I see you are very involved in this discussion, so I question if you will receive my answer with an open mind.

    By revealing some of the people and hows of the NSA he has shared classified information with countries we are concerned about that are friendly to interests that are unfriendly to the US.

    Revealing to allies that communications were tracked caused unneeded stress on relationships. Even nations friendly to one another spy on each other; for example Israel on us.

    In the document dumps, covers were blown of some covert operators for the US – endangering them and those they worked for.

    What Snowden’s motivations are I do not know, But, if it were to make America a better country he failed. Countries spy on each other just as corporations engage in competitive intelligence. If a company can understand what the competition is planning through analysis then they can plan accordingly and keep their competitive advantage.

    Snowden closed some doors to us. Again, his intent may be exactly what he says it is, but his execution sucked.

  19. rustacus21 June 24, 2014

    As this article very accurately points out, Edward Snowden acted according to patriotic conscience – a virtue all too uncommon across the nation to day. And as for the ‘damaging’ revelations of delicate ‘spying’ operations here & abroad? Well, lets just say those ‘spies’ have, of late missed much here at home, as NV, TN, CA & TX, among other places, saw disturbed, anti-social, anti-government individual committing ‘terrorist acts’ at will, but as we have also recently learned, peaceful, law-abiding citizens – myself included – have the attention law enforcement, for simply SPEAKING on truth & the realities of this horrible time in America, or gathering to PEACEFULLY protest the same – ALL w/in our Constitutional commandments, as patriotic citizens. So we all should rally around & celebrate Mr. Snowden for such courageous actions & hope & PRAY there are others willing to reveal the evils being done in OUR name, AGAINST some of the most decent, virtuous, patriotic Americans found. His voice is desperately needed NOW, as we must act to discover why security contractors are not only surveilling Americans, but entering their homes, violating their persons & possessions & committing acts of violence & terror far greater than many Americans are yet aware… This is only the beginning of discovering what 12/12/00 really, TRULY did AGAINST America…


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