Random Thoughts on the NSA, Secrets, and Snowden:
1. Man, it's exciting, isn't it? Where will NSA leaker Edward Snowden end up? Will he live in limbo in a TGI Friday's in the Moscow airport? Will he get asylum? Where will he take a shit? Does he have access to shampoo? Holy fuck, tell us more about his plea bargain deal offers and his attempts to find a country to take him. Tell us more because the more we hear about Edward Snowden, fugitive from the butthurt U.S. government, the less we have to grapple with what Snowden's leaked documents actually reveal about the U.S. surveillance state.
2. What should have happened is that Snowden should have been arrested in the United States and tried for whatever crimes in open court so that the public could learn if any actual harm was done to the nation, as he's being accused of doing without those making the accusations needing to prove any of it. Yeah, Snowden should have gone the typical whistleblower route, but, fuck, if you saw what happened to Bradley Manning, if you saw the Obama administration's war on whistleblowers, you'd have probably run, too. We're not the nation that wrestled with Daniel Ellsberg's disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, a nation that was actually shocked by the espionage against Ellsberg, which led to the dismissal of all charges. Today, we'd just say of the wiretapping, surveillance, and the break-in that led to the Watergate scandal, "Well, of course the government does that. How else can they keep us safe?" And we'd simply nod and go along with any trial that needed to be conducted with the defendant's lawyers not having access to information because it's too fucking secret.
3. Snowden wouldn't have needed to exist as a leaker had the White House been straight with the American people. "Yes," they could have said, "we specifically want to collect your phone call data. We want to collect this internet data." Why the fuck not go to Congress with that? Why not allow that to be debated instead of being approved by a secret court from secret interpretations of the laws that Congress did pass? Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall practically begged the Obama administration to be transparent. Wyden gave James Clapper the chance to come clean. At some point, shit was gonna leak. It always does. The problem with the leak is that you can't control it; hence, all the other information about U.S. spying that's been revealed because Snowden apparently just fuckin' took everything.
4. The reaction that most infuriates the Rude Pundit is that Snowden didn't do the nation any favors because, well, fuck, we all knew that our phone calls and other information was being monitored. As David Ignatius said last week, "In more than 34 years of traveling regularly overseas, I have assumed that foreign intelligence services are picking my communications clean." Yeah, but there's a huge difference between strongly suspecting that your husband is fucking around and being shown pictures of him balling the babysitter. There's vast gulf between "knowing" and knowledge. The intelligence services have been forced to say, "Okay, yeah, you caught us." The twist is that they're adding, "And, oh, by the way, we're gonna keep boning the babysitter. Just try to stop us from fucking her."
5. The Snowden chronicles (and, to a lesser extent, the irrelevant Glenn-Greenwald-is-such-an-asshole attacks) are an enormous distraction from the real stories, the massive extent of spying on Americans without suspicion or warrant (which, the Rude Pundit has said repeatedly, is something that at least deserves a good debate) and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lying to Congress. And if these things don't matter to you, especially those of you on the left side of the political wall, if you think "security" has been compromised or some such shit that hasn't been demonstrated at all, well, congratulations. You're finally on the side of George W. Bush, John Yoo, Dick Cheney, and other assorted war criminals.