Who's leaking more: Edward Snowden or the officials condemning him?

Trevor Timm, Freedom of the Press Foundation: "In the month since the Guardian first started reporting on the surveillance documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the government has taken to the media to condemn his leaks and insist he is flagrantly violating the law. To prove this, the government has been incessantly leaking information itself."

Notable Replies

  1. It's not about leaks. It's about what is leaked and who leaks it.

  2. There is a difference between authorized leak and unauthorized leak. The former, one hopes, has been vetted to ensure that it won't cause more problems than it solves.

    And since the link to respond to Xeni's post doesn't seem to be working: As with BB's editorial policy, there is -- alas -- no guarantee that all violations will be equally acted against; someone makes a judgement call about whether the case is worth pursuing, and that brings us back to the previous paragraph.

    Is this fair or reasonable? No. But it's hardly news; security has been selectively porous since the concept of security was invented, and the fact that someone else happened to get away with it, or even be encouraged to do it, is no guarantee that a ton of bricks won't fall on the next person who does so.

    The leak was a violation of contract law at least. If it's an act of civil disobedience, be prepared to stand up and take the consequences and use that as further publicity for the issue. If you aren't willing to accept that risk, it probably doesn't matter enough to be worth leaking.

    I'm still undecided on whether this particular leak was a good thing or not (it wasn't really news to anyone who understands the NSA's general direction of research), and on whether Snowden simply executed it poorly and got himself in more trouble than he need have done.

  3. What I find interesting is that after the Snowden leak, Obama said we should (all) talk about this, effectively giving everyone permission to speak about that which was classified, and relieving all people from fear of charges if they now discuss such top-secret things as encouraged to by The President.

  4. Snowden definitely is facing the music: he's on the run, THAT is the consequence, which he accepted and prepared for and is now living with. This could turn into "he's captured and tried and sentenced by the US government", which is also a potential consequence which he has verbally acknowledged (that the US govt. would attempt this, avidly) and so also has accepted and is living with the potentiality of. But there is no natural consequence of any act requiring people to stand still and let whoever do whatever they want to them. Snowden chose his actions, and the consequences are happening all around him, and to him. It isn't concluded yet, but he hasn't avoided anything: he's living with the results.

    And leaking to a non-debriefed Senator would have been the same technical crime as taking it to the media. If the Senator was debriefed, then obviously they already knew and weren't going to do anything about it. Snowden's execution is, as far as the facts of the situation suggest, was the only way to achieve any result at all. You can say it "stunk", but as compared to what? And what kind of reasoning is there to believe the alternatives would have been better? Or had any impact at all? Snowden's stated goal was to let the American public know. Whether a journalist or a politician informed the public, what difference would there have been? If you mean Snowden should have found a way to inform another government official and attempt to get the NSA's programs under better regulation without the public knowing, then that isn't what Snowden's stated goals were. No matter how the public became informed, he would have broken the same laws, if indeed the public became informed.

  5. I get the cognitive dissonance and the shades of gray thing. That goes with the civil disobedience territory. But this is looking at the finger, instead of looking at where the finger is pointing. We're asking questions like "Who's leaking more?" rather than asking how we're going to fix the problems identified in the leaks.

    The only reason I replied is that twice you indicated that Snowden "executed" poorly. I don't even know what that means in this context. It just sounds you're saying Snowden is "breaking the law, but in an improper fashion." smile

    The implication is that Snowden violated the chain of command, used "improper" channels etc. It sounds like you're saying he should have taken this up with his Senator. smile But, as has been made clear:

    • Some members of Congress knew and said that the American people would
      be "shocked" if they found out
    • Some members of Congress knew and
      tried to inform us, but couldn't because the relevant materials (e.g.
      the FISA court opinion stating that the NSA's requests were
      unconstitutional) were classified
    • Some members of Congress didn't
    • Congress was lied to by people in the Intelligence Community

    So, given that some legislators knew but couldn't say, other legislators didn't know, and some asked but got lies in response, I can't agree with you that Snowden should have just taken this to his legislator.

    to me he doesn't come across as either hero or victim but more as
    disgruntled employee.

    Sometimes the hero is the disgruntled employee. smiley On one level, Rosa Parks was just a disgruntled bus passenger. She wasn't trying to be "the mother of the Civil Rights Movement." She wasn't trying to become a hero. She was a lady who was trying to get home after a long day at work.

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