Tuesday, June 11, 2013


The excerpts below are from Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt email, which I highly recommend, BTW. He first links to John Yoo's piece on NRO's The Corner which begins "Edward Snowden should go to jail, as quickly and for as long as possible," a statement with which I agree. But I'm in more emphatic agreement with Geraghty's subject line: "Don't Come Crying to Us, NSA; You Guys Are the Ones Who Hired This Goofball."

Yoo also points out that Snowden's claim to noble motives is muddied quite a bit by his decision to run to Hong Kong. (By the way, the last guy to run to Hong Kong, certain that he was beyond the reach of American law enforcement and extradition treaties, was Mr. Lau, the money-keeper for the Gotham City mob. And we all remember how that turned out.) When Snowden declares, "Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People's Republic of China. It has a strong tradition of free speech," we have to wonder if A) he's already working for the Chinese or B) he's an imbecile.
This may be a story with no heroes. A government system designed to protect the citizens starts collecting all kinds of information on people who have done nothing wrong; it gets exposed, in violation of oaths and laws, by a young man who doesn't recognize the full ramifications of his actions. The same government that will insist he's the villain will glide right past the question of how they came to trust a guy like him with our most sensitive secrets. Who within our national-security apparatus made the epic mistake of looking him over -- completing his background check and/or psychological evaluation -- and concluding, "Yup, looks like a nice kid?"
Watching the interview with Snowden, the first thing that is quite clear is that his mild-mannered demeanor inadequately masks a huge ego -- one of the big motivations of spies. (Counterintelligence instructors have long offered the mnemonic MICE, for money, ideology, compromise, ego; others throw in nationalism and sex)
My position on this is no doubt driven by my being a security hawk before I'm any type of civil libertarian. And what frustrates me most by this story is how it is taking time away from the IRS scandal.

I'm perplexed that Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh have spoken favorably about this character. To me, he's a typical paranoid, head-in-the-sand Paulistinian who—like Geraghty points out—obviously has an enormous ego. What on God's green earth he was ever doing working in National Security is completely beyond me.

Well, it's not really beyond me. He is handsome, and there are a lot of middle-aged women working in human resources departments. That's how I'm guessing one otherwise unemployable friend of mine keeps getting good jobs. Now it is revealed that he is dating a pole-dancer. Say "bye-bye" to everything, Prince Charming; prison will not be fun.

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  1. I'm more along the lines of Mark Steyn's take:

    One reason for the citizenry not to entrust its personal information to the government is that the big, bloated, blundering government is stupid enough to entrust it to Edward Snowden, as it was previously stupid enough to entrust it to Bradley Manning (the Wikileaks leaker). It’s only a matter of time before the halfwit leviathan entrusts it to a Major Hasan or a Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

    1. I don't disagree with that either. There is no reason to believe there aren't a lot of sleepers there already.

      One problem is that at one time, Tamerlan Tsarnaev might have been a good guy. Then he was Islamified. Same with Hasan. There needs to be high scrutiny of all these people and there associations. There is already, I'm sure, or I should say "I hope".

  2. I'm glad to know there are other consistent conservative. The most troubling poll out there shows security is favored by 2/3 of Americans since 9/11. Fine. The stupid bit is that it was republicans and conservatives who supported it before and now it is liberals and democrats.

    Does anyone have sincere principals anymore? I don't know why Mr Snowden and Mr Manning aren't facing a death penalty. Can any malcontent decide for himself that he can reveal confidential information because he sees himself as an "idealist". Sounds like egomania to me.

    1. Steve, thank you. Dennis Prager just put it this way: "We [conservatives] should be for fighting the war on terror as if the Obama Administration doesn't exist and we should be fighting the Obama Administration as if the war on terror doesn't exist." Sadly this is how it must be phrased since the "water's edge" is meaningless at this point.

  3. I think this is an idealist and i have to admire him for that. He sounded pretty articulate to me. My grander question is why someone that articulate owuld drop out of high school -- says more about the schooling than the person. everyone knew or suspected this was going on so I'm not sure what damage was done by releasing these documents. and i believe him when he says he tried not to hurt anyone. In any case, "classified" doesn't mean what it once did -- too many documents are classified and too many people have access to classified documents, so it's becoming meaningless.

    1. Kathleen, I'm partially in agreement with you, and while I think Showden is a bit of a clown, it is a total waste that someone this smart got into trouble this big. Random thoughts:

      If he is an idealist, well, I have no idea why an idealist would contract for the NSA unless he is extremely naive. And at what point did he become an idealist? I was literally making a quarter of what he was being paid when I was 29, maybe 30-40% adjusting for inflation.

      If everybody knew or suspected that this call data was being stored, why was there a need for "whistle-blowing"?

      Two of my smartest friends are dropouts, both with GEDs. One went on to become a veterinarian, the other is a high-paid techie. They both basically had to quit senior year due to high amounts of truancy, substance abuse and overall dicking around. I can't claim that I had nothing to do with that situation, sadly. But I learned from them that GEDs aren't as uncommon as people might think.

    2. Oh yeah, also you are right that "classified" and "security clearance" are over-used. I know people who work for BAH and I *know* that getting people security clearance has been "streamlined" by contracting firms into being practically meaningless. They talk like they are leaving no stone unturned in the process, but in actuality, I think they have a quota of "stones". This is because I've been told several times that I might be called about someone I was very close to (ie, shared rental house in a city with 3 other guys, one here on a student visa) who had applied for clearance, and I was never called. Maybe I'm being paranoid about that, but I've be naive if I ruled out bribery.

      So to me, there is an angle here with regard to the absolute bloatedness and rampant corruption of the federal government and their continuous hiring of more and more workers and contractors, people who can easily be compromised or wig out, but who seem like they're impossible to can.

    3. Part of the analysis of 9/11 suggested that security agencies were not sharing enough information. Correcting that may have led to traitors like Manning and Snowden getting much more access than is prudent. In Snowden's case it may also have to do with his getting access due to his technical position. I would be happy to see our young misanthropes share a cell at Guantanamo for the next 50 years.

  4. Somehow, I simply don't care one way or the other what happens to Young Snowden. He is about the least interesting part of the story to me. I'd be more interested in him if he were behaving like an idealist rather than just telling us that he is an idealist. You want to be an idealist? Don't try to get away with it by running away to China or Russia. Stand up and take your punishment like Thoreau or Gandhi.

    The more interesting part of the story to me concerns government run amok. We have cabinet-level people claiming ignorance about what their departments are doing, making them either liars or incompetent. Meanwhile, the lickspittles and bureaucrats keep doing their masters' bidding, at least as they interpret it.

    As the others do here, I think that the gathering and analysis of the metadata could be a good tool to thwart terrorist attacks. And I also think that it would be easy to explain it to the American people as such.

    But the current regime told us for years that the Patriot Act and the corresponding gov't snooping were intolerable acts of the first order, which puts them in an uncomfortable position. They either have to tell us that they were wrong then, or admit they are wrong now -- so instead they are telling us nothing and blaming the messenger (blameworthy as he may be). The problem is that the IRS and DOJ and Benghazi stories are still on the front page, so the American people aren't buying any of it. And good for them for not buying it.

  5. I'm with you on Snowden even though I think that this program is potentially a bridge too far. There are legitimate channels Snowden could have gone through without violating his security clearance. Also to your point, this is a bit of a distraction from the more important issues that we should be discussing, and has driven a bit of a wedge between the president's critics - and perhaps that is not an accident.