Monday, June 10, 2013

Edward Snowden, drama queen

"He was capable of melodrama but wrote with some eloquence about his beliefs."
Just catching up on this story of our intrepid leaker. Snowden claims he's not comfortable in the spotlight but everything I've read about this so far reads like a bad spy novel starting with his code name Verax which means “truth teller” in Latin.

Furthermore, he obviously planned to come forward from the beginning, making elaborate plans to secure asylum.
To effect his plan, Snowden asked for a guarantee that The Washington Post would publish — within 72 hours — the full text of a PowerPoint presentation describing PRISM, a top-secret surveillance program that gathered intelligence from Microsoft, Facebook, Google and other Silicon Valley giants. He also asked that The Post publish online a cryptographic key that he could use to prove to a foreign embassy that he was the document’s source.

I told him we would not make any guarantee about what we published or when. (The Post broke the story two weeks later, on Thursday. The Post sought the views of government officials about the potential harm to national security prior to publication and decided to reproduce only four of the 41 slides.)

Snowden replied succinctly, “I regret that we weren’t able to keep this project unilateral.” Shortly afterward he made contact with Glenn Greenwald of the British newspaper the Guardian.
Glenn of course, ran with the whole story without an apparent shred of skepticism, including publishing all the powerpoint slides. Speaking of those slides, this doesn't seem to have received a whole lot of attention. Declan McCullagh of CNET is skeptical. He noticed the WaPo surrepitiously revised their initial account. [See the complete revisions here]

Declan also found a named expert who wasn't impressed.
The biggest problem was that the Post took a leaked PowerPoint presentation from a single anonymous source and leaped to conclusions without supporting evidence. McCullagh quotes one of his named (not anonymous) sources, former general counsel of the NSA Stewart Baker, as saying the slides look “flaky."
Not saying Snowden made the whole thing up. We all know the program exists. Just saying it's entirely possible he's embellished his data to make it a better story.

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Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

Calling Snowden a "Hero" is overblown. Raising the question about the Surveillance State is great funny how it only happens under Obama because this won't be a Congressional Constitution question but will be used to cudgel President Obama as calls for Impeach! Impeach Impeach!

2:41:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I'm having a hard time with the hero thing myself. Maybe I'm just cynical but it just feels like a plan to find asylum somewhere and write a book or a movie script or something. But on the other hand, I don't hate that he brought new attention to the program. If the end result is it pushes Congress to get off its ass and abolish the laws that make it possible, I'll be a happy camper.

Unfortunately, I see the debate more centered around the players than the policy. Too many people jumping on this as a chance for Obama/Dem bashing. As many have pointed out, if Obama didn't use the program and we got attacked, all these same people would be screaming about his failure to use the tools at hand to protect us.

6:06:00 PM  

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