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Fealty, Up To A Point

Most rational folks work through a serious of progressions in coming to an opinion on a particular issue. The starting point is usually at the visceral/emotional level, e.g. is this a big government/less government issue, a governmental intrusion vs. civil rights issue, or a free speech/free exercise of religion issue. From there a cursory to exhaustive pursuit of the facts is necessary, just in case there are mitigating circumstances or point of view as yet pondered. And lastly, consideration on who is lining up on which side of the issue. People that you admire, have great respect for (this would also include publications) and have been simpatico in the past, to get their take and reconcile it with your conclusions, sometimes they mesh perfectly and others-not so much, this approach has always been helpful for me.

But sometimes, those leaders you admire, follow, and support go off the boil, they stray down the primrose path, motivated by either good intentions or political expediency, and you cannot abide by their actions. This rarely warrants total abandonment, you assume he will figure it out and come to his senses eventually so you stick with him, but there are no illusions, he has your support as long as he toes the line (lines) you think appropriate.

Right now (subject to change as the politics warrant) my two favorites for the 2016 presidential election are Ted Cruz and Rann Paul, and I would be happy with either, each bringing a different approach but both workable and a nice change of pace from President pants on fire. But neither is above criticism.

In older posts we already discussed Cruz’s ill fated/knee jerk/ theatrical reading of Dr. Sues’ Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor during a full blown filibuster in an attempt to defund Obamacare. This all seemed as useful to me as spitting into the wind or tugging on Superman’s cape. Afterwards to said he accomplished what he set out to do, although what that was is as nebulous as ever.

Ditto with Rann Paul, during last Sunday’s talk shows, where he rode to the defense of Erik Snowden telling us that he isn’t such a bad guy, deserves a lesser sentence and after all , did us a great service, the implication that Snowden’s ends justified his means yielded a call for leniency. Although absent through all that is any clear understanding of exactly what intel was passed to his autocratic hosts, and therein lies the big problem for me. Paul did not call him a hero, as some here have done, but he clearly does not have a handle on what damage was done and the duplicity as which Snowden stooped to steal state secrets.

Today a good article in the WSJ was written on Snowden, casting more light on the subject. I’m hoping the whole article is shown since this is “subscriber” content, it might not be.

One complaint I read last week was that he had no where to turn and had to flee the country;

If Mr. Snowden really had moral pangs, he had other options than stealing secrets, fleeing to the protection of two dictatorships and then claiming to be Tom Paine. He could have taken his concerns to Congress’s intelligence committees. Or he could have resigned from Booz Allen, his employer and federal contractor, and begun a general public campaign against government spying.

Other relevant facts offered to show motive and character;

. His supporters portray him as a patriot who was shocked by what he found in government. Yet he seems to have taken his contracting job at Booz Allen with the express intention of stealing secrets.

Upon arriving in Hong Kong in June, he told the South China Morning Post that his Booz Allen job “granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked. That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.” Reuters reported in November that Mr. Snowden lied to at least 20 colleagues to obtain passwords to steal more secrets. A friendly New York Times NYT +0.10% magazine piece in August said Mr. Snowden first contacted former Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald in December 2012, four months prior to joining Booz Allen, and the two men used encryption to hide secrets they later released.

The implication being that even before he knew what the government was doing, he went in with a clear motive to steal whatever he could, probably for publication at a later date provided to the highest bidder.

I already posted links detailing Snowden giving the Chinese info on two specific IP addresses the NSA was actively monitoring, kiss those good by, but there is more;

What Snowden revealed to SCMP was the following: “extensive hacking of major telecommunication companies in China to access text messages”; “sustained attacks on network backbones at Tsinghua University, China’s premier seat of learning” “hacking of computers at the Hong Kong headquarters of Pacnet, which owns one of the most extensive fiber optic submarine cable networks in the region.”

Talk about aiding the enemy. Not a week goes by without some mention in the news about the cyber war China is wagging against the US. Is there a bigger threat to intellectual property anywhere in the world then the Chinese and their thieving, yet, whatever attempts that were made in the past by the NSA to even remotley even the playing field and figure out what they are doing, that has been compromised by this weasel.

The WSJ article also mentions how Snowden’s actions have impaired impeded the NSA’s ability to monitor AQ and to discover/thwart whatever nastiness they have planed for us in the future.

I like Rann Paul and will continue to support him, but he needs to open his eyes, separate the domestic policies of the NSA from that of their international policies, and not provide any comfort or assurances to Snowden until we get a better handle on what “everything” he gave away, or what he will give away in the future.

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  1. Hal_10000 says:

    If Mr. Snowden really had moral pangs, he had other options than stealing secrets, fleeing to the protection of two dictatorships and then claiming to be Tom Paine. He could have taken his concerns to Congress’s intelligence committees. Or he could have resigned from Booz Allen, his employer and federal contractor, and begun a general public campaign against government spying.

    Suggestion One would have been useless. Congressmen are bound by laws of secrecy. Many of them knew of this program but could not legally say anything. In fact, Wyden very specifically warned us that we had no idea what the government was doing.

    Suggestion Two is bullshit. The only way his campaign would have meant anything is if he’d revealed the classified info. That’s called a federal crime and Obama has prosecuted people for it.

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  2. richtaylor365 says:

    It is regretful that the article was not linked in it’s entirety. The WSJ lays out a detailed and compelling case why both those avenues, which you call useless and bullshit, were indeed available to him and preferable to his predicament now.

    The Inspector General’s office has procedures in place for just this sort of complaint, from there, there are different inter government steps, all the way up to Congress, he bypassed all of these.

    Even at the congressional level, his actions would have welcomed and protected, even offered immunity from any future federal prosecution;

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/03/dianne-feinstein-edward-snowden_n_4208475.html

    Snowden made a choice, deciding to go straight to the press instead of taking proper action that could have prevented him from facing criminal charges. Just think about how different this story would be if he had tried other avenues first and come up empty handed. He could have been the hero, managing his affair honorably and out in the open, instead of the scorched earth policy he decided for himself.

    But given the amount of files he stole and the lengths at which he lied to his bosses and fellow workers, his actions now make sense.

    Few politicians I loathe more then Chuck Shumer, but he had it right;

    Mr. Paul has previously called Mr. Snowden’s actions “civil disobedience,” but New York Democrat Chuck Schumer was right to remind Mr. Paul on the same TV show that the “grand tradition of civil disobedience in this country” includes the willingness to “face the consequences.” Martin Luther King spent time in the Birmingham jail, and even Daniel Ellsberg didn’t flee to Moscow after leaking the Vietnam War history known as the Pentagon Papers. He faced trial on charges that carried a maximum sentence of 115 years. A federal judge dismissed the charges.

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  3. richtaylor365 says:

    Never knew Rann Paul could tap dance. In this morning’s WSJ Paul penned a letter to the editor clarifying his position on Snowden, to wit; he is not a hero but a criminal, he broke the law and needs to be tried, and he has harmed the nation (my, isn’t Paul a champion of the obvious?)

    More revelations are trickling down concerning the extent of the national security file thievery, this from the Pentagon;

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304347904579310813434692676

    Some choice excerpts;

    Mr. Snowden copied 1.7 million intelligence files, nearly double the highest previous estimate. The exposure of the National Security Agency’s telephony metadata collection—the time, length and destination but not the substance of calls made in the U.S.—and Internet surveillance programs have gotten the most attention. But the Pentagon found that most of the stolen documents concern and potentially compromise ongoing military operations.

    The stories in the media, based on a few of the files, have exposed U.S. tactics and harmed relations with allies. The bulk of the documents pertain to Pentagon operations against terrorists, cyber criminals, drugs and weapons smugglers and American adversaries. “Snowden’s actions are likely to have lethal consequences for our troops in the field,” Mr. Rogers said.

    The Pentagon should declassify details, as long as they don’t do further harm. But even these summaries make fools of those who want to depict Mr. Snowden as a heroic whistleblower. Nothing in his thousands of documents has so far revealed a single instance of government law-breaking. The programs are perfectly legal and overseen by courts and Congress. Yet the actions of the fugitive in Moscow have hurt America’s defense and aided its enemies.

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