Everyone wants to see a hero.
When that hero emerges from the shadows and says all the right things, and when he exposes a monolithic monster, he’s irresistible.
However, that doesn’t automatically make him who he says he is.
That doesn’t automatically exempt him from doubts.
Because he’s doing the right thing, people quickly make him into a spokesman for their own hopes. If he’s finally blasting a hole in the dark enemy’s fortress, he has to be accepted at face value. He has to be elevated.
When dealing with the intelligence community and their spooks and methods, this can be a mistake. Deception is the currency of that community. Layers of motives and covert ops are business as usual.
In previous articles, I’ve raised a number of specific doubts about Ed Snowden.
Here I want to replay four statements Snowden made and examine them.
“When you see everything, you see them on a more frequent basis and you recognize that some of these things are actually abuses, and when you talk about them in a place like this [NSA]…over time that awareness of wrongdoing sorts of builds up and you feel compelled to talk about it, and the more you talk about it, the more you’re ignored, the more you’re told it’s not a problem…”
This statement describes Snowden, an analyst working at NSA, chatting regularly to colleagues about his growing doubts over the morality of NSA spying. This is quite hard to believe.
As Steve Kinney, writing at the Centre for Research on Globalisation points out, Snowden would have raised all sorts of red flags about himself.
If he hadn’t been fired outright, he certainly would have come under serious scrutiny, which, at the very least, would have reduced his ability to hack documents out of NSA’s most secret recesses.
And yet, Snowden, an analyst, claims he had access to “full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community and undercover assets all around the world, the locations of every station we have, what their missions are and so forth.”
That stretches doubt far beyond the point of credulity.
Both The Guardian and the Washington Post supposedly vetted Snowden carefully. I’d really like to see the results of that vetting.
“Rosters of everyone working at the NSA [and] the entire intelligence community…” That’s untold thousands of people. That’s referring to many separate agencies.
Snowden doesn’t stop there. He maintains the security of NSA is not just a sieve, it’s also thousands of separate hunting parties, undertaken at the whim of any analyst:
“Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere… I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President…”
Sure. NSA just opens the door to their own analysts, who can, on their own hook, launch spying episodes on anyone in the US. Boom. No operational plans, no coordination. A free-for-all.
“Hey, dig this. Nancy Pelosi was just talking to her hairdresser. I’m going to follow up on her. Think I’ll spy on Nancy and her husband, see what they’re up to. I’ll file reports as I go along…”
“A guy at Los Alamos just wrote to his boss about a new weapons system. Want to see what they’re planning?”
Finally, Snowden claimed he could “shut down the surveillance system in an afternoon. But that’s not my intention.”
Not just spy on everybody in the US. Snowden asserts he could do that. But he could also make the entire spying apparatus of NSA (and even all other intelligence agencies?) go dark with a few hours of work—and he’d evade notice of his NSA bosses as he performed this herculean task.
No. Ridiculous. The very first thing an agency like NSA does is set up a labyrinth to prevent itself from being taken down.
Consider these four Snowden statements together, back up and think. These are propositions that cast the man into a deep pit of doubt.
Who is he?
What is his mission? Is that mission his own, or is he working for someone who wants to punch a hole in the NSA?
In another article, I’ve developed the hypothesis that Snowden is still actually operating for his former bosses at the CIA, long engaged in a turf war with the NSA, are running him in this op.
Snowden didn’t steal anything from NSA. He couldn’t. People at the CIA could and did steal, and they handed him documents to use in his assigned op.
There are other possible explanations. None of them exonerates the NSA or what it is doing. Let’s be clear about that.
But how far would the CIA go in exposing the guts of the NSA? It’s clear that these intelligence agencies overlap in their efforts (crimes). Therefore, the CIA would be satisfied to smear the NSA without exposing too much.
If so, Snowden’s cache of documents won’t “go all the way.”
His documents won’t yield the longed-for holy grail, though Snowden implies he could unwrap it. I’m talking about the entire interlocking system of US and global surveillance and how it is built.
More than piecemeal exposures about PRISM, US hacks of China, and the G20 meeting in England, an account of the technical “architecture,” as John Young of Cryptome rightly calls it, would torpedo the underlying global Surveillance State.
If Snowden can do that, he hasn’t shown it so far. Right now, he’s put his work in the hands of several journalists, who will dole it out on their own inexplicable timetables.
Why make that move? Why hasn’t Snowden put up a dozen sites and laid everything he has on the line? Before those sites could be taken down, the material would have been copied and sent around the world thousands of times.
Snowden has already said he won’t endanger specific spies or operations that could actually prevent terrorists’ missions.
All right. Then give us everything else. Give us the whole shooting match. Let’s see how the watchers have built their edifice.
But so far, Snowden has shown himself to be a different kind of person, someone who makes claims that far exceed his reach.
Read his four statements again. The sub-text is:
I could complain, raise doubts, and criticize NSA openly at work. No one cared. It was a typical office you’d find in any company. It certainly wasn’t a super-controlled environment. Things were so loose, I could access the complete map of the entire NSA network. Names, places, operations. On a whim, any analyst could spy on anyone in the US. If I wanted to, I could shut down all of US intelligence in a few hours. Forget the popular image of NSA as a fortress with dozens of layers of protection. Forget the notion that I’d have to be granted elite privilege to all sorts of secret keys to get into the inner sanctum, or that, while navigating my way in, I’d be setting off alarm bells all over the place. It was a piece of cake.
“NSA is an open book. A book written by idiots. It cost a trillion dollars, but anyone could waltz in there and read the whole thing. Use a thumb drive, and you can also walk out with the whole thing.”
If you set aside Snowden’s remarks about his motives, his morality, and his high mission, his explanation falls apart. It makes no sense.
His CIA handlers would now be telling him that. “Hey Ed, tone down the ‘child’s-play’ angle, okay? You’re making it sound too easy. Remember? You’re the ‘whiz kid genius.’ Yeah, we want to smear NSA, but it’s got to be credible. People have to think it took at least some ingenuity to access the most heavily protected data in the world. Get it?”
A common man of the people, serving the greater good, exposing ongoing crimes that threaten the very lifeblood of the Republic? Is Ed Snowden that hero?
Or is he an operator, an agent?
So far, he’s made himself seem like the agent.
Executives at the NSA are well aware of this. Sitting down with their counterparts at the CIA, they’d be getting an earful. CIA people would be saying:
“Of course Snowden is our boy. He worked for us in Geneva, and he’s working for us now. We told you, after 9/11, we didn’t like you clowns at NSA throwing all the blame on CIA for the Trade Center attacks. We didn’t like that at all. And in the intervening years, we haven’t liked you cutting us out of the spying game. We warned you. So now we’ve given you a taste of what we can do. We can do more. Either we play ball together, or we’ll put NSA in the dumper. Get it?”
Playing ball together. Harmonization.
A sharp reader has just pointed out to me that this is the op behind the op. The fallout from Snowden will be used as the reason for more and better global sharing of spying and surveillance data.
Separate Surveillance States, which already share mountains of data, will come together to coordinate their efforts in an even tighter Surveillance Planet.
The US NSA won’t be tolerated as the pompous king of the hill any longer. It will have to play well with others.
After all, Globalism means the whole globe.
And “we’re all in this together.”
“We” meaning the elites who want to track every move made by every person on Earth, 24/7, in order to predict and control in the new paradise, where the sun rises every day on …compliance.
That’s the takeaway from the Snowden affair. That’s why the secret surveillance/spying at the G20 meeting in England was exposed.
“Gentlemen, we’re all rational here at the table. This is ridiculous. We’re all spying on each other. This can’t go on. It’s counterproductive. We want to work together. So let’s do it. We all want the same thing. A planet under control. The way to achieve that goal is to cooperate. We’ll spy on those who need to be spied on: the population of the planet. We’ll do it together. The primary violator of cooperation is that cowboy outfit in America, the NSA. They have to be brought into line. They have to learn they’re only part of the Whole. Agreed?”
The author of two explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED and EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world.