The Snowden and NSA saga still has a long way to go.
It was reported on Sunday 23rd June by the Guardian that a Republican senator called Rand Paul said on CNN “I think it is still going to be an open question with history about how this young man [Snowden] is judged. I do think when history looks at this they are going to contrast the behaviour of James Clapper, our national intelligence director, with Edward Snowden. Mr Clapper lied in Congress in defiance of the law in the name of security. Mr Snowden told the truth in the name of privacy.”
We couldn’t have summed it up better at this point in time. They all got it wrong and as Bill Fairclough jokingly wrote in the Times early this morning before Snowden’s proposed asylum move to Ecuador was announced “the questions are really mounting up now but will any be answered truthfully?” He cited:
“Who’s paying for Snowden’s world tour and his legal team? Will Snowden pay for his treason and other sins in absentia by wire transfer to the SEC? What else did he steal we don’t yet know about? Were any cyanide pills taken from the NSA’s Honolulu offices? Will the US and UK governments be invoicing the world’s citizens for data storage? Will Obama be impeached for breaches of the constitution and if so which countries’ constitutions? Is Mr Clapper holidaying in the Galapagos Islands? When did Wikileaks really get involved? Were the Anonymous Group hacking into the NSA earlier today? Is Snowden dropping off a memory stick in Moscow? Where did all the cyanide pills found in the Ecuadorian embassy in London come from? Are the answers to these questions to be found in “The Burlington Files”?”
Clapper admitted making the “least untruthful” answer to Congress when asked about the extent of US surveillance of American citizens. Senator Paul said both had broken the law. As Clapper wakes up this Sunday morning wondering what he did wrong and Snowden goes to sleep dreaming of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Darwin, one gets the feeling that yet another part of the American dream is becoming a nightmare as Russia and China exchange insults with the Americans over the intrusive cyber strategies of the USA.
Mind you keeping the media focused on Snowden’s world tour does keep most minds busy enough not to think about all their intercepted electronic communications – and obviously Russia and China (amongst many others) will no doubt be whiter than white if they ever find one of their own does a Snowden and compares what they get up to with the Government sponsored hackers in GCHQ and the NSA! Indeed, the silence from many other countries is deafening.
As for internal bickering in the USA, Congressman Peter King commented “I think it is important for the American people to realize that this guy is a traitor, a defector, he’s not a hero … and I heard Senator Rand Paul this morning actually compared Snowden to General Clapper. What’s happened to our country? This is a traitor, and for anyone to be comparing him to a U.S. military hero is absolutely disgraceful.”
Some may have difficulty in working out who is the “traitor” and “hero” but no matter which way you look at it Snowden is probably guilty on the three counts (including theft) as charged. Normal genuinely innocent people working for governmental bodies in the “free” West don’t usually run off to China and then Russia unless they know they have done wrong.
No matter how you view this let us all hope that Snowden’s revelations haven’t aided any terrorists or international criminals from avoiding detection especially if they are planning atrocities. There are many debates about this to come and many questions left to be answered but one stands out like a sore thumb. Why hasn’t anyone tried to arrest Mr Clapper if he lied to Congress as at least one senator is stating without any reservations whatsoever?
This article was first published on 23rd June 2013.