The Edward Snowden Affair: Hero or Malcontent?

SnowdenEdward Snowden turned 30 last year. He dropped out of high school in his second year and never graduated. Somewhat later he acquired a GED  degree. He did not graduate from college. He took some college courses yet he never seemed to have the sticktoitiveness to complete anything. I suppose he was bright because his computer skills were such that he was hired by the CIA to do computer security work and eventually stole our country’s secrets using those skills.

His inability to stick to things followed him as he seemed to jump from job to job. He worked in Switzerland for the CIA, left that and went to Japan working for an NSA contractor; then in January 2013 we find him in Hawaii. At this time he reaches out trying to peddle intelligence community information.

This is before he gets a job at Booz Allen Hamilton in a secure NSA facility in March. Two months later, in May, he bolts Hawaii and ends up in Hong Kong at which time the top-secret information he has stolen from the NSA is released to the media through Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian revealing the extent of the NSA surveillance programs.

There seems to be confusion over not only his education background but his work background as well as his 4 months (May to September, 2004) in the Army reserve where he alleges he broke both of his legs in a training accident. Some report he stole the NSA information after he joined Booz Allen in March which seems wrong since he was hawking it prior to that time. Jon Rappaport asks some of the questions that occur to me.

Which makes it strange that some are willing to have us begin to put him on a pedestal along with people such as Nathan Hale. The ACLU has called him a great American and true patriot as it solicits funds. Here’s a quote from its Executive Director, Anthony D. Romero: Edward Snowden is a great American and a true patriot. My colleagues and I at the ACLU are proud to be his legal advisors. We are committed to assisting him on legal issues he may confront. Thank goodness for patriots like him, who are willing to endure personal sacrifice to defend truths that we hold self-evident, but which too many Americans take for granted.”

If I asked one of my corner buddies I’ve no doubt any would respond: “He ain’t no great American or patriot.” I’d agree. I’m highly disinclined to put him in that class. Patriots should be made of sterner stuff; none I’ve read about have run away.

I have serious doubt the ACLU would agree with me but in my book the great Americans are those who wear our military uniforms and who put their lives on the line for our country. That the ACLU would praise Snowden as it did reminds me of the twisted mentality that happened during the Vietnam War. Robert Timberg in his book The Nightingale’s Song nicely describes this when he told of the thought process of those in the battlefields of Vietnam who saw their buddies being bloodied, maimed and killed saying: “Try as they might, they could not get it through their heads that those who avoided serving did so because of higher morality, greater love for their fellow man, or a sudden attack of religion on the Stockman model” (David Stockman went to Divinity School in 1968 when the graduate school draft deferment was abolished.)

In the article calling him a patriot the ACLU noted the decision of Judge Richard Leon saying what the NSA was doing was unconstitutional. I wrote that Judge Leon was clearly wrong in his conclusion. Last week another Judge William Pauley sided with me and found that the NSA was acting in accordance with our constitution,  Here is his ruling: 

President Obama assembled a Review Group on Intelligence and Communication Technologies to advise him on the NSA activities. It issued a report. The reporting on it has been quite skewed by the mimeograph machine media which seems content to thoughtlessly reproduce earlier reports written by others. The media’s coverage of the Review Group’s report was so bad that one of the group’s members, Michael Morrell, felt compelled to write an op-ed piece trying to clear up the confusion.,

Judge Leon is in the minority. Judge Pauley, the Review Group on Intelligence and Communication Technologies, the Congress Intelligence Oversight Committees and the FIFA court say it is constitutional. So have many courts that recognize what is actually being done. Tomorrow I will post my take on what NSA has done and explain why it is constitutional.

The ACLU has to put up the lone wolf Judge Leon so it can justify its elevation of Snowden to the heroic. But whether the program is constitutional or not does not bear upon Snowden’s actions. Snowden, in fact, can’t even be considered a whistle-blower since he was not disclosing a wrong; he was revealing an  approved intelligence gathering method which he happened to disagree with.

As for Snowden, we do know some things for certain. He published material harmful to the United States; he knew that would be the results of his actions; he fled to avoid facing the consequences of his actions, and he went to countries with the least freedoms who will greatly benefit from his revelations. He fails to see the irony that he is lecturing the United States on the right of privacy from a platform given to him by a country that denies its citizens any such right.

Snowden seems like a mysterious Lee Harvey Oswald; even stranger than Timothy McVeigh. Little seems to be really known about him. Few people have stepped forward who have claimed a close friendship with him. At this time he appears to be somewhat of an odd ball loner buttery-fly type jumping from one thing to another.

Hardly has he acted  like the hero. Even less so a great American. He started a debate over the NSA programs but he diminished our nation’s ability to protect itself. In my eyes he was confused and unhappy without even a few close friends who found himself stuck at a dreary desk job staring at a computer screen. He seems to have a lot of the traits of those males doing the school shootings. As we know a lone wolf is a particularly dangerous one.  He blames his country for his ills, looks for a way to strike back at it, and finds common cause with those as Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald who presents a view of America as a force of evil in the world.

Heavy on the naive side, he never should have been given access to the NSA information (which makes me wonder at the security of the nation); a warped thought process that makes him believe by making us less safe he’s accomplished a good. He has put himself into the hands of people who will use him for their own ends inimical to America’s interests.

Hero, far from it, much closer to being a malcontent.

I can’t leave without pointing out the ACLU is also fighting for the rights of Dzhokhar (Joker) Tsarnaev. It was concerned that he wasn’t being treated properly in prison. I suppose I should thank God, or as the ACLU would say “thank goodness”, that I’ve yet to read the ACLU has called Joker a great American and a patriot. The ACLU noted Snowden had a greivance but he was “too smart to expect real results from the “official” channels.” One could probably say the same thing about Joker. While we know the harm Joker has caused; it remains to be seen how many Americans will suffere because of Snowden’s actions.



  1. before Snowden there was Media Pennsylvania

    see link for behaviour

    Burglars Who Took On F.B.I. Abandon Shadows

  2. Matt:

    Professor Mathew Cecil just sent me this email

    I just wanted to let you know that my book, Hoover’s FBI and the Fourth Estate: The Campaign to Control the Press and the Bureau’s Image, is coming out later this month. Here’s the Amazon page:

    And here’s the University Press of Kansas page:

  3. Jean:

    Could you bring me up to speed? Is it your property in Panama that someone is trying to steal?
    Years ago, I knew a guy with a ranch in Panama. It was up on the Nicaraguan border. I think he might have sold it, but, maybe not. His name was Hall.
    Do you know any of the Spafadora clan? I remember that good connections are very important down there.
    What kind of property is involved in the dispute, urban income, agricultural, recreational, seafront, etc.?

    • Khalid thank you for your interest.

      The two major properties that were the targets of the hostile takings comprized of water rights:
      1. The large ground water permit issued to one of my family’s companies, senter cove development company inc, by New Hampshire department of environmental services in 1994.
      2. Permits to sell the branded products of highbirches mountain spring water retail, issued by New Hampshire to Netmark international in 1995.among other states. Netmark was selling it’s branded water product before it was permanently put out of business due to the sabotage of its main production well with a cocktail of chemicals to include heavy metals and other carcinogens on September 11 1997. New Hampshire authorities named me as the primary suspect, and then closed the investigation without really investigating.

      The property that contained the springs was illegally foreclosed upon in August 1999. That land was located in North Woodstock, NH. There were also other real and chattel properties that were targeted in the hostile taking. has posted in the high birches section of its web site many legal documents, and my serial installment no witness=no case that lays out the situation in great detail.

  4. Jay:

    It’s a kid.

  5. K-man. Snowden is irrelevant. Whaddya say we jump start
    Matt and get him to write about Global Warming and Climate Change.
    Ask him about the record breaking temperature and snow down in the Cape Cod area last night. If the planet is unfit for habitation for human survival nobody will be reading Matt’s blog. Here are a couple of links to sites dealing with Fukishima Nuclear plant and Global Warming. Don’t let Matt see them.. People around the USA have been buying their own Geiger Counters ,taking daily readings and posting them daily at Radcast

    • MS:

      Yes, doomsday is just around the corner but we don’t know what corner.

    • Dear MSFREEH,

      As I believe jour to be of masculine gender (i.e. le jour), I believe that should be more properly relayed as “links du jour.” Furthermore, you statement that “Snowden is irrelevant” is what’s wrong — this blog posting pertains to Snowden. It is YOUR comment and “links du jour” which are irrelevant, as usual. That’s something to think about for a resolution in 2014 — relevancy. Staying on topic; comment on the content of the blog posting. If you have something irrelevant to say, say it when a relevant posting is published or go post it on your own blog. That’s my take on it anyway M-man. :)~


  6. MS

    I’m not saying how it should be, I’m telling you how it is. All of this clemency talk is a lure to get Snowden out from under the Russians. If he receives asylum from Brazil, I don’t think he’d even make it out of the Sao Paulo airport. Grabbing him in Brazil would be much easier than hooking him in Russia, although, I’d don’t think the FSB has the tight control over Russian society formerly enjoyed by it’s predecessor, the KGB. Russian internal security is not what it was. Their borders seem more porous than they were during the Soviet era. Has there been a price put on Snowden’s head? If the G want’s to put serious resources into apprehending Snowden, its only a matter of time. The G is a patient hunter. I know their work. Over the years, I’ve known many guys who ran from Federal charges who ended up kidnapped, and/or in custody, overseas. I only know one guy who avoided the net, and, the fat lady hasn’t sung about him, yet.
    For a person to avoid custody, they need an infrastructure to support them. Back in the day, Weather Underground had an effective escape infra-structure. They were able to keep their people underground for decades(soccer Mom, Bernadine Dorn, and, others). The best hiding is done in plain sight, right here in the USA, Jim Bulger appreciated that. The publicity Snowden has basked in will be his undoing. Its hard not to recognize his face, seeing as its plastered all over the media. Eventually, the Russians, after they have squeezed everything of value out of him, will discard him. All they have to do is relax his security detail a little bit. As I said, the G is patient.

  7. Matt:Happy Kwanza. Sounds like you are still part of the FBI Sensitive Informant Program. One person’s Patrick Henry is another’s Benedict Arnold eh? see

    Back in 1989 we brought attorney Steve Kohn to speak at Bates College.
    Attorney Kohn created the National Whistleblowers Center and wrote the legal textbook for suing as a whistleblower.He is a graduate of Northeastern Law School.

    A couple of years ago I interviewed NSA whistleblower Tom Drake and his attorney Jocelyn Raddack note link below does not have a s on the end
    and is different than the previous link


    • MS:

      You seem to suggest every FBI agent’s wrongdoing amounts to the FBI being a bad group. I happen to think that the great majority of FBI agents are hardworking gusy and gals doing a great job. I think those in charge do them ill by their paranoia. I happen to thing that a certain type of agent rises to the top; one who is afraid of doing something challenging and used to hiding things. When that agent gets there the FBI reflects his timidity and his fear of sharing things. The good agents get fed up and move on and the lifers make the FBI look not as good as it should.

      The problem with Snowden is he is not a whistleblower. As I understand a whistleblower is one who sees some wrong going on and reports it. No one was doing anything wrong in the NSA. Snowden didn’t like what it was doing so he revealed it and the resultant clamor has been pretty much a ton of misinformation as I can tell from my everyday conversations with people. Snowden is more equivalent to former Marine Daniel Ellsberg except the latter stayed around to face the music and didn’t go over to the enemy as Snowden has done.

  8. If Snowden ever comes out from under his 24/7 FSB security, he’ll end up on an express flight to the Quantico Brig. The only thing left of him in the free world will be his empty shoes.

    • Khalid:

      He won’t go to Quantico – I hope the Marine’s don’t disgrace themselves again as they did with Manning – but he’ll end up in the equivalent of the Plymouth jail until he makes a deal. But the Russians won’t let him go until they take every last bit of knowledge from his naive brain.

  9. While I agree that Snowden is no “hero” in the accepted sense, comparing him to Lee Harvey Oswald and Timothy McVeigh is a bit over the top.

    I believe these recent Snowden/Manning types perform a messy but necessary service to the country at large, again demonstrating the folly of blind trust in shadowy government programs to not generally work in the Orwellian direction that we’ve been witnessing.

    Sure, we like to think that all these granted-in-a-panic law enforcement tools will only be used to stop the dreaded terrorists (by definition, anyone the President designates. Sure. But we have all seen that the extraordinary “emergency” powers granted to Uncle Sam in the Patriot Act devolve to being used, like the RICO statute, against ever more mundane crimes. An invented weapon rarely goes unused.

    I loved how the local patrolmen’s union balked at having GPS in their squad cars. They don’t want to be “watched every minute” and “spied upon” while they drive around recording every license plate they encounter but not their interactions with the public. That would be intrusive. A delicious sauce for the goose.

    Speaking of the ACLU, they have a fascinating article detailing what modern data mining techniques can extract from the billions of data points being accumulated by those now ubiquitous license plate cameras mounted on so many police cars. Talk about Orwellian. The link is at the end of this post and is a scary read.

    I have no beef with describing these narcissistic attention seekers as loose cannons and embarrassments to the government, but AT THE LEAST, they have highlighted the incredible folly of the incompetent hiring (and subcontracting) practices used to staff these sensitive positions.

    Maybe, even if you are somehow OK with the astonishing breadth of the data being routinely collected on Americans, these guys will at least give you pause by showing off the ease in which the system can be looted. And we trust that those leaks will be addressed. In secret, of course. We trust.

    Yes, I realize that the privacy train has largely left the station and private outfits like Google and Facebook are accumulating similar data for their own purposes, but I don’t fear the power of Facebook to use my volunteered info against me the way I fear the FBI and friends using their secretly gathered data to put more innocents in jail.

    The Bill of Rights was designed by the founding fathers to protect us from our government. The definition of “unreasonable” in the 4th Amendment needs to be (at least)debated in light of 21st Century technology. And not just by lawyers and judges and justices. This is not a time for clever legal shading and nuance, but for a general layman’s discussion of how far we want the authorities to be able to go, where is the line to be drawn. Of course, here in the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, we the sheeple will give up just about any civil rights (except guns!) for that logic-defying promise to “keep us safe”. (The terrorists have won, on that front.)

    Well, I know I will lose on this but I dislike watching the conversation be twisted from what the government is doing to what horrible people Manning and Snowden are. In other contexts, you rightfully rail against the abuse of power by the FBI and other shadowy government forces. Here you seem to carry their water, ignoring what’s been revealed and focusing only on Snowden’s sins. I think we’re all losing on the forest/trees front.

    That scary ACLU analysis is at:

    Hey, what ever happened to that Todashev fellow? Do you think he would have any advice for Snowden about what to expect if he turns himself in? I know Manning does.

    • Jeff- I agree with what you are saying. I don’t really think the comparison fit either. Lee Harvey Oswald killed a President, Timothy McVeigh killed random citizens. I am not even sure what Snowden has leaked that has killed a soul? The conversation happening now is because of his crimes, But did his crimes expose more crimes? He has created a dialogue that was never meant to happen.

      • Doubting:

        Snowden’s actions may be more sinister; we don’t know how many will die as a result of his disclosure of American secrets. Someday we’ll find out. Keep in mind Snowden did not expose any crimes. He just didn’t like what the NSA was doing; no one has said the NSA was committing any crimes. We can’t have people leaking secret information because they disagree with it. Unfortunately for the dialogue that is happening is most people have the idea the NSA was committing crimes and was seizing contents of telephone calls. Dialogue based on error is not helpful.

    • Jeff:
      A couple of comments. Assuming that the NSA seizure of records has not resulted in stopping a terrorist attack doesn’t mean that it won’t in the future. It seems to me it is a rational program of collecting telephone calls so that if a threat comes from and overseas phone it can immediately identify those in the country who might be in contact with it. Had we had that capability before 9/11 we might have stopped it.
      The Patriot Act did not affect RICO – that was being abused a long time before that. Had RICO been limited to the idea behind its original enactment that too would not have been a bad law. But when RICO can be applied to rejection letters or money laundering charges then we’re in trouble but nothing to do with Patriot Act.
      The ACLU is over the top in most of its actions. There is a balance which the ACLU refused to acknowledge.
      True, the idea a Snowden can have access to such sensitive data give one little faith in the operations of our government; but since Snowden is such a rare bird something must be going right.
      There is a legitimate fear the FBI can use secret information against people and then wash it to make it look like it was legitimately acquired. That’s a valid fear; but I don’t see anything happening with the NSA situation since what it is gathering can be gathered by the FBI in any event if it wants to do someone dirty.
      You want a debate by the people over the 4th Amendment in light of the present day powers of the government but then admit that it’ll do little good because the great, great majority doesn’t particularly care about what the government does. So what will be accomplished? I’d certainly trust the courts over the ACLU given a choice – the ACLU can hide when its experiments go wrong, those in power can’t.
      Your point that we have no privacy anymore is well taken: we’ve given it up to all those non-governmental entities who snoop on us when we go on line. Google knows more about me than I do about myself.
      I focused on Snowden’s sins because I dislike him being made into a hero and it would follow if he was a hero what he did was right and the government is wrong in trying to punish him. As for his disclosures, he did not expose any crimes – all that was being done was legal. I’m carrying the NSA water because I just don’t think what it is doing is impinging on our rights as citizens; it’s not violating the 4th Amendment according to our courts and as I explained it is doing nothing more than cops doing a surveillance are engaged in doing. It is gathering information that will be available in case of a threat. I do rail against what I see as an abuse but having done what the NSA is doing, although on a smaller basis, I think it would be hypocritical of me to start bashing it.
      Todashev was done in because he was a nobody; Manning was treated wrongfully and harshly for no reason which is to our discredit; Snowden because he is somebody would not be done in; nor would he get the Manning treatment since the military would not have control over him. But the bottom line is Snowden is working with the Russians who are not are friends and his information may end up taking more lives than either McVeigh or Oswald. It’s just we don’t know how bad his disclosures are.
      Keep in mind we don’t know what information the Israeli Spy Pollard disclosed; apparently it was huge because no president has dared to pardon him despite Israel’s demands over the years. (Whether Obama with Kerry will do this remains to be seen. I’m not sure they’d not give away the store to Netanyahu for some half baked deal.) I’d love to know what Pollard did; likewise I’d like to know how damaging Snowden’s information has been – I’d guess it is pretty bad and damaged America severely. What do you do with a guy like that?

  10. Snowden was making great money, and, living in Hawaii. Only a psychological problem, perhaps, a bi-polar condition, could explain his actions. I think the Russians are in for a big surprise. Despite inheriting Kim Philby’s plush digs, I figure Snowden will get bored, and, try to jump again, and, that is when he will finally realize he’s in over his head. Watching the background bevy of comely Russian girls fawning over him on RT sat TV, I wonder how bright he really is? The FSB doesn’t play games. He’s living in a golden cage, and, doesn’t seem to know he’s a prisoner. Things won’t end well for Snowden

    • Khalid- I agree totally. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on when people call him Daniel Ellsburg of our time? Is that a total misrepresentation of D.E.? I need to polish up more on what Snowden really has done to damage us, It is fun watching Jeffrey Toobin and Glenn Greenwald go at it on interviews though, Watching intelligent people debate is really something of a lost art.

      • Daniel Ellsburg was a solid guy. After he said his peace, he stood tall, and, took the heat.

        • Contrast Ellsberg’s treatment by the press (powerful national support) and the court system (charges dismissed in the face of government misconduct)with Bradley Manning’s treatment while detained.

          How do you think Snowden would be welcomed? Guantanamo? How would you counsel him?

          I fear that the days when an Administration could be brought down by public outcry about their illegal conduct vanished with the World Trade Center.

          • Jeff:

            Ellsberg stood around and faced the music. He did not run. Snowden is now in Russia – not exactly a friendly nation. Ellsberg information was on the decision making going on with respect to the Vietnam war; Bradley Manning gave information on the ongoing military tactics used in Iraq that allegedly compromised some of our assets. The treatment of Bradley Manning while waiting trial was disgraceful and a blot on the Marine Corps – whoever allowed it should have been court marshalled.

            Snowden would be thrown into prison – he’d not go to Guantanamo since Joker did not go there – I’d tell him that he’d best bring back as much information as he could, that he should spell out everything he took, and he should do that pursuant to a plea deal to limit his time in jail. He said he has accomplished what he set out to do – we don’t know the damage that he had done – I don’t see him avoiding big time in prison – we can’t have people who don’t like what we are doing in defending ourselves which was approved by the courts, Congress, and in compliance with the law disclosing our secrets so Snowden has to serve as a deterrent to other cowboys.

        • Khalid:

          True description of Ellsburg. He was ready to take a hit for what he did.

      • Doubting:

        We are in a sense operating in the dark; we don’t know how damaging Snowden’s information is. Greenwald has indicated that the raw data is quite damaging because he says it was vetted before it was released. I’m sure the Russians aren’t looking at the vetted information.

    • Khalid:

      I agree. Snowden will first be totally debriefed by his new friends in Russia. Then they’ll let him loose; possibly making a deal with the US to allow us to capture him; of course, it will cost us dearly.

  11. Matt,

    I find it interesting that the ACLU is representing those whom you mention in the above article, when they rejected even meeting with me to discuss my situation. I wonder what their criteria is? My family has a valid USC Title 42 complaint, and we are US Citizens. I was told to consider who pays the ACLU’s bills for the answer.

    • Jean- I believe fame is the reason why you did not get a ring-a-ling back. You would not garner any bizarre media tabloid fame, which is all they really crave in defending the cases they defend.

      • Dear Doubting Thomas,

        In my opinion, I think it is because the Too Big Too Prosecute miscreants in my complaint are major contributors: they are the power elite and ACLU doesn’t want to bite the hands that feed it.

    • Dear Jean,

      I truly hope that this new year is filled with blessings to your family in your campaign for justice. Have you tried contacting other ACLU offices, perhaps at the national level? What about comparable organizations, such as the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) or the National Lawyers Guild (NLG)? I understand that John Connolly has been receiving legal assistance from an ambitious group at the law clinic of the University of Miami. Have you tried contacting legal clinics affiliated with the University of New Hampshire Law School for assistance on the home front? Here is there web link to see if you qualify:

      Great hearing from you here, Jean, and best wishes to you for 2014…


      • Jay,

        Thank you for your good wishes and may the blessings of the New Year be upon you, and your family as well.

        In answer to your question. I contacted the ACLU and the answer was essentially they will not bite the hands that feed them. If I do not have success with the meeting I have scheduled with the US Embassy here, my family has decided that we will contact civil rights lawyers in order to pursue our rights in civil court.

        My family’s concern for us is our safety at this time. The facts are clear: our property, and lethal force that has been used in its ‘taking’, was done by those persons who, so far, have been declared Too Big Too Prosecute: they are the icons of US Business. Their problem is that they were not able to complete the ‘taking of the springs’. I still own the water rights, if only on paper. In our situation the Power Elite has made might into ‘rights’.

        We are hopeful that help is on the way for all of US…Jean

    • Jean:

      The ACLU is very selective in whose rights it will protect. It’s goal is to find a big case and then solicit contributions; your case is too small to get it much money.