Of course the biggest news of the past weekend was the NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden stepping out of the shadows and revealing the existence of the PRISM collection and analysis platform. And he has dumped a much larger payload of documents and secrets with a couple of select journalists, and those are expected to be forthcoming in the next few days.
And when Director of National Intelligence Clapper declassified a smidgen of info about the collection and analysis platform, he called it a ‘gut-wrenching’ breach of national security by describing it- which in my opinion is nothing more magical than any off-the-shelf packet collection platforms- but whatever, Clapper thinks it’s ‘gut-wrenching.’ Glenn Greenwald advises Clapper to save the drama for the bigger stories to come.
Clapper: leaks “literally gut-wrenching” – “huge, grave damage” – save some melodrama and rhetoric for coming stories. You’ll need it.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 9, 2013
There are a few people criticizing Snowden for his naivete – he is only 29, and intelligent, but he has taken it upon himself to pass judgement on the rightness of the NSA program. As a systems administrator, he was not an analyst- and though he may have had access to the application, which I somewhat doubt, it is unlikely that he was trained in the application’s use.
Clearly he has breached the terms of his trust. His clearance will be revoked and if he is extradited, which I think he will be, he will likely serve out a very long prison sentence. This makes him a lawbreaker, but perhaps not a traitor.
The differences between Snowden and the scrawny gay army soldier Bradley Manning is stark. Manning did a smash and grab of secure systems with the intent of damaging and wreaking havok against the United States. Manning’s breach put lives in danger and revealed sources and methods of intelligence collection that should have remained secret. Snowden says he was very careful with what he chose to release. He did not want to release anything that endangered lives and only wishes to effect a change in policy. The coming days will prove or disprove his assertions as new material is released.
With all of these back-to-back Obama scandals- the IRS, Benghazi, the DOJ targeting reporters and now this NSA over-reach of collection- it is proving that we are living in very interesting and nebulous times.