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As important as the leak is the leaker

June 10, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
Ed Snowden, whoa!

Either he’s pulled off the greatest act of patriotism or the greatest act of treason in the 21st century history of the U.S. (so far). He also could be the greatest liar about who he actually is.

Because I’m having a tough time grappling with how a guy with no high school education in today’s America can rise to such a sensitive job level.

Face it. Nowadays, even a kid seeking a low-wage, entry-level part time job while he completes his computer science degree (yes, I’m talking about The Drummer here) gets subjected to a big corporation’s battery of psychological tests and a drive to Pittsburgh during rush hour for the job interview to see if he is worthy of working at a local store.

Snowden might be exactly what he seems. Or he could be the real version of fictional Michael Westen, who used to be a spy until he got that pesky burn notice thing. Six years of good fiction on TV, but … .

Snowden could actually be a sleeper agent for al Qaida, a tax-dodger, or a Trojan horse being sent out at just the right time to deflect attention from something far worse that might be going on in the administration.

(It doesn’t help me that the name “Snowden” was the character who dies in Yossarian’s bomber in “Catch-22” and was the novel’s symbol of man being merely matter. Hmmmm.)

Ed Snowden may have rescued and rejuvenated the true Spirit of ’76, which has been lost in the name of security for a long time now. We have a generation of Americans dying and getting injured to create nations that don’t spy on their people as much as the United States appears to be.

So, it will be interesting to hear explanations of just how Snowden got to the point where he was even close to such info as how PRISM worked or where the Verizon program stood.

Mixed in with just grappling with all of it is the whole “the media goes too fast before vetting stories” feeling I get nowadays on every big story, except...

I read the kinds of vitriol toward the Washington Post over the weekend that was reserved for those heady days after Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (which said four administrations had misled America about Vietnam) and Watergate. Ellsberg, by the way, said Snowden has shown battlefield levels of courage.

All of which, of course, kicked a whole generation of us 1970s kids into wanting to be reporters, just like all those CSI shows have spawned a generation of crime scene forensics investigators. Of course, one generation based its decisions on reality that involved the fate of the free world and the other on TV dramas.

Which brings me back to Snowden. Is he for real? Obviously, the programs he’s shown us are real, or at least the reaction from the feds makes me think they’re real.

And if Snowden is just a guy who worked his way up from the front lines of the armed services right through the NSA’s sensitive underbelly, then the problems facing the U.S. intelligence services go way beyond leaks, prosecuting leakers and a cyberspying program for which the term “overreaching” is a gross understatement.

Maybe he is for real, because he speaks plainly and in a way that nobody with any degree would speak. He makes sense, in other words. He knows what freedom is supposed to be, and it’s not platitudes from a politician at a July 4 fundraiser.

Exhibit One: Read this thought from Mr. Snowden, as quoted in the AP today:

"We managed to survive greater threats in our history ... than a few disorganized terrorist groups and rogue states without resorting to these sorts of programs. It is not that I do not value intelligence, but that I oppose ... omniscient, automatic, mass surveillance .... That seems to me a greater threat to the institutions of free society than missed intelligence reports, and unworthy of the costs."


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