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Eric Holder says Edward Snowden performed a 'public service' (cnn.com)
233 points by abhi3 on May 30, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 108 comments

It is unbelievable how (self)censored the mainstream media/politics discussion is. Keith Alexander lied to the congress on record, whistleblowers before Snowden were jailed for blowing the whistle and there was absolutely no chance he could reveal/fix any illegal wrongdoing by the government via the official whistleblowers channels. He did not run away and ruin his sweet life for the lulz, there was clearly no other way. Why is this argument not immediately raised every time some clown uses the "he broke the law, he has to face the music" argument?

>Why is this argument not immediately raised every time some clown uses the "he broke the law, he has to face the music" argument?

Corporate media outlets exist to disseminate propaganda, not seek consistent, logical answers to important questions. They seek to frame the debate in the context constructed by Wall Street and Washington and redirect anger and angst so that people fight against each other instead of against their masters. That's why "identity politics" has become so resurgent in recent years, as the class divide has sharpened and the middle-class has withered. As long as people are polarized and can be pitted against each other on the basis of race, ethnicity, or sexuality, they aren't united against the oligarchs. Its the same exact strategy used by prison guards to maintain control of the prisons. Pit the blacks against the whites against the hispanics and the prison guards can observe safely from the walls. The guards only face a threat from the prisoners when they are united against those who keep them in bondage.

Snowden represents the greatest threat in that regards. If you support Snowden's actions, you are explicitly acknowledging not only that the law is dog shit, but that Snowden was justified in breaking it because of how incredibly repressive the government is. He represents the ultimate repudiation of the system that runs the entire country and most of the world. The corporate media is the voice of this system.

We should have a National Whistleblower Day and start holding celebrations for it.

I suggest June 10th, if that's the day Snowden left his job. We simply whistle, in every street from Washington to Baghdad, including in Europe.

Edit: Got 9 upvotes from this comment, sounds like there is traction.


According to this timeline it would be 20th May

That's definitely an interesting theory. And intentional or not, I think side-battles do deflect attention from the 1% issue (as you called "oligarchs").

However, I think you do a disservice to your cause when you use blanket remarks like "Corporate media outlets exist to disseminate propaganda, not seek consistent, logical answers to important questions" without clarifying. I think we can easily rule out that all corporate news organizations (npr, washington post) are propaganda services (I for one, have a relative who worked at one of those). Perhaps you should try to come up with a theory on why well-intentioned reporters would not see the situation you do (e.g. group think).

I take issue with the notion that an organization can't serve as a propaganda machine when the people who work there have good intentions. Why? Because practically everybody has good intentions. Even genocidal maniacs believe their actions are merely an "unfortunate necessity" that can be justified by looking at the long run. If the worst of humanity isn't contradicted by "good intentions" then nothing is. It's human nature to rationalize our beliefs, especially when we stand to gain from doing so. Besides, no shadowy conspiracy is needed to explain that which can be explained easily by incentives and social order.

In 'Manufacturing Consent'[1] Chomsky outlines 5 ways in which the media are systematically biased, and end up acting as propaganda machines despite being staffed with honest and well-meaning journalists. It's a very well known model (although certainly controversial).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_model

"Besides, no shadowy conspiracy is needed to explain that which can be explained easily by incentives and social order."

This is exactly my point. Take care with the word propaganda, even if you mean to imply the latter most will assume you're intending to communicate the former and write you off entirely.

I think that's good advice.

propaganda is exactly the word that should be used, but people are afraid of losing mindshare by telling the truth. It's as if everyone subconsciously understands that you have to soften your language in order to not be labeled an extremist.

does anyone really believe the media is independant in 2016?

Not at all. Let's examine this point by point (I'm taking great care here because personally I want to help Snowden supporters make a compelling case)

- You should use the most effective word, not the most satisfying word.

- You won't push anybody away by telling the truth, you push people away by being too emotional and appearing unreliable (e.g. exhibiting all-or-nothing thinking, and using emotionally-charged language that impedes logic)

- Lots of people trust the media (~40%) [1].

[1] http://www.gallup.com/poll/185927/americans-trust-media-rema...

>I think we can easily rule out that all corporate news organizations (npr, washington post) are propaganda services (I for one, have a relative who worked at one of those).

NPR and the Washington Post are certainly propaganda services.

> (I for one, have a relative who worked at one of those)

I'm not suggesting that everyone who works for a corporate news organization is engaged in some sort of grand conspiracy, taking money to consciously do the bidding of the evil oligarchs (though some are). It seems clear that most of them are just as oblivious to their complicity in the degradation of society as the factory worker who collects a paycheck assembling bombs and missiles. Awareness and critical thinking are not attributes that are nurtured and encouraged in modern society. From the time you can crawl, you are conditioned to shuffle around at the signaling of a bell and efficiently absorb and regurgitate the Washington/Wall Street narrative (in public schools and elsewhere). Failure to do so as a child results in, at best, disciplinary action and bad grades. The less fortunate are subjected to the forced ingestion of psychotropic drugs that permanently alter the brain chemistry of developing children.

> Perhaps you should try to come up with a theory on why well-intentioned reporters would not see the situation you do (e.g. group think).

Reporters are not hired by corporate media outlets because of their zeal for truth and their refusal to stop turning over rocks to discover inconvenient truths - quite the opposite. Reporters are hired for their ability and willingness to absorb and regurgitate conventional corporate wisdom. They are hired for their penchant not to turn over any rock that they aren't supposed to turn over.

A reporter that doesn't parrot the Washington/Wall Street narrative soon finds himself without a job. Why do you think Seymour Hersch, an investigative reporter with an incredibly impressive resume stretching back 50 years, has to publish in the London Review of Books? Why do you think establishment reporters from every corporate outlet came out of the woodwork to attack him when he started publishing well-sourced, investigative articles that clashed with the Washington/Wall Street narrative?

To quote Upton Sinclar: It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

>Corporate media outlets exist to disseminate propaganda, not seek consistent, logical answers to important questions...

Do you honestly believe this? How do you think an article like this gets written? Do you think that there is some secret puppet master that dictated the talking points of this article or that every journalist including the one who wrote this article is in on some huge conspiracy? Are those options really more likely that some journalists simple have different opinions than you?

"That's the genius of our ruling class. They're so brilliant that no one knows they even exist. The political-science professors, perfectly sane men, look at me with wonder when I talk about the ruling class in America.

They say, 'You are one of those conspiracy theorists. You think there's a headquarters and they get together at the Bohemian Grove and run the United States.'

Well, they DO get together at the Bohemian Grove and do a lot of picking of Secretaries of State, anyway.

But they don't have to conspire. They all think alike.

It goes back to the way we're raised, the schools we went to -- after all, I'm a reluctant member of this group. You don't have to give orders to the editor of The New York Times. He is in place because he will respond to a crisis the way you want him to, as will the President, as will the head of the Chase Manhattan Bank."

Please go and look at the Murdoch press sometime. Here are a few newspaper covers from our last election here in Australia. Guess which side Murdoch wanted in?





It isn't limited to Australia, the Murdoch press tried to pull the same thing last US federal election:


If you don't think the press exists to control the narritave then you're naive.

There is no conspiracy theory here. Just one (quite stunning) fact/statistic:

"In 1983, 90% of US media was controlled by fifty companies; today, 90% is controlled by just six companies" [1]

Media outlets just act in their owners' best interest (which is to eliminate competition and preserve status quo), that's all.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentration_of_media_ownersh...

If you hire David Duke to write about race relations you don't have to tell him what to write. You hire David Duke because you know exactly what you are getting.

You are really equating every journalist working for a mainstream media company with the former head of the KKK? I'm not sure how I should even respond to crazy allegations like that.

This has been one of the annoying side effects of Snowden. Suddenly one conspiracy theory proved to be true, so now some people think that any conspiracy theory has a chance to be true. Soon we end up with people suggesting that tens of thousands of journalists in American are hand picked by the "masters" solely to "disseminate propaganda".

>You are really equating every journalist working for a mainstream media company with the former head of the KKK? I'm not sure how I should even respond to crazy allegations like that.

Perhaps the concept of an analogy is alien to your world, so I'll try to make it simpler for you. If you hire someone whose views are well known to write for you, you have a pretty good idea of knowing what you are going to get without having to offer specific instructions. If you hire Robert Kagan to write a foreign policy column in your newspaper, you don't have to send him a secret message urging him to back an invasion. He already backs every invasion. Understand?

As far as your vapid conjecture about conspiracy theories go, the media is literally littered with writers who have either been directly paid, or who stand to gain (financially and otherwise) for endorsing certain positions. These are not conspiracies, its standard practice.

Whether these media pundits are paid by the White House to endorse their policies:


Or secretly instructing retired military "analysts" on news networks on how to shape the narrative:


And when you don't parrot the party line, they get rid of you, like they did to Phil Donahue when he was critical of the Iraq invasion:


Or when government officials limit press access to only those reporters who are willing to offer the official narrative:


In short, you are delusional or woefully under informed if you don't think that the media narrative is controlled and shaped by the powerful interests that run this country.

Good list. Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent has a good presentation on this stuff. Just gotta filter out... maybe do a whole edit for others... all his philosophical stuff to leave just the tactics and evidence of media manipulation. Those are the real gold of the movie.


And when what's being said doesn't fit the media narrative, they just edit it out:


>Are those options really more likely that some journalists simple have different opinions than you?

Obviously not. But if those journalists have different opinions than executive management on important issues, like Phil Donahue opposing invading Iraq on MSNBC, then they'll be fired.

Speaking of media, I can't recommend citizenfour enough. An amazing historical document.

Corporate media outlets exist to make money. They will (extremely) happily report on government scandals if the public cares enough to watch. The public doesn't care enough about privacy.

Corporate media outlets are not stand-alone companies that exist to make money. They are owned by massive conglomerates. For example, Sheldon Adelson owns Israel Hayom, the largest newspaper in Israel. He distributes the paper for free and has lost an estimated $50 million dollars on it over the last few years. He recently purchased the Las Vegas-Journal Review, Nevada's largest newspaper (he also owns Sands entertainment/casinos). His first order of business was to replace the editor with one of his cronies. He didn't buy these newspapers to make money. He bought these newspapers to control the media and control the narrative.

Yeah, it's a comical argument, that he should come home and "face justice". You can't even call it just because the judge would probably prohibit a moral defense, and even if the judge did, the jury wouldn't couldn't be told that they could consider anything beyond the law itself.

So Snowden should come home, be robbed of a chance of justice, be robbed of his voice and his freedom, to prove... what, that the NSA was right all along?

> Keith Alexander lied to the congress on record

You forgot the war liars/criminals Bush, Rice and Powell.

Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld are still on top of my shitlist as far as people that need to be brought to justice for betraying America. Unlike the "harms" Snowden did, their disinformation campaign on Iraq murdered over 6,000 Americans, maimed many more, killed several hundred thousand in Iraq, cost a few hundred billion, and have trillions in long-term liabilities.

I consider Snowden's case a mixed bag depending on which leaks we're talking about. Yet, locking him away for damage to national security without giving the rest life imprisonment doesn't begin to be justice.

Cheney and Rumsfeld had power since they seized it in 1975 (google "Halloween massacre"). They're responsible for far more than just the Iraq war.

Holy crap, I didn't even know all that happened! Combined with military efforts and Bush-Cheney Administration, it shows quite a strong cabal that has lasted for a long time with that close-knit group. "Democracy" in action. ;)

they have all the trimmings of fascism, a trail of dead bodies in their wake, countless administrations that they've popped up in, and actual ties to the Nazis (not just Prescott Bush, either).

But you'll be godwin'd if you compare them out loud.

I was under the impression that Powell was a man of integrity and really resented being used by the Bush administration to provide justification for the war. I thought he was just regurgitating the lies told to him.

Edit: Am I being downvoted for expressing my knowledge of the situation? If you think I am wrong, say so. Try to educate me. Downvoting for disagreeing does nothing. When he testified about yellowcake uranium, I thought he believed the reports to be true.

It's extremely unlikely most of the top people involved didn't know. See: https://theintercept.com/2016/02/18/trump-is-right-bush-lied...

There's also a link in there to a section of Bob Woodward's book Plan of Attack claiming Powell knowingly altered evidence for his UN presentation.

is it just me, or is Trump way more libertarian than anyone is giving him credit for?

(disclaimer: anarcho-capitalist living in Canada. I have no stake in the game.)

Trump doesn't make clear his policy leanings in his campaigning, and I hope that you will believe me based on his pivoting thus far, if for no other reason. However, I'd argue that his greatest deviation from the standard American politicians (and their tendency to be hawkish and aligned closely with banks) is populism, which I consider to typically run counter to libertarianism. Populism favors large, visible government actions that appeal to a large percentage of voters, whereas libertarians, at least in modern governments, must be concerned with how they will carefully stage a retreat of government action. Populists and libertarians do both appear very anti-status quo at the moment, but they're moving in opposite directions.

I wouldn't call him libertarian. However he does seek to replace many Washington elites with his own friends - that fact makes him many enemies.

A man who knows what war actually means - human suffering and misery rather than a video game - shouldn't allow himself to be used to promote a war he things is unnecessary. Otherwise he is not 'a man of integrity', but 'a man keeping his prestige position by letting other people suffer greatly for it'.

This isn't indirect suffering like 'your laptop was probably built by crying workers', but a clear, direct chain of events.

That's still lying under oath.

If he didn't know, it was a lie, it is not lying.

But I don't know what he knew.

Leading poltical figures in the other party reported that Iraq had WMDs and used such arguments to wage war on Iraq before Bush.



I don't understand what this contributes to the discussion. The other side did something like it too, therefore it was completely justified?


Petraeus too. Now he's "recovered" and will be a big player in the next administration

You mean Betrayus, who gave away secrets for sex (and in part so that he would look better in his "biography," and most likely turn that into a permanent political career) and received a slap on the wrist.

And let's not forget James Clapper.

I agree. This is a form of self-censorship in the media to stay tight with Washington. They have special privileges they don't want to loose. They might also be concerned given the reaction of Obama Administration to leakers and anyone supporting them. Cover their ass on top of their normal games.

What a load of BS. He praises him for "raising the debate", but condemns him for "...the way he did it -- was inappropriate and illegal..." then going on to invite him to "Go to trial, try to cut a deal."

The issue has been brought up many times, with no positive change, because there was no massive dump of incredibly embarrassing evidence. All those hoping for some kind of Obama surprise turn around in the unprecedented level of whistleblower prosecution: you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

"...the way he did it -- was inappropriate and illegal..."

What the government was doing (and still is) is inappropriate and illegal. Can't Holder understand or accept the fact that this is why Snowden chose the option that he did? Of course, were matters of law are concerned, I'm not sure Holder is a good source - he after all, let the biggest heist in the civilized world go without consequence to those involved.

I find Holder's remarks to be ironic. After Operation Fast and Furious [0], I would be tempted to say there's more blood on Holder's hands than on Snowden's hands.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Fast_and_Furious

This is outrageous. Thanks for the link.

What a confusing remark. He says that both it is a "public service" "but still must pay a penalty." I don't understand what that means, why should one pay a penalty for a public service?

I also think this line "America's interest" is thrown around a lot. Are we talking the interest of Americans? Or interests of the American government? It seems more and more now the two are at odds with each other...

'The state is the name of the coldest of all cold monstrosities. It lies coldly, too; the lie that creeps out of its mouth is this: "I, the state, am the people."' (Nietzsche)

Politics likes to treat the notion of the state as interchangeable with its people, and although I don't think the US is alone in this, it certainly seems to have made an art out of it at times.

You thought "no good deed goes unpunished" was just a saying? :)

"I think there has to be a consequence for what he has done.""

I agree with Holder on this. Snowden should get a ticker tape parade, the Congressional Medal of Freedom, and the Nobel Peace Prize.

Babylon 5, S4E21 "Rising Star"

    President Susanna Luchenko: [to Sheridan after his forces free Earth]
        Half of Earth Force wants to give you a kiss on the cheek and the
        Medal of Honor. The other half wants you taken out and shot. As a
        politician you learn how to compromise - which by all rights means
        I should give you the Medal of Honor then have you shot.

I also agree with this. He should get all that, in addition to a proper trial in court for some of his misconducts, because while I do believe he performed a great public service that sparked a hugely beneficial conversation regarding privacy and government secrecy, he also neglected one of his basic responsibilities as a whistleblower by offloading all the documents he could get his hands on to the press in their original forms without even reading all of them [1], instead of exercising his own discretion and leaking only those documents that he had personally confirmed was of public interest, and performing his own due diligence by redacting any irrelevant sensitive information in those documents to the best of his abilities.

While I can sympathize with the fact that he was probably under a tremendous amount of stress at the time, that probably led to this unfortunate decision, a whistleblower like Snowden simply shouldn't have placed so much blind trust in the media. Letting this slide without any consequences would set a dangerous precedent, regardless of how well the ends justified the means in this case.

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/06/edward-snowde...

Snowden didn't release documents to "the media", he gave them to two particular journalists (Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras), who did perform due dilligence before releasing documents. This is a well established practice that helps protect against the bias of the leaker from interfering with an objective judgement of what should be redacted.

While I still disagree that Snowden's blind trust in those two particular journalists (whom I referred to as "the media", not to discredit these two journalists in particular, but because I was trying make a more general statement) was justified considering the massive scale of his leak and the fact that he was quite literally dealing with matters of national security, I admit that the trade-off between having more objectivity in what gets redacted vs the risk of leaking damaging confidential information of no public interest is an interesting one that I hadn't considered. Do you have any references for why this might be considered an established practice?

> he was quite literally dealing with matters of national security

Do you think that Al-Qaeda is a greater threat to national security than a spy agency run amok? Justifying prosecution with such logic... it reminds me of the story about the burglar suing the home owner because he injured himself while illegally on the property.

> Do you think that Al-Qaeda is a greater threat to national security than a spy agency run amok?

Most definitely not. And I'm not sure how you could have gotten that impression if you actually read my posts instead of taking that single statement out of context.

For the record, I applaud Snowden for his revelation of the NSA's overreach. I just happen to also believe that he could have handled the leak in a much more responsible and defensible manner by carefully reviewing each document that he leaked to ensure they were relevant to the case he was making, and redact any non-relevant sensitive information that could be damaging to national security, instead of just dumping thousands of documents that he never read and delegating to the media what should have been his own responsibility as a whistleblower.

He definitely deserves much praise for his bravery and for sparking the resulting conversation about privacy and government overreach, but we shouldn't let that blind us from the potential dangers of the approach he took.

I did read your entire post - several actually. So if you were not referring to the slide with Al-Qaeda related operational details (referenced in your John Oliver link), what did he neglect to redact? If that is not the thing you want to see him prosecuted for, can you state it more clearly? I assume you aren't wanting him prosecuted for "the potential dangers of the approach he took", such hypotheticals would be an even more dangerous precedent.

We aren't going to agree though, as I believe that he should have dumped it all - unrestricted public access. Whatever potential good end a kindly king can apply state secrets is far outweighed by the potential abuses (a great imagination isn't required, lots of historical examples exist).

> So if you were not referring to the slide with Al-Qaeda related operational details (referenced in your John Oliver link), what did he neglect to redact?

The thousands of documents that he didn't even read (or even try to redact) before he handed them off.

> We aren't going to agree though, as I believe that he should have dumped it all - unrestricted public access.

You're right. We'll have to agree to disagree.

I agree. I think however those must come at least with a delay though I'm afraid, realistically, or it would send too much of a double message about how the US treats the sources of it's intelligence leaks. Intelligence safety is still a pretty big deal.. you can't just go and have the president give a medal to the guy responsible for one of the biggest intelligence leaks of all time.

So, when is HN going to introduce "reactions" so I can post a smiley face and clapping hands to this comment?

I think this is a trial balloon and Holder is acting as a stalking horse for the Obama administration. They're setting up to pardon him if the public approves.

More prosecutions under the Espionage Act than every prior administration combined... I don't see a pardon in the cards. Also, a trial balloon wouldn't be Holder calling for a trial - that has been said many times by many politicians for a long time.

How many of those were legitimate though? Except for a very small handful of high profile cases, I have absolutely no idea about the rest of them so I'm genuinely curious.

I suppose that depends on how you define "legitimate" in this context. If you mean communist infiltrators, none; if you mean government workers leaking information to journalists, all.


Couldn't it be more advantageous for them to pardon him rather than taking him to trial and risking exposure of the details?

What details did you have in mind? Even if we were to ignore the nature of the state as envisioned by his party, the President's actions clearly demonstrate that he is a proponent of state secrets - a pardon would directly undercut that position. The statist has complete faith in the system (at least in the long run), that is why the whole song and dance about going through the government approved whistleblower program keeps getting mentioned - regardless of the ill-conceived nature of the program or how righteous the leaker's cause is.

I would really like for this to be the case, but I kind of doubt it. Let's wait and see.

It would be a process and would involve him returning for something resembling a trial but my guess is he could do a lot of preliminary negotiation if the White House was open to it which would involve him serving no time and ending up a hero.

This is the last official statement AFAIK and the language is surprisingly sanguine. http://time.com/3974713/white-house-edward-snowden-petition/

That would be wonderful, but i fear it won't come to pass. The Whitehouse won't, and frankly can't. They have to consider how many other NSA employees hold similar opinions and will consider going public with their information if their administration has anything but a hardline response to the Snowden case.

I hope Obama does something to resolve both the Snowden situation and get Chelsea Manning out of prison before he leaves office. I can't see what the downside is to him of doing the right thing at this point.

Manning isn't the same as Snowden. Lumping them together is a disservice to what Snowden did.

Manning volunteered for the military and gave up some rights as a result. He then distributed data that put lives in danger because he didn't think to clean it up.

Snowden was a private citizen, one who felt his country was not going down the right path. He took time to hatch a plan and release data that he believed wouldn't risk the lives of others.

Snowden deserves a medal not prison.

No, Snowden did exactly what Manning did with the data except took the time to read and organize it per several interviews. Despite being able to filter to domestic only, he instead dumped all NSA's secrets (including foreign operations) he had onto foreign journalists. That's risking operators' lives esp if a foreign, intelligence service our human assets target decides to target those media organizations. Given their results on defense contractors and banks, I'd bet on the foreign spooks getting the Snowden files except for where they were airgapped, guarded day & night in person, and only used by long-time vets.

So, operations blown, tactics exposed, and foreigners having our data on foreign operations. Yes, he burned the shit out of U.S. operations on top of his domestic whistleblowing which I applaud. An example of someone who didn't burn us would be Binney who, knowing all kinds of capabilities, just leaked specific programs and data that were unconstitutional and a threat to citizens' rights.

>foreign journalists

Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald are American citizens?

Guardian and Der Spiegel were what I was thinking about. Greenwald is now in Brazil. Poitras is enemy of U.S. military who previously did exposes on foreign activities and certainly would publish even legit secrets. My comment might need some clarification but it's still accurate. More so after Greenwald's stunt of running with the stuff to Brazil to start his own publication.

>Poitras is enemy of U.S. military

Poitras is pretty clearly not a fan of the US military, but I don't think she's been declared an "enemy combatant". Calling her an "enemy" of the military is disingenuous. The US military does plenty of horrific and inexcusable things, and criticizing those who commit clear war crimes does not make someone an "enemy".

What are you even talking about? I said she's an enemy of the U.S. military. That encompasses many things she can do to disrupt U.S. military. One is leak its classified secrets about operational capabilities in use against legit opponents. All of them were fine with doing that. Over and over. Definitely an enemy combatant on cyber side or Espionage Act contender otherwise. I don't mean technical interpretations of it either: straight-up describing targets, tools, and techniques to our enemies. That's exactly the kind of thing it was conceived for.

Yeah, she's an enemy of the U.S. military for sure. If you need balance, she's not the person to trust for review and reveal. On other hand, if it's domestic stuff... the actual whistleblowing... she's one of best people to handle it because she won't shut up. Just got to do some redactions before turning it over to reduce damage. She and Greenwald did the one's I'd have been concerned about on domestic leaks, mainly protecting the workers. So, that wasn't a problem.

You are bit mistaken - both Snowden and Manning went through reputable journalists, neither of them dumped any data directly to the public/adversaries. Also saying that if you volunteered for the military you should STFU when you see war crimes is questionable at best.

If Manning is a volunteer, how wasn't Snowden a volunteer too?

Both signed strict non-disclosure agreements to work for the US government. Both gave up rights.

In one way, Snowden served more voluntarily than Manning did, because Snowden could quit but Manning had to fulfill the enlistment term. Had Manning walked off the job exactly like Snowden did, he could easily have been court-martialed just for that, especially as Manning was working in a war zone.

What makes you think he is up for the right thing? Serious question.

Everyone wants to do the right thing, they just all have different ideas about what the right thing is. There's always hope that people will come around. Not much, but it's all we've got.

Every time someone decides that someone they disagree with isn't trying to do the right thing (at least according to their own judgement), a kitten dies. Also, every time a public official does change their mind about something but gets punished for it by being accused of "flip-flopping", 2 kittens die. Those two things plus money in politics are my personal top 3 reasons for why we can't have nice things (and/or kittens) in US politics.

If you cannot come up with stronger arguments than "a kitten dies", you are succumbing to the same "my way is right" mentality that you are criticizing.

Sometimes you have to be careful not to get JFK'ed.

>I can't see what the downside is to him of doing the right thing at this point.

It would be political suicide for the Democratic Party and guarantee a Trump victory.

But he'd do it after the election but before a new President is sworn in. Look up Bill Clinton's last day pardons.

as if Clinton had a chance against Trump.

It's like the opposite of McCain/Obama in 2008. Trump is the "Hope" candidate, and Clinton is the "dear god, don't let her in the office" candidate.

If anything, it would probably unite the liberal base, But Clinton is a "centrist"; She's trying to win over republicans with her pro-war agenda. She isn't confident in the liberal base being large enough to win an election.

The thing is that he should be rewarded for the public service, not punished.

What a bunch of hypocrites! Meanwhile some of the people who sent us to Iraq are getting medals. Disgusting.

Sometimes I wonder if keeping the Snowden hero/traitor debate in the media is some kind of psyop to keep us from actually talking about the stuff that he revealed.

I'm wondering if they're getting ready to pardon him, perhaps with a provision like spending 10 years under house arrest or losing his citizenship. I don't think this could happen under Clinton but Obama might issue a last minute pardon as they tend to do when they leave office. Failing that it is possible Trump might do it as a sign of pragmaticism. He's the only one who could sell it to his supporters, the same might be true of Obama for his people.

Now that time has passed both factions agree it was all inevitable, case of when and not if. That leaves Snowden hanging there as an awkward reminder.

> Failing that it is possible Trump might do it as a sign of pragmaticism. He's the only one who could sell it to his supporters, the same might be true of Obama for his people.

Donald Trump would literally hang Snowden:

“I think Snowden is a terrible threat, I think he’s a terrible traitor, and you know what we used to do in the good old days when we were a strong country — you know what we used to do to traitors, right?” Trump said, Politico reported.

That is also possible.

Trump frequently changes his mind though. That's what I was getting at. When he does this his supporters praise him as pragmatic.

You have got to remember that:

He isn't really a typical diehard conservative. It isn't about the specifics of what he says. It's about him feeling he's doing right by America, that is what his supporters are keying into that allows him to circumvent contradictions that would sink another candidate.

Of course you could be right. But if he is all about Make America Great Again it's hard to see how he accomplishes this objective economically without Silicon Valley's backing. SV won't support a president that kills Snowden. Not under any circumstances. He has to know this because he's making a kind of bet against globalization in favour of technology. That falls apart without SV.

On the other hand he could juxtapose SV with the lack of jobs in manufacturing. In that scenario of protectionism and anti technology animus things will get very bad for everybody high and low.

Donald Trump says a lot of things on which he doesn't follow through.

I'm sure that's reassuring to those who he's promised to kill.. It wasn't a one-off comment though, he reiterated his Snowden beliefs a few months ago:

“When you just asked the question about Snowden, I will tell you right from the beginning, I said he was a spy and we should get him back,” Trump said. “And if Russia respected our country, they would have sent him back immediately, but he was a spy. It didn't take me a long time to figure that one out.”

Trump thinks he's a Russian spy who should be hanged for treason.

You think he's not a spy?

Serious question. Why do you think he is one? What that he's done is in anyway consistent with the work of a spy?

If you look up Snowden's history, you'll see that before he was working for Booz Allen Hamilton, he was a CIA asset. He was literally a spy before going into the private sector.

So, if you're a CIA asset, and then you leak NSA data from the private sector, are you still a CIA asset, or are you a defector and "former spy"?

I must confess that I don't follow this line of reasoning. You're saying that even though Trump said he wants to execute Snowden, Snowden should come back to a Trump-led US anyway because Trump doesn't follow through on a lot of the things he says? Does this really sound like a compelling argument to you?

Throughout history, it's really surprising how many of the great conspiracies and atrocities have been telegraphed clearly -- if not published openly -- by their perpetrators, far in advance of the actual deeds. No one who read Mein Kampf could have expressed surprise at Hitler's subsequent actions, for instance, and the same is true for other documents up to and including the neoconservatives' PNAC Manifesto.

So don't say you weren't warned if Trump actually does follow through on some of this stuff. There's no real downside to taking him at his word.

His opinion on Snowden is entirely consistent with his authoritarian tendencies though.

> I'm wondering if they're getting ready to pardon him, perhaps with a provision like spending 10 years under house arrest or losing his citizenship. I don't think this could happen under Clinton but Obama might issue a last minute pardon as they tend to do when they leave office. Failing that it is possible Trump might do it as a sign of pragmaticism. He's the only one who could sell it to his supporters, the same might be true of Obama for his people.

> Now that time has passed both factions agree it was all inevitable, case of when and not if. That leaves Snowden hanging there as an awkward reminder.

I hope you're right. I am currently thinking about a decidedly unscientific research where they showed "The Colbert Report" to very conservative people (college students? I don't remember the specifics) who had never seen the show before and they thought the persona was real. This is in context with people like the host of NPR's Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me coming on air to say that he might have been living inside a bubble because we got blindsided by Trump's ascendancy.

This is unrelated but I am afraid I might be projecting my own positions and opinions on the candidates. Things like: "Of course, Trump never said bar citizens from entry based on religion". and "Of course, Bernie Sanders understands the issue of wage gap is more nuanced than can be explained in 140 characters https://twitter.com/BernieSanders/status/736649251799732224 "

People have lived in bubbles forever but now with the Net they're encountering oppositional thoughts directly without filtering. This conflict further deepens already existing society division through a kind of memetic assortative mating.

Won't happen. Even as a Senator, Obama was signaling his support of the NSA in his vote in 2008 FISA amendments bill which granted retroactive immunity to telecoms when complying with illegal and unconstitutional search requests from the government. If Obama is secretly on the side of whistleblowers, it's one of the best kept secrets in the world.

Snowden is a Hero. And there are few of those around.

The timing of this statement from Holder is convenient, considering the VICE HBO special that aired last night about Snowden.

Holder attempts to both have cake, and eat it.

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