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Rewarding Edward Snowden's Courage (crowdtilt.com)
270 points by jjb123 on June 10, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 107 comments

I am a patriot, a former service member, and I love my country. As much as I love talking about politics, I have never taken an active protest role in my life. I'm middle-aged, completly non-violent, and I live in a rural area. I am literally the last person in the world you would expect of being a political activist.

Hell, I'm even in favor of some SIGINT, as long as we are talking simple node-to-node analysis. But that's not what happened. What happened was a vaccum cleaner. They're sucking up every piece of meta-data they can get their hands on. And it's not because of some cost-benefit equation that the public was shown. It's simply because they can.

As a patriot, I feel that the only patriotic thing to do for all other patriots is to come out, rally and support Snowden. The government has stepped over the line here, and we all need to clearly let them know that this needs to be fixed.

And no, this case is not the same as Manning. Snowden saw one thing that he was willing to take the penalty for. He released data on one thing. Now, as the natural legislative body of the state, the people can make a choice whether to support him or not based on this one issue. I can support that kind of behavior. Manning betrayed his country by releasing everything he could get his hands on. He is truly an enemy of the system itself. Different thing entirely.

> Manning betrayed his country by releasing everything he could get his hands on. He is truly an enemy of the system itself.

What are your thoughts on Snowden referring to Manning as an admirable heroic figure?

> Manning betrayed his country by releasing everything he could get his hands on.

I think really there isn't a big difference between the two. Snowden is trusting Greenwald's discretion on what gets published, Manning trusted Wikileaks on what would be published (and recall that Wikileaks did go on to redact a lot of what Manning leaked). Snowden's problem was with eroding civil liberties, Manning's problem was the state carrying out immoral operations (actions which resulted in a loss of many innocent lives). I don't think the two are so markedly dissimilar. At least, besides Snowden being very astute and mature vs. Manning being a troubled, depressed individual with a sad history of personal problems (though, to Manning's credit the chat logs do reveal him to be a very morally aware person).

If you argue that Manning's leaks adversely affected America's geopolitical position, you also have to account for the business ramifications that will follow because of Snowden's leaks. Now all of Europe, Asia, etc. is going to be suspicious about Gmail, Facebook, etc. America just lost a bunch of business from non-American users.

"besides Snowden being very astute and mature vs. Manning being a troubled, depressed individual with a sad history of personal problems"

I am just waiting for all the personality attack pieces. About him not finishing high-school, perhaps some story from training buddies in the military about how he was erratic or behaved oddly and broke his own legs in a foolish way... it doesn't take much until it's easier to believe he was a one-off instead of a courageous and principled patriot who loves his country.

We are all human. For what it's worth any smear that comes his way now will not effect my image of him. He is untouchable.

wow. missed this bit. seems relevant, even if a smear..

<quote>[...] on the day the president [of the USoA] is meeting the Chinese leader,” Baer said, “telling us, listen, quit complaining about espionage and getting on the internet and our hacking. You are doing the same thing.”</quote>

Correlation is not causation.

Baer is friendly to the CIA, being a retired agent, and there is incentive for the CIA to muddy the waters. This could very well be the same motivations of a whistleblower. It also co-incided with the beginning of the Bradley Manning trial, did Baer talk about that?

> What are your thoughts on Snowden referring to Manning as an admirable heroic figure?

Just as the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend, the friend of your friend is not necessarily your friend, either.

> I think really there isn't a big difference between the two. Snowden is trusting Greenwald's discretion on what gets published, Manning trusted Wikileaks on what would be published (and recall that Wikileaks did go on to redact a lot of what Manning leaked)

The big difference is that Manning didn't know what he was releasing.

Snowden himself mentioned the difference between his actions and Manning's. Seriously, go read the interview.

However admirable Snowden may have found Manning's principles, he demonstrated a much different of Manning's actions when he explained his decision to leak what he did.

To agree, and explain what you'd find in the interview:

He practically criticized Manning when he described how he went about preparing the release. There was no reason for him to talk about the meticulousness with which he chose what to leak except as a contrast to Manning.

> Manning betrayed his country

What do you mean by this, exactly? I was born and raised and still live in that country, and I do not feel the slightest bit betrayed by Manning's actions. If you mean that he betrayed the US government, then I can agree, but the same applies to Snowder. But if you're talking about betraying the entire country as a whole, I think that's up to each person living in that country. I was not betrayed, and I don't think I'm the only one with that opinion. Your next sentence is:

> He is truly an enemy of the system itself.

That makes it sound like you're saying that Manning betrayed the government, not the people. That doesn't sound like an entirely different thing than what Snowder did.

> Manning betrayed his country by releasing everything he could get his hands on

You don't even know that. All we know is that he may have tried to release a video where innocent people were being killed for the wrong reason. Since when killing innocent civilians has become a "mission of the State" ?

Manning admitted it himself in a guilty plea in court. He even made a long statement where he explained why he did it.

You know how these things are. Sometimes your lawyer asks you to plead guilty so that you can expect to do fewer years in prison. That does not prove anything.

As I recall he plead guilty against his attorney's advice...

Manning made some statements after months of torture? Not sure how much stock I'd put in such confessions.

It's not "some" statements, it's quite lengthy. Seriously, go read his own words, he went to the trouble of saying them and explaining his piece, if you feel you support him you can at least go read what he said.

> As a patriot, I feel that the only patriotic thing to do for all other patriots is to come out, rally and support Snowden.

The rally is in NYC's Union Square at noon tomorrow. I will be there.



Hear hear, my friend. I just contributed $50.

Snowden clearly indicated that he did not want this controversy to become about him, and he indicated that he only came out to vindicate the Guardian story from being discredited.

Nobody knows his current financial situation. I think we can all appreciate the ideal, but at this point, it's probably better to donate to the EFF, EPIC and the ACLU. Not to mention, maybe even get a subscription to the Guardian US in support of investigative journalism.

This. Donate to the EFF. There was a post recently that they lived off a $5-million dollar budget. It needs to be bigger.

He seemed to say he made a good deal of money too, so I doubt 15 grand will be a life-changer for him.

True that. Guy used to earn 200,000 grand a year (A little over 16 grand a month), not to mention a bunch of other goodies working for the NSA. I hardly doubt whether the 15 grand the campaign has already reached would help him.

The fact that money is trickling into this campaign, while campaigns such as one to send a heckled school bus driver on vacation explode with hundreds of thousands of dollars, shows our society's ignorance. This man is a hero, and is likely to be cannon fodder for the US Justice system.

John Mccain went on CNN this morning and said that this whole thing isn't a big issue in the minds of most Americans and there won't be much if any political fallout. I am sure he is saying that with polling numbers in hand. Mark Udall, who has been trying to warn Americans about this for years, also appeared and was made to look like an overaggressive alarmist. They may as well have superimposed a tinfoil hat on him.

This whole thing gives us a very scary glimpse into how pliable the populace is. Many assumed that the NSA was doing this, but not so obvious until this incident was the depth of ambivalence Americans have toward their rights. The stage is now set for a remakably dark future, and by the time the populace finally has enough, they will no longer have the power to stop it.

I'm incredibly sad reading this, but I feel it's a pretty accurate glimpse into the future. People can't be bothered to care. Outside of libertarians, most people on the right are totally OK with this kind of wholesale spying on the population (since they've "done nothing wrong"). Outside of civil libertarians, most on the left are also OK with this, because "their guy" is in the White House (the fact that they pilloried Bush for the same behavior doesn't seem to occur to them).

But the scariest thing of all is that all of these people in aggregate are a small portion of the population -- the vast majority just don't care enough about "politics" to inform themselves.

Media is used to tell people they are part of a minority all the time.

You and I don't actually know how many people know about this, and how many people care, so talking heads will gladly tell us we're all alone in our outrage and we shouldn't expect anything to happen.

Let me throw a concept out there: there is not objective "correct" position to take in this case.

Who are we to say that this level of surveillance is not worth it? We know very little if anything of what it has achieved. Consider for a while that the population is not "pliable", but that it is possible to have a differing opinion on this topic.

This is how it starts. History proves that those who are willing to conditionally waive their rights (to privacy in this case) will see an inevitable erosion, followed by an unconditional elimination of those rights.

History has demonstrated the opposite, at least in the U.S.

You had no right to privacy on a telephone line, unlil eventually Congress passed a law against wiretapping and set controls on when the government could wiretap, controls which were later strengthened by the Supreme Court.

Cell phones: Started off with no privacy. If you had a radio scanner you could legally intercept conversations, even if you were the government (after all, they were being broadcast right in the clear in plain view of anyone who had an antenna). Again, Congress passed a law to ban deliberate interception of these communications and set similar control s on the government.

Even beepers had a specific law passed for them.

On the other hand, your slippery slope argument has itself been used to support horrific policies. Does anyone remember the reasoning for Vietnam? It was based on a slippery-slope argument itself.

The flipside of having a democracy is that people might actually choose to entrust the government with a given power. For example, the American people have seen practically no qualms whatsoever about the American government having things which are much more potentially dangerous: nuclear weapons.

I disagree. It is objectively correct that these programs need significantly more public accountability. The fact that their existence has been an official state secret is about as contradictory to American principles of government by the will of the people as it can get.

I am aware of the argument that disclosing their existence makes them less effective and to that I say if we must violate our principles to defend them, we aren't really defending them.

Idiotic sentiment. We know pretty well what is achieved based on government statistics and the "successes" that they actually show us: there is practically nothing achieved because the terror threat is practically non-existent for the US.

I also have an anti-tiger rock. Just imagine how many tiger maulings that thing has saved me from! It was a steal at $100 Billion.

I think there's a difference between the media and the populace.

Has it been posted to Reddit yet?

Guys, hyperbole is not necessary here.

The last "spy" that the U.S. caught was not designated an "enemy of the state" or anything nearly so extreme, so at least wait for Obama to put on the anti-Christ mask before you start freaking out please. Pretty soon I'll literally be able to see out the back of my head.

Likewise, treason has a specific Constitutional definition, both on actions that constitute treason and the witnesses required to prove it.

As a civilian (contractor no less, not even a Government employee!) Snowden does not fall under UCMJ so all this crap about "Aiding the Enemy" is crap as well. You should be worried about Espionage Act, not UCMJ.

Likewise, giving "aid and comfort" to someone accused of a crime would fall under the same rules as any other person accused of a crime. If there ends up being a valid warrant for his arrest then you should not help him evade arrest. You should not help him commit further crimes or cover up evidence of previous ones. But certainly you can contribute to his legal defense fund (though be careful that those evil Fed prosecutors don't freeze those assets :P). Those cautions are nothing special about this case, it's always been a bad idea (legally speaking) to aid and abet crime. If you feel your morals will outweigh that then bon voyage, but go in forewarned.

Also, yes, it's possible your actions will be more closely scrutinized in the future if you aid Snowden, but things that are worth doing are not typically easy, otherwise they'd already be done.

I would be more worried about ensuring that you don't end up crowdsourcing or kickstarting some con man's bank account instead of Snowden's legal defense fund, but then again I've always been sort of a pessimist...

Wow, I would tread incredibly lightly here. In the eyes of the US government, this person could be considered an enemy of the state...and you're literally giving them aid.

That's probably a pretty serious crime. I support this person as well, but there is something to be said about living to fight another day. Directly giving money to [possible] enemies of the state might not be the greatest idea.

I wasn't going to do this, but now I am.

I just let my friends know this: 'I am going to materially aid someone that the US government is very likely to label as an enemy. If that should happen, that could make my act, as per the definition in the constitution, retroactively "treasonous". Everyone who knows me knows that I am a patriot: but only because I believe in what this country strives to be - not necessarily because of what it is, was, or ever will be. And those who know me well should know that I am doing so because I believe generally in the principles set forth by the framers - principles which are supposed to transcend the institution in power.'

So. It's done. I'd like to also add, as I did on a previous post - that there is a network effect here. The more people contribute, the more difficult it will be for the government to round us all up and cry treason on us.

They don't have to actually charge you with anything. You'll just end up on a no-fly list or have some assets frozen.

Everyone who supports Snowden should print out a gold star and wear it on their sleeves.

Did you not want to tell your friends a little more about who this "someone" is and what he did, rather than focus on your own actions?

if they're not idiots they can figure it out. I've been posting a lot about it on facebook. Furthermore, the point of the post is primarily a warning to protect my safety/let them know how bad it is if something happens to me, not necessarily to spread the word (which I've done plenty of). I don't want to encourage impetuous people to follow my actions unless they ask and think hard about what they are doing, because of the risk involved. Facebook is a "push" notification service, not a "pull" service.

The fact that we've reached a point where one has to question if it's safe for them to contribute to a cause like this makes me shudder with disgust.

Yes. This is one of these moments when you can feel whether you truly have freedom or not.

I don't recall anyone who contributed to Bradley Manning's defense fund (or to Wikileaks) getting hauled off to Gitmo.

people did. I didn't. But I think this guy is more articulate, more well-reasoned, less impetuous, and more forward-thinking than Manning (and certainly Assange). Disclaimer: I have no reason to believe so except gut feeling.

I think Manning had/has some mental health problems. I'm pretty sure he was struggling with depression. This guy sounds like he's in a much better place, mentally, to go up against the US government. Being a contractor (citizen) will probably also make this a lot easier for him than it is for Manning.

I'm sure the smearing of Snowden will start soon enough. All the things we know about Manning took months to come out. Manning didn't even get to publicly respond to the smearing until, what, years of solitary confinement? And when he did respond he sounded a lot more level-headed than the smears made him out to be. No man is an angel, especially the kind of man willing to buck the system like they have.

I expect that the NSA will make it their mission to dig up everything they possibly can on the guy to discredit him because they will see it as a zero-sum game, the more doubt they cast on his character the less justification for scrutiny of their billion dollar budgets.

um, this logic is false. you can give money to whoever you want -- this is not the same as hiding a convicted criminal in your basement from the legal authorities.

i can send a $1,000 check to bradley manning (who has actually had charges brought on him, currently in jail), and there would not be a single illegal thing about sending him a check.

There are plenty of people in jail and dead for the act of sending a check to someone. Giving money to someone is a crime in many circumstances, among them:


(Computer crimes are covered there; that is to say, anyone providing money to encourage or support anyone performing any sort of computer crime against U.S. national security is themselves guilty of a crime and liable for up to 15 years in prison.)

If you read the title at the top of the page at the link you provides, you'll see it's "Providing material support to terrorists." Manning has not been charged with terrorism.

The subheadings are not part of the law and are there for general information only. If you read the specifics of the law, as I said in my comment just above, the law covers giving money in support of a wide variety of crimes, not just KABOOM! terrorism, despite the title. The wide variety includes computer crimes.

As long as you aren't pissing off powerful organizations that are watching you... oh wait.

While I have faith that the US government has a legal system that does a reasonably good job adhering to the principles of logic, precedence, rule of law, reasonableness - and probably a relatively excellent job (comparing to other legal systems), it is neither perfect nor immune from political pressure. Time and time again we see broad classes of situations (drug war, guantanamo) where the US sees fit to throw out what I would consider to be intelligent, rational, reasonable decisions where the matters are not really in shades of grey... It is entirely reasonable to be worried about a very unpleasant reaction by the authorities.

EDIT: I think the likelihood of severe negative consequences is low, but there is a nonzero likelihood of being targeted for a bad experience, for varying values of "bad experiences".

If the US government were to take action on this, the mostly likely consequence is seizure of the funds. They'd target the site itself, which might give them a list of names (which, at the most, they'd lateral to the IRS for fun).

Otherwise, the site would disqualify the campaign and return any funds.

(edit to above): I think the likelihood of severe negative consequences is low, but there is a nonzero likelihood of being targeted for a bad experience, for varying values of "bad experiences".

I don't think they'll bother prosecuting people who donate to him, but even if they did I don't think that hiding your opinion is the correct course of action. If people see a government actively repressing its civilian citizens they'll be more likely to actually do something about it (or maybe not, who knows).

The government can decide at any point than anyone is an enemy of the state, so if you really want to be careful you should stay completely off the grid. Donating to a third party, or even a major party that happens to lose, could one day become "aiding an enemy of the state."

Oh, and what about this?


Wouldn't that also be considered aiding an enemy of the state?

Then this is just another example that your democracy is broken. Go fix it.

>Donating to a third party, or even a major party that happens to lose, could one day become "aiding an enemy of the state."

Everyone has lost their minds.

If we all keep waiting there isn't going to be another day to fight.

Obligatory XKCD: http://xkcd.com/137/

Fuck. That. Shit.

This technically exposes him to somewhat more liability than he had before, right? "Financially benefits from his crime"

Oh man, interesting thought. Any people knowledgeable about the law that can comment on this?

IANAL but as far as I know you can create a blind trust to pay for legal expenses, and have excess donated to charity or something. That would prevent personal financial benefit from a crime.

Otherwise how would any legal defense fund ever work?

Yeah, I was going to suggest a legal defense fund, or really just EFF donations earmarked to his case.

This seems a bit strange to me. Snowden was very well compensated for his work (articles mention a $200k salary) as a young man and despite this he still did the right thing and followed his conscience. My bet is he would be the first to tell you that the real reward for him is the weight off of his shoulders. Rewarding such a brave act with a "cash prize" doesn't seem appropriate.

Wouldn't be that surprising, given the sketchiness of some Kickstarter-type funds, if the money never makes it to Snowden.

ummm.... where will my money actually go?

The campaign is very light on details. I will not give them money just because they used his picture in a header. I will rather post the money to EFF

This will be cute until donors start being investigated for funding terrorism.

Really, terrorism? How has he inflict any physical damage on anyone? Agree or disagree with his actions, it's clearly not terrorism. I look down in disgust on anybody that frames his actions in that light.

I doubt the OP was calling him a terrorist, just saying (perhaps jokingly) that it's possible that's how the government will try to portray him.

Did you see the article titled "How three pacifists were convicted as terrorists" currently on the front page of HN? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5848148

My statement stands. If he/she was being tongue-in-cheek, then it doesn't apply. If it's the powers-that-be that do it, well, there you are.

Yes, that's exactly what I was going for.

Well, my apologies if I insulted you personally. It was meant to be an attack on the notation that this can be framed as 'terrorism'.

Really, terrorism?

exactly. people are making unsupportable claims.

Don't take this as a pithy, light comment. There are lawyers that are currently in jail for serving as council to some middle eastern organizations that were trying to become legitimate and work within the system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynne_Stewart

Good lord, if anyone still has faith in the US I would hope seeing things like this make them realize it's time to abandon ship.

Seriously, 'murica? One of the most important heroes of our time blows the whistle on the largest spying industry the world has ever known, and you pay him back with cash?

Edward Snowden has done the world and the US a huge deal by sacrificing everything and letting you know just how fucked up things are.

Use that knowledge, be inspired by his courage, and tear apart this messed up system of surveillance and oppression.

People gotta eat.

They wouldn't mind a trip to the circus as well.

damn stoked to help Snowden out after the service he's done us all, at significant risk to his own career and liberty

How are you going to get him the money? My guess is he'd rather the money go in his name to the EFF/etc.

He could easily do that once he has it - I think the point is that it's up to him : )

Bitcoin, of course.

I'm only half joking.

I'm sure the NSA doesn't know how to deanonymize flows from traffic analysis. Oh, wait.

He didn't do this for the money...

I've been offered minor cash gifts for significant volunteer work that I've done previously, and it's usually sort of offensive - nowhere near large enough to compensate for my time, and I didn't do it for money.

The right way to go about this is probably to find a way to get meals continually delivered to him in his hotel after his credit card is inevitably cancelled.

He needs financial, physical and political protection. Most people can contribute to the financial and the political part.

Two issues I can see arising from this:

1. You're funding someone who the government most likely has labelled a terrorist. I don't think the government will take too kindly to such a thing.

2. Snowden is in hiding. Not only might it be hard to come into contact with him, but how can we be sure our money will reach him?

I think #1 is not too difficult to solve via ways of bitcoin, but #2 is still a blocker.

Regarding #1:

Why should the government have a say on this at all? The person is doing a favor for the citizens of the whole world which happens to backfire for the government which has things to hide. Just the sole fact that government might be pissed about something transparency advocating like this should be enough of a reason to support it.

It's the government which should be afraid of the people and not the people who should be afraid of the government!

Maybe you're forgetting, but this is the real world. Ideally, the government should be afraid of its people, but the US is in a far from ideal situation right now.

Which is exactly the reason why people should realize that whatever was done by Snowden is good for them. Because what Snowden did is good for them and if the government opposes it in any way then government opposes what is good for the people. Government is the enemy of the people. People should go against their government.

(Besides, I said should be rather than is. :)

You're funding someone who the government most likely has labelled a terrorist

huh? how do you get 'terrorist' from revealing secret information?

Some would probably argue that contributing to this is treason. Providing material aid to an enemy of the United States.

If people exposing malicious facts about those in power is considered to be enemies of those in power(The United States in this case), then I support them thoroughly in whichever way I can regardless of what anyone might think of it.

The fact that transparency is an issue for those who hold power is alone a huge reason to support people like Snowden who reveal the true nature of affairs which are being kept secret by not being transparent in the first place.

I'm not suggesting he is an enemy of the United States, but rather that people in power may declare him one.

We have met the enemy and he is us.

This is to completely miss the point [1]. Not everything is about compensation or reward. There are things worth doing that have nothing to do with money. To try to strap a reward onto this or some similar situation is to diminish it.

If you feel compelled to give money, give it to an organization that can effect meaningful change for those that may need it. Based on [1], it doesn't seem that Snowden is one that needs it.

1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-n...

Nominate him for Nobel Peace Prize for this year. It will offer him a better political protection against the current US government and will make him one of the better winners of prize in this decade.

If you do this, know that (in my estimation - IANAL) you're likely doing something illegal. Imagine the same situation for any other crime: "You killed someone I don't like; here's $10k".

If you choose to do it as an act of civil disobedience itself, more power to you, but it should be deliberate.

There's no way Edward put himself on the line for money.

But... how long do you think he can access funds in his name? And how long do you think he will have to stay in hotels and temporary accommodation that he will have to fund?

He will need help, the hardest bit isn't even summoning the help, it will be getting it to him.

A legal defense fund has been set up at https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/d2j2/support-edward-s...

A legal defense fund has been set up for Edwars at


With Crowdit being a US company, what do you think the chance of any substantial funds ever reaching Snowden is?

(and that's ignoring all the other obvious problems with this scheme)

Why is this on crowdtilt? The financial transaction will be blocked by the US. Use bitcoin.

He was making $200k a year, I don't think the best way to support him is to give him another $10k. If he needs money, he needs a LOT more than $10k.

Notice how everything suddenly went from being about the surveillance itself to being about this guy?

For someone who doesn't want public attention and wants people to focus on the NSA surveillance programs he exposed, he certainly screwed the pooch by outing himself - now, instead of talking about the surveillance, the media's all just sitting around talking about him. He might as well have sent the administration a gift basket.

Since his actions just set back his stated goals more than anything the government could've done, I'm not so certain his stated goals are his actual ones. Are you sure he's not just looking to be famous? Do you really want to give money to someone if it turns out they're just looking for attention?

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