What if Snowden is still a CIA agent (he was a CIA agent for years before NSA) and this is actually a snowjob/whitewash by the government to deflect attention or essentially control the message about news they knew would be released (diffusing that/controlling that message) and black-ops about China, Russia, Cuba + Venezuela how they treat/process possible 'traitors' or spies?
I hope that is not the case and he is sincere, it would be great if the US could just pardon him and address our Constitutional issues. But if they pardon him doesn't the above seem like an outside possibility?
Or am I reading too much Tom Clancy and watching too many spy movies?
It does seem most whistleblowers are swept under the rug but here you have one that is garnering lots of news and attracting lots of attention across multiple weeks/weekends to things that were previously labeled 'conspiracy' or only seen in movies (yet have been in the news quietly before, since 9/11). Now it is international news everywhere. He is almost the perfect leaker, making more waves than all combined.
It's not useful scrounging up, uh, conspiracy theories for how it happened unless there is evidence.
The only argument you're invoking is abduction - that no other approach fits the facts. But the thing about the NSA is the level of spying and power that's demonstrated gives a strong indication they just don't have much reason to care what the public thinks. The average NSA bureaucrat isn't worried about the public at all but what argument their boss or colleague will use against them. And letting out information goes so hard against the default impulse that letting information out intentionally seems way unlikely, even as part of a clever master plan. I mean, if we're wandering to wild speculation land, the NSA has dozens of potential master plans. One that releases information and makes them look bad wouldn't do well in the "master-plan competition" - held yearly at Area 51!
Why would Obama sanction deeply-embarrassing revelations and expose the staggering depth of warrantless spying?
This is almost certainly not the case, but that's the answer that came to mind when you asked the question.
That being said, I'd be surprised if that were the case here. But a man can hope.
I still think it is extraordinarily unlikely though.
One thing about spy movies and the CIA, they're truly masters of misdirection. While you're watching the world fawn over Snowden and what he's done and the fallout, you can bet these people are still 4 steps ahead, planning and plotting their next move.
Who? The government? That is like believing that super advanced weapons have been developed by the government that no other scientist/engineers could hope to replicate because the Science and technology are so ahead of their time (i.e. 50 or 100 years).
The Aeroflot flight number was public!
Is this to counter a secret rendition attempt? Did we wake-up in a world with 007 stuff happening to real computer nerds, not just high-paid actors?
Do you think people who keep their mouths shut as they and their coworkers do things like torture other human beings and build totalitarian surveillance infrastructure are good people?
Sorry to invoke Godwin, but the Nazis would have loved folks like that.
Please show me where Snowden has exposed his coworkers building a totalitarian surveillance infrastructure. Justify describing it as 'totalitarian'.
And for calling me a Nazi, go fuck yourself.
I didn't call you a Nazi. I said the Nazis would have loved people who were ok with that kind of thing. Isn't that fairly obvious?
Do you think they would have preferred a guy like Snowden?
Also, I'd still like to hear the explanation of how Snowden exposed his NSA co-workers torturing people. I had not heard that one.
What we do have is that Snowden copied a large cache of thousands of sensitive documents and gave them to who-knows-who. Suddenly countries that position themselves as enemies of the US are very happy to help him out, and he is happy to accept their assistance. In between, there was a public relations campaign to call him a "whistleblower" even though that is not what he did. The documents provided as supporting evidence do not say what Glenn Greenwald's reports say they do, while the journalists who have reported on these programs before are all facepalming at how wrong Greenwald's reporting has been.
So yes, it looks like the entire thing is a hoax and Snowden is a spy. YHBT by Glenn Greenwald and whoever else was involved. YHL. HAND.
Recording meta-data of phone calls and certainly the phone calls themselves, is a gross violation of the 4th amendment and the people's right "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures".
And that is true regardless of what a pack of jackasses appointed to some court have decided and it is still true regardless of what a pack of jackasses elected to congress think. I'll even include the president, just for you.
I'll even go so far as to say that this right isn't even dependent on what a bunch of jackasses happen to think on the Internet. Crazy, I know.
My right is absolute and independent of what anyone else thinks. It is a right given to all human beings by God himself. A natural right recognized in any civilized country.
I don't care about the consequences. If the US had apologized for this terrible mess and all the lies to its own people, Snowden wouldn't have had to do any of what had followed. Instead, it still refuses to corroborate his claims, making it seems likely that there's something incriminating here.
If this doesn't seem fishy on the US side, and if you think anyone wouldn't have thought about blowing the whistle on all these lies by our leaders, you're seriously delusional. Or a troll.
The NSA has every incentive to spy on everyone -- that's their job. The only "oversite" they have is by a toothless committees that will rubber-stamp anything they do.
Do you really trust the government to always do the right thing? Even with historical evidence of continual abuses of such power?
He leaked a Justice Department document signed by Eric Holder detailing all the exceptions where they can spy on U.S. citizens without a warrant.
"Matilda, she take me secrets and run Venezuela. "
What exactly is being "done" to Julian Assange? The only reason he's stuck in the embassy is because of rape accusations.
He never had any guarantee from the UK that he would not be extradited, and yet was happy to spend time there.
This is a half truth. The Swedish government can overrule the judiciary to prevent extradition, and have on multiple occasions.
They government have chosen not to offer such guarantees.
Though frankly, a bigger concern is the prosecutors insistence on not questioning him in the UK and her claim she somehow can't, despite evidence to the contrary (Swedish police regularly questions suspects outside of Sweden)
> He never had any guarantee from the UK that he would not be extradited, and yet was happy to spend time there.
He was happy to spend time here because unlike Sweden, the UK has not been quite as willing to illegally hand people over to the CIA for rendition flights (Sweden has admitted to multiple instances), and has a legal system that at least has a little bit of a spine in extradition cases on occasion.
Conveniently-timed rape accusations.
A: "rape accusations"
Sometimes you need to look no further than your own comment to answer your own question.
Actually it is. If you're in a Common Law legislation there's a good chance the you could be charged with conspiracy. And if you're in a Civil Law legislation there's a good chance that your country requires you to report ongoing crimes once you gain knowledge about them (of course there's the question if a court will treat Snowden's actions as completed or as ongoing crimes).
Not arguing about the moral thing to do here, just about the legal point of view.
Does anyone have any citations for this please? (I'm especially interested in English law, but any other country is fine too.)
It seems that at least in the United States there's quite a broad range of things that courts consider as "conspiracy". For example, a few years ago Reinhard Berkau (a German lawyer) was sentenced to prison in the US, because of a crime one of his clients did. He also published a book on his experiences (unfortunately in German only) in case you're interested in the background.
An underground railroad would be a serious proposition. UR was a nasty... and noble... group of people who were perfectly willing to go MUCH further than the authorities or the slave catchers.
I'll give an example, Pinkerton, though it was probably not generally known at the time, was a white operative in this organization. Now after the Civil War, we get some idea of the tactics that Pinkerton and his "coworkers" got up to in the UR.
For instance, when Pinkerton was sent after The James Gang, who he hated, as he saw the James family as slavers AND traitors... he went and threw incendiary devices into the James home. We know now that he fully intended to burn the home down, and probably intended to kill James' mother. The US Government had to call the Pinkertons off.
Would WikiLeaks or a "WikiArmy" be willing to use such tactics? I doubt it.
Another example, the Spanish government hired Pinkerton to help in dealing with a revolution [in Cuba] that intended abolition and suffrage. Six months later... the Cuban abolitionists came to power. So deceit on that level was not beyond the capabilities of the UR.
I'm not sure WikiLeaks has this level of capability.
They were also quiet. Extremely quiet. Underground railroad was not even the name of the organization... it's just the name the American public gave it when it became clear that SOMETHING must have been going on. So these guys were so quiet and disciplined for the time that no one even knew what the organization was called. Or even who was in it, or relative ranks.
I just mention this because a great deal is known about WikiLeaks... so I'm not sure they would make a good underground railroad.
Also, the UR was willing to sacrifice much more than their opponents. Consider, blacks would generally be willing to sacrifice MANY blacks to protect the identity of a white operative... who were more valuable to the blacks for obvious reasons.
Does WikiLeaks or Anonymous have an in-built group of soldiers whose loyalty is without question? Who would be willing to endure great pain or even death to keep its secrets?
I'm just saying... these people are so imitated because they were VERY effective at what they did. They LITERALLY used sex and murder if it suited their ends. They wrote books, music and news to shape public opinion. But all of that was just for starters... They also destabilized economies! And the overthrow of governments was not ruled out as a means of accomplishing their objectives. Most importantly, these people had a proven capability to actually accomplish any of those missions!
It should... the UR was, in a very real way, the precursor to the Union's intelligence service during the war. Even after the war... I mean it was Pinkerton who founded the Secret Service! The OSS is the UR's great grandchild, so the CIA is part of that lineage as well. Pinkerton's methods, the UR's methods, still inform investigation and intelligence gathering and even counter intel and insurgency today.
Don't misunderstand me, I'm sure SOME clicktivists are willing to go as far as the black runaways and Northern whites were...
What I am NOT certain of, is whether ANY clicktivists are willing to ENDURE as much as the UR was willing to endure in the pursuit of its goals.
edit: I see that Garzon is on board, he's the one who tried to judge Pinochet, one of the CIA's dictator. His job ended when he tried to bring trials for acts of the spanish dictature.
All of their last elections have been externally ratified as being fair:
Here's how it works: every Venezuelan voter gets TWO ballots. One is electronic, the second is a paper print-out of the touch-screen ballot, which the voter reviews, authorises, then places in a locked ballot-box. An astounding 54 percent of the boxes are chosen at random to open and check against the computer tally. It's as close to a bulletproof count as you can get." 
In the face of significant US interference Venezuala could have gone extremely dictatorial, but it seems they went the other way and implemented a more secure voting process than in many other countries where electronic voting is used.
That doesn't seem correct. Voters need to provide identification and their fingerprints (!) as part of the voting process, so the risk of these irregularities would be much lower than, for instance, the United States.
I'm not sure I would want for WikiLeaks to be announcing my moves, but this is probably something you can't escape, so might as well take the help from one of the players who are reporting the story.
ETA: Or maybe I spoke too soon. I'm not sure anyone really knows where he is going.
(Source: I used to have diplomatic immunity.)
Somewhat more seriously, pretty much the only perk was getting to use the Diplomats & Crew line at airport immigration. Most countries, including mine, make their diplomats pay their parking fines etc, and while I was theoretically exempted from security checks, it was virtually always faster to put your bags through the X-ray and walk through the metal detector than it was to pull rank and wait forever as the proto-TSA at the time ran around like headless chickens, looking for the manager's manager's manager needed to authorize the exception. The police treat diplomats with either thinly disguised contempt (if they ran into them a lot and knew they couldn't do much of anything) or, more commonly, puzzlement; and once again, it was usually way easier to pop the trunk and let them have a look than it is to invoke immunity and deal with the resulting confusion.
And as far as complimentary upgrades to first class and "ambassador's lounges" (wot?) do, I'm not sure what the other reply has been smoking, but it's probably not the Vienna Convention. Airlines don't give any free benefits to diplomats, they earn their status through butt-in-seat miles like the rest of us.
I do not have direct knowledge, but I would think that if the plane is of the diplomat, then the whole plane could be considered to be territory of the nation of the diplomat, therefore the diplomat could offer him asylum while on the plane.
If I wasn't clear, I was not speaking about offering him diplomatic immunity, but rather the plane being considered as territory of the nation of the diplomat.
*As a clarification, this suspension was mostly political, being Spain one of the most corrupt countries in Europe and with a dark and terrible past due the dictatorship that ended 37 years ago. Garzon tried to investigate the crimes committed by Franco (related to the right wind in Spain) and a few years later he was judging a corruption case (called Gürtel), which lead to his suspension.
He's put himself in play and he's going to learn very quickly that he has few friends where a nation considers the information in his brain essential to their national security.
Remember that the Russians killed Litvinenko in the middle of Mayfair, London, UK.
The Israelis killed Mahmoud Hamshari in Paris.
Remember that these were all nuclear nations.
I'll leave the research of any possible US involvements as an exercise to the reader.
Since when did WikiLEaks have diplomats on its payroll??
I am actually extraordinarily happy that this has been all over HN and especially that there has been some amazing dialogue from HNers on this.
I stand corrected about Wikileaks role in this particular aspect of the story as they do seem to actually be helping him elude justice. But they seemed to have nothing to do with his actual leaks, yet I've seen multiple 'statements' from them on the matter that seemed to only serve as a way to remind people of their existence. At least now they have an actual reason, I guess.
But honestly, from my reading, I'm mostly okay with what the NSA's doing and most of what he revealed isn't all that new or surprising (others reported on PRISM long ago, local governments have kept track of phone records for decades, it only makes sense the feds would as well). This is also what many citizens want their government to be doing, hence the many complaints about the Boston bombers not being adequately tracked beforehand.
The one part that troubles me is the storing of 'inadvertently' collected communications from US citizens for five years without a warrant. That seems wrong. Other than that, I only think there should be a bit more transparency. If Snowden's leaks lead to that, that's a good thing.
Over the ice field, the empty ice field, the raptor hunts tonight
(sung to The Lion Sleeps Tonight)
If true, this exit is good news! I have worried about his safety for the past two weeks. ES needs a redoubtable safe-house enclave/bunker like a free Assange to repeatedly surgically strike while the iron is hot. Exposing heinous criminal abuse of state entrusted power, founded on self-witnessed righteous indignation- leveraged by gigahertz worldwide public networks- makes for a seriously formidable anti-Borg threat. I hope Assange's crack team are good chess players to be constantly vigilant, and terra-sotto terrified how dangerous this is. Endlessly run gold/blue team attack game/simulations, have seasoned and wounded trade-crafters as loyal and encrazed armed sentinels, handling also, a hyper-alert pack of google-glass augmented Scottish Border Collies: