This is a post I've been meaning to write for sometime. I seen Snowden's name trending on Twitter, with the idea that Trump may actually pardon him. So I wanted to write this out now. Trump is insane, so he may actually be stupid enough to pardon him.
Some people I follow that are more freedom minded treat him like a hero of some kind because of what he exposed about the ongoing metadata program that the US government was running - in particular, PRISM. What I found irritating about this whole thing is that every action he has taken is ignored completely and all that matters is this one thing.
The goal of this piece is to demonstrate that Edward Snowden isn't some innocent and concerned citizen whistleblowing a data collection scheme, but a calculated and purposeful form of espionage and it remains to be seen if he's formally working with enemy governments or he's just ideologically motivated.
Edward Snowden Lied
Edward Snowden Didn't Have Top Secret Clearance, So How Did He Get The Documents?
A handful of agency employees who gave their login details to Snowden were identified, questioned and removed from their assignments, said a source close to several U.S. government investigations into the damage caused by the leaks.Snowden may have persuaded between 20 and 25 fellow workers at the NSA regional operations center in Hawaii to give him their logins and passwords by telling them they were needed for him to do his job as a computer systems administrator, a second source said. [source]
But there is more here that proves that the documents were encrypted and the system was designed so that IT professionals had no access:
The NSA says it drew up the memo that was sent this week to update the Judiciary Committee on steps the agency had taken to hold people accountable for Snowden’s unauthorized disclosures.
The civilian in question first admitted on June 18 that he had given his login credentials, in the form of a “Public Key Infrastructure certificate,” to Snowden, the memo says.
This was days after Snowden first went public as the source who supplied highly-classified documents about eavesdropping operations by NSA and some of its foreign partners to representatives of Britain’s Guardian and The Washington Post.
The memo said that when the unnamed civilian NSA employee gave the login information to Snowden, he knew it would give him access on a system known as NSANet to which Snowden otherwise was denied access.
At Snowden’s request, the NSA worker entered his password into Snowden’s computer terminal.
“Unbeknownst to the civilian, Mr. Snowden was able to capture the password, allowing him even greater access to classified information,” the memo says. [source] emphasis is mine.
Let's take a little bit to dissect what these things mean. First, Snowden gained access to documents by simply asking people in the office, that part of his IT work he needed their login/password. He did this to dozens of people. It appears that he did this until he was able to get the credentials of someone important enough to get him large level access.
The Public Key Infrastructure certificate is a bit more vague on what exactly it is, but it's a crypto based means of encrypted data transfer. This certificate would have been needed to appropriately authenticate and/or decrypt the documents he stole.
Premeditated Interest in the NSA
- High school dropout, that eventually obtained a GED at a local community college.
- Has a basic Microsoft certification for working with Microsoft based products/systems
- Lied about what he did at Booz Allen Hamilton
- He didn't have access to classified information
- He didn't know about the existence of PRISM or any of the programs the NSA was doing - other than what was public knowledge already.
- He manipulated and defrauded employees at the NSA
- 31 offensive American cyber operations in 2011, including some against Iran and North Korea relating to nuclear proliferation
- NSA surveillance of terrorist networks, including details of what the U.S. knows about al Qaeda’s efforts to jam, hack, and shoot down American drones
- The location of 80 NSA surveillance teams around the world
- Intelligence cooperation between the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand
- A Swedish intelligence operation targeting Russian leaders, which passed on information to the NSA
- NSA monitoring of Chinese telecom company Huawei to investigate ties to the Chinese military
- NSA interception of Taliban emails and phone calls in Pakistan
- A CIA operation to determine the loyalties of recruits in Pakistan
- The CIA’s line-item “black budget”
I think by the vary nature of what Snowden did excludes him from a whistleblower status. He took millions of documents, whatever he could get his hands on, and then immediately fled the country. The discoveries that are so bad were discovered later. He has lied about how he obtained this information and it appears he has lied about much of his life.
Snowden basically gave the public the name PRISM to a program that was already publicly known.
The supposed proponents of Snowden fall into two camps: ones that are completely ignorant of what he did and just understand the media narrative; the others are what can be best described as the nihilistic haters of America - this includes the libertarian type and the liberal type. They're unconcerned with the actions that this person took. They don't mind that he stole and exposed documentation that was purely for rights protecting actions - that terrorists can actually use for their benefit. In their view, the NSA has no legitimate role and, just like the US government, is truly the evil at it's core in everything it does.
Just so there is no confusion, I think a domestic metadata collection program is wrong and should be abolished immediately. Metadata collection may have a reasonable use on our enemies, but it isn't for use on the domestic population as a whole. With that said, Snowden is not a hero for exposing this. He stole what he could and proponents like how they can politically use the content. Snowden is like someone that drinks and drives, plows into a van killing everyone in it and one of the passengers happens to be a criminal... and everyone cheers hero. I realize that's a bad example to compare to because drinking and driving could be described as an act of negligence. Snowden's actions are more akin to renting a transport truck, taking it to a festival and running over everyone you can - and one of those people turns out to be bad guy. Hero status.