Monday, January 6, 2014

My foreword on the Snowden Christmas Message from my show of Dec 29-30, 2013

This week, Edward Snowden issued a bizarre and rambling Christmas message where he suggested that quote “A child born today will grow up with no concept of privacy at all”

Glenn Greenwald then went on MSNBC and said he would defend Snowden 24 hours a day just like MSNBC defends Obama 24 hours a day. Apparently Mr. Greenwald forgot that MSNBC doesn’t even run political programs 24 hours a day, run’s little political programming on the weekends and among those political programs that MSNBC runs during the week you have several programs, including Morning Joe that are hosted by non-Democrats.

But such scant attention to the facts and details is par for the course for Greenwald just as bizarre hyperbole is common to Eric Snowden and their supporters.

Consider that these folks think that Edward Snowden started the conversation on NSA spying with his June 2013 revelations.

That has to be news to James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times who wrote a bombshell December 16, 2005 article titled “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts” this article forced the Bush White House a day later to admit to a warrantless wiretapping program that had existed since shortly after 9/11.

Ever since that article, there have been thousands more detailing the evolution of NSA Spying, there have been dozens of court cases challenging spying, several of which reached federal appeals court level and even US Supreme Court level. There have been numerous hearings each year in congress discussing the limits of NSA spying and several executive branch and Presidential adjustments to NSA spying.

Here are a few examples just in the three years before Snowden’s releases from the Electronic Frontier Foundation Website:

March 2 2009, FISA Court Forces NSA to Obtain Court Approval for Every Metadata Search

July 3, 2009, FISA Court Orders Weekly Reports by NSA on Section 215 Telephony Metadata Program

Sept 3, 2009 FISA Court Lifts August Restrictions. Allows NSA to Search Section 215 Telephony Metadata.

April 10, 2010 Federal Judge Rules the Government Illegally Spied on Plaintiffs in Al-Haramain

Dec 2012 House Intelligence Committee Holds Hearing "FISA for the Future: Balancing Security and Liberty"

Feb 2013 Supreme Court Dismisses ACLU's Suit Against Spying, Clapper v. Amnesty International


In short, once exposed by the NY Times in 2005, the conversation hasn’t stopped, litigation hasn’t stopped and hearings haven’t stopped. And it won’t stop for the next 25-50 years. That is about how long I think we will be dealing with the threat of terrorism.

Snowden and Greenwald and their supporters even deny that there is a threat of terrorism. For the record, taking into account only Al Qaeda, there have been between 40 and 50 global acts of terrorism by Al Qaeda since 1992. That is an average of over two per year and Al Qaeda is by far not the only player out there.

So the public conversation started in 2005 and it continues and changes continue to be made over time. We no longer have warrantless wiretapping. All of the surveillance that goes on has been approved by FISA courts and thus there is a paper trail associated with it.

This was all going on before Snowden decided to leak all of his information. This was all going on before Snowden fled to China and Russia with several laptops full of classified information. And do I need to point out how China and Russia spy on their own people and everyone else and have horrific human rights records. Do I need to point out how hypocritical it is to flee to those countries for the reasons purported by Snowden?

This young sophomoric kid who thought he knew better than everyone else, who wanted to be some kind of hero and instead of going through the two legal channels available to folks who think they have wrongdoing to report, he skipped to China and Russia. And you know what would have happened if he had gone the approved route and told his story to the inspector General or to congress?

Someone would have sat him down and said, Edward, here are all the court cases going on right now regarding surveillance, here are the hearings in congress that have happened the last few years and the ones scheduled this congressional session. Here are the things the executive branch has been doing. All of those things are public.

Exactly what is it that you think you are blowing the whistle on?

I should point out that it’s not like I think Snowden and Greenwald did nothing. They certainly amped up the anxiety and hysteria out there. They certainly gave Russia and China and anti-American activists and Anti American media organizations all over the world convenient talking points.

Notice however how the criticisms from foreign governments has been pretty muted. The criticism has been just enough to try to assuage their own constituents while not really doing a lot. Why? Because as evidence later came out, those countries had been providing the NSA data and had been requesting US intelligence help in combating terror in their countries as well. Of course. Virtually every country in the world is worried about terrorism.

Weighed against that we have Snowden the wannabe hero and Greenwald the narcissist and their hyperbole and playing fast and loose with the facts.

No one loves NSA Surveillance, but that issue has been continuously debated for the past eight years and will continue to be debated for the forseeable future and that has not changed because of Edward Snowden.