Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Spy Who Came in from the Warm

I'm still not entirely sure what to make of our man, Edward Snowden. We are presented with a 29 year-old who had previously dropped out of HS, took some classes (but not computer classes) at community college, enlisted in the Army for special forces but did not complete training due to injury, ex- CIA employee who worked at Booz Allen for not quite three months, who seems to have been contacting media since before he started work at Booz Allen? And started packing up out of his Hawaii home around May 1st before all this story broke?

Not any of this recap of his bio this far is supposed to be about discrediting anything said about PRISM or necessarily what Snowden's access might have been. I just don't know about that, but what I am is a little skeptical. I've got a timeline that gives this guy a lot of career opportunities, but leads to a point where it seriously does look like he took a job at Booz Allen knowing what they were contracted to do for NSA just to gather info and air it out. I know there's some hero-worship out there regarding his bravery in leaking how and what info is gathered by contractors like Booz Allen on NSA's behalf, but I am not buying his "OMG I did not know there was a surveillance state and my being shocked, let me show you it" way of revealing a story people may or may not have cared about until they were asked to think about it.

Maybe this stems from jealousy. Goddamn. A $200k a year job in sunny, beautiful Hawaii warming a desk hoovering bytes of nonsense in general and tapping in on purpose with direction for the all-convenient national security apparatus. Oh, would some do-gooding media outlet help him unburden himself from the difficult and troubling ethical questions that arise from doing stuff that hasn't even been found illegal or questionable by Congress or anything, but would sound really fucked-up if someone kind of made it sound like twenty-something HS dropouts had the legal authority to ransack your emails  for vacation pictures of side boob and scour your phone conversations for those special times when you bitched about shit like not making $200k a year and who do you have to kill (metaphorically) to make that kind of scratch anyway?

Until and unless something better than "I got a Power Point presentation and I know how to use it" surfaces, I am going to either wonder what his deal is or assume he was put in that job as a patsy to wreak havoc on Booz Allen's stock by a rival contractor because the biggest takeaway I've gleaned from this so far is, I don't really think third parties should have root access to systems that deal with broad scope infiltration of people's privacy, and also, I am staggered if NSA doesn't hold their contractors to various oaths of "Do not access without authorization" and doesn't have key logger and Access logs of who uses their software. (I'm pretty sure IRS peeps, for example, have at least that much and probably more protocols in place to monitor their record access, and violations thereof range from discontinued access to prison time--unlawful use of a government computer, I think they call the federal felony charge.) He is the intel analyst mother warned you about.

I'm less pissed at the government than I am that this dude is getting the Shepard Fairly HOPE sign treatment as "HERO" without a critical evaluation of what the hell is going on with the leak shit. Are we that happy to dish up the Obama Administration as unfriendlies? The AP/Verizon stories are like, whevs. On top of the IRS nothingburger and the Benghazi nothingshwarma, they could look like "OMFG, what is the Obama Administration doing?"  But if you discount the first two by reason of, fug, whut? It's almost like obvs, think.  Why is all this hitting the news at the same time?

I'm not saying there are no coincidences, but...what is a blogger to think?

(Is it restraint on my part or laziness I couldn't find a proper "Snowden spills his guts" Catch-22 reference? Must be a way, besides postscript and parenthetically.)


Mrs. Polly said...

Vixen, I confess to also feeling a certain sourness about a 29 year old making two hundred grand deciding to go public based on HIS humble opinion, helping Glenzilla get his Obamascession on, and damaging the chances for a lot of domestic initiatives that don't affect someone in his income bracket.

Former income bracket, anyway.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I'm less pissed at the government than I am that this dude is getting the Shepard Fairly HOPE sign treatment as "HERO" without a critical evaluation of what the hell is going on with the leak shit"

Vivien, how were we ever going to get a critical evaluation of the leak shit if the government keeps it secret?

As for the $200K, that's not even a drop in the bucket compared to the money Geithner and Bernanke have given the big banksters.

WCOTC said...

According to Booz Allen, they were paying him considerably less than that.
He may have been exaggerating, or perhaps he was receiving an additional income of some kind.

Vixen Strangely said...

@ WCOTC--the salary issue is one of those things that makes one wonder to what extent this person is "exagerrating for effect", to put it in a mild way. The level of access he boasts is another question--also exaggerated? Which kind of leads t one of the thornier questions in evaluating claims of a sweeping surveillance program--

If something is a state secret, denying a claim about the secret might reveal information that isn't intended for a wider. The programs coud be broader and more intrusive, or smaller and more selective, than claimed, but there may be a useful reason in those details not being publically specified.

Which kind of leads to answering @ifthethunderdontgetya-- I don't want to sound like "Yay, state secrets" or worse, be dismissive of the potential for abuse by the government (or as dangerously, individuals in the gov't taking it on themselves) to target,say, anti-war folks or environmentalists or just people enjoying what they thought were normal 1st Amendment rights. But I think there is a limit to how transparent any government is going to be with respects to terrorism, crime, international spying, and the like.