Edward Snowden: The Modern Day Benedict Arnold?

In classic George Orwellian fashion, news broke via the Sunday Times (and echoed throughout journalism) just a few days ago about the one thing that the U.S. and U.K. governments had always feared: Russia and China got their hands on unreleased documents stolen by Edward Snowden.

Nearly 2 years to the date that Snowden fled to China, then abandoned by America in Russia, and just weeks after a truly historic step forward for American citizens; MI6 sources claim that the Snowden files have been hacked by the west’s two largest adversaries.

The sources are anonymous. The information is vague.

Like something that Winston Smith himself would publish, the Sunday Times’s article claims that “Snowden has blood on his hands,” even though there is “no evidence of anyone being harmed.”


Is the Public Catching on Yet?

Publishing this article is perpetuating the cycle of bad reporting that leads to bad judgement. Articles like this one in the Sunday Times is exactly how America got into the Iraq war more than 13 years ago; and we’re still there! Citing anonymous sources that are just spewing assertions is a deadly game. But war makes people money.

The truth is, the American government has been waiting for this moment. Impatiently sitting on their hands for the past two years, itching to begin defaming Snowden. This is the ‘yellow cake‘ moment of the battle on privacy. The “AHA! I told you that Snowden’s leaks were damaging to national security.”

Even the yellow cake trick was a reinterpretation from an earlier ploy to sway public opinion by Richard Nixon.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

The article claims that American and British agencies had to interfere in live operations to pull their spies out of hostile countries before they got identified and killed.

However, the article raises many more questions than answers. How did Russia and China both get the files? From where did they get the files (Edward Snowden has always maintained that he handed over his copies of all the files in Hong Kong)? How long have they had the files? Did they get all of the files? Did they gather any new information given that both U.S. and U.K. are constantly claiming to be hacked by both countries? And perhaps most importantly, why are we reading this crap?

Really, the west is playing the only hand it has. Defame the source that they don’t like so they can get their way: do it in the most favorable way, with anonymous sources, and as little information as possible.

Furthermore, the timing couldn’t be more telling. This article comes only a few weeks after the the USA PATRIOT Act failed to get renewed in Congress. Instead, a historic (albeit still weak) bill, the USA FREEDOM Act was passed that put limitations on the NSA for the first time since the 1970s.

In the U.K., just over a week ago a report published by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism, David Anderson, urged for more oversight, and surveillance reform. A new surveillance bill is also expected in October.

National Enquirer or Respectable News Source?

It is apparent that the headline in the Sunday Times is an attempt by the U.S. and U.K. to drag Edward Snowden’s name through the mud. They are upset that he is gaining more notoriety as a hero (as he should) rather than a traitor. They are mad that he is smart enough to evade the American judicial system, and they are upset that he did things the right way. They see that the steps he took to expose secret programs that the public would never have known about otherwise is finally having an effect. This is their attempt at slowing the tide.

All in all the Sunday Times article reads more like a tabloid piece on Bruce Jenner being an alien than a display of any real journalism. I get it, journalism is hard. But what do they say… If it was easy, everyone would do it. Journalists should at least aim for factual information, instead of settling for any attention grabbing headline fed to them.

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