The defenders of the status quo have a simple formula for whistleblowers: destroy the messenger.
Snowden is a hypocrite.
Snowden is a whiner.
Snowden is a grandiose narcissist.
Snowden is like George Zimmerman.
Snowden has no integrity.
Snowden can't be trusted.
And that was just for starters.
After that the really Big Guns came out.
There was just one little problem - Snowden had a counter-strategy.
You see, most of the time whistleblowers blow their whistle and then that's it. If the whistleblower released damaging enough data then the whistleblower gets thrown into a very secure prison and you never see them again outside of handcuffs in court hearings.
The government then monopolizes the airwaves, muddies the waters, and eventually everyone forgets what started the whole mess. It's a strategy that has worked time and time and time again.
But Snowden didn't play by the rules.
First he fled to a country that gave him asylum, and thus remained an active news story.
How dare he! He's a coward! A real man would stand in front of a jury, present his side, and take his chances.
Except that Snowden was being prosecuted under the Espionage Act and probably wouldn't be able to present his side. Only after a full year in exile was Snowden able to get that message out on American airwaves.
But the big change, the curveball that Snowden threw the intelligence-industrial complex that they have never recovered from is the way the whistleblowing documents have come out:
drip, drip, drip
Instead of making a big splash and then fading from memory, like Manning's document download with Wikileaks, Snowden gave them to Glenn Greenwald, who has released them every month for over a year now.
Just as the last revelation starts fading from the news, the next one comes out. It's driven the defenders of the status quo into conniptions of rage, especially at the architect of this successful strategy, Glen Greenwald.
To make matters worse, the drip-drip strategy has allowed the government to make denials, only to have those denials proven to be bald-faced lies over and over and over again.
It's made the defenders of the status quo look so foolish that they are now the butt of jokes on Comedy Central.
For example, remember when the NSA claimed that there mass domestic spying program has prevented 54 terrorist attacks. That was a very specific number presented without any evidence.
It turns out there is a reason why the NSA didn't back up those numbers with evidence: because it was a Big, Fat Lie.
A public policy group says a review of U.S. terrorist arrests shows the government’s collection of bulk phone records does little to prevent terrorism, adding fuel to a debate over whether the spy program should be ended.Instead the NSA targeted domestic political activists with no ties or connections to terrorist groups. You know, exactly like the pro-fourth Amendment groups said they were doing.
In fact, of the countless records the NSA holds 9 out of 10 were not NSA targets, and around half of them are Americans.
And that was just the start.
In the first half-year of his leaks, the public learned about the NSA’s monitoring of citizens’ phone calls and email, and routine spying on allied foreign governments and companies. Later details emerged about GCHQ’s bulk collection of Yahoo webcam chats, the NSA’s mass storage of phone conversations and metadata in target countries, NSA facial recognition databases that pull images from cable taps and border crossings, and even automated NSA programs that have the ability to infect millions of systems worldwide with spying software — something the agency itself called “industrial-scale exploitation.”Quite simply, Snowden and Greenwald has totally out-flanked and out-generalled the national intelligence agencies, as well as their political allies in the White House, in Congress, and in the media with a superior strategy.
And it's only going to get worse because as the mass domestic spying revelations continue to come out, other whistleblowers will be emboldened to back up Snowden's statements. In fact, that appears to have already happened.
What's more, the longer this goes on the less the public is going to care about all those attacks on the messenger. Especially when there are more than one messenger and the messages are backed up with facts.
Despite all the character assassinations and slanders, it might be Snowden that gets the last laugh.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy introduced a revised version of his USA Freedom Act today, a bill that had passed the House in May. Leahy’s legislation makes a number of significant changes to the House bill, which was criticized by both tech companies and civil liberty groups. The bill would:Actually that isn't what it means. Snowden is not just about to win this. He has merely won this round.
- Force the government to take steps to stop bulk data collection, eliminating a loophole in the House bill that civil liberty advocates said would allow a large amount of records to be still be collected.
- Increase government transparency requirements, forcing the intelligence community to give annual reports on the number of people or accounts on which data was collected.
- Demand the government report on the number of Americans subject to backdoor searches, or searches that involve digging for information on Americans in foreign countries.
- Set broader parameters for the kind of searches that tech companies can disclose. This should pacify those within the tech sector who wanted more transparency.
Leahy has been negotiating with the White House and the intelligence community regarding the changes in the Senate bill. If the White House signs the legislation, it would be a major step toward rolling back the surveillance state created after the 9/11 attacks.
It would also mean that Edward Snowden has finally won.
This is only the 2nd round of a 15 round fight.
Also these are still only half-measures. Notice how these are a) mostly aimed at satisfying the concerns of tech companies, who've had their overseas profits badly hurt by revelations of NSA spying,
U.S. technology companies are in danger of losing more business to foreign competitors if the National Security Agency’s power to spy on customers isn’t curbed, researchers with the New America Foundation said in a report today.and b) concern the interests of Congress, which has discovered that it has been openly lied to and spied upon.
WASHINGTON — An internal investigation by the C.I.A. has found that its officers penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in preparing its damning report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program.The interests of the American public are generally still missing from this list.
The report by the agency’s inspector general also found that C.I.A. officers read the emails of the Senate investigators and sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department based on false information, according to a summary of findings made public on Thursday.
Nevertheless, this is still a paradigm shift away from where we were in the spring of 2013, while the NSA had free reign to violate the 4th Amendment while the White House and Congress gave them unquestioning support.
Also, these measures will indirectly help the American public by giving us some idea of how much mass domestic spying is going on, and what sorts of groups are being targeted. That sort of information is going to carry over and will allow this issue to remain alive even after Snowden's whistleblowing documents are exhausted.
What Snowden has done is created a mechanism that is self-sustaining, and will continue to shine sunlight where the spy agencies prefer darkness, and that might be his biggest accomplishment.
Finally, one recent revelation shows the level of disinformation produced by the spy agencies on the internet.
several reports over the past few months have explored GCHQ’s attempts at disruption, disinformation and propaganda. They include tools that can alter the results of online polls, talk of “pushing stories” on social media and presentations about online psy-ops.Does the NSA do this? More than likely, but even if they didn't, the internet has no national borders.
12:04 PM PT: Here's how the public attitude toward Snowden has changed:
The survey found that 55 percent of respondents think Snowden did the right thing in exposing PRISM, the mass data-mining program, while another 29 percent believe he was in the wrong, and 16 percent endorse neither statement. Of Snowden’s supporters, 80 percent said he exposed constitutional violations.Fox News
The poll asks voters to set aside how they feel about Snowden and his crime, and simply consider whether they are glad the information was made public. By a 68-25 percent margin, voters say yes, they are glad to know how these programs affect Americans like them.
Most Republicans (69 percent), independents (68 percent) and Democrats (68 percent) are pleased to be aware of the NSA’s activities. Among those part of the tea party movement, 75 percent are glad.
A July 2013 Fox News poll found a 60-percent majority disapproved of Snowden leaking details of the NSA program.