As someone old enough to remember the debacle of the Pentagon Papers in the Richard Nixon administration, I had an ominous premonition last June that Edward Snowden’s release from what looked like packing boxes full of classified materials would expose a heinous wrongdoing. by our National Security Agency. (NSA) and the other 15 intelligence services operating under the auspices of the National Intelligence Directorate.
Snowden’s hoard of documents – perhaps “library” would be more descriptive – were leaked, or betrayed, in digital form for The Guardian in London and The Washington Post here at home. At the time, Snowden was an unknown civil administrative contractor with ‘top-secret’ security credentials hired by respected management consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton.
Along with the rest of the world, I’ve been waiting for the shoe to drop for ten months.
Snowden was initially praised, like Daniel Elsburg in his day, as a man seeking to save the republic from fanatical snoopers within the government who were bent on turning America into a nation that mirrored George Orwell’s. 1984. But “where is the meat?” as Walter Mondale used to say?
The only person who has been charged so far with breaking the laws is Edward Snowden himself, who violated his own oath to preserve state secrets. The mainstream media, perhaps with its own axis in this case, have been slow to tell us what is really happening. If anyone really knows.
And now comes Edward Lucas, a distinguished senior editor of what has perhaps become the best weekly news magazine with a truly global reach, The Economist, which says in an interesting new e-book, Operation Snowden: Inside the West’s Greatest Intelligence Disaster, (2014: Kindle Singles), “I can’t see the heroic virtues in the Snowden affair that others have celebrated.”
“No one has proven that the NSA or the GCHQ committed serious and deliberate violations of the law,” says Lucas. “In the great scandals of the 1960s, the FBI illegally intercepted American citizens and tried to blackmail political opponents of the government … There have been no comparable examples now, and I don’t think there is.”
The most amazing thing we’ve learned in the ten months since Snowden began his extraordinary waste of classified government materials is how unqualified Snowden was to work within the intelligence community.
Here’s a young man who couldn’t (or didn’t want to) complete high school! However, as supposedly “computer wizard” (words he used to describe himself in an article he wrote for Ars Technica in May 2006), began an intelligence career after a disastrous 5-month stint in the Army that ended abruptly when he allegedly broke both legs. For me, the “computer wizard” evokes John von Neumann or Alan Turing. Edward Snowden? I do not believe it.
An army spokesman confirmed to British media last year that Snowden was indeed discharged on September 28, 2004, just 147 days after enlisting on May 7 of that year. Snowden “did not complete any training or receive any awards,” the Army flatly states.
Granted, Snowden left the military without a GCE or any certificate of completing any training. At this point, he had completed sixth grade in elementary school.
Snowden stepped on the water for a year in 2005 as a “safety specialist” at the University of Maryland. Center for Advanced Language Studies, an entity funded primarily by the United States Government, although it is a public facility with no classified or classified activities. Hears Not have a security clearance.
And then beyond credibility, in 2006 she joined the CIA, without even a high school diploma and after a career in the military that can be charitably described as undistinguished. And this in an environment where new graduates from America’s top universities – Stanford, Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and many other major schools – compete with each other for highly coveted positions in America’s underground services. How could this happen?
Well, it happened in part because Snowden was not an intelligence officer, just an employee, some kind of computer mechanic who made sure the gears were greased into the computer hardware. At no time was Edward Snowden an analyst or case officer. His only job was to make sure the computer’s gears engaged without squeaking or grinding. Snowden was at the bottom of the intelligence food chain. He wasn’t doing analysis, much less case work.
After an unforgettable 3-year career, Snowden resigned from the CIA in early 2009. Because he still had valid security clearances, Dell hired him as a lowly “systems administrator” to repair computers within an Agency project. of Homeland Security on a US base in Japan. Dell’s records show that he remained on his payroll for four years, until 2013. It is now believed that it was during his time at Dell, when he had unrestricted access to the hardware within the bowels of the NSA network, that he used USB sticks to copy top secret documents.
In March 2013, Snowden was on the move again, this time to Booz Allen Hamilton. Just eight weeks later, on May 20, 2013, Snowden flew to Hong Kong to meet with British journalists. And by June 5, 2013, the world found out about him in a series of articles on classified surveillance programs that appeared both in the guardian and the Mail. What motivated you to make this breakup, or perhaps more importantly, who motivated it?
Lucas points to the evidence that Snowden from the beginning was working for the Russians.
In the months that have passed since June 5 of last year, I have been waiting for the media to take hold of this story and interpret what Snowden has revealed and why. It has not happened.
Lucas’s short ebook (around 80 pages) is the first to raise the absolutely critical issue that no one else has touched upon: namely, that while it may have been useful in a general way in showing the extent of covert activities on the internet The NSA and its intrusion In American life, there has been little to no discussion of how seriously Snowden has damaged and compromised the United States’ national security apparatus, the very machinery we rely on to prevent us from suffering a repeat of the 11th. of September.
Lucas is a serious journalist with 30 years of experience covering active intelligence. He is not an accessory to the CIA, the NSA or the GCHQ in England. He wrote Disappointment in 2011, and The new cold war in 2008. Lucas makes clear, in lucid and flowing paragraphs filled with evidence, how grossly Snowden has violated the national security apparatus of the United States and Britain. He rightly points out that in the clamor to punish governments for allegedly violating the privacy of average citizens, what has been dangerously forgotten is that the United States and the United Kingdom have powerful and deadly enemies whose plans it is essential that our planners policy have access to.
That access is what the NSA, GCHQ and others provided, but they may no longer be able to provide it because Edward Snowden has treacherously revealed sources and methods that have caused the well to run dry. It is also possible that double agents in Russia, Iraq, Iran, and other hostile nations have been hunted down, tortured, and killed for their cooperation with US authorities. And so the question remains: who was Snowden working for?
“On June 21,” Lucas writes, “the United States revoked Snowden’s passport. He flew to Russia with another travel document, apparently one issued by the Ecuadorian government through its embassy in London, where the fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is barely living a claustrophobic existence. “
Did Snowden end up in Moscow by mere chance? Or was it there as part of a long-term plan? We just don’t know.
“Snowden’s life in Moscow is shrouded in secrets,” Lucas tells us. “He has a job, but nobody knows where. Except for a brief meeting arranged with journalists and activists at the Moscow airport, he only sees his supporters … With his public statements controlled, it would also be easier to prevent him from spouting facts that would undermine the story of an innocent whistleblower acting solely on his own initiative. “
Slowly but surely, Lucas leads us to a place where he hoped it wouldn’t be, a very dangerous place that suggests that Snowden has become a pawn of people whose interests are out of step with those who seek to preserve American lives.
Snowden “has not given a proper press conference or been open to any kind of scrutiny (strange behavior, some might think, for an apostle of transparency). No one knows where he lives. None of this inspires confidence in the idea that He is a free agent. He supports the theory that he is Russian. “
The jury has not yet arrived, of course, although Edward Lucas has given us an impressive preview of what the verdict might be. Time is on the side of the truth in these matters. It is very likely that, in a matter of months or years, we will know with great confidence what Edward Snowden was about and why. In the meantime, we should all be concerned that he was not looking out for his country’s best interests, and that this brilliant, naive, undisciplined dilettante with two broken legs and an empty resume has become Vladimir Putin’s clever or unwitting tool. , a man whose intelligence credentials are not in doubt.
Lucas has written an impressive and brilliant short book that I couldn’t recommend more. It is by far the best journalism to come out of the Snowden scandal so far. Hopefully not the last. There is more to tell. Stay tuned.