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What Snowden Didn’t Know

June 24th, 2013 - 2:15 pm

I was originally going to write a post that started like this: The Los Angeles Times says the administration is considering accepting refugees from Syria:

Two years into a civil war that shows no signs of ending, the Obama administration is considering resettling refugees who have fled Syria, part of an international effort that could bring thousands of Syrians to American cities and towns.

The State Department is “ready to consider the idea,” an official from the department said, if the administration receives a formal request from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, which is the usual procedure.

Maybe the president is feeling guilty. Or maybe not. Michael Totten writes:

What could have been a bloody but short Libyan-style revolution to oust the tyrant Bashar al-Assad has instead metastasized into a grotesque sectarian war between the Sunni Muslim majority and the ruling Alawite minority. … And what could have been a major blow for the West in its cold war against Iran—Syria is Iran’s only state-sized ally in the Middle East—has instead morphed in part into a protracted red-on-red fight between an anti-American state sponsor of terrorism and the anti-American jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra (the Nusra Front), the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, which is fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army against Assad.

So it’s only right to accept one set of hostiles who are fleeing the other set of hostiles and vice-versa, even if both sets of hostiles hate America, because that’s what the political process is programmed to do. When they designed the refugee paradigm, nobody imagined that the refugees and their pursuers could be interchangeable.

In the meantime, Obama told Charlie Rose that nobody understood how hard it is being president. Lee Smith, watching the president describe his dilemmas, wrote:

In an appearance on the Charlie Rose show, the commander in chief told his host, “I’ve said I’m ramping up support for both the political and military opposition. I’ve not specified exactly what we’re doing, and I won’t do so on this show. … Unless you’ve been involved in those conversations,” Obama told Rose, “then it’s kind of hard for you to understand the complexities of the situation.”

For Obama, everything about Syria is complex — its vaunted air defenses, Iran’s massive investment there in men, money, and arms, Russia’s intractable diplomatic position, and especially the rebels themselves.

But what did that illustrate about Obama’s anxieties? I was stumped. Well, that was before I read Roger Simon’s excellent post on What Snowden Knew:

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a brief for Snowden. He seems to be a new form of narcissistic international creep, similar to Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame. I hope he gets dysentery in Ecuador or wherever he winds up.

But he may have done us a favor, putting an exclamation point on the activities of the NSA so there are no doubts. He also has made obvious the utter contempt with which Russia and China treat the Obama administration. (Evidently this was surprising to Dianne Feinstein on Face the Nation Sunday. Go figure.) … this presents an opportunity for dialogue we haven’t had for many years. Who knows if it will happen?

But if it does, I hope it will be intelligent and substantive. These are not easy questions. Good reasons exist for government surveillance.

Most obvious of them is the threat and reality of Islamic terrorism, which, despite the death of bin Laden, does not seem to be going away. Quite the contrary. It appears to be growing rapidly and dangerously….

But suffice it to say I’m not so keen on dismantling, or even much curtailing, the NSA. The IRS perhaps, but not the NSA.

Still, we have to figure out how to balance this.

Roger asks an intelligent question that nobody in power is likely to answer anytime soon.

What Snowden knew was that a large surveillance apparatus existed. And in his (choose one — naivete, malice, treason, idealism), Snowden found someone to help him lay it all out. But now, let’s think about what he didn’t know, or should’ve known but didn’t seem to know.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Question 1: What is the correct term for one who targets a position with sensitive information (as it now appears Snowden did), pledges an oath to protect state secrets, and then deliberately with forethought extracts those secrets to four laptops, bypassing security protocols specifically designed to protect that information, and immediately heads to the territories of USA Enemy #1 and #2?

Answer: A traitor.

Question 2 (for bonus points): What do you call an event where an entire group of people acquire Executive power and authority via democratic elections, who take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and then spend over five years systematically and methodically either violating, working around, or attempting to void the Constitution and 1st, 2nd, 4th, 10th, and probably other amendments which carry the common name "Bill of Rights"? Moreover, if that same group loses an election badly, and then sets out to use state law enforcement power to systematically attack those that caused that electoral loss, resulting in the total nullification of the group that arguably caused them to lose that last election badly, and they win reelection two years later, what is this called?

Answer: Coup d'etat.

Words mean things, and we need to ensure we correctly analyze and label these things.

Unless these violations result in jail time for the perps, there is no justice nor constitutional government in the United States of American. It's then "government by fiat", perhaps with 10,000 little intermediaries in between the big boss and where the DHS rubber meets the citizens pavement, but it's a dictatorship none the less.

No matter how artfully the political left in America dresses it up, the Obama Democrats are totalitarian thugs. I'll never again treat a Democrat, including half my own family, with any respect at all. They are my enemy. They are the enemy of FREEDOM.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"What does he [Obama] think he’s going to achieve by evading or obfuscating legitimate oversight?" wretchard

That's easy, information on his political enemies, which would be anyone to the right of his views. Obama has not constructed and expanded NSA intrusion into domestic spying in order to stop terrorists. To suppose that to be his motivation is to presume a complete and dysfunctional disconnect between his foreign policies and a purported desire to stop a 'terrorism' (sshh) that 'dare not mention its name'. To presume that degree of incompetence upon Obama's part, completely ignores his success with ObamaCare and his upcoming success with 'Comprehensive Amnesty'. An 'incompetent' did not successfully take the critical first step in nationalizing 1/6th of the US economy and guaranteeing a permanent democrat plurality. Effectively ending Republican governance and creating one party rule in America.

"Me? I would personally not interrogate al-Qaeda suspects too harshly and willingly run the additional risk of having my legs blown off as a consequence." wretchard

Were it only a personal choice and personal consequence, I might agree. But it is not. As Boston demonstrated, that is sacrificing eight year old children's lives and nearly destroying entire families. Families that shall never completely recover, the mental and emotional wounds that shall linger for decades and from which they may never recover.

"Martin Richard, 8, was killed when a bomb detonated. His younger sister, Jane, had part of her leg blown off. His mother, Denise, lost sight in one eye. And his father, Bill, suffered burns and shrapnel wounds to his legs, as well as some hearing loss.

Seven-year-old Jane, the statement said, is recuperating this week from her 11th surgery, and has successfully fought off infections and other complications after being unresponsive in the first two weeks after the attack.

“Last night’s operation marked an important milestone, as doctors were finally able to close the wound created when the bomb took her left leg below the knee,”...

Sorry but we cannot interrogate al-Qaeda suspects too harshly. To show mercy when they do not is to bring a knife to a gunfight. We should show al Qaeda less mercy than we did the Nazi's because al Qaeda does not wear uniforms, they act as spies do, concealing their identity. Spies are executed. When there is definite evidence of their allegiance to al Qaeda, extract what information they have and then drown them in pigs blood.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the points coming out of Roger Simon's piece is the concept that the current government of the entity still known as the United States of America does, in fact, have the protection of the United States from foreign threats and terrorist attacks as one of the priorities it is balancing. And if that were so, one could give weight to the argument.

However [and it is a very big "However" that deserves more emphasis than PJM's formatting will allow] we have 5 years + of observational data to show that the protection of this country, its interests, its people, its borders, its society, and its economy are NOT the goals of its policy at all; and that the opposite fits the data far more closely that Mr. Simon's postulate.

And in that case, the balance tilts far more strongly towards revealing the secrets and trying to give the American people knowledge of what they are facing.

As to Snowden himself, I'm pretty sure that I would either cross the street if I saw him, or at least try to stay upwind; or conversely I would just go stomp him into a mudhole. However, that is because he is not a patriot as I see one. He by his own admission, drank Obama's totalitarian kool-aid voluntarily. I am sure that his world view is pretty much opposite of mine, and that under slightly different circumstances he would happily supervise the shower cleanup crews in the 're-education camps' with a clear conscience.

That said, for whatever motives he has done the cause of Liberty in this country a greater service than every politician in this country for a generation.

We have a government that is not only attacking the American people and the Constitution with every tool at their disposal; but which is also happy to allow those same hostile foreign interests to attack us too and willingly look the other way while they do so. It is good to know where we stand.

Noting that the last few weeks have shown us a regime that is willing to use the coercive powers of the State against domestic political opponents, and lie about it under oath, and get away with it without consequences; I would not be at all surprised if Mr. Snowden, his friends, and his family, are the walking dead as we speak. And he probably knows it. So his options are limited.

Wretchard mentioned "evading or obfuscating legitimate oversight". We have a government that does not believe in the concept any more than the various Politburo's of Communist regimes, the Reichsleitung der NSDAP, or leadership of any petty junta believed that anyone had the right to tell them what they could or could not do.

Which means that the organs of State Security [Heimatsicherheitsdienst?] will inevitably be pre-emptively looking for those guilty of what the Soviets referred to as "Article 58" violations. With slight tweaks to terminology, of course.

And it will come down to making a choice. Will you stand with the Heimatsicherheitsdienst or with the precepts of the Founding Fathers? Snowden removed the excuse of ignorance as an option.

Moving back to Wretchard's original idea for this post, about the motives for admitting thousands upon thousands of Muslim refugees from several sides of the Syrian civil war; all of which with the possible exception of the Druse and any of the few remaining Christians are united in hatred of the West, the United States, and all flavors of 'infidel':

It is simple. Thousands of enemies of this country, admitted and supported with our tax money, and given an entire country as a free-fire zone to vent their hostility while the organizations which are supposed to be protecting us from such are ordered to look the other way. And the resulting violence can be used as a further excuse to crack down on those terrible Americans. What is being mentioned as a bug is in fact a feature.

Subotai Bahadur
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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Maybe Snowden wanted to avoid all the Gay Pride events. Those kind of things are not celebrated in Russia with love.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
... Genuine nice people. Let us take in those we can vet without too much delay. Better for us. Worse for whatever monster will inherit the rubble that remains.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Resettling refugees does make some sense if you have some sense in doing it.

The people leaving Syria are not, for the most part, those hard liners still there. They are just people caught between the gunfire. Some of them are doctors, engineers, experts of one thing or another who might be valued in our economy.

Syrians are still human beings. There is no reason not to take in those with proven skill. I have worked with a few who were excellent and genuinelt
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama, yet again, ios planning openly to circumvent congress with his 'climate change" push .... ... this on top of the amnesty debacle is gonna really suck.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Apparepntly, the Washington Post has also asked the question, What if Edward Snowden is a fabrication our our government to deflect attention from serious matters (Benghazi, Fast and Furious, IRS, DOJ, NSA leaks we knew about before Snowden came on the scene) already on our "plate"? Just asking...... is our government capable of something like that.

I can't say I'm ready to believe it but given the transparency of this government........ ?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"When they designed the refugee paradigm, nobody imagined that the refugees and their pursuers could be interchangeable."

No, there were people who questioned this, but they were shouted down as callous and racist by all-knowing, wise liberals.

42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hmmmm...What Snowden didn't know? Well he is young, and there is some evidence to suggest that he is terribly naive. If he wants to survive, he needs leverage (does he understand this?) if he were smart he would have all the 2004 NSA files on Obama, along with anything else on Obama. But I really doubt he's of that calibre (he strikes me as an anti-American Libertarian who would be far more likely to present "evidence" of dastardly deeds done by NSA folks, while shielding Obama.) So what he doesn't seem to know are who his true friends and enemies are (Cuba is not a Paradise of Liberty and Freedom, nor is Putin's Russia).
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Doubtful he had access to that information. Even among trusted operators there is compartmentalization of information to limit spills such as this one. You can be sure anything dangerous to Obama has the smallest circle of trusted access.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're right...I was indulging in a momentary daydream (it would be interesting if there ever *were* a true whistle blower; someone who'd spill the goods on Obama -- in a way a wonderful irony, or Obama getting his just deserts. I want to see Obama's sealed records).
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Concur with Subotai and Geoffrey. We are fast running out of options to stop this Leviathian that is rapidly being weaponized and paired with a Panopticon. William Binney, Russ Tice, and two other whistleblowers stayed behind and 'faced the music' and either got roughed up by the FBI while emerging naked from the shower [Binney] ignored [Tice, including his latest bombshell about Obama being monitored by the NSA in 2004 which MSM has studiously ignored] and Kirakou who exposed waterboarding and got jail time. We are rapidly approaching the Stauffenberg point at which 'traitors' may be tomorrow's patriots and today's flag wavers will be cursed by future generations as traitors who buried the Republic. I am not here to defend Snowden but neither do I condemn him solely on the basis of his itinerary.

Snowden has performed a useful service -- not only with his revelations that finally made what Binney and Tice said earlier unavoidable -- but also because has exposed the military industrial intelligence complex whores on the Right to all. He has demonstrated that there are many Americans, even those who proclaim themselves to be Constitutionalists, who would be just fine if Subotai or others who contribute here were to get black bagged or droned. In short, Snowden has shown us who the current and future traitors will be on the Right who will back the fedgov's brutal suppression of the handful of states that act to defend our Bill of Rights as 'putting down insurrection'.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think what Snowden didn't know or didn't think about is how quickly it's going to be over for him. The end is near. He's going to wash up in some third world backwater where his well-being will be in the hands of people who have no meaningful stake in his eventual fate. And the public interest in Snowden will fade. Nobody will care what happens to him. Nobody cares now. He can't come home, he can't really go anywhere once he lands wherever he's going. Ah, well. Hopefully he's brushing up on his Spanish.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The administration can lure him back by offering to lessen his sentence in exchange for his cooperation in damage assessment. In that way the total extent of what he has compromised can be assessed. Moreover, his lawyer can make representations with the oversight people so that the valid criticisms can be addressed in a classified or legitimate setting.

He won't get away scot-free. And maybe he'll never see the outside of jail again. But that may be his best option now. Of course it's possible that some players may prefer a no Snowden to a talking Snowden.

Sometimes all courses run ill, and yet there's always a lesser evil, if only by a little.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Moreover, his lawyer can make representations with the oversight people so that the valid criticisms can be addressed in a classified or legitimate setting."


I do not know if you have been watching this in any detail from Australia, but one of the problems is that the "oversight people" in Congress are doing their best to NOT commit any acts of oversight, because that would involve actually standing up to the Left. I would rule that option out.

We can be sure that after 5+ years of NSA bugging of all communications, with no exceptions for Congress [Every member of both Houses is issued a Blackberry as soon as sworn in, to run everything on. What company has the contract for Congressional Blackberries? Verizon. What company was the first to turn everything they touch en-masse to the NSA? Verizon.]

One has to assume that every member of Congress and every judge has either been compromised or has family or loved ones who are compromised. And they are being blackmailed, extorted, bribed, or a combination thereof. Which explains the supine response by the supposed opposition to this coup d' etat.

We are in Clausewitz territory.

Subotai Bahadur
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"One has to assume that every member of Congress and every judge has either been compromised or has family or loved ones who are compromised. And they are being blackmailed, extorted, bribed, or a combination thereof. Which explains the supine response by the supposed opposition to this coup d' etat."

Taking out the opposition one at a time and each "taken-out" person assuming that he is the only one upon whom they have the dirt. Sort of like digging up the sealed divorce records of Jack Ryan prior to the election and multiple other similar acts. Soetero has been at this for a long time.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
If one were cynical, it is would be easy to see Snowden as an upscale Bradley Manning. These two are going to get toasted, but not before they boost the stock of Wikileaks to the level of legend. Of course neither Snowden nor Manning are going to see much of the book royalties, nor are there any obvious cocktail parties in their futures.

I guess the moral of the story is to always make sure you don't get left holding the bag.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am reminded of the movie, White Nights; After they gleen any actual useful information, the Soviets (term used intentionally) will probably keep him around just to irritate the US. When he is no longer useful for propaganda purposes, he will man a weather station in Siberia, as the janitor.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have long believed that a security clearance was something you got so you could fiind out under threat of prison that which the enemy already knew.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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