The PJ Tatler

Snowden's Lastest News Isn't News, But Its Disclosure Does Harm America

Edward Snowden has revealed that the United States hacks China. He must be trolling the NSA along with the media and the rest of the world, because while damaging to disclose, it is not news.

Edward Snowden, the self-confessed leaker of secret surveillance documents, claimed Wednesday that the United States has mounted massive hacking operations against hundreds of Chinese targets since 2009.

The former contractor, whose work at the National Security Agency gave him access to highly classified U.S. intelligence, made the assertions in an interview with the South China Morning Post. The newspaper said he showed it “unverified documents” describing an extensive U.S. campaign to obtain information from computers in Hong Kong and mainland China.

I’m sure the US hacks not only China, but probably Russia, Iran, North Korea and probably dozens of other governments, friendly and otherwise. And they hack us. Cyberspace has been battle space for decades now. Most Americans already suspected or know this, and are fine with it.

This is news to no one with a pulse and a functioning brain. Snowden once joined the military, he claims, to join the Special Forces, though he doesn’t appear to have completed basic training. Their tactics are rather more aggressive than hacking. Is he a naif? Does he not know that nation states engage in arguments and tactics just shy of war all the time?

The Post speculates on why he’s talking about the hacking now.

By speaking with Hong Kong’s oldest English-language newspaper, Snowden seemed to be directly addressing the city he has chosen as his safe harbor. And by disclosing that he possesses documents that he says describe U.S. hacking against China, he appeared to be trying to win support from the Chinese government.

If that’s what he’s really doing, then he’s not just a traitor or hero. Whatever else he is, he is also a geek chic fool for defying one somewhat repressive government and then running into the arms of a far more repressive government. There is no Miranda warning in China. There is no Bill of Rights. There is no right of dissent. There is only the Communist Party and its centralized power and its realpolitik interests.

I suspect that he isn’t actually trying to curry favor with the Chinese government, though. He may be signalling that he knows what they’ve been doing too, or he may be playing some other game.

Update: Lying about easily checked claims is no way to build credibility.