US spy agencies advocate expedient murder of Americans? 1

This is from  the Guardian, the British newspaper that first exposed the extent of the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance capability and practice. We have very seldom found the powerful left-slanted pro-Islam anti-semitic Guardian worthy of quoting unless to argue against it. This time we find value in one of its articles, an interview with their NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, a former technical assistant for the CIA, now in Hong Kong where he has sought asylum for reasons that emerge in what he reveals among these extracts:

Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?

A: The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards. I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under. …

Q: Do you see yourself as another Bradley Manning?

A: Manning was a classic whistleblower. He was inspired by the public good.

Q: Do you think what you have done is a crime?

A: We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me. …

Q: What do you think is going to happen to you?

A: Nothing good.

Q: Why Hong Kong?

A: I think it is really tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People’s Republic of China. It has a strong tradition of free speech.

Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?

A: That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians. 

Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?

A: You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.

Q: Does your family know you are planning this?

A: No. My family does not know what is happening … My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner. Anyone I have a relationship with … I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I am not going to be able to communicate with them. They [the authorities] will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night. …

Q: Washington-based foreign affairs analyst Steve Clemons said he overheard at the capital’s Dulles airport four men discussing an intelligence conference they had just attended. Speaking about the leaks, one of them said, according to Clemons, that both the reporter and leaker should be “disappeared”. How do you feel about that?

A: Someone responding to the story said ‘real spies do not speak like that’. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process – they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general.

Q: Do you have a plan in place?

A: The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me … My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over internet freedom. I have no idea what my future is going to be. They could put out an Interpol note. But I don’t think I have committed a crime outside the domain of the US. I think it will be clearly shown to be political in nature.

Q: Do you think you are probably going to end up in prison?

A: I could not do this without accepting the risk of prison. You can’t come up against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk. If they want to get you, over time they will.

So if Edward Snowden is to be believed, the intelligence agencies of the United States like the idea of killing people to shut them up. Snowden does not say in the interview that they have killed people whose testimony against them they fear, but would they advocate such expedient murders of US citizens if they did not believe they can get away with them? And if they are all for them, and think they can get away with them, is it not highly probable that they have committed them?

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However –

Scott Johnson of PowerLine, whose opinion we hold in high esteem, has doubts about the value of Snowden’s revelations and his motivation:

If you’ve been queasy about the ongoing disclosures of anti-terror national security programs by lefty Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian (UK), as I have, I doubt the Guardian’s profile of Greenwald’s source — one Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old self-described former technical assistant for the CIA who says he has has worked at the NSA for the last four years as an employee of outside contractors including Booz Allen and Dell — will allay your queasiness.

Read the whole thing and render your own judgment. Snowden seems to me a true believer of doubtful maturity sunk in his own weird grandiosity. Greenwald of course celebrates Snowden as a “whisteblower.” That is a conclusion that begs the question, but I got off the train long before reaching this statement of reassurance, provided to Greenwald from the refuge of a hotel room in Hong Kong:

“I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,” he said. “There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”

As for transparency, I think I can see right through him.

  • liz

    In light of the targeting and persecution of Tea Party and other conservative groups that this administration has been carrying on (which should disqualify them from “winning” the last election), all of this comes as no surprise.
    Whatever this guys motives were, his claims are totally believable.