January 2nd, 2014

The NY Times pleads Snowden’s case

With its usual respect for details and logic (which means, “very little”), the New York Times says Edward Snowden should be given clemency and allowed back into the country. The title of the editorial, “Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower,” sets the tone for inaccuracy, because the term is not applicable to Snowden whether you support him or not.

I’m not going to rehash the many many thousands of words I’ve already written on the subject of Snowden, but if you care to refresh your memory on that score, here they are.

It is no surprise at all that the Times wants to encourage the leaking of government secrets by insiders to newspapers rather than using the usual whistle-blower route that bypasses them. The Times still considers one of its finest hours and biggest triumphs to have been the publication of the Pentagon Papers (the WaPo was part of this as well) and the court case they won against Nixon’s effort to stop them.

Many of you may think the Times was heroic back then. But I call your attention to this and this:

Journalist Edward Jay Epstein has shown that in crucial respects, the Times coverage was at odds with what the [Pentagon Papers] documents actually said. The lead of the Times story was that in 1964 the Johnson administration reached a consensus to bomb North Vietnam at a time when the president was publicly saying that he would not bomb the north. In fact, the Pentagon papers actually said that, in 1964, the White House had rejected the idea of bombing the north. The Times went on to assert that American forces had deliberately provoked the alleged attacks on its ships in the Gulf of Tonkin to justify a congressional resolution supporting our war efforts. In fact, the Pentagon papers said the opposite: there was no evidence that we had provoked whatever attacks may have occurred.

In short, a key newspaper said that politicians had manipulated us into a war by means of deception. This claim, wrong as it was, was part of a chain of reporting and editorializing that helped convince upper-middle-class Americans that the government could not be trusted.

But back to Edward Snowden. I have long contended that he used the method most damaging to the interests of the US and most self-aggrandizing, and that he showed either dangerous naivete or dangerous stupidity about the motives and agenda of the Chinese and the Russians. He should pay the price for stealing and then dumping classified information, and it doesn’t matter if you believe his intentions were good (I have grave doubts) and are glad we have the information about the NSA program (I am glad).

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air deals with the whistle-blower issue quite effectively:

The editorial presents a false binary choice — NSA officers or going on the lam. There are other channels, including presenting the evidence of wrongdoing to members of Congress. Snowden shrugged that off as well in his interview last month with the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman, claiming that Congressional intel chairs’ “softball questions” to NSA and other intel leaders showed they wouldn’t do anything with the evidence if he provided it. That’s a dodge, though, especially since Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers aren’t the only two members of Congress. Senators Ron Wyden and Rand Paul were well-known opponents of domestic surveillance; why not go to them, or anyone else first before taking the cache elsewhere, especially to China and then Russia? The fact that the Times’ editors never even address that channel shows how weak their argument is — which is why they don’t really try to make the amnesty argument in the end.

The precedent that would be set by giving Snowden either amnesty or a reduced sentence would encourage future wannabees to do exactly what Snowden did. The security of our intelligence data—bad as it seems to be now—would become laughable.

Snowden is one of those topics that causes a firestorm of controversy whenever I tackle it, because he has many on the right and the left who defend him and consider him a hero. I have made it clear that I most definitely am not one of them.

[NOTE: See also this for some historical background about the Pentagon Papers.]

15 Responses to “The NY Times pleads Snowden’s case”

  1. NeoConScum Says:

    I’d drop Snowden down a deep well and weld a steel plate atop. Minimum.

  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    I think this is a false flag op so that they can get him inside the US borders and disappear him off the grid.

    The Guardian, being British, may not be directly controlled by Obama’s Regime, but I wouldn’t say the same thing about the NYTimes.

  3. Lizzy Says:

    Here’s why I think they’re now supporting Snowden: they want him to take the Amnesty deal, which will likely include him not revealing anything else about the NSA. Covering Obama’s a$$.

  4. Snackeater Says:

    Chinese businessman Chen Guangbiao has expressed a desire to buy the NYT. If he were to buy it, the Times’ would definitely start leaning more to the right, relatively speaking.

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    There is the rumour now that they realize Snowden not only knows which Democrats have blackmail over which other Demo/Repub, but what the actual blackmail material is. So they want him to hand over that material, so they start CYA.

  6. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Not sure the NSA datasweeping is all that useful. Recent report that they were drowning in data to the extent they couldn’t do anything with it.
    OTOH, given the Boston bombers on a platter, the intel weenies couldn’t seem to follow up on their phone calls to, as Ann Coulter put it, “terror central”.
    Maybe, I opined on Insty, the intel guys resented the Russians’ competence. “You’re not the boss of me.”
    I understand that pointing out various plots thwarted might reveal sources and methods, and nobody would believe them anyway, without a lot of corroborating detail. But they’ve not even bothered.
    As others have pointed out, we may not be catcing terrorists, but Obama and the left will have plenty of blackmail material available for political use.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Obama Regime, from my sources, have planted Muslim agents at the highest FBI and Department of Homeland levels. They are training the agents on how to “detect” Islamic Jihad. Which means that they won’t detect anything of the sort. No matter what the NSA says or thinks it has in data.

  8. blert Says:

    The irony… that the Pentagon Papers were an indictment of the Johnson maladministration… is lost on the kids.

    It’s in the popular imagination that Nixon was blocking their release because they pointed fingers at his administration.

    They were initiated by the LBJ DoD as an internal critique. IIRC, they cut off before Nixon took office.

    Famously, Nixon reversed essentially all of Johnson’s follies:

    Build up became a build down
    The draft was wound down to zero ASAP
    Notions of expanding the role of the National Guard… gone

    (LBJ had sent the 25th Division, a NG formation, (Hawaii) into the ‘birds peak’/ III Corps. The US Army wanted to expand that effort drastically. Clifford rethought the whole affair — brought in the old, WWII, hands.)

    This is but a part of a polity that has Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. as a Democrat, and imagines that the KKK was a Republican construct. The opposite being true in every case.

  9. parker Says:

    “As others have pointed out, we may not be catcing terrorists, but Obama and the left will have plenty of blackmail material available for political use.”

    BTW, Romney has an adopted black grandchild. Burn the racist down (metaphorically of course).

    “It’s in the popular imagination that Nixon was blocking their release because they pointed fingers at his administration.”

    Nixon was a statist, his ‘sins’ were many, but he was no LBJ.

  10. Mike Says:

    Snowden should stay in exile.

    And everyone who works for the NYT should be exiled. Forever. Hopefully to Tierra del Fuego. On an island. Without a boat.

  11. Richard Saunders Says:

    Ah, the Aldrich Ames of newspapers wants us to give Snowden a pardon. What a surprise! Preparatory to getting a pardon for themselves, lest they be prosecuted during a Republican administration — there’s no statute of limitations for treason, don’t ya know!

  12. Matt_SE Says:

    I already spammed the thread at Legal Insurrection about this, but I’ll repeat for everyone that might sprain a finger making the jump to that site:

    IMO, Snowden got a partial glimpse that the NSA was lying. He sought out more information, and because he didn’t know the extent of the lying, he took all he could get in order to sift through it later. Knowing the vindictiveness and secrecy (as well as mendacity) of the Obama administration, he fled rather than risk being silenced before he could reveal anything.

    He slightly missed the mark regarding the Congressional testimony: it wasn’t that Wyden et. al. didn’t want to do something, it was that they couldn’t do something about it.
    Wyden had hinted before that he was shocked at his briefings about the NSA, but he was under the threat of prosecution if he revealed anything. Republicans might’ve gone along (since it was damaging to Obama?), but there are also a lot of hawks that would’ve kept quiet.
    From a practical standpoint, Congress knows as much about the NSA programs as the NSA wants them to know. It’s tough to conduct oversight if you don’t know what questions to ask. Also, both Holder and Clapper were caught lying to Congress in testimony about national surveillance. They obviously think they can get away with it, and to this point they are correct.

    While I appreciate the within-the-bounds-of-the-law perspective that Neo Neocon and others bring to this issue, I respectfully submit that the game is rigged. There is no way to take down a Chicago gangster like Obama while working within a system controlled by him.

    And the system IS controlled by him:
    -Eric “My people” Holder will never prosecute Obama.
    -Clapper et. al. are complicit and guilty. They will not roll while there is any other option.
    -”Patriotism” and “national security” are buzzwords used to root our dissent and silence it; that is, if people don’t self-censor.
    -The MSM will continue to carry water for the administration and cover up any “mistakes”
    -Reid will never allow a conviction vote to come up in the Senate, assuming the House voted to impeach.
    -Assuming a case made it to SCOTUS (and I don’t even know what they could charge him with, let alone who has standing to sue), they would promptly reply that the Constitution has a mechanism for dealing with lawless presidents: impeachment. (see Reid, above)

    Snowden may or may not have realized all this, and made the calculation that nothing could be done at least while Democrats controlled the Senate. Or, maybe he’s a fool and a coward who ran away…and nothing can be done while Democrats control the Senate.

    I agree with Ymarsakar and Lizzy that the clemency is a ruse to get him to come back. He has the dirt, and they’re afraid of what he can do with it, especially right before the 2014 elections. As parker suggests, we have exactly as much proof that Snowden has hurt our intelligence as we do that the NSA program has helped catch terrorists…none.

    Unless you want to take Holder and Clapper at their words.

    The Times are either self-interested (Pentagon Papers redux), useful idiots, complicit or all three. Their motives are irrelevant.

    What should happen to Snowden ultimately depends on what information he has. If he was an idealistic fool who only exposed borderline-legal practices, I would agree with Neo Neocon. We must discourage subversion of American intelligence.
    If, on the other hand, he has information of wide-ranging illegality coming not only from the NSA, but also other agencies and including the White House, then he will have exposed a criminal organization unlike any other in American history. In that case, he should be given a medal.

  13. Matt_SE Says:

    By the way, it’s crossed my mind that Putin may not be granting Snowden asylum so much as he’s sitting on him for Obama.

    He’s a trump card that can go either way (assuming Snowden has the dirt): If Putin needs a favor from Obama, he can turn him over. If Putin wants to stick it to Obama even more, he can release Snowden “into the wild.”

    Not knowing if Putin can be trusted (heh) may be why I’ve heard that Snowden is looking to move on to another country.

    Who knows? Maybe after some NSA help with the two recent bombings in Russia (right before the Olympics, no less!), Putin will “have a change of heart.”

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    Putin, because he’s part of the KGB, knows how much trouble Soviet defectors caused by going to the US. Of course few people in the US believed in the defectors (and now we know why from books like American Betrayal).

    But Putin knows how it looks and feels for an American to seemingly seek political asylum in Russia, of all places. It turns the whole Cold War scenario on the head. Given Putin’s propaganda op piece in the New York times (?), he sort of knows how to get America’s goat, psychologically.

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    Would Obama have defended the Pentagon Papers or the NSA, if the NSA and Pentagon papers were the fault of the previous admin?

    Of course not. Grandma under the bus, right there, right then. He’s going to bring a gun to a knife fight and win, this Obama click. He’s going to make sure no school shootings happen in this country by banning guns.

    Cause he gonna bring a GUN to a knife fight.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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