Friday, April 18, 2014

Last Call For The Snowjob, Con't.

In response to yesterday's embarrassing dance as Putin's puppet, Edward Snowden apparently took to the Guardian's op-ed section and wrote a rather interesting defense of his actions giving the motive that he was trying to hold Putin as accountable as he wants President Obama to be

On Thursday, I questioned Russia's involvement in mass surveillance on live television. I asked Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, a question that cannot credibly be answered in the negative by any leader who runs a modern, intrusive surveillance program: "Does [your country] intercept, analyse or store millions of individuals' communications?"

I went on to challenge whether, even if such a mass surveillance program were effective and technically legal, it could ever be morally justified.

The question was intended to mirror the now infamous exchange in US Senate intelligence committee hearings between senator Ron Wyden and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, about whether the NSA collected records on millions of Americans, and to invite either an important concession or a clear evasion. (See a side-by-side comparison of Wyden's question and mine here.)

Clapper's lie – to the Senate and to the public – was a major motivating force behind my decision to go public, and a historic example of the importance of official accountability.

In his response, Putin denied the first part of the question and dodged on the latter. There are serious inconsistencies in his denial – and we'll get to them soon – but it was not the president's suspiciously narrow answer that was criticised by many pundits. It was that I had chosen to ask a question at all.

I was surprised that people who witnessed me risk my life to expose the surveillance practices of my own country could not believe that I might also criticise the surveillance policies of Russia, a country to which I have sworn no allegiance, without ulterior motive
. I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question – and Putin's evasive response – in order to speculate, wildly and incorrectly, about my motives for asking it.

It's those last two paragraphs that really, really ring alarm bells for me.  This comes across as incredibly condescending and arrogant, as if anyone in the class of Snowden's critics even have the right to question his motives.  Given what Snowden is trying to accomplish, the irony of that is breathtaking.   He basically says "I'm sorry you misunderstood me" which is no apology at all, and then dismisses his critics as speculating wildly and incorrectly about him.

He then goes on to point out that yes, Russia is very much a surveillance state, and that he was trying to get Putin into a "gotcha" moment.

The first is true.  I don't believe the second.   That's pretty naive.  But how then do we explain this column?

If Snowden didn't pen this, he's being used as a pawn by his allies as well as Putin, in which case he's severely damaged his own argument not once but twice in the last two days.  If Snowden did pen this, he's an arrogant prick who believes he's beyond criticism, and who severely damaged his own argument not once but twice in the last two days.

Now having said all this and insofar as there are two separate arguments here, that is A) “What role should the NSA play in America and how can we enforce that the NSA remains in that role when they are a covert organization with next to zero transparency” and B) “Did Edward Snowden really have no other choice but to break the law in order to expose the NSA’s practices”, Snowden remains the sideshow compared to the NSA's awful practices.

My problem is the people who say “A justified B, and therefore Snowden is a hero” and then when Snowden does something like this, immediately respond with “Snowden is not the argument.”

I agree Snowden himself and his conduct are a much much much smaller issue than the NSA repeatedly not telling the truth and doing whatever the hell they feel like, because NSA LOL.

But there are people that not only want it both ways, they conflate the two arguments to begin with, and that’s making any realistic discussion on A) very difficult.

And now we have Snowden himself making that discussion more difficult with his own actions.  Snowden's credibility is damaged.

But maybe that's the whole point, says Putin, laughing in the background.

No, President Obama Is Not Deporter-In-Chief

No matter how much the Freakonomics crew at Vox like to think so, the fact is no, President Obama is not "deporting more immigrants than any president in history".  It's complete nonsense, as Sean Davis at The Federalist explains:

Vox writer Dara Lind didn’t just torture the data. Oh no. This was no simple waterboarding operation. The offending data was not forced to give a bogus confession. Nope. Lind straight up had the traitorous data disappeared.

In order to make her point that Obama was far more willing to deport illegal immigrants than his predecessor, she was forced to ignore and exclude 80 percent of all deportations under Bush. That’s right. How laughably wrong is Vox’s claim, which was obviously meant to make Obama look tough in order to make it easier to pass some type of immigration amnesty? Lind had to exclude 8.3 million deportations under Bush in order to con her readers into believing that the current president is totes the toughest ever on illegal immigration.

Now granted, The Federalist is dudebro central and very much is anti-Obama, with the theory that Vox is trying to make Obama look tough on immigration in order to pass "amnesty".  But the funny part is Reuters comes to the same conclusion about President Obama's deportation record, quoting a NY Times piece on the data.

Deportations through U.S. immigration courts have fallen 43 percent in the past five years as the federal government brought fewer cases before those courts, according to Justice Department data analyzed by the New York Times on Wednesday.

The figures come as President Barack Obama and House of Representatives Republicans clashed openly over immigration- reform legislation that remains stalled in the Republican-led House.

More than 11 million people are believed to be in the United States illegally. Many are children brought by their parents across the border from Mexico.

Obama, who has made immigration reform a priority, has drawn fire from advocacy groups and been called "deporter in chief" for presiding over an administration that has deported some 2 million people. But his administration brought 26 percent fewer cases in immigration courts in 2013 than in 2009, the New York Times reported.

Judges ordered deportations in some 105,000 of those cases in 2013, which is just part of total annual deportations. The lower numbers, however, contributed to an overall drop in removals in 2013, which saw nearly 370,000 deportations, a 10 percent decrease from 2012, the newspaper reported.

The Department of Homeland Security, which handles immigration prosecutions, opened 187,678 deportation cases in 2013, nearly 50,000 fewer than in 2011, the newspaper said. In addition, the courts increasingly are deciding against deportation and allowing immigrants to remain in the U.S., the Times said.

Funny how that works out.  It's like the President really is deporting fewer people than Bush because he understands how broken Republicans keep making our immigration system.

Putin's Latest Snowden Job

Hey look, Dudebro Defector has gone from heroic figure of the information age to Putin propaganda tool!

NSA leaker Edward Snowden put a direct question to Vladimir Putin during a live televised question-and-answer session Thursday, asking Russia's president about Moscow's use of mass surveillance on its citizens. 
Speaking via a video link, Snowden asked: "I've seen little public discussion of Russia's own involvement in the policies of mass surveillance, so I'd like to ask you: Does Russia intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?" 
Putin replied by stating Russia did not carry out mass surveillance on its population, and that its intelligence operations were strictly regulated by court orders. 
"Mr Snowden, you are a former agent, a spy, I used to work for the intelligence service, we are going to talk one professional language," Putin said, according to translation by state-run broadcaster Russia Today
"Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law have to get a court permission to stalk that particular person. 
"We don't have as much money as they have in the States and we don't have these technical devices that they have in the States. Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by society and the law and regulated by the law."

To recap, Obama and America, evil fascist capitalist pigs who spy on everyone so you can't trust a single word he says.  Putin and Russia, so much better than America as beacons of human rights who love freedom and are 100% totally credible, because Snowden!  (Please ignore our invasion of Ukraine.)

Please, tell me again how awesome Russia's human rights record is. I wonder if Edward is uncomfortable with Putin's hand up his ass like that.

Speak, puppet.  Speak.  Eli Lake at the Daily Beast rips into Snowden:

Snowden and his defenders have repeatedly said the former NSA contractor does not control the master files of intelligence documents he originally took from the U.S. intelligence community even if he wanted to hand them over to Russian intelligence. Thus far no U.S. official has provided any public evidence to suggest that Snowden was a paid foreign agent when he took those documents.
But on Thursday Snowden looked to some like he was participating in a Soviet-style propaganda play. “Whatever else Snowden might think he has been doing, surely he must understand he was just used as a prop by the president of the Russian federation,” said Michael Hayden, a former NSA and CIA director under the George W. Bush administration who has been one of his former agency’s most ardent public defenders. Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has also been critical of Snowden and the journalism his leaks have helped produce said, “It speaks volumes that Snowden lends his name to Putin’s propaganda efforts.”

Galeotti says he found the display of Snowden’s question for Putin on eavesdropping to be depressing. “I believed he was an honest man who made some stupid choices,” says Galeotti. “But in this case he was doing what was in his handler’s interests.”

“We have to think of two Snowdens,” Galeotti tells The Daily Beast. “There was the original whistleblower who thought he was doing something good for the world. Now there is the Snowden—to put it crassly—who is bought and paid for entirely by the Russians. The Russians are not altruistic, if they are protecting him they are doing so because there are things he can do to repay them.”

In the immortal words of Trent Reznor, "Bow down before the one you serve, you're going to get what you deserve."


Related Posts with Thumbnails