Friday, June 14, 2013

Is Edward Snowden an agent of the state or a CyberWarrior battling for our freedoms?

Below is the take of Naomi Wolf, on Sunday a different perspective from Ilana Mercer.

My Creeping Concern that the NSA Leaker is Not Who He Purports to be ..

By Naomi Wolf

I hate to do this but I feel obligated to share, as the story unfolds, my creeping concern that the NSA leaker is not who he purports to be, and that the motivations involved in the story may be more complex than they appear to be. This is in no way to detract from the great courage of Glenn Greenwald in reporting the story, and the gutsiness of the Guardian in showcasing this kind of reporting, which is a service to America that US media is not performing at all. It is just to raise some cautions as the story unfolds, and to raise some questions about how it is unfolding, based on my experience with high-level political messaging.

Some of Snowden’s emphases seem to serve an intelligence/police state objective, rather than to challenge them.

a) He is super-organized, for a whistleblower,  in terms of what candidates, the White House, the State Dept. et al call ‘message discipline.’ He insisted on publishing  a power point in the newspapers that ran his initial revelations. I gather that he arranged for a talented filmmaker to shoot the Greenwald interview. These two steps — which are evidence of great media training, really ‘PR 101″ — are virtually never done (to my great distress) by other whistleblowers, or by progressive activists involved in breaking news, or by real courageous people who are under stress and getting the word out. They are always done, though, by high-level political surrogates.

b) In the Greenwald video interview, I was concerned about the way Snowden conveys his message. He is not struggling for words, or thinking hard, as even bright, articulate whistleblowers under stress will do. Rather he appears to be transmitting whole paragraphs smoothly, without stumbling. To me this reads as someone who has learned his talking points — again the way that political campaigns train surrogates to transmit talking points.

c) He keeps saying things like, “If you are a journalist and they think you are the transmission point of this info, they will certainly kill you.” Or: “I fully expect to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act.” He also keeps stressing what he will lose: his $200,000 salary, his girlfriend, his house in Hawaii. These are the kinds of messages that the police state would LIKE journalists to take away; a real whistleblower also does not put out potential legal penalties as options, and almost always by this point has a lawyer by his/her side who would PROHIBIT him/her from saying, ‘come get me under the Espionage Act.” Finally in my experience, real whistleblowers are completely focused on their act of public service and trying to manage the jeopardy to themselves and their loved ones; they don’t tend ever to call attention to their own self-sacrifice. That is why they are heroes, among other reasons. But a police state would like us all to think about everything we would lose by standing up against it.

Read the rest here.


  1. The plus side, from her comments, is that it's safe to support him. If he is another agenda's cutout--really, so what? We like the fighting each other.

  2. I'm 50/50 as to whether he's legit or not.

    As for his conduct it could be just a careful media strategy. If he was legit he's been smart. He's endeared himself to the Chinese when he showed the newspaper a document proving the US is spying on them.

    The Guardian's editors are filtering everything he's giving them so they're being careful about "national security" but still releasing juicy stuff.

    The main thing for him is to play for public sympathy and especially endear himself to the Chinese who can veto his extradition.

    If legit he has played it well and it wouldn't surprise me if Greenwald or the other reporter did subject him to some media training to help him.

  3. Dropouts from govt. schools don't have anxiety toward confrontation of authority the average mainstream grads do. I see this poise in adult homeschoolers with authority figures all the time and am often astounded by it.

    1. Don't be surprised Eveready. The purpose of our public schools (Prussian Model) is to convince us it is noble and honorable to kill and die for the king. It has worked.

  4. This is one of Snowden's comments on a public internet forum from 2006 (verified)

    'Some girls are all about the glasses. I honestly don’t like em all that much, but many women are like “put your glasses on and I’ll take my shirt off."'

    Now look at the interview he did with the Guardian and he's wearing glasses ala RW. He's keenly self-aware at how to look his best for the audience. Looks like he had a haircut as well and was wearing a smart shirt and siting in front of a mirror in a swanky hotel. Possibly some make up and some stubble for added measure.

    This was a professional job and he put some effort into that unveiling but i'm not sure if this means anything more than looking his best and having a maximum impact to endear himself to the public and negate the demonization.

    Greenwald and the camera lady are professional enough to know how to give him basic media training and the remarks were no doubt carefully prepared.

    I found the references to "rendition" in his interview interesting because that is a particular stain on the CIA during the Bush years and I'm sure they're not doing this any more but wouldn't rule out an assassination if he's legit. However it's a lot harder now and would seem too suspicious to the average joe.

  5. As a spectator or outsider, its hard to be certain about anything like this. Only time will tell. Kudos to Wolf for a different take.

  6. I didn't find Wolf"s article very persuasive.

    It is actually in the Police State’s interest to let everyone know that everything you write or say everywhere is being surveilled, and that awful things happen to people who challenge this

    Don't we know already that terrible things happen to whistle blowers? Surely any potential whistle blower is well acquainted with their possible fate. Would this be an effective warning to Joe Average? Hmm, now I think Wolf might not be what she pretends, lol.

  7. I'll extend him the benefit of the doubt largely because the Guys running the NSA and all the rest believe they already have this authority to do whatever as long as they meet the formalities of the constitution.

    1. Did Naomi & John Duncan watch the same interview I did?

      Snowden has all the usual umms, uhs & verbal tics that most reasonably articulate people display when not reading from prepared notes. He does NOT speak in "whole paragraphs" -- in fact, there are moments when you can see him listening and swallowing noticeably (@ the 1:00 mark), the way people do when they're nervous & their mouth is dry. He pauses, adjusts his glasses, changes the angle of his head -- the normal mannerisms people exhibit when talking. He doesn't look like he's repeating scripted lines.

      I can't see much of his shirt beyond the collar, but it looks like an ordinary button-down gray shirt, nothing 'smart' about it. His glasses don't look particularly pricey. I can't tell if his hair was freshly clipped or cut last week, but why wouldn't a guy get a haircut before going on camera for an interview?

      Greenwald flew all the way to Hong Kong for this, so clearly the taping was discussed and scheduled in advance. He may even have told Snowden what questions he would ask. But why does Naomi think Snowden "arranged for a talented filmmaker" to shoot this? As the journalist, wouldn't it be Greenwald's job to arrange for the camera person? The video looks as though it was shot using ambient light. You can see the back of Snowden's head in the mirror, which suggests that he's in a small hotel bedroom, not a suite. There's nothing special at all in how this was shot.The top of his head is cut off in the frame for the first 4 min. of the tape! So the camera person was competent but far from 'talented'. Snowden could use a shave and clearly has no make-up on. He hardly looks like a man who was overly-concerned about his appearance.

      If memory serves, when a whistleblower comes forward, doesn't the police state quickly trot out respected public figures (authors, political consultants, ex-gov't officials) -- to start picking apart the story in order to discredit them?

      They've already got his dad on tv, holding up the customary adorable baby picture and telling his son to stop the leaks, that he's better off in an American prison than on the run abroad. Pffffttt!

      I'll take this guy at his word until someone proves that he's a CIA plant being used to make the NSA look bad.