One thing that continues to hold true for the intelligence community in regards to the Edward Snowden revelations: they will never stop trying to demonize him for hurting their image so badly.
In a recent op-ed, former high-ranking CIA official, Jack Devine, embarrassed himself by attacking Snowden and trying to bundle his whistle-blowing in with past traitors to the U.S. in an attempt to link his actions to more nefarious events. He failed miserably.
The first glaring mistake Devine makes is giving the piece an overriding theme of comparing Snowden’s actions to that of traitors who fed covert information directly to Russia, mostly during the Cold War. Just one colossal problem with that comparison: Snowden did not covertly give the information he had to another foreign government or entity. He gave it to the media and to the people of the United States so what was going on could be debated openly. That is not an act of treason and should not be compared to other traitorous actions.
Devine also alleges the revelations have helped terrorists devise ways to encrypt their communications and gives a nifty little chart supposedly showing what has happened since the publication of the Snowden documents. This is the only item he can present as proof the situation has done “enormous international damage done to our country’s self-defense”. But this assumes terrorist networks were not already encrypting their communications, which they obviously were. The only thing his chart proves is a potential correlation and not actual causation. If he wanted to prove Snowden’s revelations had caused harm, he would need to extend that chart out for years prior to show there had been no attempts by terrorists to find different ways to encrypt their data.
And he knows he can’t do it.
This just screams of previous claims that widespread torture of terrorists produced a ton of intelligence and many other terrorists were captured and terrorists attacks were stopped because of it. Then when asked to provide actual proof of these frequent occurrences, the intelligence community comes up empty-handed.
Then he makes a rather bizarre point:
It is eminently clear that the intelligence community, Congress and the White House are struggling with the double-edged sword of privacy and national security, particularly as technology progresses at unprecedented speed. And I am reasonably optimistic that, despite the public hand-wringing, they will quickly come up with the right balance that protects our civil liberties and doesn’t cripple our intelligence collection against our enemies, who do, at times, operate in and cooperate with U.S. citizens. When the news cameras stop rolling, these officials all know just how vital these collection platforms are to our defense while at the same time truly appreciating the value of the law and the importance of protection of our citizens’ rights.
What he clearly doesn’t realize is (assuming this were a real democracy) this is what should have been done in the first place. And while it seems there will be some improvements, there will likely be continued violations of privacy of U.S. citizens without their knowledge it is occurring. This is obviously a claim made by someone trying to simply protect his agency’s turf and continue to get things done away from the critical eye of the American public. And it completely ignores all of the wasteful spying on our allies and their leaders and the taxpayer dollars that were thrown down the drain on those endeavors.
Then Devine makes another odd claim, especially considering he spent over three decades at the CIA:
It is inconceivable that any country can last long without guarding its sensitive information and capabilities and washing people like Snowden out of the system.
So, a country can’t exist long if its info is out in the open? Isn’t that the entire point of spying by U.S. intelligence? By that logic, shouldn’t Germany and Brazil be crumbling right now because of U.S. spying on their leaders, Merkel and Rousseff? Shouldn’t the U.S. be a footnote in the pages of history because of the Pentagon papers or the Chelsea Manning/Wikileaks situations? This is just another ridiculous claim that has no bearing on reality whatsoever.
For years there were rigid policies set in place that rightly prohibited NSA, CIA, and FBI from collecting on American “persons” (including green-card holders), unless there was a court order demonstrating reasonable cause.
Yeah, that’s been one of the things clearly proven false by the Snowden revelations, something Devine grudgingly concedes with kid gloves in the following paragraph.
Finally, after all this absurdity, Devine makes the most ignorant and ridiculous claim of the entire piece. He says Snowden should:
put himself in the hands of the U.S. judicial system, the most impartial in the world.
Wow. I’ll assume that was done tongue-in-cheek. Wait, no I won’t.
Most impartial? Seriously? I have to wonder which cave Mr. Devine has been living in for such a long time?
Let me introduce you to Robert H. Richards IV, a man convicted (not alleged or suspected but actually found guilty) of raping his daughter…who was three years old at the time. Length of prison sentence handed down: zero days. Why? Because the “defendant will not fare well” in prison. Did I mention he is an heir to the du Pont family fortune?
We could go on forever with the obvious disparities between how the justice system treats the rich vs. the poor. But when someone makes such a stupid claim, it should always be addressed with the appropriate scolding.
The demonizing of Edward Snowden will continue in the days to come but one important aspect will be absent from these attacks: an iota of proof he did anything morally (or democratically) wrong or did damage to anything other than the intelligence community’s over-sized ego.