Snowden sideshow

Is the search for NSA leaker distracting from more important issues?
Associated Press
Jun 29, 2013

Edward Snowden's continent-jumping, hide-and-seek game seems like the stuff of a pulp thriller — a desperate man's drama played out before a worldwide audience trying to decide if he's a hero or a villain.

But the search for the former National Security Agency contractor who spilled U.S. secrets has become something of a distracting sideshow, some say, overshadowing the important debate over the government's power to seize the phone and Internet records of millions of Americans to help in the fight against terrorism.

"You have to be humble on Day 1 to say, 'This isn't about me. This is about the information.'... I don't think he really anticipated the importance of making sure the focus initially was off him," says Mike Paul, president of MGP & Associates PR, a crisis management firm in New York. "Not only has he weakened his case, some would go as far as to say he's gone from hero to zero."

Snowden, he says, can get back on track by "utilizing whatever information he has like big bombs in a campaign," so the focus returns to the question of spying and not his life on the run.

Snowden's disclosures about U.S. surveillance to The Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post have created an uproar in Washington that shows no signs of fading.

A petition asking President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden has collected more than 123,000 signatures.

But the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., meanwhile, has called Snowden's disclosure of top-secret information "an act of treason." House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is among those who've called Snowden a "traitor."

The president has dismissed the 30-year-old Snowden as a "hacker" and he had pledged that the U.S. won't be scrambling military jets to snatch Snowden and return him to the U.S., where he faces espionage charges.

Snowden is possibly holed up in the wing of a Russian airport hotel reserved for travelers in transit who don't have visas to enter Russia. He might be waiting to hear whether Ecuador, Iceland or another country might grant him asylum. He fled Hong Kong last weekend after being charged with violating American espionage laws.

Some say Snowden is losing ground in the battle for public opinion by cloaking his travels in secrecy, creating more interest in his efforts to elude U.S. authorities than his allegations against the government.

By disappearing in Russia, he loses "access to rehabilitate himself in the public's mind," says William Weaver, a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso who has written about government secrecy.

"You have to keep selling yourself, if you will, and do it in a smart way so people don't get tired of you. ... His only hope was to hit a grand slam home run with the public and make it stick. For every hour that he's not doing something like that, he's in trouble."

Others say Snowden's personality is irrelevant and doesn't change his major argument — that U.S. intelligence agencies have lied about the scope of its surveillance of Americans.

Gene Healy, a vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute, recently wrote an essay denouncing pundits who've labeled Snowden a "grandiose narcissist" and a "total slacker." He maintains that the former contractor's revelations are all that matters. "The content of the message is far more important than the character of the messenger," he wrote in the Washington Examiner.

Healy said "the most disturbing" part of Snowden's disclosures was the massive amounts of data collected on citizens. "The potential abuse of that information represents a grave threat to American liberty and privacy regardless of Snowden's character and motivations," he wrote.

David Colapinto, general counsel at the National Whistleblowers Center, says it's not surprising Snowden has become an "easy target'" facing harsh criticism from those at the highest levels of government — people "who have a bigger megaphone than he does."

"The name-calling and whatever may happen in the future — we don't know what he's going to do," he adds. "We don't know what the government is going to do. ... It's pretty hard to pull out a crystal ball."

So far, America seems to be divided, according to polls taken in the first days after Snowden's leak of top-secret documents. Many people initially applauded the former contractor for exposing what they saw as government spying on ordinary Americans. Since then, though, government officials have responded with explanations of the program and congressional testimony attesting to the value of surveillance in thwarting terrorist attacks.

In one poll, a June 12-16 national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA Today, 49 percent of those surveyed said the release of classified information about the NSA program serves the public interest, while 44 percent found it harmful. For those under 30, the gap was dramatically larger. That group said it's good for the public by a 60-34 percent margin, according to the survey.

Still, 54 percent also said the government should pursue a criminal case against someone who leaked classified information about the program.

A second survey taken in that same five-day period found a similar split. The Washington Post-ABC news poll found that 43 percent support and 48 percent oppose criminally charging Snowden. But the survey also reported that 58 percent of Americans support the NSA's sweeping surveillance program.

Snowden has acknowledged taking highly classified documents about U.S. surveillance and sharing the information with the papers in Britain and Washington. He also told the South China Morning Post that the NSA hacked Chinese cellphone companies to seek text message data.

At this point, Snowden's main job is to stay out of prison and he has both a "powerful narrative" and major disadvantages, says Eric Dezenhall, head of a crisis management firm in Washington.

"The biggest thing on the asset side is the concern people have about government surveillance — it's very legitimate," Dezenhall says. "The weaknesses are having betrayed secrets he was entrusted with and the fact he ended up in these hostile countries. .... Public opinion doesn't move on nuance. (People think) You're a whistle-blower who's in Russia or China. So you think they have an answer to this problem? It's not very intelligent."

Gerald R. Shuster, a professor of political communication at the University of Pittsburgh, says if Snowden had remained in the U.S. and "stood his ground, he would have remained more heroic" and lawyers would have lined up to represent him.

But if he's brought back to face charges and "he's shown in handcuffs, the aura of idealism is over," Shuster says. "He's more and more perceived as a criminal."

Colapinto, the lawyer for the whistle-blower group, says it's too soon to know how Snowden's plight will play out.

"This is like a moving river," he says. "We're maybe midstream. We don't know where this will end up. I think history will judge him as things develop. But we just don't know the end of the story."




You mean like providing weapons to the Syrian rebels like these bozos that chose to chop the heads off a Christian Bishop and another young Christian man! These people are sub human if that.


The only difference between the muslims in that video and most christians in America, is that the muslims actually follow their book.


I guess if you like a one man book!

Darwin's choice

Or, maybe this......
Bob: "Did you hear about the Obama administration scandal?"
Jim: "You mean the Mexican gun running?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean SEAL Team 6 Extortion 17?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the State Dept. lying about Benghazi?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the voter fraud?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the military not getting their votes counted?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the president demoralizing and breaking down the military?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the Boston Bombing?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the president wanting to kill Americans with drones in our own country without the benefit of the law?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the president arming the Muslim Brotherhood?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The IRS targeting conservatives?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The DOJ spying on the press?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "Sebelius shaking down health insurance executives?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The NSA monitoring our phone calls, e-mails and everything else?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The president's ordering the release of nearly 10,000 illegal immigrants from jails and prisons and falsely blaming the seqester?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The president's threat to impose gun control by Executive Order in order to bypass Congress?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The president's repeated violation of the law requiring him to submit a budget no later than the first Monday in February?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The president's unconstitutional recess appointments in an attempt to circumvent the Senate's advise-and-consent role?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The State Department interfering with an Inspector General investigation on departmental sexual misconduct?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "HHS employees being given insider information on Medicare Advantage?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "Clinton, the IRS, Clapper and Holder all lying to Congress?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "I give up! ... Oh wait, I think I got it! You mean that 65 million low-information voters stuck us again with the most corrupt administration in American history?"

The Big Dog's back

* 57,700 Floridians are purged from voter rolls as "felons" by George Bush's brother Gov. Jeb Bush 5 months before 2000 election; most are African Americans and not felons at all, costing Al Gore the state and the election.

* Fighting a Florida recount in U.S. Supreme Court, Bush lawyers fly back and forth from Tallahassee to Washington on Enron jet.

* 2000 election is decided for Bush 5-4 by U.S. Supreme Court, which orders a halt to Florida vote recount based on an inapplicable constitutional provision and stipulates that its ruling cannot be used as legal precedent for any other case.

* California runs low on electricity immediately after election of Bush, who refuses to intervene. Texas energy companies including Enron are later convicted of creating false shortages to drive up prices.

* Secret Energy Council: Bush backers including Enron meet after election to re-write U.S. environmental laws.

* White House fights the Government Accountability Office's request for release of Energy Council documents all the way to Supreme Court, and prevails in a 5-4 decision.

* Shortly after inauguration, Bush reneges on campaign pledge to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions.

* EPA and other agencies are staffed with industry insiders who go to work reversing environmental protections in effect since 1970s.

* 60 eminent scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, send an open letter to the Bush administration, accusing it of shutting scientific advisory committees, stacking others with unqualified political appointees, and censoring reports that conflict with the administration's views.

* Bush tax giveaways deplete U.S. Treasury to reward top 1% of taxpayers.

* Bush ignores national security warning that Osama bin Laden is determined to strike U.S. targets.

* Bush sits with schoolchildren for seven minutes after being informed on September 11, 2001 that U.S. is under attack; several days later his administration over-rides the FAA ban on air travel and has bin Laden's relatives and other wealthy Saudis flown out of U.S. "for their safety."

* White House vigorously opposes creation of the 9-11 Commission.

* Bush and Cheney finally appear before 9-11 Commission together, and censor report's findings on Saudi involvement in attack.

* Judge Advocate General under Gen. Tommy Franks forbids a Predator Drone direct strike on Taliban leader Mullah Omar in first few hours of Afghan war. The hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden is then delegated to Afghan rebels in Tora Bora. Both terrorists escape and are still at large when Bush leaves office seven years later.

* Drug companies get their way as 2003 Medicare Bill prohibits government from negotiating lower prescription drug prices for seniors.

* U.N. weapons inspectors kicked out of Iraq when they find no Weapons of Mass Destruction; Bush administration uses "mushroom cloud" scare and false story of Iraqi involvement in 9-11 attacks to gain American support for Iraq invasion.

* Budgeted funds for Afghanistan war are diverted to invade Iraq.

* Any questioning of the war in Iraq is labelled "unpatriotic" as embedded U.S. press goes along for the ride.

* U.S. military defends Iraqi Oil Ministry while Baghdad museums are looted of priceless antiquities.

* Iraqi army disbanded by Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer, over objections of Gen. Garner. This throws 250,000 angry, armed Iraqis out of work, creates insurgency and helps enable flow of foreign fighters into Iraq. Asked later about how the decision was made to disband the Iraqi army, Bush says he can't remember.

* Halliburton (Dick Cheney, former CEO) secures war contracts worth billions of dollars by sealed, noncompetitive bids.

* American troops travel in unarmored Humvees and have to buy their own body armor.

* Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forced to stop sending "killed in action" condolence letters signed by autopen after an outraged father complains to his Congressman and it comes out in a hearing.

* Abu Ghraib torture photos released.

* Private contractors soon outnumber military in Iraq and operate with far less accountability.

* Valerie Plame outed as CIA agent by White House, in violation of federal law, as payback for her husband Joseph Wilson's op-ed piece disproving Bush's State of the Union claim that Saddam Hussein tried to purchase nuclear materials in Africa.

* Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby found guilty of obstruction of justice in Plame case; sentence later commuted by Bush.

* White House cites "Executive Branch confidentiality interests" in withholding information from Congress on the "friendly fire" death of Pat Tillman, former NFL player who joined the Army after 9-11.

* White House advisor Karl Rove pushes anti-gay "Defense of Marriage" constitutional amendment to whip up Republican base and helps tip eleven states for Bush in 2004, after burying his own adoptive gay father in the summer of that year.

* Character assassination of 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry with "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ads funded by oil interests.

* Ohio voting irregularities hand 2004 re-election to Bush, who is asked if he'll reach out to all Americans. "I'll reach out to those who share our views," he replies.

* "Spending his political capital," Bush attempts to privatize Social Security in 2005.

* Staged town meetings on Social Security allow no dissenting views. The public doesn't buy privatization.

* "Ignite! Learning," a company headed by Bush's brother Neil and party owned by his parents, gets federal funds to place its education product in disadvantaged school districts under the No Child Left Behind Act, without competitive bidding.

* Billions of dollars go missing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

* Bush fails to increase emergency readiness after being warned by the National Hurricane Center that the levees may break in Hurricane Katrina, August, 2005. A few days later, he says, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

* New Orleans floods as FEMA mismanages disaster response under leadership of Bush political appointee Michael Brown, who previously ran horse shows.

* Halliburton (Dick Cheney, former CEO) wins post-Katrina contracts with sealed, non-competitive bids.

* Veterans scandal--injured troops return from Iraq to substandard medical care and bureaucracy.

* Eight U.S. Attorneys fired for political reasons; Congressional testimony establishes that Justice Department hired and promoted on political grounds.

* Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigns in disgrace.

* White House refuses to testify to Congress as a year and a half's emails disappear.

* Taliban regains ground in Afghanistan as U.S. military is stretched thin.

* Domestic spying without warrants.

* Guantanamo holds hundreds of "enemy combatants" who are denied fair trials--even though most were never in combat and many were sold to the Americans for bounties of $3,000 - $25,000.

* Suspension of Habeas Corpus, the right of an imprisoned person to know why he is being held.

* Torture in Guantanamo and overseas secret prisons--gaining false confessions of an link between Iraq and Al Qaeda in order to justify the invasion of Iraq.

* Longtime Bush support of Pakastani dictator Pervez Musharraf despite his feeble effort to capture Bin Laden.

* Cronyism, poor oversight and financial deregulation lead to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

* Secretary of Treasury Paulson demands $700 billion bailout with no strings attached.

* Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) ignores repeated warnings about Bernard Madoff, who is arrested in the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history.

* With all three branches of the federal government dominated by one party in lockstep, checks and balances fail; motions by Congressman Dennis Kucinich to impeach the president and vice president go nowhere

The Big Dog's back

Now those are some real scandals.

Darwin's choice

Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. There's a great scandal for you! And, like your above post, old news. Can't change history. The "current" list of failings can be changed though. Obama will be judged harshly as a failure by historians!


I see the last communist talking points arrived via Big Dog's e-mail,
the DNC surely excels in electronic media distribution

The Big Dog's back

And that's only a small, small part of Bush's scandals. The SR doesn't have enough room to print them all.

Darwin's choice

"And that's only a small, small part of Obama's failure's. The SR doesn't have enough ink to print them all"

Fixed it for you!

The Big Dog's back

Child like behavior.

getit right be4...

Why must we spend so much time party bashing, and trying to make it seem as one party is better than the next? The government in general has been out of control for a very long time. It is time to get both parties under control before it is to late for a peaceful resolve.

It is time to get back on track and follow the Constitution. This country is not a Democracy it is a Constitutional Republic. It does not matter if 99% of Americans think its ok for the government to spy and collect data on its citizens without warrant in the name of security. It is against the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This country is not a Democracy the majority can not vote out the minorities rights.

How much more infringements on our rights do you think it will take to push thing pass the point of no return?

Darwin's choice

We have already passed that point......

The Big Dog's back

Gov got a warrant through the FISA court. bush is the one who did warrantless wiretaps.


Aussies blow us away as leaders of the free world.


I was sent that in an email Friday. At least she sees what is happening to the Brits. Keep your eye on the sky, one day your lady will be covered because THEY say so!!



I know. Strange that such violence over inequality would be occurring in the socialist paradise of Sweden isn't it?


I know this may sound ironic but I have Syrian friends with relatives that have fled to Sweden to get away from the fighting. They chose Sweden because it has the best giveaways. Not what I like to hear but reality it is!

The Big Dog's back

You sure are fascinated with FICTION. Oh, that's right, you are a rush/glen/fox follower.

The Big Dog's back

Yes, Obama should do that to the obstructionists Repubs.


Is Snowden "something of a distracting sideshow,...overshadowing the important debate,"?


"Probe of Contractor Vetting Snowden Sees Falsified Data":

The Peter Principle rules the world.


But not here in the US, the EPA will destroy us first!


I know we're off-topic but...

There is a direct correlation between the creation of the EPA in 1970 and the decline of heavy industry in the U.S.

The U.S. produces approx. 1/8 of the total carbon emissions on Earth.

What about the other 7/8ths????

Pres. Obama and the other "warmers" solution is an "incentive trap."

Read "Atlas Shrugged"? The "message" has been unfolding before our eyes.

The Big Dog's back

What's new, you are always off topic, especially with your Obama man crush.


Italy also believes that jobs are more important than the environment:

The Big Dog's back

Why are you righties so quick to throw our environment under the bus? Do you hate future generations that much?


“I really don't have time to deal with your dr_nk__n rants today.”

- DERPITY DOG, 06/29/2013 :)

Darwin's choice

Do you and Obama? Look at the national debt your love is running up, and you have the nerve to question concern for future generations? Do you hate them?

Must have had your bran muffin this morning, you're full of it again today!


I guess you have to ask yourself the same thing every time you shop Wal-Mart, unfortunately you can not buy many consumer items made in the US anymore : (

The Big Dog's back

So we should let Companies pollute our land, air and water more just so they bring jobs back? They are to busy exploiting 3rd world countries and making a ton of money in the process to bring jobs back here.