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Overnight Open Thread (6-9-2013) | Main | Monday Morning News Dump
June 10, 2013

Top Headline Comments 6-10-13

Happy Monday.

Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker, claimed the name "Verax" for himself -- "truth teller" -- in his communications with the Washington Post.

In his interview with the Guardian, he paints himself as a very Manning-esque "whistleblower," although he takes pains to distinguish his own leak on the grounds that he carefully selected the classified information he released.

Snowden told the Guardian he doesn't fear the consequences of going public . . . which is why he fled to China, of course. Also, the term "whistleblower" doesn't seem to fit his case any more than it does Pfc. Manning's. Whistleblowing occurs when someone with inside knowledge of criminal wrongdoing brings it to the authorities -- but it doesn't seem like a crime occurred here. Some so-called whistleblowers occasionally run to the press instead, which -- in the case of leakers of classified information -- is itself a crime. No wonder he's running.

Slate, of all places, points out that in Snowden, we've been betrayed by the IT guy. And that is a parallel to the Manning case that should be noted. Disillusioned, idealistic computer geeks make all of our offices run. Someone on twitter pointed out that IT folks with "I support Online Rights: Electronic Frontier Foundation" stickers are about to have a rough week. Oh, and it looks like Snowden was a Ron Paul supporter. Naturally.

Also having a rough week will be the tech industry, which is having a crisis of confidence. I'm reminded of the movie 'Sneakers,' except this time, the corporate giant is working with NSA, instead of against it, and the lonely, honorable thief is just trying to set information free.

The Atlantic's Conor Freidersdorf raises a few nightmare scenarios with the NSA's trove, starting with: "what if China hacks it?" Indeed, the question of what China would do with the information -- or information like it -- is why we need to come to grips with whether we want this, what we want to do with it, or what we want our government to do with it. We can wish away the surveillance, but we can't wish away the technology. China, the Middle East, Russia are doing the same thing while we grapple with whether or not to unilaterally disarm.

Finally, a caution against making an idol out of Snowden or out of the idea of Snowden from my pal, the Anchoress, here and here.

The Anchoress has an insightful, witty, and important book out on this sort of idolatry in modern life -- which (full disclosure) she sent me weeks ago, but I haven't had a chance to write about yet. This Snowden event, and his startlingly fast canonization by certain sorts, might just be the hook I was looking for.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 06:53 AM

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