Okay, now maybe we’re getting to some actual serious stuff after a steady stream of boring accusations by Snowden. The idea that the US might be spying on the European Union – and not to smoke out terrorists but to hear what European diplomats are saying to each other – is pretty repugnant. The German magazine Der Spiegel claims it has seen a report supplied by Snowden that substantiates the US has been doing this.
Okay, Snowden, you now have my attention. But if you had something like this the whole time, why didn’t you reveal it until now? And why didn’t you give the info to your preferred reporter Glenn Greenwald, who must be smarting now that you let the Spiegel scoop him? Something still seems amiss.
Perhaps there is some real misconduct to uncover here? I wouldn’t rule it out, but it’s hard to tell because the “whistleblowers” can’t seem to tell the difference between the gravity involved with a normal TSA pat-down and suspecting our best allies of plotting against us. We can live with TSA pat-downs. They are encroachments on our Eternal Constitutional Liberties in some sense, but we can live with that, and it’s possible we couldn’t live with the alternative to them. The NSA having suspicions of our _strongest allies_ this extreme, on the other hand, suggests an out-of-control paranoia prevails inside the institutions of the security establishment, and this largely validates the kinds of claims our Fourth Amendment Defenders have been making about them.
I’ve been resisting and resisting hard the firebaggish narrative about “privacy” because I quite honestly see phone metadata and TSA pat-downs as being more or less equivalent, and thus see the liberal-tarian outrage about PRISM as concocted anti-Obama scandalmongering.
That said, the Army keeping people from reading The Guardian showed me that there is at least some truth to the narrative, however much it pains me to say it. The US government could only okay a directive like that if it is on crazy pills. Full stop.
If the US government is also spying on _European governments_, for no other reason than it has the tools to do so…well, I’m going to stick with the crazy pills metaphor. It would be difficult to imagine how that could be justified. The most disturbing thing is that the US government now doesn’t even seem like it wants to try an explanation out. If Obama can’t manage an explanation, that’s a good argument for the rest of us to walk away from the administration and not look back.
If Snowden is making this claim up – something I think is at least possible – then, again, it wouldn’t hurt to see a straightforward denial of his charges from the feds. One possible interpretation of the strange series of events is that Snowden is indeed a Fourth Amendment Ideologue of the highest order, but he knows no one is really likely to get mad about phone metadata, as most Americans, as I’ve noted repeatedly, are AOK with that program. So he makes it look like the US government is into kinds of spying that are far worse and more clearly indefensible, on the assumption that people want to believe the worst about the US – foreign governments for obvious reasons, domestic politicos “because Obama” – so this tactic could probably sail through.
This would explain why Snowden led with leaking the boring crap charges and now all-of-a-sudden has a real claim that, if true, would properly shock us about what goes on in Obama’s executive branch.
Of course, that interpretation of what’s going on suggests that Snowden could pull off a scam that complicated, and I’m not sure I believe he could. Thus, I admit – it is also entirely possible he is on the level and this purported document he gave to the Spiegel is genuine.
But then, back when Daniel Ellsberg was the leaker-in-chief, the thing he leaked got published in full by the New York Times. The Times didn’t say that they had “seen” the document and could attest that it had something in it. They printed it. For that matter, Bradley Manning just uploaded his discs full of useless information to Wikileaks, which blew the wad and blabbed about it all.
If Snowden and the Spiegel want to be believed, they need to print what the document says verbatim, not talk obliquely about it. Redact it if you must, but quote its actual words to substantiate your points. There’s no reason to be secretive about blowing the whistle on secretiveness, right? This claim about the US bugging its EU allies for no reason at all, if true, will blow the lid off the NSA. Reveal, don’t conceal – if you actually have something.
So why all the coy dissembling, Mr. Snowden? Get the Spiegel to tell us what you know.