Snowden isn’t a hero.
There, I said it. I’m going against a lot of what my colleagues in info sec and who care about privacy think. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. But I’ll present a different contrarian view of what Snowden has done.
Here’s what everyone can agree upon.
- Snowden stole a ton of documents from the NSA.
- Some of those documents prove that the NSA has the ability to do lots of scary/nifty things, and in some cases has likely bent and broken rules around civil rights and surveillance.
That’s fair. We now have a good debate about civilian oversight of intelligence gathering. At least it’s starting.
But, of the documents that Snowden stole, the items leaked focus on abuses of solely western powers. The kind of thing that news media like Russia Today (RT) likes to harp on. If he’s really “anti-government surveillance” of ALL kinds, he could have found documents on other countries and leaked them as well.
Snowden and Greenwald haven’t released info on what other powers (Russia, Japan, France, Brazil, etc) do. [ If they have, I haven’t find it. Please comment with links. ] Everything at The Intercept is all about the NSA and GCHQ.
There are also reports that the items he took include how the US determines the military capabilities of adversaries. This is far more scary, to me, anyway. Snowden is now in an aggressive Putin’s Russia, with documents on the US and NATO’s military capability. This raises all sorts of alarm bells, the most serious being that Snowden was working with or for the Russians all along, a theory many in the US Intel community believe but don’t have much hard evidence on.
There is circumstantial evidence that some of the info on NATO and US military capability did make it from Snowden into Russia’s hands. After Snowden absconded to Moscow, Russia’s special operations forces reorganized. Why would they reorganize unless they needed to? It could be coincidental, maybe not? One can find more and more of these anecdotes out there. Why were the Russians so easily able to evade our SIGINT (signals intelligence) now?
From what we can tell, most of the documents Snowden has released are not anti-surveilance for the world, but instead just lambasts the west and exposes what the west does. That puts a very different spin on things.