I’ve seen complaints that we appear to be on a mission to smear Edward Snowden with some of the stories we’ve shared and questions we’ve asked — questions we still don’t have answers to — but I have to say that nothing we’ve shared here before even remotely compares to what Ars Technica published today which could very well be the final nail in the coffin. And in my own defense, my interest is in establishing what is true, not merely what is fact.
Thus far we only had vague implications that Snowden was supportive of Ron Paul and evidence that he donated to Paul’s 2012 campaign, but thanks to the detective work of Ars Technica, we now know his devotion goes far beyond that.
After arriving in Switzerland and implying that most Swiss males ‘look gay,’ he later went on to detail his love of the Gold Standard and Ron Paul, his hatred of Ben Bernanke, his fondness of short-selling stocks, his admiration for John McCain, and — more importantly — his views that leakers like himself should be “shot in the balls.”
In the months following the 2008 election, he discussed his embrace of a return to the gold standard and his admiration of its highest-profile champion.
In his more hyperbolic moments, Snowden spoke about the fall of the dollar in near-apocalyptic terms. “It seems like the USD and GBP are both likely to go the way of the zimbabwe dollar,” he suggested in March 2009. “Especially with that cockbag bernanke deciding to magically print 1.2T more dollars.”
On the 2009 election
During the election, Snowden suggested he could support Obama if he were somehow to join forces with his opponent, John McCain. Snowden saw McCain as an “excellent leader” and “a guy with real values,” unlike Bush. But he wasn’t dreading an Obama presidency. “We need an idealist first and foremost,” he wrote. “Hillary Clinton, I think, would be a pox on the country.”
Once Obama took office, Snowden groaned about his policies with increasing frequency. Fears that Obama might revive an assault weapons ban didn’t sit well with him as a defender of the Second Amendment. Another sticking point was social security.
And on shooting leakers “in the balls”
Livid about the across-the-board defense cuts that were planned under Obama, Snowden acidly joked that “[m]aybe we could just outsource our defense needs to india.”
Worse yet, during a remarkable January 2009 chat, Snowden wrote that Obama had “appointed a fucking politician to run the CIA.” In that same conversation, he vented his rage over reading a New York Times article about US actions in Iran, which was based on confidential leaks.
I don’t agree with Snowden. I don’t believe leakers should be “shot in the balls,” but I do believe they should be prosecuted if they have broken the law. A whistleblower who has revealed criminal activity would and should be protected from prosecution, however Snowden is not a whistleblower because he did not reveal anything illegal.
Joe Mullin writing for Ars Technica can only speculate on what happened between 2009 and 2013 that transformed Snowden into who he is today, but I’m willing to take a stab at it myself.
Here’s what happened in 2009
And here’s what happened in 2012
Our own MrBrink would tell you that I speculated (admittedly with more colorful language) that these two events are what transformed Snowden into the person he is today, but the evidence to support that hypothesis is now stronger than ever.
I myself have changed a great deal since 2009, but whereas I was less trusting of government during the Bush years and have become more trusting today, Snowden followed an opposing path on which his trust of government has diminished since President Bush left office.
Bush destroyed nearly everyone’s trust in government, Left and Right, but apparently that wasn’t the case for Snowden. The blame for his disillusionment can be placed at the feet of the nation’s first black president. A man who Snowden admittedly did not vote for.
For the purposes of discussing the substance, what little there is, of what Edward Snowden leaked, his political views do not matter, but the lionization and political idolization of him by certain characters on the Left has now gone beyond annoying to embarrassing.
Not surprisingly, those who naively declared that they would “Stand with Rand,” can also be counted among those who would stand with Snowden. And, lo and behold, we found out days later that Rand Paul would be okay with using a drone to take out a petty liquor store thief.
Now that we know that the NSA did not have sweeping direct-access to Americans’ data all times and that a court order is required to proceed with surveillance of foreign suspects, and now that we know Edward Snowden is a false idol, my hope is that we (or more importantly the liberal sphere of the fourth estate) can refocus on things that really matter such as climate change, immigration reform, and the impending assault on voting rights.