Edward Snowden, depending on who you are, is either a “patriot” or a “traitor.” Until this point I have refrained from commenting on the man because sometimes it is best to take a step back and let the dust settle before charging forward. Now that it has, one thing is clear: The media made the 2012 election about the “war on women” and gay rights in between rounds of cudgeling Mitt Romney (justifiably, to an extent) for his “47 percent” line. Days were filled with on-air jokes about “Big Bird” and other immature sideshows, all the while the NSA was expanding its surveillance on millions of innocent Americans.
Did any serious journalist put pressure on President Obama in the run up to the 2012 election over his expanded drone program, the National Defense Authorization Act, or his “Terror Tuesday” kill list (also called the “Disposition Matrix”)? While the ultimate blame for failure rests squarely at Romney’s feet (the man’s plan for winning over Hispanics was to essentially tell them he hoped they’d all self deport), one can not deny that the mainstream media bent over backwards to keep Mr. Obama’s Bush-on-steroids approach to certain aspects of national security under wraps.
Imagine what the 2012 presidential debates would have looked like if Bob Schieffer and Candy Crowley read magazines like Wired and then asked the candidates substantive questions on national security:
In May 2010, a little more than a year after President Obama took office and only weeks before Stuxnet became public, a new organization to exercise American rule over the increasingly militarized Internet became operational: the US Cyber Command. Keith Alexander, newly promoted to four-star general, was put in charge of it. The forces under his command were now truly formidable—his untold thousands of NSA spies, as well as 14,000 incoming Cyber Command personnel, including Navy, Army, and Air Force troops. Helping Alexander organize and dominate this new arena would be his fellow plebes from West Point’s class of 1974: David Petraeus, the CIA director; and Martin Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. …
What’s good for Alexander is good for the fortunes of the cyber-industrial complex, a burgeoning sector made up of many of the same defense contractors who grew rich supplying the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With those conflicts now mostly in the rearview mirror, they are looking to Alexander as a kind of savior. After all, the U.S. spends about $30 billion annually on cybersecurity goods and services.
That’s a lot of money and a lot of power concentrated in one place. Is it necessary?
In May, Alexander discovered that four months earlier someone, or some group or nation, had secretly hacked into a restricted US government database known as the National Inventory of Dams. Maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, it lists the vulnerabilities for the nation’s dams, including an estimate of the number of people who might be killed should one of them fail. Meanwhile, the 2013 “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure” gave the US a D on its maintenance of dams. There are 13,991 dams in the US that are classified as high-hazard, the report said. A high-hazard dam is defined as one whose failure would cause loss of life. “That’s our concern about what’s coming in cyberspace—a destructive element. It is a question of time,” Alexander said in a talk to a group involved in information operations and cyberwarfare, noting that estimates put the time frame of an attack within two to five years. He made his comments in September 2011.
That still doesn’t answer the question, but it does provide an important lesson: any cyber assault the U.S. government can dish out on its own people is also generally possessed by its enemies. And that includes “zero day exploits” being used against us:
According to news reports, [defense contractors are] developing ways to break into Internet-connected devices through chinks in their antivirus armor. Like safecrackers listening to the click of tumblers through a stethoscope, the “vulnerability researchers” use an extensive array of digital tools to search for hidden weaknesses in commonly used programs and systems, such as Windows and Internet Explorer. And since no one else has ever discovered these unseen cracks, the manufacturers have never developed patches for them.
Thus, in the parlance of the trade, these vulnerabilities are known as “zero-day exploits,” because it has been zero days since they have been uncovered and fixed. They are the Achilles’ heel of the security business, says a former senior intelligence official involved with cyberwarfare. Those seeking to break into networks and computers are willing to pay millions of dollars to obtain them.
Scary stuff, huh? It’s a shame that multiple news cycles were spent talking about the doomsday scenario predicted by women like Sandra Fluke, who gained a prime time slot at the Democratic National Convention because a radio host called her a slut. But why assume the nation would want to discuss the buying and selling of “zero day exploits” when there are Big Bird jokes to crack?
Is Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor? Is Moe Lane of Red State on to something?
[Other countries are spying on] us and that is how the game is played, and I didn’t ask for a twenty-something arrested-development anti-American man-child to arrogantly decide that American national security was less important than his frankly puerile transnational fantasy ideology. In fact, I would like the American government to go collect said man-child, and try him for espionage, please.
I would say Mr. Lane makes a rather astute observation: Edward Snowden could have held a press conference with Ron Paul and Rand Paul, Bernie Sanders and a wide range of pundits from across the political spectrum. He would have been hailed as a hero. From there he would accept the consequences, and if that involved a perp walk (imagine the fallout for the Obama administration for making such a move), so be it.
Instead, he went to China. And then to Russia. And now … who knows.
All we do know is that Edward Snowden is talking to people who do not care about the well being of Americans and who certainly do not care about the well being of individuals within their own countries. Snowden has sullied his own reputation by hiding behind thug regimes of the highest order.
In 2016, should Hillary Clinton become the Democratic nominee, history will repeat itself. The media will not want to talk about national security because a.) a female candidate is the perfect excuse to return to the “war on women” mantra and b.) talking about dead American bodies in Benghazi makes it hard to assume the mantle of Greatest … Secretary … of … State … Ever. “For-Eva Eva. Eva. Eva. Eva. Eva. Eva. Eva?” When this happens, remember Edward Snowden and demand more. The fate of the nation depends on it.