who rose to extraordinary fame in June 2013 when he facilitated classified documents from the NSA to be made fully open and public, is an intriguing case. Some (with blind allegiance the USG and MIC [Military Industrial Complex]) view him as a traitor who should be imprisoned for life or killed. Others view him as a hero, genuine activist and champion of the right to privacy. There are also some who view him with skepticism, finding his story and claims beyond the bounds of credibility. With the publication of his recent book Permanent Record, and to some extent his recent interview with Joe Rogan, he has again become a focus of attention. We have learnt much more about his background and story. Now is a good opportunity to ask: who is Edward Snowden, and can we fully trust his story?
Hacking the NSA
Permanent Record is an interesting read. Snowden does a good job of picking out key moments from his childhood that formed his character. He reveals how he grew up in the Beltway (the area surrounding Washington DC) in a military family and became fascinated with computers, video games and hacking. The idea of ‘hacking’ is a central theme of the book. He talks about how he was always trying to find loopholes and ways around the rules at home, at school and beyond. He was always interested in systems – how they operate, how the components work together and what their vulnerabilities were – in other words, how systems could be hacked. He obtained a TS/SCI (Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearance after going through vigorous testing and became a Systems Administrator. As he worked his way up the ladder, he worked both on the private side as a contractor and on the public side as a government employee. By this point, the boy computer genius and teenage hacker had become a high-level systems expert with access to a massive amount of classified and secret data. He began to feel increasingly uncomfortable with the documents that came across his desk, as he started to see that the MIC, led by the NSA, had set up a network of mass surveillance across not just America but the entire world. Snowden writes that they had “hacked the Constitution” by bypassing the checks and balances meant to protect the American public. The Executive Branch has actively hacked the system by using EOs (Executive Orders) to set new policy without needing approval from the Legislative Branch (Congress). Congress in turn had turned a blind eye to NSA spying and overreach by refusing to demand truthful answers and launch investigations. The Judicial Branch (the courts) had been hacked by the establishment of a special court under the 1978 act FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) which just rubber stamped virtually every (99%) request the NSA made. In response to this, Snowden decided to take matters into his own hands by hacking the NSA, in order to redress the balance of power.
Quotes from Permanent Record, First Book of Edward Snowden
Here are some great quotes from the book which sum up Snowden’s realizations and principles. The first sums up the importance of the metadata as opposed to actual content of the communication:
“One major irony here is that the law, which always lags behind technological innovation by at least a generation, gives substantially more protections to a communication’s content than to its metadata – and yet intelligence agencies are far more interested in the metadata – the activity records that allow them both the “big picture” ability to analyze data at scale, and the “little picture” ability to make perfect maps, chronologies, and associative synopses of an individual person’s life, from which they presume to extrapolate predictions of behavior. In sum, metadata can tell your surveillant virtually everything they’d ever want or need to know about you, except what’s actually going on inside your head.”
In this quote, Snowden talks about his personal emotions of feeling used and violated. He had assisted the system without knowing it – so many whistleblowers have felt the same. This is only possible due to the strict compartmentalization of information that takes place within the IC (Intelligence Community) and the Military in general:
“I felt far from home, but monitored. I felt more adult than ever, but cursed with the knowledge that all of us had been reduced to something like children, who’d be forced to live the rest of out lives under omniscient parental supervision … I felt like a fool, as someone of supposedly serious technical skills who’d somehow helped to build an essential component of this system without realizing its purpose. I felt used, as an employee of the IC who only now was realizing that all along I’d been protecting not my country but the state. I felt, above all, violated.”
– pp. 180-1
In this quote, Snowden talks about his realization that the US had become the enemy it said it was fighting:
“After 9/11, the IC’s orders had been “never again”, a mission that could never be accomplished. A decade later, it had become clear, to me at least, that the repeated evocations of terror by the political class were not a response to any specific threat or concern but a cynical attempt to turn terror into a permanent danger that required permanent vigilance enforced by unquestionable authority. After a decade of mass surveillance, the technology had proved itself to be a potent weapon less against terror and more against liberty itself. By continuing these programs, by continuing these lies, America was protecting little, winning nothing, and losing much – until there would be few distinctions left between those post 9/11 polarities of “Us” and “Them”.”
– pp. 204-5
Here he shows his understanding that privacy if intrinsic and fundamental to all people:
“Because a citzenry’s freedoms are interdependent, to surrender your own privacy is really to surrender everyone’s. You might to choose to give it up out of convenience, or under the popular pretext that privacy is only required by those who have something to hide. By saying that you don’t need or want privacy because you have nothing to hide is to assume that no one should have, or could have, to hide anything –– … their immigration status, unemployment history, financial history, and health records … religious beliefs, political affiliations, and sexual activities …”
– pg. 208
Here he reveals the moment that the implications of the mass surveillance grid dawned on him:
“The generations to come would have to get used to a world in which surveillance wasn’t something occasional and directed in legally justified circumstances, but a constant and indiscriminate presence … once the ubiquity of collection was combined with the permanency of storage, all any government had to do was select a person or a group to scapegoat and go searching – as I’d gone searching through the agency’s files – for evidence of a suitable crime.”
– pg. 185
Some of the Surprising Things about Snowden
So, Snowden awoke to the reality of what the NSA was doing to people. He awoke to his unwitting role in assisting the creation of this sprawling surveillance system. He realized the War on Terror was a fraudulent piece of propaganda. He realized the IC had been using 9/11 as an excuse to consolidate tremendous power and control by constructing the most intrusive mass surveillance grid known to man in world history.
Ed Snowden is clearly an intelligent guy. So, it struck me as quite bizarre that he would still, after all these years, buy into the mainstream official version of events regarding the false flag operation of 9/11 and the death of Osama bin Laden. Here is a quote where he seems to buy hook, line and sinker that bin Laden was killed on May 1st, 2011 in Pakistan:
“It was late at night on May 1, 2011, when I noticed the news alert on my phone: Osama bin Laden had been tracked down to Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed by a team of Navy SEALs … I was glad the motherfucker was dead.”
– pg. 203
The idea of radical Islamic terrorists being killed 2, 3, 4 or more times has just come up again with President Trump’s recent announcement that “something big has happened” and that the US Military found and killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi … again. Well, the story this time is that he committed suicide and blew himself up after being trapped in a tunnel by US forces. Trump claims they DNA tested him right after he died him to make sure it was him! Sure they did. James Corbett offers this brief background to the multiple deaths of Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who seem to have more lives than a cat. That is, if you even believe some of them existed; the US Military didn’t always think so. How is it that Snowden is unfamiliar with this, or indeed the general history and background to radical Islamic terrorism, including the creation and funding of Al-Qaeda and ISIS by the CIA and Israel? Also, why has Snowden apparently not questioned the official story of 9/11 in more depth?
Another red flag for me was this quote:
“Few realize this, but the CIA has its own Internet and Web … the first things everyone looks up on the CIA’s internal networks are aliens and 9/11, and that’s why, also … you’ll never get any meaningful search results for them. I looked them up anyway. The CIA-flavored Google didn’t return anything interesting for either, but hey – maybe the truth was out there on another network drive. For the record, as far as I could tell, aliens have never contacted Earth, or at least they haven’t contacted US intelligence … In case you were wondering: Yes, man really did land on the moon. Climate change is real. Chemtrails are not a thing.”
So we have some of the biggest topics of conspiracy here: aliens, 9/11, man on the moon, climate change and chemtrails. On each one, Snowden promotes the mainstream line. Why? Surely, in his position of access and in his time in exile since, he must have had the opportunity to investigate these topics and come across true information on them. The sheer amount of evidence exposing 9/11 as a blatant false flag operation is manifold, yet all Snowden says is that “al-Qaeda did maintain unusually close ties with our allies the Saudis, a fact that the Bush White House worked suspiciously hard to suppress” which shows he has barely entered the rabbit hole. Climate change may be real (as a natural cycle), but manmade global warming or manmade climate change is a giant scam based on scientific illiteracy and the demonization of carbon dioxide. Chemtrails are not a thing? Virtually every nation on earth has been bombarded with them for decades now. The photographic evidence alone is overwhelming. Researchers have exposed that chemtrail programs have been carried out by the CIA under names such as Project Cloverleaf. Man on the moon? Perhaps yes, but not in the way we were told – NASA’s space videos and photos from the 1969 Apollo mission look completely fake. We have the excellent theory of Jay Weidner that Stanley Kubrick was recruited to do the cover-up. On the topic of aliens, I realize not all who are reading this will share my opinion, but I see yet more overwhelming evidence not only of their existence but also of their infiltration of society. A good place to start is with alien contactees, whistleblowers and participants in the SSP (Secret Space Program). Why is the US Military now going public with UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) in an attempt to rebrand UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects)?
Also, why would the CIA let its junior employees access top secret information on its internal internet? Why not keep the really sensitive information elsewhere? Or offline altogether?
Whistleblowers-in-Arms? Not Quite: Snowden and Assange
In the book, Snowden also reveals his complicated attitude towards Julian Assange, fellow hacker and founder of Wikileaks. Snowden appears to ‘have a go’ at fellow whistleblower and truth activist Assange. Patrick Anderson writes about this in his Mint Press article:
“[I]n his memoir, Snowden uses rhetorical tricks to present Assange and WikiLeaks as his deceitful and irresponsible foils in a blatant and seemingly self-serving effort to highlight his own trustworthiness and accountability … “The final name I chose for my correspondence,” Snowden explains, “was ‘Verax,’ Latin for ‘speaker of truth,’ in the hopes of proposing an alternative to the model of a hacker called ‘Mendax’ (‘speaker of lies’)—the pseudonym of the young man who’d grow up to become WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.” Snowden’s play on Assange’s youthful handle implies not only that Assange is deceitful but also that Assange intends to be deceitful. This insinuation is curious, given that WikiLeaks’ has published over 10 million documents, all of which have been authenticated …
Assange adapted one of Horace’s Latin catchphrases to create his online identity. “Every hacker has a handle,” Assange writes in Julian Assange: The Unauthorized Autobiography, “and I took mine from Horace’s splendide mendax—nobly untruthful, or perhaps ‘delightfully deceptive.’ I liked the idea that in hiding behind a false name, lying about who or where I was, a teenager in Melbourne, I could somehow speak more truthfully about my real identity.”
From his own perspective, Assange chose the handle “Mendax” not because he wished to “speak lies” and deceive the public, as Snowden’s interpretation suggests; rather, Assange chose the handle “Mendax” because it described what he conceived of himself doing, namely, disguising his identity to more effectively speak the truth. “Untruthful” applies not to the content of his speech but to his identity as the speaker.”
Theories About Snowden
Some people take Snowden at face value. Others simply cannot believe a 29-year-old could have stolen so many documents from the most advanced spying agency on Earth without getting caught or being secretly sanctioned to do so. Snowden reveals much of the way he did it (transferring files onto old computers, then using mini and micro SD cards to smuggle out the files). One theory is that Snowden did so knowingly and is still an Intelligence agent. I find this theory unlikely, given how much upheaval and disruption his decisions caused him. Others believe that Snowden did so unknowingly – that he was used as a means of dispersing this information to the public. Why? The theory is that it was a NWO (New World Order) tactic to intimidate the public by letting them know they are surveilled slaves and that there’s nothing they can do about it. Then, after the initial shock and explosion, this became a drip-drip-drip disclosure of just how egregiously your privacy and rights are being violated, with the subliminal message that you’d better be afraid, because you’re being monitored 24/7. Some people also point to the fact that Snowden’s archive was shuttered in a disgraceful decision by Greenwald at The Intercept, despite only having released about 10% of it. Who owns The Intercept? First Look Media, owned by Pierre Omidyar, a rich oligarch who founded eBay. So now, the entire trove of leaked NSA documents are in the hands of a private billionaire, probably never to see the light of day again. Was this the plan from the start?
If we take it on face value, the Snowden story is one of incredible principle, courage and sacrifice. In his writing and interviews, he definitely comes across as sincere and genuine. He gave up his comfortable life, great income, career, family and friends – knowing he may never see them again, knowing he may get killed – to make a decision based on valuing freedom. Such a devotion to freedom is exceedingly rare given how many people value convenience, comfortability and security over liberty. Such bravery is exceptional. Now, he is founder and president of Freedom of the Press Foundation, continuing the same line of work, standing up for freedom of the press and privacy. However, there are legitimate questions to be asked about him, and some things that just don’t quite make sense. I am left wondering – is there more to the Edward Snowden story?