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[liberationtech] USA Today panel with 3 American Whistleblowers

Shava Nerad shava23 at
Wed Jun 19 19:22:16 PDT 2013

On Tue, Jun 18, 2013 at 7:01 AM, Bernard Tyers - ei8fdb
<ei8fdb at>wrote:

> Hash: SHA1
> This might be of interest to people..
> A round-table discussion with Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk
> Wiebe.
> I thought these videos were terribly interesting, and powerful.
> I also thought Willliam Binney's view that Edward Snowden was potentially
> crossing a line from whistleblower to traitor with the release of
> information about the USA's alleged hacking of foreign computer systems is
> interesting. Is he right? Does it matter?
> - ------
> Q: There's a question being debated whether Snowden is a hero or a traitor.
> Binney: Certainly he performed a really great public service to begin with
> by exposing these programs and making the government in a sense publicly
> accountable for what they're doing. At least now they are going to have
> some kind of open discussion like that.
> But now he is starting to talk about things like the government hacking
> into China and all this kind of thing. He is going a little bit too far. I
> don't think he had access to that program. But somebody talked to him about
> it, and so he said, from what I have read, anyway, he said that somebody, a
> reliable source, told him that the U.S. government is hacking into all
> these countries. But that's not a public service, and now he is going a
> little beyond public service.
> So he is transitioning from whistle-blower to a traitor.
> - ------

There is a question if Binney is talking about semantics, appearances, or
substantives and discipline here, too, and you can't really tell from this
conversation -- we are not all philosophers.

There are several points of view.

Is Snowden betraying his country by saying, "The United States is spying on
China over the Internet with it's military intelligence!"  Well, almost
certainly not.  I don't think anyone in any state's military would assume
that the intelligence services of the United States didn't spy on China
just as China does on the US.  Unless, you think that damaging the US's rep
with naive people by stating this in public is damaging to the US in some
way that is betraying the US?  Which is a great transition to...

OMG!  I am shocked I tell you, shocked!  To hear that my country spies on
China!  Why, we have been accusing those inscrutable evil Chinese hackers
of invading our cyberspace for years, but you mean to say our boys have
been sniping on them too???  WOOOHOOO!  er.  I mean.  DAMN!  We shouldn't
be doing that.  We should be spying on our own people.  No wait.  I'm so
confused.  Is this good or bad?  Should we have known this?  Are we
supposed to be angry about this or are the Chinese supposed to be angry?
 Don't you figure the Chinese are smarter than we are and knew about this?
 OK, I don't understand how this would mess up appearances, never mind...

No, this is the important one, and where Snowden is in trouble:

He wasn't supposed to know about that stuff regardless of whether it's an
open secret or not.  He's talking out of school about a program that has
nothing to do with his core message.  It's not the sort of thing an officer
(which Snowden is not and never was) would do -- it's fucking gossip.
That's why Binney hates it, and he hates it because he is actually wishing
Snowden were safe, and talking like this makes Snowden unsafe because it
means he can't be trusted to be disciplined and on message and keep his
mouth shut when he isn't talking about the one thing he left over.  It's
off message and it's slack, and boyish, and if Snowden understood
insulation of secrets and discretion he would STFU.  It's unprofessional
and it makes him a target.  It's stupid and impulsive and it could end up
with Snowden in a very bad place.

And that's very sad.  Snowden needs PR advisors who understand military
culture better I think.

This will have a lot of people saying that they can't just let him go,
whether or not that is rational, or rationalization.


Shava Nerad
shava23 at
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