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[liberationtech] USA Today panel with 3 American Whistleblowers

seraphim at seraphim at
Wed Jun 19 19:53:17 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.
> Substantively:
> 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...
> Appearances:
> 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:
> Discipline:
> 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.
> yrs,
> --
> Shava Nerad
> shava23 at
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I think it is bad form of Binney to break the line. It is clearly of
exceeding importance to the world public to know that the United States is
escalating the arms race in offensive state hacking.

Sadly this is in line with Binney's stated reasons for dissident speech in
recent years. He had no problem with NSA's aspiration to global network
omniscience, so long as it respected the privacy of Americans. So he is
against constitutional violations or FISA hitches, but the rogue's gallery
of US transgressions over the last century are ok with him.

Anyone interested in the concept of justice here should (beyond law) want
to restrict the definition of "traitor" to those who abandon allegiance to
one elite bent on world domination for allegiance to another elite bent on
world domination. A person who considers himself more duty bound to our
species than to a conspiracy to achieve global hegemony by widening the
"exploit gap" is not, by that definition, a "traitor," because the people
of the United States are within the scope of his benificence. That person
might be a spoil sport for the boy's club, but he's not a "traitor." That
person is a fine and generous American.

It might vaguely trouble a former spook that someone in the intelligence
community has blown the whistle on capabilities and conduct that
consolidate US network hegemony, but for an NSA whistleblower to leave
Snowden's flank exposed to the accusation of "traitor" at such a crucial
time is... quite questionable.

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