My Response to New York Times Op-Ed re Snowden Clemency…

The New York Times published an op-ed piece that is nothing short of shameful. It’s entitled “Edward Snowden – Whistle-Blower,” and there are many falsehoods in this editorial, the Times should be ashamed it’s in their paper. I wanted to publish this in the comments section, but they limit commenters to 1500 characters, which doesn’t allow for much commentary.

Here, I want to clarify some of the misstatements and outright falsehoods in the piece:

1. That the NSA is attempting to stretch boundaries should not surprise anyone. People inside agencies sometimes go too far. But what the Snowden docs actually show us is that the FISC is keeping the NSA in line. Read the FISA Amendment, and then show us the instances where NSA went over the line and WERE NOT PUSHED BACK. You can’t, because there are none. Our system is based on checks and balances. According to Snowden’s documents, there are checks and balances on the NSA.

2. The only instances where Snowden docs show he NSA going beyond the mandate are dated before 2008, and most in 2006 and before. That was during the Bush warrantless surveillance program, which no longer exists. IN other words, we’re talking about two different eras of surveillance. The FISA Amendments made that sort of thing illegal. If you’re going to make a claim, you need to note that pre-2008 was under a different legal structure.

3. Two judges have ruled the NSA program constitutional and legal, while only one has said the opposite. This editorial gets it completely backward, and fails to note that the Supreme Court refused to hear an ACLU case that suggested that the NSA surveillance was unconstitutional. If you’re going to make a claim, use all available facts; don’t cherry pick.

4. As the editorial points out, The NSA ITSELF reported that some analysts went over the line. That’s why we have oversight. Nothing untoward ended up happening, and those responsible were disciplined. Likewise, the Snowden documents show that the FISC has repeatedly rebuked the NSA for trying to go over the line. What is wrong with that? That’s how oversight works. Apparently, the Times editorial board expects federal agencies to be perfect and beyond reproach. Well, guess what? There’s a reason oversight is built into the Constitution. NSA tried to overstretch, was stopped from doing so. There are no unicorns.

5. James Clapper was sandbagged. Wyden knew Clapper wasn’t allowed to answer the question truthfully. Clapper should have declined to answer; that was his mistake. That complaint is straight out of the Darrell Issa playbook; bring people into Congress, ask them questions you know they can’t answer, then complain about the fact that they lied.

6. The NSA didn’t “break into” data centers. In fact, if the authors of this editorial would bother to read the Snowden documents, they would find that each “break in” was preceded by a subpoena, and they were given the information by the data providers in response.

I could go on. There are actually other falsehoods and misstatements. Hard to believe, really. It’s as if you had Glenn Greenwald dictate this op-ed.

The FISA Amendments, passed in 2008, specifically detail what sort of data the NSA may collect, and nothing in any of the Snowden documents post-FISA Amendments shows that the NSA has been successful in breaching those parameters. Know how I can tell? Because they’re reporting everything to the FISC and Congress, and they are complying with the oversight after they’re smacked down.

Meanwhile. the source, Edward Snowden, applied for a job with an NSA contractor under false pretenses, stole passwords and accessed accounts under false pretenses, stole documents and took them to China and Russia, where he could be doing anything with him.

Snowden is NOT a whistleblower, by any legal definition, and he could very well be a spy. I’m not saying he is; I’m saying he could be. Let him slide? For what? Nothing illegal has been uncovered, and I mean NOTHING, and we don’t know what he’s doing with the documents. We used to prosecute people like that.