The case for Snowden

Posted: June 24, 2013 by jennroig in Commentary, English
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Edward Snowden covered by The Guardian

Edward Snowden covered by The Guardian

Right now, my Twitter feed is focusing on two, extremely different issues. Number one is about Wimbledon, and how shocking it seems that Rafael Nadal has just been left out after defeated by some guy Steve Darcis. Number two, Snowden is still in Moscow, Russia while Jay Carney is announcing that the White House is doing a lot to bring him home.

The picture doesn’t seem promising for Snowden, though who knows the final outcome. That notwithstanding, there has been a lot of support for him from many groups and individuals that claim and fight for more transparency and social and individual liberties. However, from my perspective, even though I also support individual privacy and government transparency and civil rights, etc. I have certain hesitation about Snowden.

First, he blew the whistle about something that everyone who cared to know already knew. I take that anyway what he did was brave considering the risks, but really, was it that brave? There’s this question I can’t find a way to answer, why did he do it just now? Why not before?

There’s something ominous about this Snowden and the way he has reached this point of his life. Slate’s journalist Farhad Manjoo summarized it perfectly: “According to the Guardian, Snowden is a 29-year-old high school dropout who trained for the Army Special Forces before an injury forced him to leave the military. His IT credentials are apparently limited to a few “computer” classes he took at a community college in order to get his high school equivalency degree—courses that he did not complete. His first job at the NSA was as a security guard. Then, amazingly, he moved up the ranks of the United States’ national security infrastructure: The CIA gave him a job in IT security. He was given diplomatic cover in Geneva. He was hired by Booz Allen Hamilton, the government contractor, which paid him $200,000 a year to work on the NSA’s computer systems.”

When it comes to whistleblowers or nowadays role models of transparency, Snowden’s past reveals that he is not like Assange.  He lacks the strong principles, commitment, and clarity of mind that the Australian journalist has shown. Much less he can be compared to Aaron Swartz, not exactly a whistleblower but the brillian young man who supported and worked for a more transparent world, where knowledge wouldn’t be considered that much a commodity and information could flow free. Snowden was part of a system of secrecy, and he complied with it. And it should be kept in mind that he tried to have a military career, and there are very few organizations that support covert information and operations the way the military does.

Finally, the route Snowden’s has annouced is quite heartbreaking. If he is supposed to be a hero for civil rights and transparency and liberties, what is he doing taking as allies some of the most oppresive governments in the world? I don’t believe that Russia, China, Cuba or Venezuela are currently scoring very high when it comes to freedom of speech and information, or respect to individual privacy for that matter.

And then once more: why now? That’s when our personal worldview kind of dictates the answer. You can think is a patriot, an anti-secrecy, an anti-systemic, or a young man that got tired of snooping into people’s affair without a legal or proper right to do it. Or you can take a different approach and feel doubts. Is he part of a cover up for another bigger story? Is something more relevant and dangerous happening right now and we are skipping it?

I don’t like to be a conspiracy theorist, but sometimes everything seems so odd.


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