"Snowden's clandestine efforts to disclose thousands of classified documents about NSA surveillance emerged as the push against Chinese hacking intensified. He reached out to reporters after the public revelations about China's surveillance of the Times's computers and the years of hacking by Unit 61398 into networks used by American businesses and government agencies. On May 24, in an email from Hong Kong, Snowden informed a Washington Post reporter to whom he had given documents that the paper had 72 hours to publish them or he would take them elsewhere; had the Post complied, its story about American computer spying would have run on the day Donilon landed in Beijing to push for Chinese hacking to be on the agenda for the presidential summit.
"The first report based on Snowden's documents finally appeared in The Guardian on June 5, two days before the Obama-Xi meeting, revealing the existence of a top-secret NSA program that swept up untold amounts of data on phone calls and Internet activity. When Obama raised the topic of hacking, administration officials say, Xi again denied that China engaged in such actions, then cited The Guardian report as proof that America should not be lecturing Beijing about abusive surveillance."
On Twitter, when discussing his theory with people he likes to call "Snowdenphiles," he has been more explicit about "coincidences" that stand out to him and make him a spy: (1) he told The Washington Post to publish on the exact day the US had its first meeting with China about surveillance or he would go elsewhere; (2) Prior to publication of the first article, he fled to Hong Kong, where he disclosed US surveillance of China; (3) The first NSA story appeared two days before Obama and Xi met for their first high-level meeting on Chinese surveillance; (4) Revelations from him were used by Xi as a basis for why he would not talk to the US about surveillance, because they do it; (5) Snowden claims he followed China surveillance while working as a NSA contractor but says nothing about what they do; (6) Snowden left all of the documents in Hong Kong.
There is a lot of lunacy to address here. One, the documents were given to journalists like Glenn Greenwald or Laura Poitras, not state-controlled journalists in China, as Eichenwald would like his readers to believe. Two, he did not disclose US surveillance of China on a broad scale. Snowden disclosed hacking. He disclosed hacking because the hypocrisy of America condemning the Chinese for hacking into networks while the NSA engaged in the same activities bothered him.
Just because Chinese leaders were able to use the information in official diplomatic meetings does not constitute evidence that he has become a spy. If that makes him a spy, one could also weave together an argument that he is now a Brazilian or German spy. He has been willing to speak to the country's leaders. He has been willing to accept asylum if it was offered. Those revelations also set back relations and impacted agenda items, but Eichenwald is not specifically braying about how this information shows he turned traitor.
Snowden has not exposed anything on Chinese surveillance because, if he did, he would most certainly be exposing what the NSA has learned about Chinese surveillance. Wouldn't that make him even more of a traitor to people like Eichenwald?
Another dimension to the crazy: Washington Post writer Barton Gellman, who reported on documents from Snowden after he reached out to him, is an unwitting dupe manipulated by Snowden to sabotage US efforts to defeat Chinese hacking if what Eichenwald says is true.
Furthermore, why is Snowden in Russia if he is a Chinese spy? Or, maybe this is a part of the "espionage operation" Eichenwald's unearthed. Snowden cannot be in a palace in Beijing because it would be too obvious that he was not a whistleblower, which he needs to appear to be to remain effective. So, Russian president Vladimir Putin is keeping Snowden safe as a favor to China.
It is stunning that Vanity Fair or Newsweek would continue to give a platform to someone like Eichenwald, who has treated "coincidences" like 9/11 Truthers or Birthers treat "coincidences." But what he has spent so much time arguing harmonizes with what individuals like Paul Pillar, Joshua Foust or John Schindler have also committed the past months of their lives to advancing.
Even the New York Times has periodically featured stories giving attention to the view that Snowden has turned traitor by allowing himself to be put under the control of Russian security services, even though no one has come up with a source or proof to substantiate this allegation.
People like Eichenwald, Foust, Pillar and Schindler all seem to be deeply offended that the sanctity of the US surveillance state -- present to advance and maintain America's dominance in the world -- has come under challenge. They are each truly upset that Snowden revealed information the government was keeping secret so it would not be exposed as a hypocrite when it came to key principles of freedom and democracy. This undermines America's global agenda and "national security" and so Snowden must be smeared by them through the promotion of their own espionage fantasies.
Snowden has none of the documents he took with him from the NSA after he decided to become a whistleblower. As he said to Times reporter James Risen, "What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of the materials onward?" He was not going to write about the documents and make them public; that job was up to journalists he entrusted with the material.
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