At the end of Fareed Zakaria's program GPS last weekend , there was a short, ugly blurb against Edward Snowden. Zakaria led it off, referring to Snowden: "This guy is not working for another government. It's a kind of vague, nihilistic anarchism. I mean I presume the message here is he doesn't want the governments to do any espionage?"
Not that Snowden ever said that. His protest is against the U.S. Government vaccuuming up data on practically everyone, whether they are terrorists or tinkers, foreigners or Floridians. In that sense, his act has none of the destructive urge of nihilism; quite the opposite. Protest, especially the daring kind that he has performed, is a matter of hope for a better future.
But all three of Zakaria's guests -- Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Haass of the President's Council on Foreign Relations, and Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, all regulars on the show -- did their best to discredit Snowden.
Brzezinski quite rightly brought up the example of Daniel Ellsberg, dean of American whistleblowers. "He may have been misguided, but he certainly was patriotic. What did [Snowden] do? He goes to China and then he goes to Russia. Both countries that would like to replace us on top of the global totem pole." Snowden's locations puzzle Brzezinski: "So, what are his motives? Who's he trying to appeal to?... Maybe he's psychologically mixed up."
I have the feeling that if Snowden had been in the middle of Times Square when the revelations came out, Brzezinski would have felt no better about him.
For Snowden's motives could hardly be clearer: "But over time that awareness of wrongdoing sort of builds up and you feel compelled to talk about. And the more you talk about the more you're ignored. The more you're told its not a problem until eventually you realize that these things need to be determined by the public and not by somebody who was simply hired by the government."
That doesn't sound to me like man who's "psychologically mixed up"; sounds to me like an articulate man who gives a far more concise response to a question than Brzezinski.
Both Haass and Stephens specifically told their listeners that "this guy is not a whistleblower." Well, "this guy" -- what a lovely dismissive term, like Bill Clinton's "that woman, Monica Lewinsky" -- forced DNI James Clapper to admit that he had lied to Congress. And it's not like Clapper told Congress that he hadn't done anything dirty with an intern or hadn't slipped a few shady favors to campaign contributors. The well-known lie he told was about a top-of-the-line, get-your-money-back vital issue. If Snowden's deed isn't whistleblowing, what is?