The Snowden Saga: The NSA Will Get Reformed. Here's Why,
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: Edward Snowden has become the year's most visible and mysterious newsmaker. The former NSA whistleblower is in and out of the media, visible but invisible, living precariously in Russia, cast off by his country , and desperately seeking asylum and sanctuary in others .
A growing number of nations have turned him down, most recently Germany and Brazil.
Luckily for him, a dedicated media team led by a clever and contentious lawyer columnist Glenn Greenwald has been disseminating his findings, leaking them to newspapers the world over, even while he and his Brazilian boyfriend David Miranda tangle with authorities who are determined to plug the leaks but admit they don't know what Snowden stole, or how to stop him except with threats that are growing more extreme.
In his most recent interview with Aljazeera, Greenwald says that the US government is continuing to justify is growing surveillance in the name of fighting terrorism. The US, he says, "uses terrorism as an excuse to do almost everything."
Officially, the Obamatons are unchanged. On Monday AP reported. "The White House Monday renewed its demand for Edward Snowden to return home to face trial, after a top spy official floated the idea of an amnesty deal to plug his damaging intelligence leaks."
Former State Department official John Bolton, as hawkish as they come, said he wants to see Snowden hanging from a tree.
Don't minimize the seriousness or dismiss these threats as bluster. There are no shortage of covert mercenaries and assassins who may already be hunting him if they believe there is a bounty on his head. All it may take is a "wink and a nod.'
Snowden also has many backers. The billionaire Pieere Olymdar says he will finance a new media company headed by Greenwald to the tune of $250 million. That hasn't happened yet, but, reportedly, he has put up $50 million, a sign that Snowden and Company have serious support and some deep pockets to work with.
Now it seems that the government is getting ready to back off its sanctimonious and hard-headed defense of the NSA. Reforms are being promised even as the idea of massive spying, or in current parlance, "data mining" has been defended and expanded.
Some cynics among us fear that Obama's strident defense of the agency may be because of what they have on him!
Nevertheless, the disclosures of NSA outrages have embarrassed the Administration, pissed off allies and adversaries alike, inflamed media coverage and, soon, stimulated a effort to "reform" the project.
This is all happening quickly. There seems to be a trifecta of pressure--on the legal front, pressure from the hi-tech industry, and defections within the government itself.
First, a Federal Judge, Richard Leon, appointed by President Bush no less, issued an opinion excoriating the constitutionality of the NSA practices. He tore into the rationale for the program with both sarcasm and legal advocacy,
Leon wrote, "I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on 'that degree of privacy' that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment."