Who Gets to Be Called A ‘Whistleblower’?

Quinnipiac released a poll on Wednesday which seems to be ripe for all kinds of parsing:

American voters say 55 – 34 percent that Edward Snowden is a whistle-blower, rather than a traitor, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

In a massive shift in attitudes, voters say 45 – 40 percent the government’s anti-terrorism efforts go too far restricting civil liberties, a reversal from a January 14, 2010, survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University when voters said 63 – 25 percent that such activities didn’t go far enough to adequately protect the country.

Almost every party, gender, income, education, age and income group regards Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor. The lone exception is black voters, with 43 percent calling him a traitor and 42 percent calling him a whistle-blower.

There is a gender gap on counter-terrorism efforts as men say 54 – 34 percent they have gone too far and women say 47 – 36 percent they have not gone far enough. There is little difference among Democrats and Republicans who are about evenly divided. Independent voters say 49 – 36 percent that counter-terrorism measures have gone too far…

“The massive swing in public opinion about civil liberties and governmental anti- terrorism efforts, and the public view that Edward Snowden is more whistle-blower than traitor are the public reaction and apparent shock at the extent to which the government has gone in trying to prevent future terrorist incidents,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“The fact that there is little difference now along party lines about the overall anti- terrorism effort and civil liberties and about Snowden is in itself unusual in a country sharply divided along political lines about almost everything. Moreover, the verdict that Snowden is not a traitor goes against almost the unified view of the nation’s political establishment.” …

Speaking of said unified view, Politico (aka ‘Tiger Beat on the Potomac’, thank you Mr. Pierce) decided Wednesday was the perfect day to counter “Five Stubborn Leak Myths“. Did you know it was not necessarily illegal to leak classified information? Or that not all lekaers are whistleblowers? And right in the middle of the three-page piece:

The flurry of recent attention has painted the portrait of a Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder that has jumped at every opportunity to pursue charges for leaking national security secrets. Not so.

One of the earliest acts of Holder’s Justice Department was to drop the controversial prosecution of two pro-Israel lobbyists indicted for allegedly relaying information received from U.S. government sources to journalists and foreign diplomats…

And the Holder Justice Department also presided over the decision not to prosecute one of the most significant leaks in recent years: the 2005 New York Times revelation that President George W. Bush had ordered warrantless wiretapping to fight terrorism. At least one of the culprits in that leak was no mystery: former DOJ attorney Thomas Tamm admitted to it, and even appeared on the cover of Newsweek just before the Obama team took office.

However, after a lengthy investigation, the Justice Department dropped the case. Former DOJ spokesman Matt Miller said the decision was “briefed up to [Holder], and he agreed.” Ex-prosecutors said it would have been tough to get a jury to convict Tamm for disclosing a program that Holder and Obama had suggested was illegal as then constructed….

Perhaps I overinterpret, but it seems almost as if the quivering social vibrissae of the TBotP crew sense that “Snowden is a traitor, and besides everybody knew all that stuff anyway” is failing to Win the Morning?

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153 replies
  1. 1

    American voters say 55 – 34 percent that Edward Snowden is a whistle-blower, rather than a traitor,

    Those are the only choices? Uh, right.

  2. 2
    Narcissus says:

    I’m starting to suspect that there may be an opportunity to roll back some or maybe even all of the post-9/11 surveillance state in the near future. Conservatives may be willing to join civil libertarians in pushing back on legislation like the Patriot Act because while they could not conceive of the Bush admin abusing the powers they so eagerly gave them, they find it all too possible to believe a muslim-sleeper-agent-administration would abuse those powers.

    A Faustian bargain, perhaps.

  3. 3
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Perhaps I overinterpret, but it seems almost as if the quivering social vibrissae of the TBotP crew sense that “Snowden is a traitor, and besides everybody knew all that stuff anyway” is failing to Win the Morning?

    If your interpretation is indeed a plausible one, then to say I’m crestfallen at the prospect would be a vast understatement.

    I’m utterly devastated that TBotP might be failing to win the morning.

    Please, someone, get me some smelling salts, the vapors are striking me like a ten ton weight.

  4. 4
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Sounds about right. David Brooks and Dick Cheney think he’s a “traitor”, and there are always around 34% who will agree with them.

    You simply can’t ignore the fact that the insane prosecutorial overreach of the government in reaction is at least as much a part of the story now as what he released in the first place. By this I include the bullying of governments across the globe, ending up with Snowden getting offers of asylum from places he might not have otherwise, because they’re pissed. These are not big fans of the US to begin with to be sure, but before the debacle with the Bolivian President’s plane, no one was actually offering asylum.

    It’s similar to how the cover up is worse than the crime, in this case the follow up has been more damaging than having the secrets released to begin with.

    Very few people outside the US are taking the US government’s side in this, by the way. it’s been pretty much a complete disaster.

  5. 5
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Narcissus:

    This!

  6. 6
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Narcissus: That would be a win win situation. I think BJ had a post about Senator Leahy introducing proposed legislation to scale back the Patriot Act. Haven’t heard anything more on how that effort is going since then.

  7. 7
    Chris T. says:

    The “whistleblower, or traitor?” question is a false dichotomy. Might as well ask: is Mr Snowden a male, or a human?

    (Edit: My own answers are “yes, and maybe” respectively. Er, to the “whistleblower” and “traitor” questions. As a robot, I have no knowledge as to Snowden’s male-ness and humanity. :-) )

  8. 8
    magurakurin says:

    If the right outcome comes about for the wrong reason, hey, great. If people are coming around to the notion that the Patriot Act and the war on terror have gone too far because of what a low level thief did, great. But the whole thing is pretty pathetic really. This shit has been going on for a long time and the War on Terror was pretty much on a streamline to being too much by September 12. One completely illegal war, one botched and drawn out to the bitter non-conclusion, numerous revelations of what the NSA has been doing followed by repeated votes in Congress to continue it, yet this is what wakes people up. Fucking sad. But if this is what it took, better this than never. Now, show me the money, Congress and American Voters.

  9. 9
    geg6 says:

    @magurakurin:

    This. Thank you. I have said all along that, though I don’t support what Snowden did and do not consider him a whistleblower, let alone any sort of hero, I will be glad if this whole situation leads to the end of the Patriot Act, a horrible law. I see it as a sort of pox on both houses situation. Snowden and the Patriot Act are both bad things. Now, if we could get the whole government contractor situation to end, too, that would make me despise Snowden a little less.

  10. 10
    raven says:

    @geg6: Have you seen “Admissions”?

  11. 11
    Bstick says:

    Simple really. Conservatives who wouldn’t have dared question bushs ‘keeping us safe’ now disagree because Obama is in the White House. I don’t believe attitudes have changed at all

  12. 12
    magurakurin says:

    @geg6: double plus good agreement on the end to contractors. It is ridiculous in the military. Time to go back to the days when all the cooks were Army or Marine riflemen. All the truck drivers, all the engineers, everybody in the war zone is in the Service. And if we are going to have spy organizations, ditto on that. No contractor spies. You sign on with NSA, do your blood oath over a goat skull or whatever it is they do, but no contractors. The whole thing is a giant boondoggle that doesn’t save money and leads to shit results. See Haliburton’s performance in Iraq and electrocuted servicemen and women or those sickened by poisoned water.

  13. 13
    Botsplainer says:

    Possibly bad polling, or possibly a reflection of the sticking power of propaganda bursts.

    After all, nothing is more paranoid, trembly and panty-wetting than the American white “male” over ethereal constimatooshinal notions of being deprived of

    1. The ability to plot conservative Christian/white supremacist domestic terror events free of fear of being detected;

    2. The ability to amass psychotic amounts of military grade firearms and ammunition because blahs, spics and terrifying government might come for guns and white daughters, or gay government might try and force gay marriage on the ungay.

    The best parts about conservative whimpers about privacy and NSA and ACA “oppression” is that the very same propagandists have derided Blackmun’s “penumbra of privacy” in Roe for over 40 years. They’ve laughed and snorted and hooted at thousands of speaking events and tens of thousands of written pieces, feeling free to propagandize on the subject.

    Now we’re to the point where Greenwald’s diseased, disordered mind is now appearing to advocate that surveillance (including foreign surveillance of foreign sources) can only be done if you already have concrete evidence that a known, demonstrated bad actor have a plot in motion. That’s fucking stupid.

    It is the same kind of stupid shit he was pulling with his work with white supremacist killer-encourager, judge threatener Matthew Hale. More disturbingly for those lemmings (both right and left) willing to follow his dumb ass down the rabbit hole, it also reflects the same sociopathic ethic he demonstrated when he trashed the victims of his hero Hale.

    He is a victim creator at heart. Libertarians are also victim creators, happy to allow the universe to mow down lives if it makes them feel better about their guns and also out of fear that government could become bad, outside of any evidence that poor intrepid bloggers and Internet commenters are pulled from basements, their Cheeto-stained hands in strip-ties.

  14. 14
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    I just can’t get all that worked up about something that when revealed, my reaction was, “And how is any of this surprising?” As to Snowden, can I request a “Neither”? or maybe a “I don’t care”?

    On the one hand, he was a low level functionary who after a few months on the job decided that he was competent enough to decide what should and should not be classified. I find it hard to believe that anyone is really comfortable with that. Of those who insist they are, I have 2 words for you: Valarie Plame.

    On the other hand, we are finally talking about this sh!t. So, whatever happens to him, and I really don’t care whether it be he spends the last of his days in a 3rd world hell hole or a federal prison, I will tip my hat to him for that much.

  15. 15
    Botsplainer says:

    @magurakurin:

    It is ridiculous in the military. Time to go back to the days when all the cooks were Army or Marine riflemen. All the truck drivers, all the engineers, everybody in the war zone is in the Service. And if we are going to have spy organizations, ditto on that. No contractor spies. You sign on with NSA, do your blood oath over a goat skull or whatever it is they do, but no contractors. The whole thing is a giant boondoggle that doesn’t save money and leads to shit results. See Haliburton’s performance in Iraq and electrocuted servicemen and women or those sickened by poisoned water.

    This. A thousand times this. Privatization shreds accountability. Procurement is bad enough as it is without outsourcing functions. I know more than a few folks who basically retired to their same military functions at double (or more) the pay while drawing their pension. Some of them even report to the same office that they previously worked in.

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bstick: Some of us were telling conservatives at the time they were clamoring for these laws that they should imagine these powers in the hands of a Hillary Clinton* administration and see if they still sounded so great.

    *History’s greatest monster and bugaboo of the time – not necessarily a political endorsement of a Clinton candidacy.

  17. 17
    WereBear says:

    @Botsplainer: That’s the key to this whole thing for me; some guy appears out of nowhere, works there for three months, and has access to sensitive information?

    AND makes a lot of money?

    Wow, Republicans sure like wasting government money, don’t they?

  18. 18
    Baud says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    By the same token, I wonder how these poll numbers would change if Obama were to cut a deal with Wyden on reforms to the Patriot Act/FISA/etc. that the GOP will oppose (Rand Paul on the ground that they don’t go far enough, naturally).

  19. 19
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Botsplainer:

    The best parts about conservative whimpers about privacy and NSA and ACA “oppression” is that the very same propagandists have derided Blackmun’s “penumbra of privacy” in Roe for over 40 years.

    Speaking of conservative whimpers over Roe, Anyone else catch the dust-up over Sarah Silverman? She had the audacity!!!! to tweet, “I’d very much like to anally probe @govwalker each time he needs to make an ‘informed decision'” and it got retweeted by CO pol Joe Salazar.

    GET THE FAINTING COUCHES!!!!

    “It’s fine to disagree with Gov Walker,” fulminated a Colorado Republican Committee spokesman in a party press release, “but it’s not OK for Joe Salazar to call for the governor to be raped. Rep Salazar’s tweet is demeaning and offensive to victims everywhere.”

    Let me see if I can wrap my head around this: It is OK for Gov Walker to call for women to be raped but it is no OK to propose the same for him? Right…..

  20. 20
    Weaselone says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Very few people outside the US are taking the US government’s side in this, by the way. it’s been pretty much a complete disaster.

    Not exactly a surprising or relevant statement. Most people aren’t going to like a foreign government spying on them even if they aren’t clueless to the extent that their own nation engages in spying.

    This is why Snowden is a traitor. It’s the NSA’s job to spy on foreigners. Revealing that the NSA spies on foreigners and specifics about those programs compromises the NSA’s work and gives the US a bloody nose globally, without actually revealing any violations of the law, or provoking useful a conversation.

  21. 21
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Baud: I would love to see it happen.

  22. 22
    Betty Cracker says:

    Toward the end of one of our earlier epic Snowald threads, commenter Dennis G made the following point:

    It seems to me that [Snowden] has it backwards. He said: “…US government co-opts US corporate power to its own ends”. That there is the problem. Let me fix it:

    Corporations co-opt the US government to protect corporate power, maximize profits and to their own ends

    The most troubling aspect of the story to me is the complete capture of the US Government by corporations and their subcontractors. Of course this leads to civil liberty (and other) violations–that’s where the money is…

    I think that’s true. And since Snowden is a Ron Paul supporter, it’s hardly surprising he got it wrong. But if the Snowald dog and pony show wakes people up to the dangers of the PATRIOT Act and the corporate capture of government security functions, huzzah.

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: AFAICT Silverman and Salazar were expressing concerns for the Governor’s colo-rectal health. Walker made it a issue with respect to decision making by keeping his head lodged firmly and securely up his ass.

  24. 24
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I believe that Gov. Walker has proved it possible that one can self administer a colon exam.

    ETA: Water seems to be falling from the sky, should I panic? I blame Obama in any case.

  25. 25
    aimai says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Salazar should correct the record:

    “I would very much like to pass late friday legislation ordering that Governor Walker be anally probed whenever one of his constituents requests an abortion. This will protect the life of the mother. The state has a right to so order, apparently.”

  26. 26
    geg6 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Heh. Fer realz.

  27. 27
    Neddie Jingo says:

    Halleluiah and all glory to He Who Gave Us the State of Maine, I finally know how to pronounce Quinnipiac! Silly old me, I’d been told by my old gaffer that though it was spelled Quinnipiac, it was pronounced Pêche Framboises au Croute. These folk otolaryngologies add oodles of regional charm to the American vernacular, I suppose, but are hell on us lexicographers…

  28. 28
    Baud says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    As would I.

  29. 29
    Bobby Thomson says:

    There is a gender gap on counter-terrorism efforts as men say 54 – 34 percent they have gone too far and women say 47 – 36 percent they have not gone far enough. There is little difference among Democrats and Republicans who are about evenly divided. Independent voters say 49 – 36 percent that counter-terrorism measures have gone too far…

    TBotP may indeed be failing to win the morning, but that Q poll is suspect. Those gender cross tabs are screwy.

  30. 30
    amk says:

    Q poll said it, so, that must be it. Anything that confirms your bias, I guess.

  31. 31
    ChrisNYC says:

    @Bstick: And, indeed, here’s the part that got ellipsesed above:

    Some of the largest growth in those concerned about the threat to civil liberties is among men and Republicans, groups historically more likely to be supportive of governmental anti- terrorism efforts.

    They are wanting to take their country back. From, you know, the others.

  32. 32
    ericblair says:

    @WereBear:

    That’s the key to this whole thing for me; some guy appears out of nowhere, works there for three months, and has access to sensitive information?

    No. SCI clearances in the best of circumstances take six months to a year. He was working in a similar position before being hired at the new job and changing badges. There are plenty of problems with security clearance investigation that I’ve ranted about before, but you don’t get handed a TS/SCI clearance in a few weeks. There is no difference in adjudication standards for contractor, civilian, or military personnel, except they use different adjudication facilities and different appeal procedures with the same end results. There are big issues with how many contractors are supporting the government and what they do, but security clearance and loyalty of contractors is seriously a red herring.

  33. 33
    cleek says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    “I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate,” he said. “And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end.”

    he = Obama

    http://ok-cleek.com/blogs/18534/aumf-wiedersehen/

  34. 34
    Botsplainer says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    TBotP may indeed be failing to win the morning, but that Q poll is suspect. Those gender cross tabs are screwy.

    Oversampling men, undersampling women, and oversampling “independents” (who are usually conservatives who are disappointed that Republicans aren’t even more batshit).

    Most of the polling models appear to have broken down, cost cutting and the drive to make their sample size tiny being the most likely culprit. Silver, by aggregating and weighing a number of them appears to have the best way of making sense of the things.

  35. 35
    Botsplainer says:

    @cleek:

    “I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate,” he said. “And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end.”

    He sold out progressives by failing to proclaim that unilaterally from the inaugural stand on January 20, 2009, while ordering the Secret Service to cuff Bush and Cheney…

  36. 36
    raven says:

    OMG, GMAIL changed!

  37. 37
    Suffern ACE says:

    @ChrisNYC: yep. Poll them on “is it unfair that guys named Ali are allowed to fly while your grandma in a wheelchair is stripped searched” and you would see how deep this concern for civil liberties is.

  38. 38
    Micheline says:

    @Bstick: This

  39. 39
    ChrisNYC says:

    @Suffern ACE: It’s interesting too, because they’re comparing a poll from mid January 2010. Right after the underwear bomber — which was when Drudge, Sully et al were out for the head of DHS chief Napolitano because she said, “The system worked” — b/c, you know, the plane did not actually explode in mid air, which might be termed a “win.”

    Here’s what Hoekstra had to say at the time:

    The leading Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence today said blame for allowing an al Qaeda bomber to board a US-bound flight with deadly explosives on Christmas day lay with a number of foreign governments and US policy makers, but he pointed his finger at the Obama administration for taking its eye off the threat from terrorism abroad. “I think there’s enough blame to go around here, the bottom line is we ended up with a bomb on a plane with a detonator ready to go off — that’s totally unacceptable. There’s probably failures at every step of the way, in Nigeria, in the Netherlands, and in the overall procedures,” Ranking Member Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., said in an interview with ABC News. “Early on in this administration I think that this administration sent a clear signal that they believed that the threat to the homeland was not as significant as what it really is. [Department of Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano said we’re not going to talk about terrorism we’re going to talk about manmade disasters. That was a mistake,” he added. Hoekstra said the focus must now be on preparing for the next evolving threat, not ones that have already come to light. “We need to clearly focus on airline security, but we also need to expand our surveillance in the areas we are going to protect because just as we focus on one area I expect al Qaeda will move and they will target another area. They are a flexible organization, they are a learning organization. As we change and adapt, so will they,” he said. “We’re now going to have to redouble our efforts to close the loopholes and to close the gaps that we’ve identified but we also need to be forward thinking.”

  40. 40
    Sly says:

    @Botsplainer:

    After all, nothing is more paranoid, trembly and panty-wetting than the American white “male” over ethereal constimatooshinal notions of being deprived of

    1. The ability to plot conservative Christian/white supremacist domestic terror events free of fear of being detected;

    2. The ability to amass psychotic amounts of military grade firearms and ammunition because blahs, spics and terrifying government might come for guns and white daughters, or gay government might try and force gay marriage on the ungay.

    On the right track, but its a bit more than that.

    A fundamental strategy of conservative movements is to appropriate the rhetorical style (or what they perceive to be the rhetorical style) of the leftist movements that they seek to defeat. In the American context, and I’m sure this is true elsewhere, one of the biggest appropriations is the language of victimhood. Most people don’t like bullies, and a key facet of leftist rhetoric is to identify “the bullies” and “the bullied” and point out a power dynamic that is fundamentally inequitable. Rich and poor. Men and women. White and every other racial/ethnic group. Etc. It’s designed to speak to a basic sense of fairness in the human character.

    What conservative movements try to do is reverse the roles of victim/victimizer within any given scenario that contains a privilege they seek to continue or an erosion of privilege they seek to roll back. Pity the billionaire, the anarcho-capitalist says, who is forced (FORCED!) to give up all that tax money to subsidize the laziness of the poor. Pity the man, the MRA says, who is bound by law (BY LAW!) to support a child that he doesn’t want while a woman can just get an abortion. Pity the poor Catholic bishop, the fundamentalist says, who is prohibited by the government (THE GOVERNMENT!) from following his religious principles in the employment policies of the charitable institutions his church runs.

    How does this work? Because it replaces a very real and tangible violation of the principles of justice that is outside the realm of experience for the people who “matter” with an abstract and/or weaker version of the same that the people who “matter” can identify with. Middle-class Americans don’t identify with being poor but they identify with paying taxes. Men (and many women) don’t identify with abortion but they identify with parenthood. And most Americans don’t identify with workplace discrimination but identify with general religious principles.

    How does this relate to the 4th Amendment in particular and freedom from government intrusions upon privacy in general? Because the most egregious violations of the 4th Amendment – Stop and Frisk, warrantless searches of property by police, egregious misuse of probable cause, etc – are not within the realm of experience for most Americans despite being the most damaging and the most common. Why? Because those abuses tend to happen in spaces that are cordoned off – that are separate – from what is assumed to be the American experience. But an unknown bureaucrat at the NSA reading your e-mails? People can picture that happening to them, even if its not happening with any frequency or in violation of settled 4th Amendment jurisprudence. And because it can happen to anyone, it happens to everyone.

    But the truth is rather simple; the NSA having a list of phone numbers and which numbers are calling which, with no names attached, is not even in the same galaxy of police power abuse as something like Stop and Frisk. The real enemy of the 4th Amendment isn’t a Federal agency – it’s your local police department.

    Well, maybe not your local police department. That’s kinda the point.

    Abstract violations are promoted. Real violations are ignored. Whether intentional or not (it can very well be unintentional, given the propensity of the right to believe its own bullshit – and no one should be deluded into the belief that American libertarianism isn’t a right-wing movement), this amounts to a bait and switch. The grossest and most systemic abuses of police power are always at the local and state level, not the Federal, but you would never know this if your only trusted source of information are libertarian privacy advocates.

  41. 41
    MomSense says:

    @Sly:

    And phone numbers, billing, bank statements aren’t even protected by the 4th Amendment–since the SCOTUS said so in the 70s–but hold the presses this is new, new, new I tell you.

  42. 42
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Botsplainer: While I see your point, what is the balance between “keeping us safe” and conducting widespread, broad surveillance without any meaningful oversight? I have no reason to doubt that whatever the NSA has been doing pursuant to the Patriot Act has been legal, but is it right? Is it okay for the government to review everything generated by its citizens in the name of “keeping us safe”?

    But I agree with you that it is hypocrisy for certain people to now decry the NSA’s actions who had nothing to say against the passage of the Patriot Act in the first place or its continued Congressional support during the Bush years.

  43. 43
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @cleek: Great article. See, he’s not so bad after all. /snark

  44. 44
    MomSense says:

    This may seem like a dumb question but how are people defining surveillance? I always thought it meant close observation. Here we are talking about gazillions of phone numbers with no names attached to those numbers. Is this really surveillance of everyone?

  45. 45
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Sly: Well said.

  46. 46
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MomSense: I do think that a decision regarding communications technology and searches from the 70s might just be a wee bit overtaken by technological change. It is like assuming a decision regarding transportation of goods via the Erie Canal is perfectly applicable to air travel. I think it might be time for the Court to revisit the precedent to see if the pervasiveness and portability of communications tech has changed things. In my view, it has.

  47. 47
    ericblair says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    While I see your point, what is the balance between “keeping us safe” and conducting widespread, broad surveillance without any meaningful oversight? I have no reason to doubt that whatever the NSA has been doing pursuant to the Patriot Act has been legal, but is it right?

    We could try something like the EU Data Protection Directive, which is a consistent framework that specifies consent, purpose, proportionality, supervision, accuracy, and so on. What these standards should be depends on the situation, but there’s a consistent and clear way to define them so policies can turn the dials in predictable meaningful ways. What we have in the US is a patchwork of legislation for specific types of data which may not make any real sense anymore, with too much emphasis on collection restrictions and not enough on oversight and maintenance.

    Of course, going there would mean that we had a functioning legislative branch, which is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    MomSense says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    No, I do think technology has changed things but what I am talking about is that since 76 and 79 the SCOTUS has said that phone bills, call logs, bank statements do not qualify for 4th amendment protection because consumers voluntarily contract with 3rd parties. I am all for changing the definitions which is why I think it is important to be accurate so people understand the scope of the challenge.

  50. 50
    different-church-lady says:

    At least one of the culprits in that leak was no mystery: former DOJ attorney Thomas Tamm admitted to it

    And yet somehow Thomas Tamm is not currently rotting in solitary next to Bradley Manning with electrodes attached to his nipples. So much for that pro-Eddie theory.

  51. 51
    Cacti says:

    See, the public loves him.

    He should have no reservations now about coming back to face a jury of his peers.

  52. 52
    ricky says:

    So how do Snowden’s numbers compare to the question
    “Dick Cheney….Former Vice President or Human Rights Criminal?”

  53. 53
    Wag says:

    @The prophet Nostradumbass:

    55-34 means 11% think “other”

  54. 54
    Kay says:

    @Sly:

    Seconded on “well.said”.

    They’ve done it with public ed. Bill.Gates and the Walton family heirs are bravely battling “teachers unions” in southern states (there are no real teachers unions in southern states).

    It’s incredible to watch. Second gtade teachers are victimizing billionaires because they’re resisting privatization.

  55. 55
    different-church-lady says:

    @Neddie Jingo:

    I’d been told by my old gaffer that though it was spelled Quinnipiac, it was pronounced Pêche Framboises au Croute.

    Actually, it’s pronounced “Throat Warbler Mangrove”

  56. 56
    different-church-lady says:

    @Wag:

    55-34 means 11% think “other”

    Which in turn means there’s only 11% who aren’t fucking jackasses.

  57. 57
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MomSense: I get that. However, my concern is that standards that applied to phone bills from a time when people used phones located in fixed locations and could, if they sought privacy, use pay phones are now capable of being used to collect more information. Should the Fourth Amendment be applicable despite the third party involvement? I say, arguably yes. Society is making these devices more and more necessary. Choosing to participate in modern society should not require surrendering all privacy rights.

  58. 58
    LAC says:

    @amk: hilarious. Last year, we were chuckling at and dismissing this polling company because of its Romney wins scenarios. Now, it provokes deep thought. Confirmation bias, indeed.

  59. 59
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Let’s go the flip side and say we completely prevent the government from collecting this information by having the phone companies not store any of it. I could build an awesome terror network via phone and never have to be in physical contact with anyone in the group.

    Yes, I know we’re not talking that far (at least most of us aren’t) but the advances in technology have also enabled the bad side as well.

  60. 60
    ricky says:

    @LAC:

    Quinnipiac is not a company. It is a university in the Land of the Long Water named after the original people.

  61. 61
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): I realize that. My big thing on search and seizure of modern communications is that the law is stuck in the past and is a random, patchwork collection of seat of the pants guesses. We collectively need to work out what should be private and how to ensure that it remains private.

    To me, Snowden and his “revelations” are rather unimportant in and of themselves. Sorting out what privacy and the 4th Amendment mean in modern society, however, is important.

    I will admit that in the mix of privacy v. security I am willing to tip the balance further toward privacy than many others.

  62. 62
    FlipYrWhig says:

    This poll question irritates me. “Whistleblower or traitor” is beyond stupid, but even that second part… If they had asked in what specific ways civil liberties have been over-restricted, what would the answer be from the people saying “yes”?

  63. 63
    NickT says:

    I’ll stick with “well-meaning but foolishly egomaniac incompetent” for Snowden and “those of us who were paying attention did know the stuff he told us – and knew it well enough to recognize that the key direct access claim was wrong”.

    I’ll note that the poll revealed a majority in favor of massive data collection, who were also unhappy that their privacy had been violated.

    The logic here apparently is that Americans don’t know what they want, but they have strong feelings about it anyway.

    The dogs bark, the caravan moves on and drawing conclusions from one poll is pretty damn stupid.

  64. 64
    MomSense says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I agree with you about this issue and think privacy protections should be expanded. It seems to me like this issue has been simplified and presented in an inaccurate way. I have seen a number of statements, petitions, and things which make it seem as though collection of phone numbers is a violation of the fourth amendment and currently it is not. What is the likelihood that the Supreme Court will reverse these decisions?

    My point is that this is going to be a long and complicated fight involving all three branches of government and with opposition from monied interests. I don’t think it is a good idea to gloss over the challenges.

  65. 65
    NickT says:

    @MomSense:

    a long and complicated fight involving all three branches of government and with opposition from monied interests

    Like the last 4 and a bit years.

  66. 66
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MomSense: I am hoping for a better Court to be on the bench by the time these issues reach it. And a pony.

  67. 67
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @NickT: Data collection for thee but not for me, then? If data collection isn’t the invasion of privacy or the restriction of civil liberties the Too Far answerers oppose, what are they opposing? I don’t get it.

  68. 68
    MomSense says:

    @NickT:

    Same as it ever was.

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I would love a better court but if all the ire is directed at the President as seems often to be the case–I am not optimistic. Also interesting to note that HRC doesn’t exactly have the best record on these things. The President is on record as wanting to end the war on terror and repeal the AUMF. HRC won’t even admit her Iraq War/AUMF vote was a mistake.

    I’m totally optimistic about the pony, though!

  69. 69
    NickT says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I think part of it is a mix of the usual hysterical anti-big-government kneejerk crowd and the usual hysterical Muslim-terrorists-are-imposing-sharia-law-on-Michigan crowd. Or, if you like, the intersection between them at the having one’s cake and eating it also too crowd.

  70. 70
    RP says:

    This is beyond dumb.

  71. 71
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @MomSense: IMHO we need something like an Internet/cell phone bill of rights. It seems to me that especially since phones became more like appendages, the notion that what you do with your devices is the vendors’ information, not yours, is dramatically outdated. That “pen register” Supreme Court case that keeps getting cited… That’s just crazy to me. Your own phone records are public because you involve a third party, the phone company? Surely that needs to be revisited.

  72. 72
    NickT says:

    @MomSense:

    I suspect that HRC’s calculation on the Iraq embarrassment is along the lines of:

    If the candidate don’t admit
    The primary must acquit

  73. 73
    NickT says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    IANAL, but telecom/internet/computing law seems to me to be an unholy mix of poorly repurposed old law, over-hastily written new law and whatever a given judge feels ought to be true when he/she gets up in the morning.

  74. 74
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @NickT: Probably so. Nevertheless, there’s not a lot of sense to an attitude like “This story about data collection shows that the government has gone too far! But not with the data collection, which doesn’t bother me!”

  75. 75
    NickT says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Well, ain’t that the story of most of American public opinion over the last 50 years? Poor whites use the safety net more than any other group – and yet white people continue to believe that the safety net is only used by mooching hordes of a different skin color. Reagan spent like it was going out of fashion – and hiked the deficit – yet austerity junkies love him. I really do believe that much of this comes down to massive public ignorance combined with some systematic muddying of the waters by a whole variety of so-called “conservatives”.

  76. 76
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @FlipYrWhig: That basically what I was trying to say earlier.

  77. 77
    NickT says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I think that’s right, but it ought to be a bill of personal data rights. The devices are just a means of moving data around. I would be interested to see whether a company like Google would agree to pay individuals in return for being granted access to their data. I suspect they would.

  78. 78
    Jockey Full of Malbec says:

    @NickT:

    The logic here apparently is that Americans don’t know what they want, but they have strong feelings about it anyway.

    Welcome to 2006, America. Some of us have been waiting a long, long time for you to catch up. Just a damn shame that it took a traitor to get your attention.

    This would be an excellent time to revisit how the FISA court operates, to add more checks and balances to the Patriot Act, and (while we’re at it) scale down most of the AUMF. (And let’s retroactively declare those left at Gitmo to be POWs and repatriate them while we’re at it).

    Now you just need to learn how to vote properly. Because this particular Congress isn’t going to give you anything that you claim to want.

  79. 79
    MomSense says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I agree with you and I think it will be pretty complicated to do. People like the find my phone apps and the ability to log in to the cell phone providers to find teenagers who are late for their curfews (this is of course hypothetical as my little angels would never make their mama worry) or let target/walmart/wapo/etc find their store, notify them of important news in their area. And then there is the matter of how the billing happens and the “roaming agreements” between providers which means knowing where our phones are when we use them. And then there are the emergency functions because many of us don’t have land lines so we are calling 911 from cell phones. These are just a few of the challenges to be worked out off the top of my head. I think the EU has some sort of framework but I don’t know that it is all that mindful of individual privacy.

  80. 80
    Mandalay says:

    @Chris T.:

    The “whistleblower, or traitor?” question is a false dichotomy.

    You obviously didn’t read the actual question, which was:

    Do you regard Edward Snowden, the national security consultant who released information to the media about the phone scanning program, as more of a traitor, or more of a whistle-blower?

    Only 11% declined to pick either option. I have seen posters on this thread criticize the question, but I have not seen anyone explain what is actually wrong with that question. Why is it unfair or flawed?

    Regardless of its merits, 100% of those asked had the opportunity to tag Snowden as “more of a traitor” but only 34% took the bait. I suspect that is much lower than the prevailing sentiment on this allegedly progressive blog.

  81. 81
    Rex Everything says:

    Perhaps I overinterpret, but it seems almost as if the quivering social vibrissae of the TBotP crew sense that “Snowden is a traitor, and besides everybody knew all that stuff anyway” is failing to Win the Morning?

    Snort. Ten points for Team Chaotic.

  82. 82
    NickT says:

    @Mandalay:

    As Chris told you, it offers a false dichotomy.

    Wake up, MandalaySheeple!

  83. 83
    piratedan says:

    i’m sure we’ll be restoring those civil liberties in regards to privacy issues right after we get those gun background checks implemented nationally for gun show sales….

    color me skeptical…..

  84. 84
    Rex Everything says:

    It’s official: The smarter diehards have begun botsplaining.

  85. 85
    Mandalay says:

    @NickT:

    As Chris told you, it offers a false dichotomy.

    Like Chris, you don’t understand what “false dichotomy” means. The question did not present a false dichotomy.

  86. 86
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mandalay: It is flawed because it presents question as something of a sliding scale with whistleblower at one end and traitor at the other. It is like creating a choice of more of a triangle or more of an orange. Especially so when neither, both, or huh? are valid responses.

  87. 87
    Cacti says:

    Traitor, whistle blower or something else, he’s presently engaged in an unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

    No amount of Snowdensplaining changes this basic fact.

  88. 88
    Laertes says:

    @Sly:

    Have you got a blog somewhere, or a regular writing gig?

  89. 89
    LAC says:

    @MomSense: and yes, let’s give give ourselves a big hand (and try to make Snowden’s world tour of “the price is right” mean something good) for “waking up” and “starting a conversation”. What fucking nap were folks taking all these years? A dirt nap? If these issues mattered so much, where was voting? This “conversation” is currently being hijacked by libertarians and wingnuts in our midst, with their fully formed paranoia in view. It’s a circle jerk using chainsaws,devoid of evidence and facts.

  90. 90
    LAC says:

    @ricky: thank you. Still bad polling record.

  91. 91
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @LAC: Or we could just ignore the issue you seem to favor simply because Snowden is a douchecanoe. If there is going to be a discussion of this and because of Snowden, it appears that thee will be, shouldn’t people other than wingnuts and libertarians be involved? If not, then they control the discussion and the end result. How does that benefit anyone?

  92. 92
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Mandalay: Really? There are several commenters here who claim straight up that Snowden is a traitor, but I don’t think the actual percentage exceeds a third, which tracks with the Q poll. My guess is the percentage who would decline to pick “traitor” or “whistle-blower” is higher here than on average. But that’s just my impression. I’d rather lick a used diaper pail clean than go through the Snowald post comments to obtain the hard numbers. Hmmm…maybe a BJ poll would clear this up for us.

  93. 93
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Betty Cracker: @Omnes Omnibus: How about more a whistleblower, more a traitor, or more a diva?

  94. 94
    socoolsofresh says:

    Nothingburger! We knew all this in 2006, no big deal! He is a traitor though!

  95. 95
    Jockey Full of Malbec says:

    @Mandalay:
    Well, it’s either a false dichotomy. Or it isn’t.

  96. 96

    He’s a leaker, not a whistleblower. Definitions matter.

  97. 97
    Laertes says:

    In a massive shift in attitudes, voters say 45 – 40 percent the government’s anti-terrorism efforts go too far restricting civil liberties, a reversal from a January 14, 2010, survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University when voters said 63 – 25 percent that such activities didn’t go far enough to adequately protect the country.

    Well, it’s just one poll. As much as I’d like to believe that our little national temper tantrum is over, and we’re ready to go back to being a sensible people who value security but value freedom more, one poll isn’t going to convince me that this shift is real, and even if it is I’m not convinced that it’ll outlast the current news cycle. I’m certainly not convinced that it’ll outlive the current Administration.

    Almost every party, gender, income, education, age and income group regards Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor. The lone exception is black voters, with 43 percent calling him a traitor and 42 percent calling him a whistle-blower.

    That’s maybe not a big surprise. This has been largely framed as an Obama-versus-Snowden thing. People who support Obama are going to be inclined to be more hostile toward Snowden, and vice-versa.

    There is a gender gap on counter-terrorism efforts as men say 54 – 34 percent they have gone too far and women say 47 – 36 percent they have not gone far enough.

    That’s interesting, and it’s far larger than the partisan gender gap, so there’s more going on there than just Obama people hating Snowden and Obama-haters loving him.

    There is little difference among Democrats and Republicans who are about evenly divided. Independent voters say 49 – 36 percent that counter-terrorism measures have gone too far.

    That’s maybe the most interesting line in the whole thing. If true, and again I’m skeptical about this poll, what I’m reading there is that Democrats are somewhat reluctant to criticize Obama, Republicans aren’t letting their Obama-hatred completely overwhelm their authoritarian instincts, and Independents, having no deep attachment to either Obama or the national security apparatus, are vaguely aware that they don’t like what’s going on.

    Some of the largest growth in those concerned about the threat to civil liberties is among men and Republicans, groups historically more likely to be supportive of governmental anti- terrorism efforts.

    You’d think these guys would have figured out by 2010 that Obama was president. It was on FOX and everything.

    When Quinnipiac University asked voters in January, 2010, whether they thought the government had gone too far restricting civil liberties or not gone far enough to protect the country, not more than 35 percent of any demographic group thought it had gone too far. Then, Republicans said not far enough 72 – 17 percent; today GOP voters say not far enough 46 – 41 percent. Democrats went from not far enough 57 – 29 percent to too far 43 – 42 percent. Men went from 61 – 28 percent not far enough to 54 – 34 percent too far. Women went from 64 – 22 not far enough to 47 – 36 percent not far enough.

    I sure hope this is true, and not just one flaky poll.

  98. 98
    Betty Cracker says:

    @FlipYrWhig: All I need to know about Snowden to distrust his motives is that he is a Ron Paul supporter. But ultimately, I don’t give a crap about his motives. I think it would be swell if we could find out if what he alleges is true, but it appears Congress is too busy attempting to repeal Obamacare and kill the food stamps program to bother with it.

  99. 99
    MomSense says:

    @NickT:

    If the candidate don’t admit
    The primary must acquit

    Awesome!!

  100. 100
    Laertes says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    He’s a leaker, not a whistleblower. Definitions matter.

    I’m not sure it’s quite that clear. IMO, the key difference is that a whistleblower exposes wrongdoing. I’ve heard a few people claim that Snowden isn’t a whistleblower because the programs he exposed were legal. I think that’s far too narrow a definition.

    Why is it that you think the term doesn’t apply to Snowden?

  101. 101
    Laertes says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    But ultimately, I don’t give a crap about [Snowden’s] motives.

    This. Intentions don’t matter. Results matter.

    I really don’t give a damn why he did what he did. I suppose I’m annoyed, but not surprised, that people needed these “revelations” to get them to wake up and notice things that have been plain to see for years.

    But I think I’m going to not join the people who seem to resent the fact that the public is maybe coming around to their view simply because it’s for what they think are the wrong reasons, and because there was a deeply flawed messenger involved. When public opinion moves your way, you need to take a little happiness in that fact. If you want to find reasons to be sour about it you can, but that’s just shitting in your own mouth.

  102. 102
    Corner Stone says:

    If senior admin officials lied to Congress in order to get the programs authorized/re-authorized, does that mean the programs are still legal?

    If results from a warrant include mass surveillance, does that mean the warrant is still legal?

  103. 103
    Corner Stone says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’d rather lick a used diaper pail clean

    Kinky.
    ….but not in the good way.

  104. 104

    @Laertes: wrongdoing is too expansive of a term due to subjectivity.

  105. 105
    Laertes says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    What’s your (presumably objective?) definition?

  106. 106
    daverave says:

    That Patriot Act genie ain’t going back in the bottle. It will just be re-branded if necessary.
    Face it, OBL FTW !!!1!

  107. 107

    @Laertes: i lean more toward the illegal side (which you dismissed above). And it’s just my opinion although there are definitions out there that tie to illegality (more that tie to wrongdoing, though). The wrongdoing definition is meaningless to me. Ex: T&H/mclaren/emoprogs are trolls at BJ. I think trolling is wrong. I just exposed them. I am now the balloon juice whistleblower.

    Why is “leaker” so objectionable?

  108. 108
    MomSense says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’m going with not enough information.

  109. 109
    Sly says:

    @Kay: @Kay:
    It’s not just privatization; re-configuring public education to suit the demands of a privileged few at the expense of everyone else is a pretty long tradition, and the tactic of appropriating the language of fairness (i.e. “Every child deserves a good education”) is found pretty much everywhere. Tracking, testing, curricula, you name it. “Yes, yes, having education environment where students are tracked into high, medium, and low performing classes disadvantages certain students, but isn’t it only fair that the high performing students (who just by coincidence are disproportionately white and from wealthier families) deserve the opportunity to explore their natural aptitude?”

    When opponents of equality can’t steamroll their antagonists, they co-opt them.

    @Laertes:

    Have you got a blog somewhere, or a regular writing gig?

    No and, in fairness, nothing I wrote hasn’t already been written better, and by people who’ve studied the phenomenon more. For instance, much of Corey Robin’s excellent book on the intellectual history of conservatism, The Reactionary Mind, examines how the right constantly appropriates the language of the left in order to defeat it. And there are many, many, many people who’ve written about how this is done with respect to certain issues (of race, of class, of gender, etc).

    I suppose the bright part is that such a tactic acknowledges the moral supremacy of the left, but the downside is that the left is usually caught off guard when the strategy is employed because the extent to which members of the right are passionate about their perceived victimhood. I got into an argument with an MRA a few weeks ago about how the “Gold Digging Whore” myth – the woman who gets pregnant just to get those sweet and lucrative child support payments – is statistically insignificant compared to the occurrence of men dumping pregnant women, and that his paranoid fear of being victimized by women was simply that: paranoia. But he constantly talked about his views as a righteous struggle against male oppression by women, and believed what he was saying because the possibility of him being left alone to care for a child was not within his realm of experience.

  110. 110
    Rex Everything says:

    While it may be true, as Betty Cracker has been saying, that “motives don’t matter,” I think we have to keep in mind just what we mean by motives here.

    The motive of a typical gov’t leaker is to manipulate the media in the gov’t’s interest. The motive of a gov’t whistleblower is to hold the gov’t accountable. It’s very clear which of the 2 Snowden was.

    Now if, beyond this, he was motivated by a libertarian ideology, then of course we can argue with that ideology till the cows come home. But to pretend there’s this big nefarious difference in motivation between him and us, on an issue like this, is simple confusion, IMO. Both liberals and libertarians are averse to Big Brother.

  111. 111
    Laertes says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    i lean more toward the illegal side (which you dismissed above).

    “Dismissed” is maybe too strong a word. Let’s go with “disagree.” I got to wondering if maybe my view was a not-very-widely-held one, and in looking around I turned up this:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/Whistleblowing.pdf

    I’m going to enter that into evidence as exhibit A that whistleblowing can cover far more than mere lawbreaking.

    I think trolling is wrong. I just exposed them. I am now the balloon juice whistleblower.

    If these trolls were in a position of authority, and if their troll behavior was generally unknown to the public, and if you had evidence of their trolldom that you were revealing to people who didn’t already have it, at some personal or legal risk to yourself, then I’d agree. You’d be a whistleblower. In the event, those conditions don’t exist, so the term doesn’t apply.

    Why is “leaker” so objectionable?

    It’s not. He is definitely a leaker. He’s also a whistleblower. You’re not imagining these terms to be exclusive of one another, are you?

  112. 112
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Laertes: Still, I think it’s important to bear the fact that Snowden is a Paultroon in mind since he is to some extent in control of spinning what it all means and has the biggest megaphone in that regard.

    When Snowden says the “US government co-opts US corporate power to its own ends,” we should run that through the dispaultroonometer and recognize that the corporations are hardly innocent victims of government overreach and may in fact be more dangerous to us than Big Brother ever thought about being.

  113. 113
    Laertes says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I agree entirely. He’s got that relationship entirely backwards, as I think you pointed out earlier. We could talk all day about the silly, silly things that Mr. Snowden believes.

    I have to admit, though, that as much as he’s a loon and a fool, and has possibly done a fair bit of harm, he’s probably done a tremendous amount of good. American public opinion is a gigantic, sluggish, irrational beast. I’ve never moved it one tiny bit, and I most likely never will. Early reports suggest that he has, a long way, in a good direction.

  114. 114
    NickT says:

    @Mandalay:

    Still trotting obediently down that dear old MandalaySheeple path to the end, eh?

    You are totes adorable in your refusal to face your own ignorance.

  115. 115

    @Laertes: No, not exclusive to me. A better question is why not use both? Or why jump to whistleblower in lieu of using leaker? For the 2nd question, whistleblower packs more of a punch so that’s why people jump to it. I favor the more accurate (in my opinion) definition. Using whistleblower creates a presumption of illegality (again my opinion).

    I agree that you can find definitions that use wrongdoing (and said so above).

  116. 116
    Elie says:

    I think that many hear can agree on the importance of the whole issue of the Govt spying on American citizens for unclear reasons and needs to change the Patriot Act. What I am less clear about is the revelations that were made, have been made by Snowden and celebrated by GG on the issue of spying on our foes and allies. If the term “traitor” would be assigned to Snowden on any issue, to me that “label” would apply for that behavior. Unless those who champion his whistleblower status assume that the US should not spy on other countries for any reason. The other thing that “matters” to me — and I acknowledge is attitudinal, is should I care whether the leaker hates this country and perhaps may want to purposely harm it. Should that matter in assigning whether he is a whistleblower or not. I always thought that whistleblowers had the desire to help their country do the right thing out of caring for it — not hating it. Again, that is my opinion.

  117. 117
    Elie says:

    @Elie:

    since I don’t have the edit button can’t fix hear into “here” — sorry

  118. 118
    Laertes says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    Or why jump to whistleblower in lieu of using leaker?

    Because it’s the more descriptive term. You might as well ask why jump to chimpanzee in lieu of using mammal.

    Using whistleblower creates a presumption of illegality (again my opinion).

    Absolutely. Which is why we’re having this dispute. “Leaker” is the far more neutral term, whereas “whistleblower” carries with it a very strong implication that the leak was in the public interest. I insist on using the term for exactly that reason, and I suspect that the people who object to the term mostly object for exactly that reason.

  119. 119
    Jockey Full of Malbec says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    Why is “leaker” so objectionable?

    It deflates the ‘Snowden as hero’ narrative.

    Not that you care, but IMO ‘leaker’ is a perfect word, because it describes the act, with no implied moral content.

  120. 120

    @Jockey Full of Malbec: I agree. He can be a leaker until it is determined that his leaks expose illegal activities and then he’s a whistleblower.

    @Laertes: More descriptive isn’t better if the description is not accurate (again my opinion). You may as well call a chimpanzee a gorilla.

  121. 121
    Laertes says:

    @Elie:

    If the term “traitor” would be assigned to Snowden on any issue, to me that “label” would apply for that behavior. Unless those who champion his whistleblower status assume that the US should not spy on other countries for any reason.

    You’re tying yourself into logical knots with the presumption that Snowden must be either entirely a traitor or entirely a whistleblower. I’d abandon that idea if I were you. He’s definitely the latter, and quite possibly the former as well. He certainly exposed shocking and abusive practices. I shouldn’t be surprised if he’s also somehow revealed information that damages our government to no good purpose. (I’m not familiar with the details of that case, but it seems plausible given the sheer amount of data he’s got and the way he’s handling it.)

    I can’t draw examples from history about deeply flawed people who did a lot of good without spawning a bunch of crybaby replies about how I’m comparing Snowden to this or that much-admired figure, so I won’t, but the simple fact is that people are complicated, and tend to not be entirely anything at all.

  122. 122
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Elie:

    The other thing that “matters” to me — and I acknowledge is attitudinal, is should I care whether the leaker hates this country and perhaps may want to purposely harm it. Should that matter in assigning whether he is a whistleblower or not. I always thought that whistleblowers had the desire to help their country do the right thing out of caring for it — not hating it.

    FWIW, Snowden says he’s motivated by patriotism. I don’t see any reason to disbelieve that, but I would certainly disagree with what a libertarian would deem beneficial for the country (getting rid of the social safety net, gutting regulations, etc.).

    I do wonder what effect the leaks on foreign surveillance will have on US-based data processing outfits. There is already a diplomatic chill. Will there be a business chill too?

  123. 123
    Laertes says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    I agree. He can be a leaker until it is determined that his leaks expose illegal activities and then he’s a whistleblower.

    I think that’s far too narrow a view, and the 2005-era office of special counsel (which is specifically charged with the protection of whistleblowers) agrees. Their definition includes “Gross mismanagement,” “violation of any law, rule, or regulation,” “gross waste of funds,” “abuse of authority,” and “substantial and specific danger to public safety” or health.

    As reluctant as I am to let the government define “whistleblower” for me, that all seems pretty reasonable, and in general I think we should err on the side of defining the term too broadly, rather than too narrowly.

  124. 124
    LAC says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I wish it were that easy, but it isn’t here. Here’s why: the headline post: “Look, golly there is a poll out there that ask the question about whether Snowden is a whistleblower. Now it doesn’t matter that the question is phrased in such a way and that people have a vague idea as to what exactly a whistleblower is, survey says DING DING DING : snowden is whistleblower, he is no longer a douchecanoe and in your face, suckas!!!

    followed by a thread of whatFlipYrWhig brilliantly encapsulated:

    July 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm
    @NR:

    Nah, it’s more like this:

    A: Hey, I just read the NSA has been spying on millions of Americans.
    B: Are you sure “spying” is the right word? There are a lot of technical issues that seem more complicated than that.
    A: Since you don’t care about how the NSA is spying on millions of Americans, I’m going to call you PRO-SURVEILLANCE.
    B: I’m not pro-surveillance, I’m just not sure Snowden and Greenwald are telling the story straight.
    A: Hey PRO-SURVEILLANCE, stop making it all about Snowden and Greenwald!
    B: OK, let’s talk about how this other article says that it’s all subject to court orders.
    A: Why are you such an apologist for Obama and hate Snowden and Greenwald so much, PRO-SURVEILLANCE?
    B: Snowden and Greenwald seem to be telling a story that doesn’t quite match up with some of this other stuff.
    A: It’s always about Snowden and Greenwald with you guys. Why are there so few of us ANTI-SURVEILLANCE people who get it?
    B: It’s not PRO vs. ANTI-SURVEILLANCE, it’s people trying to get the story straight vs. people who immediately made up their minds. But while we’re at it, Snowden seems like a dick, and so does Greenwald.
    A: I told you! You’re PRO-SURVEILLANCE and keep making it all about Snowden and Greenwald! Not the issues Snowden and Greenwald raised! Like spying on millions of Americans!
    B: But was it really “spying” if… oh, fucking whatever. OK, what do you think we should talk about?
    A: How Snowden and Greenwald proved that ANTI-SURVEILLANCE people like me are correct, and that PRO-SURVEILLANCE people are wrong and love surveillance.
    B: No one loves surveillance, I’m just raising questions about… fuck it. OK, fine, what do you ANTI-SURVEILLANCE people want to see happen next?
    *crickets chirp* *tumbleweed rolls through* *long white beard grows on B’s face*

    and scene…

    Meanwhile, other like minded blogs are getting facts and information out there (otherwise known as “persecuting Greenwald” to his acolytes) and providing a body of work for folks to actually use in discussions. We are still here, cherry picking articles, trying to fit Snowden in the right cloud for his ascent.

  125. 125

    @Laertes: I understand because you want the presumption baked in there. I disagree because there is an adequate term that I think better defines the activity. Let’s leave it here.

    The gubmint defines lots of terms. Hard to get around that.

  126. 126
    Elie says:

    @Laertes:

    Yes, I agree that people are frequently complicated and good things can be done by seriously flawed people. The context for this post was the dichotomy posed by the survey, if you recall. What I was trying to tease out is that there may be ultimately a sort of cost/benefit that emerges on an individual’s actions — one that may become more clear with the lapse of time –
    I also think that its important for us to weigh a number of value based issues in thinking about those who work with sensitive or secret data and what our expectations should be about their values. I think that we should expect our government and the entities that they contract with to pursue good people with strong ethical as well as knowledge based attributes. It HAS to be important at some point that people overall, can be trusted not to betray critical information. Yes, I believe in the importance and relevance of whistleblowing, but I would like to hear more libertarians talk about those issues and values also. Those are also important to citizens, not just some unappointed John or Jane Doe taking it on themselves to make decisions about releasing information based on their own assessment or agenda — especially those who may actually either a) want to have some payoff – either money or attention, or b) those who explictly want to do harm.

    Like you said, Laertes — its complex, no?

  127. 127
    Laertes says:

    @Elie:

    Well said. I agree entirely.

  128. 128
    Mandalay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    It is like creating a choice of more of a triangle or more of an orange.

    I just don’t buy your argument. Unlike “triangle” and “orange”, “whistleblower” and “traitor” are clearly related and relevant concepts to consider with respect to Snowden, and there is a mountain of commentary out there on whether Snowden is a traitor and/or a whistleblower.

  129. 129
    Elie says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    “I do wonder what effect the leaks on foreign surveillance will have on US-based data processing outfits. There is already a diplomatic chill. Will there be a business chill too?”

    Interesting question — will take time and may be difficult to know — I hear both things — No harm to our interests and yes there was significant harm to our interests… I agree that there has been at least observable ripples… how and what happens as a result, we will have to see.

    But hey, its ok — whatever he did is all ok and nothing should matter about the individual’s complete motives because, you know, its all complex.

  130. 130
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Yes to your first question. The vote by Congress and signing by POTUS is what matters.

    WRT your second question, I would say no. It is effectively a general warrant – something that is not legal. I would also say that my opinion might not be shared by the majority of courts.

  131. 131
    Mandalay says:

    @Sly:

    What conservative movements try to do is reverse the roles of victim/victimizer within any given scenario that contains a privilege they seek to continue or an erosion of privilege they seek to roll back.

    Victimhood is not peculiar to conservative movements. You can see it on this board all the time when posters have their argument refuted. They quickly resort to the feigned indignation: “Oh, so now I am not allowed to believe…”.

    Victimhood is everywhere.

  132. 132
    LAC says:

    @Laertes:

    Pulled some language from the Special Counsel’s website. It is actually narrow interpretation, at least under this law. Defining Snowden as a whistleblower may be how one sees him, but it is not under this law.

    OSC’s Disclosure Unit (DU) serves as a safe conduit for the receipt and evaluation of whistleblower disclosures from federal employees, former employees, and applicants for federal employment. 5 U.S.C. § 1213.

    The Disclosure Unit has jurisdiction over federal employees, former federal employees, and applicants for federal employment. It is important to note that a disclosure must be related to an event that occurred in connection with the performance of an employee’s duties and responsibilities. The Disclosure Unit does not have jurisdiction over disclosures filed by:
    employees of the U.S. Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission;
    members of the armed forces of the United States (i.e., non-civilian military employees);
    state employees operating under federal grants;
    employees of federal contractors; and
    other employees or federal agencies that are exempt under federal law.

    The Disclosure Unit evaluates disclosures, which are separate and distinct from complaints of reprisal or retaliation for whistleblowing activities.

    DU attorneys review five types of disclosures specified in the statute: violations of a law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; a gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; and a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(b). The disclosures are evaluated to determine whether or not there is sufficient information to conclude with a substantial likelihood that one of these conditions has been disclosed.

    DU processes disclosures differently from other government whistleblower channels in at least three ways: (1) federal law guarantees confidentiality to the whistleblower; (2) the Special Counsel may order an agency head to investigate and report on the disclosure; and (3) after any such investigation, the Special Counsel must send the agency’s report, with the whistleblower’s comments, to the President and Congressional oversight committees.

    As stated above, a whistleblower’s identity will not be revealed without his or her consent. However, in the unusual case where the Special Counsel determines there is an imminent danger to public health or safety or imminent violation of any criminal law, the Special Counsel has the authority to reveal the whistleblower’s identity. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(h).

    For disclosures of information involving counterintelligence and foreign intelligence information the statute sets forth a different procedure under 5 U.S.C. § 1213(j). If the Special Counsel determines that a disclosure involves counterintelligence or foreign intelligence information, which is prohibited from disclosure by law or Executive order, the disclosure will be transmitted to the National Security Advisor, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the House and Select Committee on Intelligence in the Senate. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(j). The referral ends the Special Counsel’s involvement with the disclosure and the National Security Advisor and the Congressional intelligence committees decide how to proceed with the information. The disclosure will not be referred to the head of the agency involved for an investigation.

  133. 133
    RandomMonster says:

    @LAC:

    Meanwhile, other like minded blogs are getting facts and information out there (otherwise known as “persecuting Greenwald” to his acolytes) and providing a body of work for folks to actually use in discussions. We are still here, cherry picking articles, trying to fit Snowden in the right cloud for his ascent.

    That PRO vs ANTI dialogue nails it completely, as does your summary. For the most part though, this thread is depressing.

  134. 134
    boatboy_srq says:

    @geg6: Ditto.

    Snowden: whistleblower/traitor? Wrong dichotomy. Me, i’d go with jackass

    The thing about all this that infuriates me is that everything Snowden has made public was fine and dandy – just so long as there was a white guy in the WH. Snowden’s antics (and Greenwald’s enabling) still smell to me like “OOOOH! LOOK! The Scary Black Man wants to crawl into your wife’s/daughters’ PC and read their Facebook wall posts, and into your accountant’s PC and report your tax haven nestegg to the IRS!” Regardless of the right or wrong of the intelligence activity, the whole brouhaha going off eleven years after the start of the GWoT smells too much like TABMITWH for me to be content with it. And Snowden’s antics aren’t improving that any.

    I have no problem with people having issues with what the NSA does and what the Patriot Act enabled. I have a real problem with people having issues with all this only now.

  135. 135
    El Cid says:

    @boatboy_srq:

    The thing about all this that infuriates me is that everything Snowden has made public was fine and dandy – just so long as there was a white guy in the WH.

    Utter nonsense.

  136. 136
    Elie says:

    @RandomMonster:

    I would differ from what you say in only one way — the thread is sobering rather than depressing. It really is not about black and white pro and anti — even though I admit my own extreme arguments at different points over the last weeks. It is a simple statement that we all want our government to do right about our expectations of privacy. That said, things start getting complex when we try to place gray issues like which cases that would not be so and how and also — how information is gathered and used by our country about other countries. It starts getting very very complex and the euphoria of having a sharp black and white answer that just covers every situation, disappears, leaving us with unsatisfying conditional interpretations. Of course, not for everyone, but for those who actually care about holding a number of important values that may imbed hard conflicts. This should not be “easy”

  137. 137
    FlipYrWhig says:

    BTW, I don’t think the notion that a whistleblower has to expose _illegal_ activities to earn the title is very useful. There are a lot of horrifying things that are unfortunately totally legal. Maybe the whistleblower can be the catalyst who prompts the criminalization of what he or she exposed.

  138. 138
    RandomMonster says:

    @Elie:

    Of course, not for everyone, but for those who actually care about holding a number of important values that may imbed hard conflicts. This should not be “easy”

    I agree with everything you said in your reply, and sure, there’s some good discussion going on here. What’s depressing is the entirely “easy” blog entry that started this thread — TBotP crew sense that “Snowden is a traitor, and besides everybody knew all that stuff anyway” is failing to Win the Morning? — and the trivializing of any opinion that wants to examine grey areas and fuzzy lines.

  139. 139
    gorram says:

    @Rex Everything:

    Both liberals and libertarians are averse to Big Brother.

    The Bush years proved both how true that it and how useless it is.

    We’re both “averse” sure, but they’re far more comfortable with those same policies existing, provided they’re not applied to them. That’s why Rand Paul held a talking filibuster about the risk of drone strikes being done against US citizens while they’re in the US – because that’s what he’s afraid of (not, you know, whether we should do drone strikes period). That’s why Snowden has focused on how the NSA uses the same technological framework to spy on US citizens as other people living elsewhere in the world – because what they’re really afraid of is US citizenship not being the trump against the Bush-era Orwellian system they signed on for.

    IGMFY permeates their ideology and it influences how they will cooperate with us on the few issues where they aren’t diametrically opposed to us.

  140. 140
    Elie says:

    @RandomMonster:

    Thanks. I fully agree… but then, gray is not what most people feel comfortable with — folks want that satisfaction of certainty — which of course you know… Can’t talk them out of it either…

  141. 141
    Keith G says:

    @geg6:

    I have said all along that, though I don’t support what Snowden did and do not consider him a whistleblower, let alone any sort of hero, I will be glad if this whole situation leads to the end of the Patriot Act, a horrible law. I see it as a sort of pox on both houses situation. Snowden and the Patriot Act are both bad things. Now, if we could get the whole government contractor situation to end, too, that would make me despise Snowden a little less.

    Damn right!!

    Now if only there was a progressive at the pinnacle of government who cared enough about these issues to energetically get the ball rolling.

  142. 142
    Keith G says:

    Oooopps

  143. 143
    lojasmo says:

    On the eve of the Iraq war, 70% of Americans polled believed Sadam Hussein was responsible for 9-11.

    I don’t notice a choice for “self aggrandizing, Randian douchenozzel” in the qpac poll. That would be my choice.

  144. 144
    LAC says:

    @Keith G: And if only there were people who took some civics courses and realize that *gasp* there are three branches of government and that one of those branches – oh say the legislature – needs to have folks in it who are progressive and that maybe, oh i don’t know, exercise their civic duties and support and vote for viable progressive candidates and stop pretending that one person can magically wave their wand, it might be a great start, indeed…

    ooops…snap…duh…

  145. 145
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Keith G: That’s fair, I think. And the frame would be to revisit these policies and procedures in the context of the winding down of the so-called War on Terror, which Obama made a whole speech about. If compromised privacy flows from counter-terrorism efforts, then getting smart about combating terrorism also implies reassessing whether those compromises are still justified. But until there’s a new legal framework, there’s not much of a reward in Team Obama refraining from using every legal arrow in its quiver. So bring on the new laws, rescind the AUMF, rewrite the Patriot Act, and make it scandalous for Obama not to sign them into effect. If Snowden hastened that process, bully for Snowden. I still think Snowden’s dystopia fetish is goofy, and that people swallowed the worst spin immediately, but those are Snowden-Greenwald squabbles, not privacy/surveillance matters that, well, matter.

  146. 146
    lojasmo says:

    @El Cid:

    Utter nonsense.

    Oh yeah? Go find a 300+ post about it on this blog prior to 2008.

  147. 147
    Elie says:

    @LAC:

    Yay! Well said but as you already know, folks just don’t care about damned civics.

    Its about what THEY KNOW about the CONSTITUTION, doncha know — rather how THEY interpret the Constitution cause Lord knows that is all that matters, right? THEM!!!!

  148. 148
    Elie says:

    OT — I gotta say — I like Chris Hayes’ earnest efforts but I can no longer stand watching him. Its like hauling lumber up a hill. Again, the intent is good but its not working for me.

    Sorry for the diversion. Carry on

  149. 149
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Elie: also, his glasses frames get worse and worse. He looks like Woodsy Owl now.

  150. 150
    Elie says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I don’t think its just his frames.. I just dunno what it is.. he bugs me… I want more space when I listen to him…

  151. 151
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @NickT:

    I really do believe that much of this comes down to massive public ignorance combined with some systematic muddying of the waters by a whole variety of so-called “conservatives”.

    And much of it comes down to the systematic inability and/or unwillingness of the national Democratic party to form and promote a coherent message to educate the public on an ongoing basis.

  152. 152
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    How about more a whistleblower, more a traitor, or more a diva?

    This is a great example of the weirdness here.

    Even if he IS a diva, what the hell difference does that make to the veracity and impact of the information he’s released.

    The answer is none.

    Why do so many people here act as though Edward Snowden didn’t speak to them in the hallway on the way to Freshman English this morning? What age old junior high issues are you guys working out thru all this projection?

  153. 153
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    How about more a whistleblower, more a traitor, or more a diva?

    This is a great example of the weirdness here.

    Even if he IS a diva, what the hell difference does that make to the veracity and impact of the information he’s released?

    The answer is none.

    Why do so many people here act as though Edward Snowden didn’t speak to them in the hallway on the way to Freshman English this morning? What age old junior high issues are you guys working out thru all this projection?

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