Civil Liberties Hero Edward Snowden Commits Massive Civil Liberties Violation

Hands over 160,000 private emails to journalists and Glenn Greenwald
US News • Views: 36,005

I can’t help noticing that the most important and troubling aspect of Barton Gellman’s new NSA story for the Washington Post is not even mentioned in the text: In NSA-Intercepted Data, Those Not Targeted Far Outnumber the Foreigners Who Are.

But first, here’s what is in the text:

Among the most valuable contents — which The Post will not describe in detail, to avoid interfering with ongoing operations — are fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks.

Months of tracking communications across more than 50 alias accounts, the files show, led directly to the 2011 capture in Abbottabad of Muhammad Tahir Shahzad, a Pakistan-based bomb builder, and Umar Patek, a suspect in a 2002 terrorist bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali. At the request of CIA officials, The Post is withholding other examples that officials said would compromise ongoing operations.

Secret nuclear weapons projects, aggressive hackers, double-dealing by purported allies — why is it supposed to be evil and wrong for the NSA to uncover these kinds of things? Why in the world would anyone be upset that their communications were intercepted if it helps the US government discover a secret nuclear project?

If my emails are collected by the NSA as part of this effort, I say, “Go ahead, collect away.” Call me crazy, but I want the US government to discover these things before it’s too late.

Also note that this latest release absolutely debunks the constant claims by the Greenwald crew that the NSA’s programs have nothing to do with terrorism, or that they’re ineffective at uncovering terrorists.

But even more to the point, and the reason for my headline above: hasn’t Edward Snowden himself committed a truly massive violation of civil liberties, by handing over these legally collected and properly redacted private communications to journalists — and to Glenn Greenwald?

Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.

And now they’re in the hands of people like Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Applebaum, Julian Assange and who knows who else.

I’m continually amazed at the capacity of the civil libertarian crowd to blithely violate the civil liberties of others in their dead-end quest for a purist libertarian ideal.

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