Saturday, December 31, 2016

Your absurd story doesn't make me a Snowden apologist

Defending truth in the Snowden Affair doesn't make one an "apologist", for either side. There plenty of ardent supporters on either side that need to be debunked. The latest (anti-Snowden) example is the HPSCI committee report on Snowden [*], and stories like this one in the Wall Street Journal [*]. Pointing out the obvious holes doesn't make us "apologists".

As Edward Epstein documents in the WSJ story, one of the lies Snowden told was telling his employer (Booz-Allen) that he was being treated for epilepsy when in fact he was fleeing to Hong Kong in order to give documents to Greenwald and Poitras.

Well, of course he did. If you are going to leak a bunch of documents to the press, you can't do that without deceiving your employer. That's the very definition of this sort of "whistleblowing". Snowden has been quite open to the public about the lies he told his employer, including this one.

Rather than evidence that there's something wrong with Snowden, the way Snowden-haters (is that the opposite of "apologist"?) seize on this is evidence that they are a bit unhinged.

The next "lie" is the difference between the number of documents Greenwald says he received (10,000) and the number investigators claim were stolen (1.5 million). This is not the discrepancy that it seems. A "document" counted by the NSA is not the same as the number of "files" you might get on a thumb drive, which was shown the various ways of counting the size of the Chelsea/Bradley Manning leaks. Also, the NSA can only see which files Snowden accessed, not which ones were then subsequently copied to a thumb drive.

Finally, there is the more practical issue that Snowden cannot review the documents while at work. He'd have to instead download databases and copy whole directories to his thumb drives. Only away from work would he have the chance to winnow down which documents he wanted to take to Hong Kong, deleting the rest. Nothing Snowden has said conflicts with him deleting lots of stuff he never gave journalists, that he never took with him to Hong Kong, or took with him to Moscow.

The next "lie" is that Snowden claims the US revoked his passport after he got on the plane from Hong Kong and before he landed in Moscow.

This is factually wrong, in so far as the US had revoked his passport (and issued an arrest warrant) and notified Hong Kong of the revocation a day before the plane took off. However, as numerous news reports of the time reported, the US information [in the arrest warrant] was contradictory and incomplete, and thus Hong Kong did nothing to stop Snowden from leaving [*]. The Guardian [*] quotes a Hong Kong official as saying Snowden left "through a lawful and normal channel". Seriously, countries are much less concerned about checking passports of passenger leaving than those arriving.

It's the WSJ article that's clearly prevaricating here, quoting a news article where a Hong Kong official admits being notified, but not quoting the officials saying that the information was bad, that they took no action, and that Snowden left in the normal way.

The next item is Snowden's claim he destroyed all his copies of US secrets before going to Moscow. To debunk this, the WSJ refers to an NPR interview [*] with Frants Klintsevich, deputy chairman of the defense and security committee within the Duma at the time. Klintsevich is quoted as saying "Let's be frank, Snowden did share intelligence".

But Snowden himself debunks this:
The WSJ piece was written a week after this tweet. It's hard to imagine why they ignored it. Either it itself is a lie (in which case, it should've been added to the article), or it totally debunks the statement. If Klintsevich is "only speculating", then nothing after that point can be used to show Snowden is lying.

Thus, again we have proof that Epstein cannot be trusted. He clearly has an angle and bends evidence to service that angle, rather than being a reliable source of information.

I am no Snowden apologist. Most of my blogposts regarding Snowden have gone the other way, criticizing the way those like The Intercept distort Snowden disclosures in an anti-NSA/anti-USA manner. In areas of my experience (network stuff), I've blogged showing that those reporting on Snowden are clearly technically deficient.

But in this post, I show how Edward Epstein is clearly biased/untrustworthy, and how he adjusts the facts into a character attack on Snowden. I've documented it in a clear way that you can easily refute if I'm not correct. This is not because I'm a biased toward Snowden, but because I'm biased toward the truth.

1 comment:

Manny said...

Like hRC and Bernie and all their MSM lawyerly defenders used to say, nothing to look in here, move on....