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Report: Edward Snowden Charged With Espionage And Other Charges

Edward Snowden

The Washington Post is reporting that NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been charged in what remains a sealed Federal Criminal Complaint with a number of charges including espionage:

Federal prosecutors have filed a sealed criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a trove of documents about top-secret surveillance programs, and the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant, according to U.S. officials.

Snowden was charged with espionage, theft and conversion of government property, the officials said.

The complaint was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, a jurisdiction where Snowden’s former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, is headquartered and a district with a long track record of prosecuting cases with national security implications.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

Snowden flew to Hong Kong last month after leaving his job at an NSA facility in Hawaii with a collection of highly classified documents that he acquired while working at the agency as a systems analyst.

The documents, some of which have been published in The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, detailed some of the most -secret surveillance operations undertaken by the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as classified legal memos and court orders underpinning the programs in the United States.

Sealed indictments are not unusual in Federal Court, especially in situations where the Defendant is not in custody and/or currently not within the jurisdiction of the United States. Most likely, Federal authorities are trying to determine exactly where Snowden is right now so that they can determine how to handle what would seem to be an inevitable extradition request. The speculation seems to be that he remains in Hong Kong but in hiding, but that’s not entirely clear.

Also relevant to the issue of Snowden’s whereabouts is a report today that a citizen of Iceland with links of some kind to Wikileaks has reportedly arranged for a private jet that would depart Hong Kong and fly Snowden to Iceland, a nation that he has spoken of before as a possible destination for asylum. How Iceland would handle such an asylum case in light of the charges against them and the likely extradition request from the United States should Snowden end up there is unclear. Iceland does have very broad political asylum laws, but the nation is also a close ally  of the United States and a member of NATO. Trying to balance an extradition request with a political asylum request will no doubt cause some consternation among Iceland’s leaders. Additionally, according to some early legal analysis, charging Snowden with violations of the Espionage Act opens the door to not only political asylum in Iceland, but also possible grounds for the Chinese and the leadership of Hong Kong to deny an extradition request on the ground that he’s charged with a “political crime.” Not being well versed enough in the relevant treaties or foreign statutes, I’m not going to comment on those areas but it’s entirely possible that we are at the start of an extradition stand-off not unlike the one between Julian Assange and Sweden and the United Kingdom, which currently has Assange taking refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

None of this is a surprise, of course. Snowden obviously broke the law when he took documents from the NSA and gave them to The Guardian and The Washington Post, so it was only a matter of time before he was charged with something. The fact that he left the country before the story became public shows quite clearly that he knew criminal charges would follow once his actions became public. Now, the question turns to how long it will be before he’s back in the United States and place on trial.

Update: Here’s part of the Criminal Complaint, the supporting affidavit has not yet been released. Note that the reference to 18 USC 793(d) points to a provision of the Espionage Act:

United States v. Edward Snowden by dmataconis

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Hello World! says:

    I wonder if it will be a public trial

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. This guy shouldn’t have run off to Hong Kong….

    When the authorities catch up with him –and they will– there’s no way he’s going to get out on bond.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  3. Raven says:

    Charged with spying by the government for telling citizens the government was spying on them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  4. michael reynolds says:

    @Raven:
    Charged with spying for breaking the law. He broke the law. Then he ran away to the loving arms of a totalitarian state that censors everything and imprisons anyone who raises questions about their rule. And from that perch he postures as a defender of freedom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 6

  5. edmondo says:

    He should have run away to Wall Street. Eric Holder can’t ever find any wrongdoing there.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Let me point something out here: I don’t recall voting for Edward Snowden as guardian of my security or my rights. The American people did not designate Snowden to act on our behalf. He has decided unilaterally to replace our judgment with his own. He’s making decisions that affect us. He may be materially reducing our security without our consent. And having done so, he runs off to one of the most repressive governments on earth. Not exactly a hero. Rather he’s an arrogant, narcissistic criminal.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 12

  7. Raven says:

    @michael reynolds: Our founding fathers broke hundreds of British laws, were charged with treason and would certainly have been hanged by the British. King George hated them, thought of them as criminals, treasonous and ungrateful citizens who rebelled for more political rights.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @Raven:
    So because the Founders broke laws law is now irrelevant? Did the Founders run off to Spain and trash their own country from a safe spot in a dictatorship?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

  9. Raven says:

    @michael reynolds: It is clear from your comment Mr. Reynolds, that you do not get my point at all. My point was, Edward Snowden exposed the wrongdoings of a government at the expense of his liberty and life and broke the law, just as our founding fathers had done when they conspired to sign the Declaration of Independence in the face of being charged with Treason.
    I do not understand where you are getting this idea that Snowden is “[trashing his] own country from a safe spot in a dictatorship.” How is, letting the people know that their government is ignoring the principles of the Constitution, trashing his own country? In that logic, the framers of the Constitution trashed their own country by passing the Fourth Amendment that protected the people from, “unreasonable searches and seizures” and gave the people, “the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

  10. Andre Kenji says:

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb):

    This guy shouldn’t have run off to Hong Kong….

    He is safe. Basically, because no country, with few exceptions(Like United Kingdom and Canada) likes to follow orders from Uncle Sam and because people in most countries sympathize with people that commit “political” crimes.. Most extradition treaties do not consider “espionage” as a extraditable offense(Unless there is a law against espionage in Hong Kong, that´s the case).

    Even if he gets tired of Hong Kong there are more than two hundred countries where he could easily flee.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @Raven:

    Excuse me, but who died and made Edward Snowden the Supreme Court? From whence comes his power to decide the Constitutionality of government actions? Actions that have in no way harmed him? That have in now way harmed anyone as far as I can tell.

    Snowden’s position is that governments should have no secrets. Is that your position as well? That we should have no intelligence agencies? That we should wait passively for whatever various foes choose to inflict on us?

    He ran off to a totalitarian state and among other things informed them that we were hacking some of their systems. What did that bit of data have to do with Constitutionality?

    And what if the American people disagree with Mr. Snowden? What if I trust the NSA more than I do Mr. Snowden? Do I have no rights in the matter? Do 300 million Americans who voted for the government they have now lose their decision-making powers because Mr. Snowden suddenly had a crisis of conscience?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 9

  12. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    It seems to me that we have lost the understanding of how and why civil disobedience works. It works because (unfortunately for the person being disobedient) punishing the violator of the law makes the government doing the punishing look even more foolish and repressive.

    The people who agree with said government (in this case, Mr. Reynolds may be one of them, his poignant observation of the irony of Mr. Snowden’s actions notwithstanding) will NEVER believe THEIR government got it wrong, so arguing with them is a waste of time. The cohort one is looking to prevail with is the part of the society with “no dog in the fight.” They are the ones who will change the problematic situation for the betterment of the society as a whole.

    Thoreau, Susan B. Anthony, and others who have followed the tradition violated the law, stood for their case in court, and went to jail–not Hong Kong or Iceland. It makes a difference.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    I can assure you that I have never, ever, at any point in my life, been uncritical of my government. In fact people who know me would do spit-takes at any suggestion that I am uncritical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  14. Raven says:

    @michael reynolds: So let me get this straight Mr. Reynolds. You’d rather the government spy on their own citizens and defy the Fourth Ammendment? Only the fools and those who are too blind deny that the government defied the Constitution. How is it helping the country defend against terrorists? Spying on regular citizens is suppose to help our security? What ever happened to spying on those who are suspicious for possible terrorism instead?

    Seriously, I do not understand where this rage towards Snowden is coming from? Wait, don’t tell me that you’re furious because he exposed the truth and actually enjoy the government spying on you? I think the American people should know of something like this don’t you Mr. Reynolds. Why should American citizens not know that they’re being spied upon indiscriminately? The only reason that you would let the government do something as abominable in withholding the truth is if you actually look forward to the government being a totalitarian police state. That kind of people are people during the era of the Nazis who defended their heinous crimes by saying they were merely “following orders.” Is that the kind of person you are Mr. Reynolds? You’d rather Snowden had kept shut and the truth to himself, while allowing the government to exercise unwarrantless spying on its citizens?

    Snowden’s actions was not to inflict grave danger to our intelligence agencies. He merely exposed how the government is inflicting grave danger to our liberty and freedom. As you now have showed, we’re crippled by “sheeps” who genuinely believe that the Patriot Act and the spying keep us safe and that any infringement on our rights is justified. What should we do instead? Wait, until the government has infringed on so many of our rights before we act on the Constitutionality? Only a fool would agree that what this government had done does not go against the Constitution. Wake up for once. If you know what you are doing is wrong and immoral, you should have the moral fortitude and bravery to stand up what is right. That’s what the heroes in the American Revolution did.

    If Snowden had released secrets, that said “American spies in China are spying on the Chinese to prevent nuclear attack, I’d grab my own gun and hunt him down myself. That however, is not what happened. He released data saying “Americans your government is spying on you so they can steal your liberty under the guise of “the war on terror”.

    Samuel Adams said this to people like You:

    “If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace.
    We seek not your counsel, nor your arms.
    Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you;
    May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6

  15. Liberty and Independence says:

    He did what I would expect from EVERY warm blooded American, he exposed corruption, and anti-constitutional data mining. I believe Raven said it best. Our founding fathers were traitors from the British point of view, but I don’t hear anybody demonizing them in this country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @Raven:

    If Mr. Snowden were a hero he would have done as previous brave and principled practitioners of civil disobedience have done: stayed and been willing to pay the penalty. Instead he ran to the arms of one of the most repressive governments on earth. A government that allows zero press freedom. A government that has hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of dissidents in prison camps.

    You want to play Godwins with me? Fine, here’s an analogy: Martin Luther King stands up against segregation by running to Nazi Germany. The Founders denounce tyranny by running to Genghis Khan.

    And no, he did not just expose what you have decided is an unconstitutional program. He informed the world that we were accessing Chinese and other foreign networks. Can you explain how that was necessary?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 9

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @Liberty and Independence:

    Where in the Constitution does it mention data mining? I must have missed it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

  18. michael reynolds says:

    Here’s Human Rights Watch on Mr. Snowden’s new best friends in China:

    Against a backdrop of rapid socio-economic change and modernization, China continues to be an authoritarian one-party state that imposes sharp curbs on freedom of expression, association, and religion; openly rejects judicial independence and press freedom; and arbitrarily restricts and suppresses human rights defenders and organizations, often through extra-judicial measures.

    The government also censors the internet; maintains highly repressive policies in ethnic minority areas such as Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia; systematically condones—with rare exceptions—abuses of power in the name of “social stability” ; and rejects domestic and international scrutiny of its human rights record as attempts to destabilize and impose “Western values” on the country. The security apparatus—hostile to liberalization and legal reform—seems to have steadily increased its power since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. China’s “social stability maintenance” expenses are now larger than its defense budget.

    Here’s Amnesty on China:

    The authorities frequently used administrative punishments, including Re-education through Labour (RTL), to detain people without trial. According to the government, 190,000 people were held in RTL facilities, down from half a million several years ago, although the real figures were likely to be much higher. Former RTL prisoners reported that Falun Gong constituted one of the largest groups of prisoners, and political activists, petitioners and others practising their religion outside permitted bounds were common targets. The authorities used a variety of illegal forms of detention, including “black jails”, “legal education classes”, “study classes” and mental health institutions to detain thousands of people.

    China continued to make extensive use of the death penalty, including for non-violent crimes. The death sentence continued to be imposed after unfair trials. Statistics on death sentences and executions remained classified as state secrets and, while executions numbered in the thousands, the government did not release actual figures.

    That’s who Edward Snowden ran to in his pursuit of liberty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  19. HelloWorld! says:

    @michael reynolds: He has decided unilaterally to replace our judgment with his own. Seriously? I guess no one is ever justified in speaking out against anything our government does because we elected leaders – and sense we elected them, they speak for us until we elect other leaders to do so? Straight outta Animal Farm.

    I think and speak for myself and elect no one to do it for me when I vote for them. The constitution does not say “Freedom of speech for people who are elected, all others shut your mouth”. One of the reasons I voted for Obama was because of his stance against the Patriot Act and an over reaching government, oh..I can’t speak out anymore. Your attitude is the attitude the allows tyranny to take shape. Honestly, people with attitudes like this make me wonder if I won’t be prosecuted or kept from a job someday just for posting comments on a freaking message board.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  20. James Pearce says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    “He is safe. Basically, because no country, with few exceptions(Like United Kingdom and Canada) likes to follow orders from Uncle Sam and because people in most countries sympathize with people that commit “political” crimes..”

    If Snowden has that attitude, it will only be a matter of time before he’s in a US prison, tagged as a flight risk.

    He is now an international fugitive. The best thing for him would be to give himself up and offer a robust defense. He will have plenty of supporters and a chance to clear his name. As it is, the feds are going to throw the book at him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  21. HelloWorld! says:

    michael reynolds: He has decided unilaterally to replace our judgment with his own. Seriously? I guess no one is ever justified in speaking out against anything our government does because we elected leaders – and sense we elected them, they speak for us until we elect other leaders to do so? Straight outta Animal Farm.

    I think and speak for myself and elect no one to do it for me when I vote for them. The constitution does not say “Freedom of speech for people who are elected, all others shut your mouth”. One of the reasons I voted for Obama was because of his stance against the Patriot Act and an over reaching government, oh..I can’t speak out anymore. Your attitude is the attitude the allows tyranny to take shape. Honestly, people with attitudes like this make me wonder if I won’t be prosecuted or kept from a job someday just for posting comments on a freaking message board.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  22. Raven says:

    @michael reynolds: Excuse me, but can you show me a reputable source, perhaps maybe coming from Snowden himself that he exposed information that would aided our enemies? I must have missed that news article, because I would like to read it.

    There seems to be some sort of misinformation to where Snowden actually ran off. Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong. That informaton is irrefutable. However, people seems to believe that Hong Kong is governed by the same repressive and tyrannical government as main land China is governed by. They are not. Hong Kong is an administrative region of the PRC and enjoys substantial autonomy, and among others, enjoys certain freedoms. In general, Hong Kong is perceived to enjoy a high level of civil liberties. Now if he fled specifically to mainland China, then it would be a different matter. But he did not. I have yet to receive reports that Snowden had arrived in Beijing. Your analogy is null and void.

    Those that sacrifice Liberty for Security deserve neither and will loose both.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @HelloWorld!:

    This is not “freedom of speech.” He was given a security clearance which imposes special legal obligations on him. He has agreed not to do what he did. He has surrendered his rights by virtue of accepting the deal he made in exchange for money.

    He is not you or me, he is a man who accepted the obligations attendant to a top secret clearance. He betrayed that promise.

    If he’s right, if he’s brave and true and all that good stuff, then let him come back and make his case. Think he’ll have anything to say about human rights in the People’s Republic of China? Or do you think Captain Courage will keep his mouth prudently shut while in Hong Kong?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  24. Liberty and Independence says:

    When your government is violating the very principles it is hired to uphold, then expecting its employees to cover up the crime via a secret clearance, that’s when the clearance becomes null and void. Besides, how else was this whole mess going to be exposed? Hell, half of Congress were completely taken by surprise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  25. michael reynolds says:

    @Raven:

    Here you go:

    In an exclusive interview carried out from a secret location in the city, the former Central Intelligence Agency analyst also made explosive claims that the US government had been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland for years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  26. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Where in the Constitution does it mention data mining? I must have missed it.

    Exactly. Everyone’s up in arms up over their “freedoms” right now, the best case being the freedom from unwarranted search and seizure, but the essential issue here is does data mining even count as a search? I don’t think we can consult the Constitution and get a crystal clear answer.

    What do I care if some government computer searches through my data and finds nothing related to terrorism? Oh, it will be abused. Well no shit. Government property gets abused on a daily basis. That’s why we have rules and penalties, training, hiring specifications, compensation practices, etc.

    The police in my city have a device that reads license plates and can access records. The police cruise around, scanning plates, looking for anything suspicious. A cop could use that to look for his wife’s boyfriend. But doh! Every time he scans a plate, it’s logged. The very technology that allows him to do this makes it easier to uncover and punish wrongdoing.

    We can’t pretend we don’t live in the 21st Century anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6

  27. HelloWorld! says:

    @michael reynolds: He was given a security clearance which imposes special legal obligations on him.

    ….so German soldiers during the holocaust had a duty to just follow their orders. Your logic is a fallacy. Edward Snowdens agreement with the NSA became null and void when THEY broke the law, not him. If America does not fix this now, we never will, and we won’t be able to debate the constitution anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  28. michael reynolds says:

    @Raven:

    Right. From Human Rights Watch:

    Hong Kong immigration authorities’ refusal in 2011 to grant entry to several visitors critical of the Chinese government’s human rights record raised concerns that the territory’s autonomy was being eroded. Concerns about police powers also continue to grow following heavy restrictions imposed on students and media during the visit of a Chinese state leader in September 2011.

    Go look at a map of Hong Kong relative to China. Go look at HK media to see how much criticism you find of Beijing. Stop being silly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  29. Raven says:

    @michael reynolds: Ah. I hope I made myself clear. He fled to Hong Kong, not mainland China.

    Also, you should have posted the whole article,

    Snowden said that according to unverified documents seen by the Post, the NSA had been hacking computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland since 2009. None of the documents revealed any information about Chinese military systems, he said.

    One of the targets in the SAR, according to Snowden, was Chinese University and public officials, businesses and students in the city. The documents also point to hacking activity by the NSA against mainland targets.

    Snowden believed there had been more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

    Well, will you look at that? Snowden revealed that spying on average citizens in foreign ground also took place. The Big Brother just got more powerful than ever before. No wonder the whole world is hates the United States. Hacks being made globally on average citizens, not knowing if they’re actual terrorists? And this is the government you claim to support?

    Again, Those that sacrifice Liberty for Security deserve neither and will loose both. Goodnight Mr. Reynolds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  30. HelloWorld! says:

    @James Pearce: Every time he scans a plate, it’s logged. Wrong, the license plate scanners search public records, not a persons facebook posts or tweets.

    Additionally, anyone who thinks he will have more freedom of speech here than in China – I would like to make a monetary bet with you, because he will be caught and brought back here, and I doubt he will be free to talk to the press or have a PUBLIC trial.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @HelloWorld!:

    I see. So 100% of people with security clearances have 100% autonomy to decide entirely on their own whether or not the US government has violated the constitution.

    Do I have that right?

    So if someone at NSA decides to take that whole universality “All men are created equal” theme seriously and apply it literally to everyone in, say, Pakistan, and therefore concludes he should defend the people of Pakistan by giving up control codes to US drones and out the actions of special forces teams, you’re good with that. Right?

    What if said analyst decides our policies vis a vis North Korea are unconstitutional? I mean, why not, right? Because if we can’t trust random Booz Allen contract employees to decide on our national security, who can we trust?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @Raven:

    Yes, we spy on “ordinary citizens” in foreign countries. And we know that because. . . How, exactly? Because some 29 year-old with zero knowledge of China decides it’s so.

    Right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  33. michael reynolds says:

    Interesting. Raven deleted the comment I responded to. Maybe it occurred to her that there is no constitutional issue involved in spying on foreign targets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  34. Raven says:

    @michael reynolds: And you do? Are you telling me that YOU have knowledge that there are men and women in China that poses great danger to our security? How do we know that? I certainly do not, and I doubt our government does.

    An 80 year old man claims to justify spying on “ordinary citizens” because he says so.

    Sure…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  35. Raven says:

    My apologies, allow me to repost.

    Also, you should have posted the whole article,

    Snowden said that according to unverified documents seen by the Post, the NSA had been hacking computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland since 2009. None of the documents revealed any information about Chinese military systems, he said.

    One of the targets in the SAR, according to Snowden, was Chinese University and public officials, businesses and students in the city. The documents also point to hacking activity by the NSA against mainland targets.

    Snowden believed there had been more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

    Well, will you look at that? Snowden revealed that spying on average citizens in foreign ground also took place. The Big Brother just got more powerful than ever before. No wonder the whole world hates the United States. Hacks being made globally on average citizens, not knowing if they’re actual terrorists? And this is the government you claim to support?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  36. HelloWorld! says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yes, people with security clearance have 100% autonomy to follow their own conscience. That is why we must uphold ourselves as a moral nation, grounded by our rights that are the common thread that holds us together. Without that, you will have more leakers and problems. It is the responsibility of our government to be that nation we profess to be. It is NSA’s responsibility to vet moral spies who support the mission. If the spy changes his mind, the person was either a poor choice in the first place.

    IF NSA decides to take that whole universality “All men are created equal” theme seriously and apply it literally to everyone in, say, Pakistan,” then we can provide assistance in the ways the US almost always has, except in times when we have lost our way. No, we don’t have to give our bombs or drones away to do it, that is foolish.

    If an analyst decides our policies vis a vis North Korea are unconstitutional he has a human right to follow his conscience. If our policies, and the vetting of this analyst were sound we wouldn’t have to worry. Thank God Albert Einstein was a traitor, and understood the moral ground the US had in WW2.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  37. michael reynolds says:

    @HelloWorld!:

    I’m sure you are swelled up practically to bursting with your own righteousness. Yay, conscience!

    Which is why you’d be just fine with an NSA employee or contractor deciding his conscience requires him to turn over access to nuclear launch codes to, say, North Korea or the PRC. Right?

    Wait, no? You don’t think random NSA folks should hand over super secret material to bad people? But, but, but, what if they see the truth of the most extreme forms of Islam? Or what if they pray to Jesus and come to understand that the US is evil and must be destroyed in order to bring on the End Times? What if it’s 1944 and their conscience warns them that the Jews must be stopped? What if it’s 1964 and they decide that the communists are the future?

    Let’s not leave the decision in the hands of the democratically elected government, let’s leave it in the hands of every individual — saints, sinners, psychopaths, fanatics. . . What could possibly go wrong?

    “Hello? Mr. Bin Laden? My name is Snowden, and I’m concerned that your rights are about to be violated by SEAL Team 6.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

  38. Liberty and Independence says:

    I don’t understand where you’re getting these analogies from. It’s more within these lines, “Hello fellow American citizens, my name is Edward Snowden and I’m here to tell you your rights are being violated by your own government.” Your remarks are all over the place and you refuse to confront the very real idea that the government is infringing on my rights and your rights. Do you know what a red herring is? A logical fallacy that misleads or detracts from the main issue. Your previous comments contain more of it that than actual rebuttals. The main issue at hand is that the rights of American citizens are being infringed upon. Yes, spying on phone records is infringing on our rights. And what is your take on the issue? You accept it, and welcome the government spying on you. That sir, makes me pity you. I hope you have a nice life in the uncertain future we now have.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  39. @michael reynolds: I disagree on the grounds that we DID elect Barack Obama… and he has violated the trust put into him by people (like me, in ’08) who voted him in to rein in the surveillance state.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  40. michael reynolds says:

    @Liberty and Independence:

    Ah, and now the weaseling begins. You assert a right of conscience, and as soon as I point out the obvious pitfalls you fall back on the specifics, setting aside the broader rights issue.

    Yeah, well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? It’s great so long as the “conscience” in question agrees with your politics. Once you’re forced to consider the possibility of consciences very different from your own, you don’t seem to like the concept nearly so well.

    We have, after about ten thousand years of recorded human history, come to the point where we entrust authority to the will of the majority as expressed in elections and carried out by elected officials. I don’t claim it’s a perfect system, just the best we have so far. It is certainly better than giving control of our lives to individuals and their own individual needs, psychologies, pathologies, etc… Again, who elected Mr. Snowden? How many votes did he get? None? So on what grounds does he claim to speak for all of us? On what grounds does he claim a right to substitute his own, personal judgment for that of the elected representatives of the American people?

    We set the bar pretty high on civil disobedience. The Founders stayed in America and risked death. Gandhi stayed in India and risked death. Mandela endured decades in prison and risked death. Martin Luther King stayed in the US and fought and risked death, and in fact, was murdered. We set the bar high because civil disobedience is an emergency measure. In a democracy it’s even more fraught because the “authority” is the people.

    Had Snowden stayed and made his case many of us would at least have given him his day. But he ran away. In protesting surveillance he ran off to a totalitarian state. And that’s the end of any credibility he ever hoped to have.

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  41. michael reynolds says:

    @Christopher Bowen:

    Really? I voted for him and he did not violate my trust. But hey, your vote is ever so much more important than mine. So, how about you and Mr. Snowden make all the decisions about the security of my family? Because that is democracy, right? We all vote and then you decide whether or not my vote matters?

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  42. Anonne says:

    There is also the concept of ‘illegal orders’, Michael. And there are a lot of us that think that this wholesale ignoring of the 4th Amendment is illegal, and that he was right to bring the subject to light – even if we don’t necessarily agree with the manner in which he did it.

    He said he didn’t go to Hong Kong to hide from justice – I think he wants a different tribunal. Here, it would be a kangaroo court.

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  43. Caj says:

    So he should be. The coward couldn’t even stay in the country he professes to love so much he had to run away and hide! Get him back over here to face the charges.

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  44. David in KC says:

    Unless I am missing something, these are not warantless searches, they have to get FISA approval for them to get the data and another one if they want to look at the data. You may not like the FISA process, but you know how you fix that? Through your elected representatives. For those of you asserting that we didn’t know the NSA was doing things like this, your heads where in the sand, the NYT did stories back in 2007 if I remember correctly.

    If Snowden thought the NSA was doing things that were contrary to existing law, he should have complained through the chain, and if that didn’t work, complain to his representative or make a direct plea to the house or senate intelligence committees. If that didn’t work, complain to the press without leaking classified documents.

    What did he do, snagged some classified documents, some dealing with what he may have perceived as a constitutional violation, along with other things that are not related to his issue, but had to do with US intelligence operations in other countries. Then he releases them after he flees the country, and oh, by the way, some of the unrelated documents expose operations against the country he fled to. (and no matter how you try to spin it, Hong Kong, while enjoying some level of autonomy is still part of China).

    I’m all for a discussion on how the NSA operates and what data of mine they are getting, but this was not the way to do it. In fact, I have been all for this discussion since the patriot act was enacted. How many of you screaming about how heroic Snowden is have been trying to have this discussin over the last decade? How many of you went to the defense of members of congress who voted against it when they were accused of not loving America and not wanting to protect it?

    Snowden violated the law, and instead of standing up for his convictions, fled to a country that is not only definitely not a friendly nation, but as Michael has repeatedly pointed out, a totalitarian state that engages in human rights violations regularly.

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  45. James Pearce says:

    @HelloWorld!:

    the license plate scanners search public records, not a persons facebook posts or tweets.

    Are you sure you want to go down that route?

    This is how confusing, unhelpful, and loopholed rules come into place. “You can scan license plates, but you can’t do a hashtag search on Twitter.” That’s ridiculous.

    My ultimate point is that we live in a new technological age where the old rules and the old ways of thinking must change. Will change. It’s a world swimming in data, so much data that human hands and human eyes can’t even process it. Programming a machine to parse it is fundamentally different from having FBI agents com to my house and start slashing up my couch cushions.

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  46. michael reynolds says:

    @Anonne:

    Oh puh-leeeze. He didn’t go to Hong Kong to hide? You’re going a little heavily on the credulity there.

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  47. Stan says:

    Clearly Snowden deserves the Tyler Kent award. If you don’t know who he was, Wikipedia is your friend.

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  48. al-Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    My ultimate point is that we live in a new technological age where the old rules and the old ways of thinking must change. Will change. It’s a world swimming in data, so much data that human hands and human eyes can’t even process it. Programming a machine to parse it is fundamentally different from having FBI agents com to my house and start slashing up my couch cushions.

    Exactly right!
    And that’s what Americans need to have an open and honest discussion about. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is one of the organizations that is attempting to force us and our representatives to talk about this, and to do something about it.

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  49. Dave says:

    @michael reynolds: While I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, I don’t think you’re allowing for the scale of the charges. Yes, Snowden should be charged with crimes, but are 3 charges (so far) under the Espionage Act that total 30 years really appropriate? Based on previous federal prosecutions I wouldn’t be surprised if they come up with more charges, possibly reaching life imprisonment. I’ll state that I haven’t made up my mind as to how I feel about Snowden, but so far what he’s revealed simply isn’t that damaging. Yes, he revealed that the NSA is messing with the Chinese (are you really surprised? do you think for a second the Chinese are?), but his opponents seem to be really flailing when trying to point out specific damage. And the conversations his revelations have started are good for the country IMHO.
    I guess I’d support your position a whole lot more if I thought the Feds would for a second try to balance the equities (think of Aaron Swartz and the lack of prosecutorial discretion) as opposed to simply trying to destroy any opposition. Well, I suppose I’ll make up my mind when all the documents are public and the Feds finish charging him.

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  50. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Raven:

    You’d rather the government spy on their own citizens and defy the Fourth Ammendment? Only the fools and those who are too blind deny that the government defied the Constitution.

    Or people who have more than a talk radio understanding of the law & the Constitution.

    Read Smith v. Maryland for greater clarity.

    You do not own your phone records; the phone company owns them. You have zero – nada – zippo expectation of privacy with regard to the information contained in them.

    So, when you are finished rending your garments and running around with your hair on fire in outrage, perhaps take the time to actually READ the law, instead of presuming to attempt to lecture others about it.

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  51. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave:

    Look, I agree. Prosecutors invariably pile on everything they can think of up to and including the sin of simony which no one knows what it is anymore. Most likely the list ends up pared down. But does that mean it gets pared down to something proportional? Probably not. We are way too in love with extreme penalties in this country.

    There’s a ruthless core to Americans, which is why I keep asking the more hysterical civil libertarians to pause and think for a moment of just how crazy this country could get if we were hit a half dozen more times with major terrorist incidents. Avoiding terrorist incidents is defending civil liberties because civil liberties, in the larger context of history and the world, are classic first world problems. You have civil liberties when things are basically okay. You lose them fast when life goes pear-shaped.

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  52. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Dave:

    Yes, Snowden should be charged with crimes, but are 3 charges (so far) under the Espionage Act that total 30 years really appropriate?

    We’re in preliminary proceedings at this point. The criminal complaint simply lists the sections asserted to have been violated. In this case, the supporting affidavit supplies the information necessary to establish probable cause for an arrest. It doesn’t specify how many violations of each occurred. It’s the initial step in prosecution under the federal rules of criminal procedure.

    From here we move to the issuance of an arrest warrant(s), and the pursuance of extradition.

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  53. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds:

    There’s a ruthless core to Americans, which is why I keep asking the more hysterical civil libertarians to pause and think for a moment of just how crazy this country could get if we were hit a half dozen more times with major terrorist incidents.

    Indeed. You’ve mentioned it already, but it bears repeating: we put American citizens in CONCENTRATION CAMPS during World War II simply because they shared common ancestry with an enemy country. There was no evidence whatsoever that these American citizens were anything but entirely loyal to America–and no such evidence was even sought, because the simple fact of Japanese ancestry was “enough.” Never mind that many had been born here and never even seen Japan, they still went into the camps.

    Nobody has yet been able to demonstrate actual harm from these NSA programs. Nobody can point to any real curtailment of free speech, or assembly, or any actual violations of the Fourth Amendment. But the American people would be far more tolerant of actual abuses in the aftermath of another multi-thousand-casualty terrorist attack.

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  54. edmondo says:

    It is getting to the point where the mark of international distinction and service to humanity is no longer the Nobel Peace Prize, but an espionage indictment from the US Department of Justice.

    Julian Assange
    6-22-13

    The land of the free?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  55. David in KC says:

    @Dave: We don’t know what he took with him so far. We know about PRISM, but don’t know what was contained in the slides not published. We know that he has said the US was hacking computers in China and Hong Kong, we don’t know if he took documents that support the claim and if so, what those documents contain. We don’t know if he has shared what he took with other parties. So we don’t know the harm, if any, yet.

    On a side note, while I’m not sure if the FISA court has been referred to as a rubber stamp in this thread, but have seen it in others. I had the “opportunity” to be a military magistrate for a couple years. I have opportunity in quotes, as I was the only one on post for 1 and 1/2 years of that, which meant I was on call 24/7. This is in pre-cell phone days. Now, if you looked at the number of search authorizations I granted vs. the number I turned down, you might think I was a rubber stamp. However, all my denials were within the first 3 months. Then they figured out that they had to have their facts and evidence lined up. If they couldn’t meet the requirements, they didn’t seek the warrant. (I also heard pre-trial confinement cases, because the requests came from commanders , the grant/deny ratio was a little more even). My experiences were similar to the other magistrates that I knew and discussed issues with. Another thing that I would expect is that there is a team of NSA lawyers that all the warrant requests go through before they go to the FISA court. So, you have a small number of judges, and a team that has presented requests for warrants to those judges. After a very short period of time, those lawyers are going to know exactly what will fly and what won’t. I expect a high approval ratio, and if it wasn’t high, I’d start looking at getting better lawyers.

    You want some more visibility to congress on this, have an independent group review all warrant requests and report to the intelligence committees. Granted, you then have to trust the people that you elect, but that’s the trade off you have in our type of government. That way, the elected represenatives whose job it is to monitor this stuff actually monitors this stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  56. If you look at the dictionaries’ definitions, Espionage doesn’t fit what Snowden did;

    “The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48″
    Espionage \Es”pi*o*nage\ (?; 277), n. [F. espionnage, fr.
    espionner to spy, fr. espion spy, OF. espie. See Espy.]
    The practice or employment of spies; the practice of watching
    the words and conduct of others, to make discoveries, as
    spies or secret emissaries; secret watching.
    [1913 Webster]

    “WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006)”
    espionage
    n 1: the systematic use of spies to get military or political
    secrets

    Now the definition of Spy. (The first definition doesn’t fit.)

    “The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48″
    Spy \Spy\, n.; pl. Spies (sp[imac]z). [See Spy, v., and cf.
    Espy, n.]
    1. One who keeps a constant watch of the conduct of others.
    “These wretched spies of wit.” –Dryden.
    [1913 Webster]

    2. (Mil.) A person sent secretly into an enemy’s camp,
    territory, or fortifications, to inspect his works,
    ascertain his strength, movements, or designs, and to
    communicate such intelligence to the proper officer.
    [1913 Webster]

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  57. michael reynolds says:

    @edmondo:

    It’s always good to get your insights on liberty from accused rapists hiding out in a foreign embassy to avoid facing their victims in court.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  58. David in KC says:

    @William Wilgus: He was charged under the Espionage Act. The counts are unauthorized communication of national defense informatio and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person. Espionage comes from the title of the Act.

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  59. David in KC says:

    @David in KC: I may have dropped a count, but you get the idea.

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  60. Spartacus says:

    @David in KC:

    Then they figured out that they had to have their facts and evidence lined up. If they couldn’t meet the requirements, they didn’t seek the warrant.

    This is a fair and good point. The rarity of a denial is not by itself evidence that the court is a rubber stamp. However, we have no reason to think that those seeking a FISA warrant are any more careful and diligent than those seeking a regular search warrant. In fact, we have reason to think the exact opposite since regular criminal warrants are likely to be subjected to more scrutiny than FISA warrants that are secret. Yet, in 2010, 100% of FISA warrant requests were granted. Do we have any reason to believe that 100% of search warrants requested by even well trained, experienced police departments are granted? I think not. So, the suspicion that FISA warrants are issued with less scrutiny is not at all irrational or unfounded.

    @michael reynolds:

    You assert a right of conscience, and as soon as I point out the obvious pitfalls you fall back on the specifics, setting aside the broader rights issue.

    This is also a very fair point and I concede that, generally, looking at the specifics of each case is no way to run a society. But somehow there needs to be a weighing of the harm that’s caused by each particular event otherwise all whistleblowing would have to be punished irrespective of the illegality it discloses or the good that it produces. When the Snowden case first broke, your arguments centered not on whether the NSA’s actions were technically illegal, but whether they produced any actual harm. I see no rationale for taking this view with respect to govt conduct, but not with individual conduct.

    At present, no one can describe any harm Snowden has caused. It’s impossible to argue that most of us already knew or should have known the NSA was doing this and, at the same time, claim that the disclosure of this has harmed our security.

    I keep asking the more hysterical civil libertarians to pause and think for a moment of just how crazy this country could get if we were hit a half dozen more times with major terrorist incidents.

    First, there’s quite a bit of evidence that the collection of all of this data is not increasing our security. I don’t know if you saw the recent Frontline episode “Top Secret America: 9/11 to Boston,” but it made the point that both the “underwear” bomber and the “Times Square” bomber were in our systems but couldn’t be caught or tracked because the data on them was buried in mounds of other data that we simply don’t have the resources to process.

    Secondly, there’s no reason to think we’re not going to lose more civil liberties after the next significant terrorist attack irrespective of how many liberties we give up now. If we don’t know whether we’re improving our security (which we can’t know because there’s no effective oversight that requires the govt to justify these measures), then we very well may be giving up liberties now without getting any benefit in exchange.

    Lastly, I want to make clear I’m not arguing against all govt surveillance or secrecy. I’m arguing that (1) this type of surveillance undermines free speech, (2) secrecy frequently (and certainly in the case of the info Snowden disclosed) hinders good policy, (3) there is no effective oversight of these NSA surveillance programs, (5) there’s no evidence these programs are worth the financial or liberty costs, and (6) govt use of these far-reaching surveillance tools combined with the govt’s policy of prosecuting people the govt suspects may be a security threat (for reasons none of us will ever know) for any and every crime possible (irrespective of its connection to security) is actually repressive.

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  61. michael reynolds says:

    @Spartacus:

    One of the inherent problems of any secret intelligence service is that the public cannot really know how effective they have been except in broad strokes. I’m sure you’d agree that there are a fair number of people out in the world who would dearly love to create another 9-11. Have they succeeded? No. Is that because of PRISM or some other program? We don’t know.

    We have oversight by Congress. We hope they do their jobs, but even in this we can’t be sure. But the alternative, where we allow anyone with a security clearance to supersede that role is I think clearly untenable.

    I understand the vague sense that a government that knows too much about us can become dangerous. But it’s only a vague sense. No one has managed to make a very good case for the specific damage that might result. Your best suggestion had to do with no-fly lists, which I suspect you’ll agree is not terribly compelling.

    So, the government knows who phoned me. Okay. So? Maybe they’ve sampled some content from a phone call of mine where I used the word, “Bomb.” Okay. So? That leaves them knowing a great deal less about me than Google knows.

    If we are going to have intelligence services then we cannot imprison them artificially in the 20th century while allowing our enemies to operate in the 21st century. We are going to need some signal intelligence. Inevitably those things cannot be confined solely to non-Americans. Any terror attack to take place in the US will quite certainly involve phone calls or emails going to the US. That’s just the nature of the technology.

    If we want to talk oversight, I’m all for it. If we want to talk about legal limits on how the data can be used — for example in other criminal or civil matters — I’m all for it, let’s discuss all that. But in the end the reality is that we do need intel, we do need signal intel, we cannot avoid that spilling over to US citizens, and we are going to accept this because it is rational to do so.

    In 20 years this entire debate will seem quaint, because what’s really involved here is the legacy of Mr. Orwell. Mr. Orwell who got it wrong. We have Big Brother in our heads but it never occurred to Orwell that private industry would have all that data and so much more. And it did not occur to Mr. Orwell that the real threat we’d face in the year 2013 would not be from monolithic totalitarian states (a rapidly-dwindling species) but from individuals armed with simple explosives, toxins, gases and so on. Extreme civil libertarians are fighting the last war, not the war we actually have ahead of us. They are guilty of a failure of imagination.

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  62. Spartacus says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We have oversight by Congress. We hope they do their jobs, but even in this we can’t be sure. . . If we want to talk oversight, I’m all for it. If we want to talk about legal limits on how the data can be used — for example in other criminal or civil matters — I’m all for it, let’s discuss all that.

    This is really what this issue boils down to for me. If the head of the NSA can perjure himself before his Congressional overseers with pure impunity, and if NSA overseers can’t get their questions answered, then there is no effective oversight.

    You haven’t commented at length about the use of NSA surveillance data in other criminal or civil matters, but it seems as if you’re suggesting there should be some restrictions on using that data in those contexts. Presently, there are no restrictions on its use in other criminal matters and I think that’s bad for the country. It’s highly unlikely that the govt is going to unduly prosecute a highly visible, renowned author of children’s books because there’s probably nothing suspicious about you or most of the rest of us for that matter. But for “suspicious” persons with, say, a funny-sounding name and/or unusual travel and calling patterns, the wrong type of statements in an email or on a public blog can end up causing real harm because the govt will prosecute that person for any crime possible in order to get him off the street. That kind of stuff actually happened, admittedly not to a lot of people, but it is still wrong.

    Is this lack of oversight and harm to individuals outweighed by the benefits we’re told we’re getting? I have no clue and what things I have seen/read leave me highly skeptical. The President says we should be discussing these things, but they would have never come up if it weren’t for Snowden’s disclosures. I don’t know what the right balance is between good surveillance/secrecy and disclosing govt overreach, but nothing I’ve read about Snowden’s specific disclosures suggests to me he’s caused any actual harm. I also know that it’s nearly impossible to stop govt wrongdoing or even just overreach if everyone who knows about it is sworn to secrecy.

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  63. Regis Seaman says:

    If i follow your logic then, If China went to war with country “X” then Hong Kong would remain neutral?

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  64. Regis Seaman says:

    Ellsberg gave his info to Security Advisor Kissinger and TWO Senators before he made them public and made his identity known on the steps of the US Capitol NOT Red Square in Russia.

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  65. David in KC says:

    @Spartacus: I think there are restrictions on use of the data in criminal cases by the prosecution. For phone records, for example, they still need to have a valid subpoena supported by probable cause. If they don’t, it doesn’t come in. The more interesting question is in another thread, can defense get access to NSA records if it may show the defendant is not guilty ( for example: the defendant was not at the location of the crime, assuming part of the metadata includes location data).

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  66. JohnMcC says:

    @michael reynolds: Mr Michael Reynolds, you have the JohnMcC award for real liberal patriotism in the real world. Thank you and congratulatons. (For whatever it might be worth).

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  67. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: Please check you dictionary for the definition of “in this case.” It will help you understand whether I was saying you are by nature uncritical of the government (which I was not).

    @JohnMcC: Oooh, snarky. I sort of wish you were that John McC.

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  68. edmondo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It’s always good to get your insights on liberty from accused rapists hiding out in a foreign embassy to avoid facing their victims in court.

    and now we know what would have happened to Snowden had he stayed in America

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  69. Mikey says:

    Apparently he’s departed Hong Kong for Moscow:

    Edward Snowden, the former US intelligence contractor accused of violating espionage laws, has left Hong Kong despite a request from Washington that he be arrested. He is believed to be en route to Venezuela via Moscow and Havana.

    Hong Kong media reported that he had boarded a commercial flight bound for Moscow. Russian news agency Itar-Tass quoted a source saying Mr Snowden would fly from Havana to Caracas, Venezuela.

    If that’s the case, he’ll have had assistance from four regimes that censor, imprison, and murder political dissidents.

    Yeah, he’s got a real commitment to liberty and free speech, he does. Scumbag.

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  70. fred says:

    I voted for Pres Obama twice but he has proven to be a very weak leader who has reduced US power and prestige in the world because of weak leadership. As the most powerful man in the world he must demand that Russia returns Snowden to US today or take some decisive action against Russia and this traitor who has put our country’s national security at risk. Pres Obama must begin today to do things with his presidential power even when he is obstructed by congress and we live in a democracy. the Presidency has extraordinary power and it is time Pres Obama stands up for America and we the people and do what is right to move our country forward. No more pussy footing around with world leaders and congress Mr President.

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  71. michael reynolds says:

    @edmondo:

    He was charged by Sweden, not by the US.

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  72. Michael,

    To be precise, Assange has not been charged with anything in Sweden, yet. However, the courts have issued what we’d call a “Bench Warrant” here in the United States requiring him to appear in Sweden for questioning in the rape investigation. That’s what the extradition fight has been about.

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  73. michael reynolds says:

    @Mikey:

    I can’t believe he skipped North Korea.

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  74. @michael reynolds: I can’t believe you’re stupid enough to think that anyone would choose to live in such a deprived place as North Korea. . . . well, on second thought and remembering some of your posts, yes I can.

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  75. michael reynolds says:

    @William Wilgus:
    You didn’t get that it was a joke? And you’re dissing me?

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  76. edmondo says:
  77. Mikey says:

    @edmondo: Oh, please. Spare me.

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  78. edmondo says:

    @Mikey:

    yeah, spare you from the knowledge that the “good guys” are really aren’t that different than the bad guys?

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  79. Mikey says:

    @edmondo: No, spare me from bullshit invalid equations. How many thousands of Americans are imprisoned in Guantanamo? How many journalists has our government sent there? How many protesters have been rounded up and put on planes to there? The answer, of course, is ZERO.

    Meanwhile, the Russian government just straight-up assassinates uppity journalists, China has hundreds of thousands of dissidents in re-education camps, and Ecuador, where it appears Snowden is headed, has just imprisoned several journalists for criticizing that country’s president.

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  80. edmondo says:

    @Mikey:

    Tell it to Aaron Swartz – Oh I guess you can’t.

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  81. Mikey says:

    @edmondo: Aaron Swartz went to Gitmo?

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  82. @michael reynolds: No, I didn’t see it as a joke.

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