NBC reports: Bruce Riedel, director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington and a former CIA official, said Friday that one key question now in the Snowden affair is “Is it really Edward Snowden who is doing this, or is there a larger apparatus? I know that many people in the intelligence community… now no longer regard Edward Snowden as a thief or a traitor…. They regard him as a defector” who has gone over to a foreign intelligence agency.
It’s possible that Riedel, along with Rep. Mike Rogers and Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the members of the intelligence community they talk to are all complete idiots.
That’s definitely possible.
What’s more likely though, is that an assumption being made by the heads of the intelligence agencies is that the average American is an idiot. They imagine that if the word “defector” gets repeated often enough, the idea will catch on and through the power of muddled thinking — or no thinking at all — an increasing number of people will start to believe that we’re back in the Cold War and Snowden switched sides.
Here’s the syllogism:
Defectors go to Russia. Edward Snowden went to Russia. Therefore Snowden must be a defector.
Here’s the problem with this “logic”: If Snowden really was a defector, he wouldn’t have gone via Hong Kong and met Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras on the way. He wouldn’t have communicated with anyone other than his Russian handlers. All the intelligence in his possession would have remained secret, thus retaining its maximum value to its recipients.
The current debate would not be taking place because hardly anyone in the world would have heard of Snowden. His name would have been placed on missing persons’ lists and his disappearance would attracted little attention beyond his family. The NSA, given Snowden’s lowly position as an employee and subsequent contractor, would most likely still remain blissfully ignorant about his breach of its security.
Edward Snowden, happy to be enjoying his anonymity and the rewards for his services would now be enjoying his new life in Russia with far more freedom than he currently has.
Meanwhile, the only defection that has actually taken place is that of common sense departing from the minds of a large number of Snowden’s critics.