Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Sad Truth about Edward Snowden - Nobody Really Wants Him

Edward Snowden continues to elude capture as a story unveils that has all the makings of a fascinating political thriller/personal drama. A lot of his support comes from people who believe he’s a hero and that he sacrificed himself for a worthy cause. Others, myself included, are a little more sceptical, mostly because of the countries he turned to for asylum. To proclaim yourself an activist for human rights – in this case privacy and freedom of speech – and then ask help from countries whose governments are notorious for violating those rights doesn’t make sense.

Snowden must be very na├»ve if he believes these countries would want to harbour an activist who has shown himself willing to break laws and expose and betray his own country. And he's downright deluded if he thinks they care more about human rights than about international relationships. They’ve already proved that they don’t. They’ll use him if they can and spit him out if they can’t.

Who is Edward Snowden, anyway? What’s his background? There’s not much information to be found about him. I guess he values his privacy. He doesn’t mind exposing a government but he doesn’t want anybody to expose him. He’s possibly also a little paranoid. NBC News reported that he covers himself and his laptop with a red hood when entering his passwords. I can’t say whether that information is true or not.

According to The Guardian, he comes from a middle class family. He was born in 1983 in Wilmington, N.C., his father is a former Coast Guard Officer and his mother is the chief deputy clerk for administration and information technology at Baltimore federal court. He has one sister, an attorney, who is older than him. He didn’t complete high school, but he’s mum on why. He studied at a community college and got a general equivalency degree. The Guardian learned that a student with his name and date of birth took classes at the Anne Arundel Community College from 1999 to 2001 and in 2004 and 2005.

In 2004 he was recruited into the Army Reserves special forces for a 14 week training course which he didn’t complete. Nor did he get any awards. Snowden told The Guardian he broke both his legs in an accident and that’s why he was discharged. 

He then worked as a security guard with the NSA, from where he moved onto doing IT for the CIA. He worked there from 2007-2009, when he left to work for private contractors. He had been working for Booz Allen for about 3 months when he let the cat out the bag. He had been making about $200 000 a year. By self admission he has been a spy almost all his life. Which doesn’t quite fit with the facts. It’s very Hollywood, though. 

Snowden told the Guardian that he was diagnosed with epilepsy last year and used that as his excuse to take leave from Booz Allen. He didn’t tell his girlfriend or his family where he was going or what he was going to do. Nor did he apparently stop to think about how his actions might impact on them. I guess big noble causes require people to be sacrificed, whether they want it or not.

What I wonder is, why did he leave school? No kid does that unless there’s provocation. And the accident with 2 broken legs? What happened there? Snowden did say that he wanted to go to Iraq to protect the Iraqi people but got disillusioned when he realized the special services were more about killing Arabs. 

Which is very understandable and commendable. But what did that do to him, I wonder? As for his home life, how successful was his older sister and what was his relationship with her and with his parents? And I’d be very interested to know when he first started communicating with Julian Assange, or at the least how much he was influenced by that man’s PR. I have the sense that, like poor Bradley Manning, who had lousy self esteem and was lonely and easy prey, Snowden is now just so much fodder for Assange and his personal quest to stay in the spotlight no matter what the cost to anybody.