The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

NSA and the Ethos of the Geek Elite

Posted on | June 16, 2013 | 59 Comments

Edward Snowden as a 22-year-old übergeek

“I woke this morning with a new name. I had had a vision. A dream vision. A vision righteous and true. . . .
“You’ve felt it, known it, recognized it.
“Now realize it.
“I woke this morning with a new name. That name is Wolfking.
“Wolfking Awesomefox.”

Edward Snowden (“The TrueHOOHA”), June 12. 2008

Can we trust Edward Snowden? If the National Security Agency could not trust him to keep the secrets he was paid so handsomely to keep, why should we trust his description of what the NSA does? This is a question that troubles Kevin Drum of Mother Jones:

I want to know how far I can trust Edward Snowden. He’s supposed to be a technical guru of some sort, but apparently he didn’t understand this. Or, if he did, he didn’t bother clearing it up for either Glenn Greenwald or Bart Gellman, who both went with the “direct access” phrase in their initial stories. If it’s the former, I wonder just how much he actually knows about NSA’s capabilities. If it’s the latter, I wonder about his motivations. …
Snowden has made several other dubious statements, including the suggestion that he could order a wiretap on anyone he wanted, and that he had access to any CIA station. Put this all together, and I think it’s reasonable to ask just how much we can trust what Snowden is saying.

Understand that Kevin Drum is a lefty who very much wants to believe the worst of the American Military-Industrial Complex, and yet he’s honest enough with his readers to admit that key details of Snowden’s story don’t seem to check out as verifiable facts.

My early doubts about Snowden’s reliability have only been exacerbated by revelations over the past few days that expose Snowden as a certain type of punk: He feels no loyalty to anyone or anything, except himself, and yet imagines his narrow selfishness as a heroic quality: “Behold, my courageous commitment to an ideological abstraction that is incomprehensible to inferior mortals!”

Snowden’s capacity for self-dramatizing heroism is evident to anyone who carefully reads the lengthy profiles in the New York Times and the Washington Post, and I continue to insist that the real scandal here is that a clown like this could get security clearance. If I understand the timeline of Snowden’s career correctly, he wrote his bizarre “Wolfking Awesomefox” rant while he was posted in Geneva, Switzerland, as a CIA technician under diplomatic cover.

Great Caesar’s Ghost! We’ve entrusted our national security to creepy little weirdos who have nothing better to do in their spare time than hang out in online forums talking about videogames?

The resemblance between Edward Snowden and any number of misfit psychopaths who come to mind — from Lee Harvey Oswald to Dylan Klebold to Jared Loughner — ought to be obvious enough. Yet our security agencies were so hungry for computer talent that nobody thought, “Hey, maybe we ought to keep an eye out for kooks”? And nobody bothered to make sure these geeks weren’t sneaking out the door with top-secret data on their thumb drives?

He was a teenage aficionado of role-playing video games and Japanese anime cartoons who dropped out of high school and turned his avid interest in computer technology into a career that paid him more than $100,000 a year before he turned 30, living every nerd’s dream with a beautiful girlfriend and a job in the tropical paradise of Hawaii.
For all his success, however, Edward Snowden harbored profound doubts about the world into which his skills had brought him. Snowden worked as a contractor on powerful top-secret information systems that sorted through data for the U.S. government, in what officials describe as a vital program to prevent terrorist attacks, but which Snowden and others say was an unconstitutional intrusion on the privacy of American citizens. . . .

Read the whole thing at Viral Read. Say what you want about surveillance and the Fourth Amendment, but I just don’t trust this guy.



59 Responses to “NSA and the Ethos of the Geek Elite”

  1. Quartermaster
    June 18th, 2013 @ 6:18 am

    I have Python, but haven’t had a chance to play with it. Never heard of Ruby.

    BASIC gets my job done with little fuss. I’ve been writing software for a water loss study of late, and it’s going forward with a minimum amount of fuss. Purists look down on the language, but it lives on and keeps doing what I ask of it.

  2. Silva
    June 18th, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

    Where’d you want him to flee to? Israel, so that he spends exactly pi seconds out of jail and extradition?

  3. Wombat_socho
    June 18th, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

    How about not fleeing and instead taking his lumps in the legal system, like any honest “civil disobedience” practitioner or whistleblower?

  4. Rachel
    June 18th, 2013 @ 11:45 pm

    Because in our hearts we know he’s telling the truth…even if he’s a despicable nutjob. We certainly can’t trust the NSA or the IRS or DHS or EPA…and you all know it.

  5. Rachel
    June 18th, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

    But see…just because what he did was wrong, doesn’t make what the NSA did right! They are both despicable traitors.

  6. Rachel
    June 18th, 2013 @ 11:47 pm

    Well…..did you NOT want to know NSA has recorded all your phonecalls and emails? I’m glad he spilled the beans! But because he ran to China, he’s probably no hero for doing so. Still….truth is truth. And it’s always better to know it. Some things should stay secret…but spying on your own innocent citizens? NOT.

  7. Rachel
    June 18th, 2013 @ 11:49 pm

    Would YOU, considering what we know our Govt is capable of now?

  8. Rachel
    June 18th, 2013 @ 11:50 pm


  9. bruce101
    June 19th, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

    snowden did what he did because three other whistleblowers were screwed over by nsa.snowden is not the traitor but the entire president bongo administration are all commie traitors.bongo would not use the f.b.i,epa,irs,or osha to go after his enemies would he?if you believe in bongo I have a nice bridge for you cheap!