The Snowden Saga has more twists and turns than practically any spy novel or movie would have by this point. Well, I'm assuming. I'm not really into the genre, preferring as I do history and science fiction/fantasy. Chacun à son goût, n'est pas? Si tu veux.
And it seems to be falling apart.
What has been revealed of the domestic and international surveillance programs run out of the NSA shop by its corporate partners is interesting to be sure, and the documentation so far supplied by the Guardian may prove useful in providing standing for those who have been trying to launch legal challenges against the Surveillance State on 4th and other Amendment grounds, but it's hard to say at this point whether any court in the land is prepared to allow such suits given the "national security" arguments of the Government.
They've been reluctant to provide a path to litigants against the Surveillance State for the simple reason that the surveillance serves the interests of the courts as well. When we are told that "all three branches of government have signed off" on the surveillance programs, what we should be hearing is "all three branches are convinced that the surveillance programs are in their interests and are protecting them."
From whom, you may ask. Yes, well. That's fairly obvious, isn't it?
It has nothing to do with protecting you. Never did. It all has to do with protecting them from you. And with profiting from your fears.
It's all really quite cynical.
Nothing Young Snowden has revealed has undone any of that. It's merely brought some of it into the light of day.
The Ars Technica story about Snowden's chat logs c. 2009 seems to have started the unraveling of The Narrative that had been so carefully constructed by the Guardian and (apparently) WikiLeaks about Snowden and his heroism/bravery or what have you; the "traitor" narrative is the other side of the same coin.
While Ars Technica tried to present it in the best light possible for Snowden, anyone who is exposed to the chat records that they published would likely say, "Wait, something ain't right here." People may disbelieve the logs -- they could be fabricated, after all -- but neither Snowden or anyone connected with him has denied them, so it's likely they are legit. If so, then it's no wonder that the situation seemed to change for Snowden almost immediately after the Ars Technica publication. The tone of the bluster changed, for one thing. Putin seemed to be smirking quite a bit over his catch. The White House pretended not to be particularly concerned about Snowden's attempts at defection, nor did they appear to be all that upset about his revelations.
They did not, however, appear to want him to receive asylum in any state. The Russian "offers" of asylum seemed to ring particularly hollow once Putin explained that Young Snowden might be granted asylum so long as he stopped his "work" harming Russia's American partners. It's an interesting locution given the pre-eminence of the Agencies' corporate partners.
The chat logs show someone who is all in with the Surveillance State. His advocates have had to turn themselves into pretzels in order to get past this narrative roadblock. For the most part, they've just ignored it -- publicly. In the background, though, it seems obvious that the Snowden in the chats has been a highly perturbing element in the story. Not only does it not fit The Narrative (Hero! Traitor!), but it is an indication that Snowden himself may have been trying to put one over on his handlers and the public.
Ergo. There he sits. Supposedly in the transit zone at the Moscow airport. Friendless. Alone. Trapped. With no place to run. But apparently plenty of places to hide. There have been no verifiable sightings of him in Moscow nor on the plane to Moscow from Hong Kong. Whether he is actually in Moscow -- or ever arrived in Moscow -- is subject to some dispute. It's not even certain that his WikiLeaks handler is there. It is fairly obvious that the recent "statements" from Snowden, such as his letter (said to have been written in Spanish) to Rafael Correa in Quito and his "I am unbowed" statement released by WikiLeaks were not written by him. Who did write them, I don't know nor does any skeptic, but they don't scan as being directly from the Whistle Blower himself.
This is not unlike the news articles revealing the surveillance programs bylined Glenn Greenwald (and somebody else) that don't read like Greenwald wrote them at all. Compare and contrast the news articles with his columns and the stylistic differences should be immediately clear. The news articles are not written in Glenn's style or voice; they are far too journalistically tight and succinct. They were clearly written by (or so heavily edited by they may as well have been written by) professionals at the craft of newspaper writing which Glenn is not.
Apparently Glenn tweeted the other day something to the effect that Snowden is now out of the story altogether; further revelations will come from Greenwald and the Guardian, not from him. Who? Snowden? Never heard of him.
That sounds an awful lot like they (Guardian/Greenwald) are washing their hands of Snowden now that they've got everything they want out of him. Of course, it's Twitter, and you can't make too much of it, but given the extraordinary silence at the Guardian about the Ars Technica chat logs, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they've decided to drop kick him into the ozone.
On the other hand, there is another whole layer to this at play. Greenwald appears to me to be a political actor in this drama, just as Judith Miller was in the run up to the Iraq debacle (she who is avidly supporting Greenwald these days, much as Howie Kurtz does... Howie who is also a political actor...) Greenwald plays for a particular faction on behalf of, shall we say, seizing the rulership. I call it the Koch Faction. He's not a neutral observer -- any more than Judith Miller and/or Howie Kurtz are.
It seemed to me that Snowden was playing on the same team as Greenwald, but not in the same way, and with the Ars chats, it was unclear whether he was even playing for the same goal.
Could it be that Snowden is actually a "Statist?" OMG!
Meanwhile, supposedly Snowden has withdrawn his supposed request for asylum from Russia and has supposedly expanded his list of countries from which he is said to be trying to obtain asylum, all according to WikiLeaks which appears to be running the Snowden Operation these days. Little wonder, then, if the Guardian has severed its ties with him. WikiLeaks and the Guardian are supposedly not the best of friends...
I thought it was interesting that the Guardian editors told Charlie Rose they vetted Snowden by interviewing him in person in New York before he went to Hong Kong, and further having Ewen MacAskill interview and vouch for him there. Greenwald hardly appears in their account of what happened at all, even though Greenwald has been at the center of the story from its first publication and has remained there.
This is yet another indication that there is a whole other level of this story that is being hidden from the public, and how it all shakes out is anyone's guess.
Whatever the case, there is no sign that the National Surveillance/Security State is jeopardized in any way, nor that domestic surveillance will be curtailed.
But there is quite an active debate about it all, isn't there?