Congress Celebrates Snowden Release by Accusing NSA Whistleblower of Invading Privacy

This week, Oliver Stone and the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun plan to bring the story of NSA leaker Edward Snowden to a wider audience with the release of Snowden, their new You’ve Got Mail remake. Sadly, Congress has yet to issue an official review of the movie, but the House intelligence committee released the next best thing on Thursday with its report on Snowden himself and boy, is it a doozy.

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The unclassified findings break down Snowden’s demerits into four sections, slamming the former NSA contractor for—among other things—invading people’s privacy, trying to avoid imprisonment and lying about his weak-ass legs. While the report’s other charges against Snowden are more serious, that last one probably best illustrates the severity of the committee’s rebuke.

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“A close review of Snowden’s official employment records and submissions reveals a pattern of intentional lying,” writes the committee. “He claimed to have left Army basic training because of broken legs when in fact he washed out because of shin splints.”

Additionally, the report cites Snowden’s unwillingness to be tried for his actions (“in the tradition of civil disobedience he professes to embrace”) as evidence that he is not a whistleblower, but “a serial exaggerator and fabricator.”

“In May 2013, Snowden informed his supervisor that he would be out of the office to receive treatment for worsening epilepsy,” writes the committee. “In reality, he was on his way to Hong Kong with stolen secrets.”

Perhaps the committee’s most creative accusation, however, is the assertion that the man who exposed the scale of the NSA’s massive data collection scheme himself “infringed on the privacy of thousands of friends, colleagues and fellow citizens.”

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“He obtained his colleagues’ security credentials through misleading means, abused his access as a systems administrator to search his co-workers personal drives, and removed the personally identifiable information of thousands of IC employees and contractors,” reads the report.

In an accompanying letter to President Obama, the committee members state that “Snowden is not a patriot. He is not a whistleblower. He is a criminal.” Subsequently, they conclude that pardoning him would “severely undermine America’s intelligence institutions and core principles, and would subvert a range of procedures in place to protect whistleblowers.”

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In short, the House intelligence committee gives Snowden 22 thumbs down. Read the full report below.

UPDATE 7:10 P.M.: In a series of tweets, Snowden pushed back against the report Thursday evening, refuting a number of key charges (including his allegedly weak legs) and noting that the committee “seems to intentionally conflate my authorized government work with my unauthorized whistleblowing.”

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“Bottom line: after ‘two years of investigation,’ the American people deserve better,” concludes Snowden. “This report diminishes the committee.”

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DISCUSSION

So the part I don’t understand here is what good Congress believes this report will do? The people who believe Snowden did nothing wrong are certainly not going to believe the government when it comes to “investigating” their own crimes, especially not when the report comes off like a spiteful ex making up shit just to make their former lover look bad.

I mean painting him as a habitual lier? What even for? It’s not like he typed up all the documents on a blog somewhere. He had the actual files proving misconduct and constitutionally wrong actions. No lying was needed there.

The argument that “he can’t be a whistleblower if he runs” is such nonsense it amazes me every time I hear it. Yeah, how’s Chelsea Manning doing during her 35 year prison sentence for essentially the same thing Snowden did? Whistleblowers are not celebrated heroes of society. If they are not jailed for whatever action they did, then they become unhireable because what company would hire somebody that told their company’s secrets? They’re universally treated like shit if they aren’t jailed, and if they are it’s often way harsher then it should be sentence. I mean f*ck, they charged him with espionage (you know, the thing our own government was doing to our allies and our own citizens), and they think Snowden should have stayed for that trial? It would be like calling a 120 lb anorexic dude a coward for not boxing Mike Tyson.

Maybe if a third party oversight committee was brought in to do the investigation it would hold more credibility, but wait, the NSA doesn’t have any oversight bar a rubber stamp secret court, which itself has no oversight.

Should Snowden be pardoned? I won’t go so far to say yes, but at the same time, the government has really got to get its head out of its own ass on this. Because of Snowden, powerful encryption techniques are being used by millions of more people, certain NSA programs have been viewed as unconstitutional, and the patriot act was repealed. These are tangible positives and yet the government can’t prove one negative result.