Some of the biggest current news about whistleblower Edward Snowden relates to the elaborate espionage activities of the big players, countries like the U.S., Russia and China, with new reports that suggest data acquisition by the Russians and the Chinese have put pressure on the US-UK alliance.
Security analysts are contending that some of the 1.7 million documents taken by Snowden from the NSA have been decrypted by Russia and China, and that these activities have led to the removal of British espionage agents in some countries, as well as threats to American data security.
NSA spokespeople maintain Snowden has done “incalculable damage” and that US agents have also had their covers blown and had to scramble for their lives.
The Snowden Timeline
Another part of the story coming to light involves Snowden’s plans and whether or not the NSA employee planned to release documents in this way prior to his work for contractor Booz Allen. Then there’s the vast web of communications between various journalists prior to the New York Times involvement, and the eventual public exposé that raised so many questions about security and civil liberties.
Working with Other Journalists
Some of the debate around the Russian and Chinese ‘scooping’ of information centers on whether these countries got the data from Snowden’s files directly, or from other journalists who had access. There’s speculation, for example, about whether staffers or associates of individuals like Glenn Greenwald have kept up adequate security practices for the Snowden files in their care.
All of this happens against a backdrop of Russian militarism and the re-building of a nuclear arsenal and ICBMs from the Kremlin, as the United States moves more military equipment into outlying NATO countries. As for the Chinese, international and trade relations seem steady. But all of this is a heady mix in light of the tenuous history between World War II allies Russia and America which, after that collaboration, quickly became enemies, sparking concerns of mutually assured destruction and the Cold War ending for years until the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.
Do these new revelations change the equation on how Americans feel about security? Are we prepared to give up all of our privacy in order to become safer, when all indications show a greater danger in such practices? Or more importantly, is any of this true? Snowden’s story has always been clear on how it was impossible for any of his documents to be in the hands of foreign countries.
One answer that seems resounding in today’s political climate is that there’s a greater consensus that the government should not be spying on ordinary Americans. Sen. Rand Paul’s individual hold-up of Patriot Act renewal spoke large in its influence on the impending 2016 presidential campaign. Many of us, regardless of whatever consequences may be theorized by our governments, do not want the wholesale collection and scrutiny of everyday phone calls and other private data. We want some level of privacy, rather than the Uberveillance of government and corporate forces under the guise of protecting us from all sorts of harm.