You can always count on Peter King to make his point in the most bombastic and incendiary manner possible. Although some folks might think the terms “bombastic” and “incendiary” are more appropriately applied to the congressman’s old crowd.
As noted in today’s Jolt, it’s ridiculous to expect the United States to drop any criminal charges against Snowden, as he leaked a heck of a lot more information than just the revelations about domestic surveillance. Most of his defenders (and some of his detractors) focus on one portion of his leaks and avert their eyes from the rest.
The statement “a significant portion of Snowden’s leaks have nothing to do with domestic surveillance” is a controversial and outrageous statement among people who haven’t followed Snowden that closely, and/or don’t want to see the whole picture.
Here’s just a partial list of Snowden’s leaks that have little or nothing to do with domestic surveillance of Americans:
• The classified portions of the U.S. intelligence budget, detailing how much we spend and where on efforts to spy on terror groups and foreign states, don’t deal with Americans’ privacy. This leak revealed the intelligence community’s self-assessment in 50 major areas of counterterrorism, and that “blank spots include questions about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear components when they are being transported, the capabilities of China’s next-generation fighter aircraft, and how Russia’s government leaders are likely to respond to ‘potentially destabilizing events in Moscow, such as large protests and terrorist attacks.’” The Pakistani, Chinese, and Russian intelligence agencies surely appreciate the status report.
• Our cyber-warfare capabilities and targets don’t deal with Americans’ privacy. The revelation that the U.S. launched 231 cyber-attacks against “top-priority targets, which former officials say includes adversaries such as Iran, Russia, China and North Korea and activities such as nuclear proliferation” in 2011, has nothing to do with Americans’ privacy.
• The fact that the United States has “ramped up its surveillance of Pakistan’s nuclear arms” and has “previously undisclosed concerns about biological and chemical sites there,” and details of “efforts to assess the loyalties of counterterrorism sources recruited by the CIA” . . .
. . . none of these stories have much of a tie to Americans’ privacy.
The all-or-nothing terms of the Snowden discussion are persistent and baffling, and they obscure the truth. The NSA’s willingness to vacuum up and store the communications of ordinary Americans — with no tie to terror, crime, or foreign governments at all, obliterating any remaining meaning of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution — deserves every bit of public outrage and rebuke. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Snowden is the good guy in the story. This story probably doesn’t have a good guy.