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For me, the whole Snowden saga is intensely interesting and fraught with many burning questions and monumentally serious concerns. So, please indulge me again. In truth, like a good book, this subject is well-nigh impossible to shelve.

In a recent interview with CNN, former CIA officer, Robert Baer, for whom I have great respect, opined that Edward Snowden was likely a spy for the People's Republic of China.

Well, like Mr. Baer, we're all entitled to our opinions. And, of course, the diligent among us must always consider all possibilities until the full, unadulterated truth is fully disclosed--if it ever is.

That said, having thrice listened to the Guardian's interview of Snowden and carefully observing his facial patterns & manner of expression, I could not detect the slightest telltale sign of  pretention or concealment. What I saw was a genuinely bright, very well-spoken, remarkably poised and, yes, lonely and beseiged American who thought he was doing the right thing for America, and was willing to take the hits for doing so. And until there is solid, incontrovertible proof to the contrary, I am compelled to adhere to that view. Not exactly scientific. But no less scientific than Mr. Baer's position.

Though I suspect both detractors/dissemblers and supporters alike are working on it, missing so far is a more comprehensive background analysis and objective psychological profile of Snowden, both of which would be helpful to those of us who have more than a passing interest in his motivations and in any proof of NSA's lawlessness. In any event, to date nothing in his background has suggested the makings of either a hero OR a spy. And had there been hints of either, one could logically deduce that the security clearance check he was subjected to by the US Government would have disclosed such dispositions.  One would hope so anyway.

Curious to me is Mr. Baer's opining that Snowden is likely a spy for the PRC because, I gather, Snowden opted to flee to Hong Kong. To me, that is a  rather foundationally flimsy deduction on Mr. Baer's part. Reportedly,  albeit unsuccessfully, on more than one occasion Mr Snowden brought the issue of NSA's highly questionable and likely unconstitutional actions to the attention of his superiors. And there's the nub of my disagreement with Mr. Baer's preliminary assessment: why would Snowden run the risk of exposing himself to his superiors as a "troublemaker" IF he were a spy? Makes little sense to me.

My bet is that Snowden fled to Hong Kong because 1) it was geographically closer to Hawaii than Iceland, and 2) the chances of PRC's extraditing him to the US was minimal to nil. On balance, and assuming he gave the matter of asylum at least a modicum of consideration before fleeing, HK is where I would have gone had I been in his shoes.

Mysterious and worrisome is the fact that as of this writing, Snowden's current whereabouts is unknown. He has simply dropped out of sight. Did he defect, or was he swept up by the PRC or other hostile entity? We just don't know. Being so high-profile, I can't imagine how Snowden could easily remain concealed for long, unless, of course, his concealment was forced on him. We can only speculate as to his whereabouts at this time. We'll just have to  wait and see.

Finally, let's not rush to final judgement about Mr. Snowden. The NSA apologists, and there are many, will attempt to discredit him. Those who fear the worst about "our" government, which are also numerous, will applaud his nobility and courage. However, those seeking the unvarnished truth about Snowden and the NSA will give him the benefit of the doubt and await developments.

This is the stuff of spellbinding novels, for sure. But, for me, the big concern is NOT whether Snowden was a spy, which, at this juncture strikes me as fanciful at best, but whether or not "our" government was/is spying on us. Which of the two scenarios should be more concerning to an American? Hands down, I'd say the latter--in spades!

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Comment by Herb Irish on June 14, 2013 at 2:49pm
Seems to be Snowden makes a better patriot than traitor. The foundational story here is Obozo's intrusion thru the Constitutional privacy screen that is supposed to protect us from unwarranted surveillance. The villain in this drama is Obozo, not Snowden.
Comment by Debrajoe Smith-Beatty on June 13, 2013 at 6:33pm

File Rico against the Democratic party in every state, election fraud plus more.

Overview of Civil RICO - Lectric Law Library

www.lectlaw.com/files/lit08.htm
Overview of Civil Rico - from the 'Lectric Law Library's stacks
Comment by Jim Delaney on June 13, 2013 at 6:24pm

Excellent observation, John.

Comment by John Gaver on June 13, 2013 at 4:20pm

I think that everyone will agree that Terrorists are stupid. But they're not complete idiots. Like hackers, terrorists use anonymous email accounts and even change those accounts often. Then, when using those anonymous email accounts, they still use encryption technology, code words and even steganography (a technique where encrypted text is hidden in what appears to be an ordinary image). They use VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) that bounce their Internet traffic through half a dozen countries, to not only disguise their location, but to even hide from local ISP's the sites that they visit. They make use of open hotspots, by parking outside a hotel, restaurant or even a private home that has an unlocked router, to access the Internet. Then, even with all that, terrorists use anonymous search engines like StartPage.com, for their searches. They also use burner cell phones that are used only a few times and never from anywhere near where they live or work and then those phones are discarded.

How many of those things do YOU do?

Do you use burner phones that you throw away after only a few uses?

Do you use steganography to send love notes to your spouse?

When was the last time that you even encrypted an email?

The simple fact is that honest, law-abiding citizens are the only people whose activities the NSA is capable of monitoring and the NSA knows that.

So with this in mind, ask yourself,

"Who was the NSA really targeting?"

Comment by Jeff Dover on June 13, 2013 at 3:04pm

Mr. Baer's boss is Obama, ultimately.  To counter Obama's line would be to court professional disaster.  It doesn't mean that Baer is wrong, but I still fail to understand what has been compromised.  Nothing Snowden revealed would compromise a human asset, only embarrassed US political figures who lied to the people -- again -- and worse, engaged in this activity "for our safety".  Bull.  Added in with other of this administration's work, it presents a picture of an administration setting the stage for a totalitarian government, including using FBI drill scenarios set up to repel "right-wing" terrorists.  In our history, all the domestic terrorists have been Left wing, like the president's pal William Ayres.

Snowden could very well be spying for China, though I doubt it.  He certainly violated his clearance agreement and could well be prosecuted for that.  However, I believe that he did an enormous service to his country, far exceeding the service, in many ways, done by the CIA and NSA.  He told us our core was being attacked from within.

Comment by Gloria Wedemeyer on June 13, 2013 at 2:21pm

I will only say that I respect and value my privacy and I will take my chances on a terrorist attack. 

Comment by Jason Rob on June 13, 2013 at 11:22am

I couldn't agree with Mr Gaver more.  Mr Delaney I think your approach is thoughtful and very measured, a necessary addition to the debate.  Like Mr Gaver I think the focus in this issue should absolutely be on the activities in question with some attention paid to Mr Snowden. 

Its appropriate to test his motives to the extent possible, but regardless of his personal character assessment the collection of citizen's personal information by the government is the primary concern.

Comment by John Gaver on June 13, 2013 at 11:15am

Some say Snowden is a flake. Maybe he is. Maybe he isn't. Some even say he was a spy. Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn't. But it all comes down to the fact that what he exposed concerned "ILLEGAL" activities of the NSA. Whether he is a flake, a patriot, a spy or just a concerned citizen, he exposed "ILLEGAL" activity within the government.

Shortly after the release of his book, "1984", George Orwell was being interviewed and in answer to a question, he elucidated a truism that the Snowden case is proving out. His prophetic statement?

"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

Comment by Thomas on June 13, 2013 at 10:38am

I think this link is to the info that I mentioned below concerning an AT&T facility on the West Coast that was recording/routing phone call information to Spookville on the Potomac:

 

There have been a number of whistleblowers.
For example, in 2006 Mark Klein revealed that AT&T had a secret room in its San Francisco office that NSA used to collect Internet and phone-call data from US citizens who were under no suspicion.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/homefront/interviews/klein....

Comment by Judy Lyford on June 13, 2013 at 10:27am

Americans have known there are spies for a lot of years. Remember the James Bond movies? He wasn't the only famous spy, but his name is the one who comes to my mind.

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