Exaggerated headlines and narratives overshadow the importance of the Snowden leaks in understanding U.S. government surveillance.
Judging from the past few days’ misleading headlines involving former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and subsequent blowharding by talking heads galore, you’d think the most famous whistleblower in history had changed his mind about returning to the U.S. like a repentant son ready to “come home.”
Well, that wasn’t exactly news.
The hoopla stemmed from a recent comment by Snowden’s Russian attorney, Anatoly Kucherena, who said: “I won’t keep it a secret that [Snowden] wants to return back home. And we’re doing everything possible now to solve this issue. There is a group of U.S. lawyers. There is also a group of German lawyers, and I’m dealing with it on the Russian side.”
Obviously, that wasn’t a secret at all as Snowden, who revealed himself almost 20 months ago and was quickly charged with espionage, has unfailingly stated he’d like to come home if he could be guaranteed a fair trial. .
Yet, some media outlets ran with this story as it were breaking news. The problem is that exaggerated headlines and narratives do nothing but overshadow the gravitas and importance of the Snowden leaks. Snowden provided the meat to any surveillance-state hunches. The truth was out there about the extent to which the U.S. government and its partners spy on the entire world, and Snowden showed it to all of us.
Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the first of what became a series of Snowden stories, has a marvelous takedown of the mainstream media’s reaction here. Please read it. Not only is it great reading; it’s a great check to those of us who write about technology, privacy, national security and government.
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