Snowden in the US-Russian SpyWar

The last two weeks have witnessed the unfolding of the strangest spy saga in the history of American intelligence. Edward Snowden, a young contractor with the National Security Agency, burst the bubble of secrecy surrounding that most secretive of American spy services with shocking accusations of civil-liberties violations by NSA. But soon thereafter Snowden changed the narrative, going beyond alleged domestic abuses by exposing highly sensitive NSA foreign-intelligence programs from Chinese territory. And then he fled to Moscow.

There has never been anything quite like this in the annals of American espionage. While there have been plenty of traitors, more than a few defectors, plus some whistleblowers (some of whom turned out later to have been under the control of foreign intelligence services), Snowden seems increasingly to be a postmodern combination of all three, perfectly tuned to the age of the Internet, 24/7 news coverage and Twitter. Certainly the global media storm he has unleashed surpasses any previous cases.

Read the rest in The National Interest


2 comments on “Snowden in the US-Russian SpyWar”
  1. J. Moye says:

    I don’t claim any special knowledge about such matters, but I seem to remember as far back as 2002 or so it being commonly remarked in the press that the NSA was scooping up all the electronic communications it could, subjecting them to algorithmic programs to look for “key words” and pulling up those found interesting to the computers for people to look at or listen to. I’m not a paranoid or conspiracy theorist, but I’ve assumed since then that IF the government wanted to read my e-mails and text messages, and listen to my phone calls, it would.

    I also find it puzzling why so many people are offended by spying. Doesn’t everybody spy on everybody, even friends? I recall between the world wars there was some reluctance in the US government to spy, something about “gentlemen not reading one another’s mail”, but that was long gone by the time the Cold War got underway.

    The most puzzling thing of all is how low-level operatives like Snowden and Manning can get their hands on so much top secret data with nobody noticing. Even the most half-assed Fortune 500 IT department has ways of noticing when employees go snooping or start downloading reams of data, why doesn’t the government, ESPECIALLY after Manning?

    Is CI unglamorous or something? I remember that before World War 2, Japanese naval officers considered “rear line” duties like mine sweeping and anti-submarine patrols unglamorous, tried to avoid them when possible, and paid for it by losing nearly their entire merchant marine to US mine layers and subs. Is there something like that at work here?

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