Will NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden Get The Mass Public Support Bradley Manning Did Not?

Lucy Steigerwald, June 09, 2013

Today Edward Snowden, a former computer analyst for the CIA recently employed at the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, voluntarily revealed his identity as the source of The Guardian and The Washington Post‘s massive scoops about the NSA’s PRISM program, as well as its system of logging the metadata from every single call made from Verizon phones (and Sprint and AT&T, turns out).

Snowden fled to Hong Kong on May 30, and was interviewed there on June 6 by Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald. In the interview he is amazingly well-spoken about the principles surrounding his decision to leak top-secret documents.Until late last month, the 29-year-old seems to have had a comfy life in Hawaii with a girlfriend and a $200,000 a year job with Booz Allen. But the reported Ron Paul supporter who voted for “a third party candidate” in 2008, wasn’t interested in keeping that level of coziness while possessing information that he believed the public has a right to know.

“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under,” Snowden told Greenwald.

Snowden also seems eerily resigned to the likely consequences of his actions — namely that he may never see his home country again, and that government officials may come for him at any time.

So far the official response to this revelation has been limited. The White House didn’t comment. The NSA and Booz Allen were predictably outraged. Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.) suggests that we prosecute Snowden “to the fullest extent of the law.” King, chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism, also said that no other countries should grant Snowden asylum. Predictable hawks such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have yet to comment, but the up-coming work week will no doubt bring about a smorgasbord of outrage.

Meanwhile, whistleblower Pfc. Bradley Manning continues his trial for 22 charges, including violation of the Espionage Act, with the potentially life sentence-bringing crime of “aiding the enemy.” Though Manning has garnered heartening amounts of support support for his actions, initially it seems that Snowden could be a more compelling case for whistleblowing as heroism. Manning messed with the military, and was a member of (and therefore a “traitor” to) the armed forces. He dumped massive amounts of documents in what some claim was a less-than-careful manner, and he shared them with Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Contrast this with Snowden who claims to have combed through and made sure only to release things that were in the public interest, and who shared documents with reputable newspapers. (Though even officials have admitted that they can’t point to anyone in particular that Manning endangered with his releases, only a vague worry that he could have.)

Though the NSA and the CIA can be looked at as fighters in the war on terror (thereby counting as protectors of Americans), they don’t have the same cultural clout as do soldiers. There are no bumper stickers demanding that we all support NSA agents, no ribbons for them.. There’s that, and the unfortunate truth that most Americans care more about an injury to them (in the form of domestic spying) than they do about the ugly face of a war that their government started. Hell, it’s hard enough to get Americans to care about the surveillance state, getting them to object to war — especially when a soldier “betrays” his fellows is even harder. Manning is not the perfect everyman for this cause of transparency and antiwar activism (his tiny stature, his emotional difficulties even before his grim treatment in prison, and his sexual orientation unfortunately don’t help, either).

By all means, if people on the fence before re Manning decide that Snowden is speaking the truth, that’s great. Any catalyst for people joining in and saying enough is enough is a great thing. But if  Snowden becomes (and it’s very early yet, this is a lot of speculation) a better face for the noble art of whistleblowing, that doesn’t mean that Manning should be forgotten. Manning may have been impulsive and even reckless, but he acted in good faith, same as Snowden seems to have done.

Both men are heroes. They both risked their lives and their freedom to cast light into the nastiest, darkest corners of the powerful. And they’re both in serious trouble.

Please check out the full Greenwald/Guardian interview with Snowden, keep watching the Bradley Manning trial, and on Monday, when the usual suspects start howling about national security, don’t believe them.

And if you ever find yourself in possession of classified documents that show something wrong, leak them.  Be like Manning and Snowden, and leak them.




55 Responses to “Will NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden Get The Mass Public Support Bradley Manning Did Not?”

  1. Hopefully he will and hopefully some of that will transfer to Manning. And even better if these cases inspire other patriotic, reasonable, and moral Americans to report what they know as well.

  2. Definitely. That is my hope as well.

  3. I wonder if the CIA will try to assassinate Snowdon in Hong Kong like the Mossad assasinated Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai. Or, will they try to take him out using a Predator® drone armed with Hellfire™ missiles?

  4. [...] Will Edward Snowden Get Mass Support Bradley Manning Didn’t? [...]

  5. I hope so.

    Also, here is a We the People (Whitehouse.gov) petition against military intervention in Syria that I would love everyone to sign: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/take-no

  6. USA reached to point where people must escape to China because of free speech

  7. those not sure to sign, can consult this condensed primer about Syria:
    http://08oo.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/key-reasons-

  8. However, in general I regard this website as useless fraud website, to calm down brainwashed people. Any US president is and ever will be controlled by corporations. (As long as private corporations exist)

    Since sales of defense-related equipment is a big part – this means they want wars.

  9. Dude, the stuff about controlled presidents and all the money from wars is common knowledge around here.

  10. USA reached to point where people must escape to China because of free speech

  11. I am not hopeful this will ever happen without MSM support. But we all know the MSM is part of the system and shills for a certain shit*y little country.
    There will be an increased dose of some reality TV shows coupled with a non-event they will blow out of proportion with 24/7 coverage, just like the OJ Simpson saga.

  12. never underestimate the hatred Americans have for truth

  13. [...] I’ve heard this comparison a few times this week and Manning supporters are attempting to make it seem like these two guys did the same thing…. [...]

  14. To Steigerwald, the author of this piece.
    Please stop bad mouthing Assange – and Manning – in the guise of supporting Snowden. The idea that they were careless or arrogant or whatever is a way of damning them while "supporting" them. Let's show a little more backbone and consistency, Lucy.

  15. This guy is one out of, what, millions of newly-hired NSA employees. What if there are such employees with a darker side who could, ostensibly, use the knowledge they gain for more malevolent purposes? If the checks and balances can't stop someone becoming upset bout perceived injustices, how can they stop a real evil-doer?

    The presence of Booz Allen, Hamilton and its profit-protecting 'code of conduct' is the only thing stopping anybody being a target for a police swat squad.

    It ain't Audie Murphy scanning your email. Even if it was, would you feel any more 'secure'?

  16. [...] Will NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden Get The Mass Public Support Bradley Manning Did Not? [...]

  17. [...] lanceur d'alerte de WikiLeaks actuellement en procès. Un contraste qui s'explique, selon le blog Anti War, par l'appartenance de Manning aux forces armées et par le côté plus concernant des informations [...]

  18. Where can I donate to Snowden? I figure I can give him at least as much as I contribute to politicians and political organizations (including AWC).

  19. Fan of Lucy's Reason work very happy to see her byline on this site. Looking forward to reading. That is all.

  20. Sign and share the petition to PARDON EDWARD SNOWDEN at: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pardon-… We the People (Whitehouse.gov).

  21. You want to donate a guy who makes $200,000 a year? Give it to the homeless.

  22. ""And if you ever find yourself in possession of classified documents that show something wrong, leak them. Be like Manning and Snowden, and leak them."
    And do 150 years in the slammer? Only if you will visit me every day, Lucy. ;-p

  23. GoFundMe going for 1 million for Snowden! Team Edward Crowdfunding!!!

    go to: http://www.gofundme.com/EdwardSnowden

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    Fund Bitcoin Address: 1JEESuZ6E5nVhKRpfSakMzXADXqnge­318z

  24. It's important to for journalists to communicate to the public WHY these programs are so dangerous. The state couldn't care less about the private communication patterns of the vast majority of people. However, the power to create instant dossiers on "trouble-makers" and dissidents is invaluable to an entrenched political establishment. Nixon's "dirty tricks" were made of information about political enemies gleaned from the spy agencies under his command.

  25. maybe indirectly, they'll give him a disease or something. Yea I know that's conspiracy theory :) But at this point who trusts them?

  26. The U.S. is a ****y little country frankly, or maybe a ****y big country, the point is the place has gone to ****

  27. He will definately be asassinated.

  28. Yea I kind of get that impression too. She's from Reason, well ok that explains it, the type of fence straddling and playing all sides just to be hip thing, slicker than slick, government is to be laughed at because it's incompetent but don't you dare say certain policies are just basically and uniquely and *exceptionally* wrong (but NSA spying is, but the persectuion of Manning is – yea wrong even to non-libertarians).

    And I agree with this article ideologically for the most part, gives proper nods of respect at the end etc., it's just the tone (Manning not hip enough to be a poster boy? oh rly? what are we conducting marketing focus groups about who to venerate now? GAH!!!!!!).

    Well I hope she gets anti-war.com radicalized then, like some of the authors who post here.

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  30. If I wanted to play all sides to be hip, I wouldn't write for Antiwar.

    I was trying to address some people's problems with Manning. I also think he was more, shall we say, anarchic in his leaking style. Snowden may well be more careful. I for Manning all the way. There was nothing in my blog about whether he was "hip" enough, only that I fear the sacred cow of the military getting particularly in the way of people's support of him. But some of the reaction to Snowden already makes this blog seem optimistc….

    Thanks for reading, though. I agree that NSA spying and what is happening to Manning are both wrong, period.

  31. I'm sure they will do pretty much anything to try and smear people. Sadly, it often works. –

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  32. Actually, Ron Paul opined that Snowden could conceivably be targeted by a drone.

  33. In one sense, Snowden may attract a greater following, but it doesn't matter, they are both tremendously courageous people who opted to do the right thing, as have the many whistleblowers who preceded them. There does seem to be something in the air suggesting that public sentiment, while apathetic up to now, could tip, and hopefully these and other much less reported recent cases, will inspire others to stand up and do the right thing. If the media finally put its attention to this and reports fairly, it could resonate and eventually snowball with the people. This reader is very much in agreement with the author in encouraging more people to become whistleblowers.

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  40. Snowden would probably be safer if officialdom thought he were really a Chinese or Russian spy. Otherwise, as a freelancer, it's just might be open season on him.

  41. In one sense, Snowden may attract a greater following, but it doesn't matter, they are both tremendously courageous people who opted to do the right thing, as have the many whistleblowers who preceded them

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  44. What Snowden is doing is for his beloved country. There is a saying in Chinese – the more you are in love, the more you become critical. He does not want to see his own country just like Ottoman, Roman, British empires went down to the tube as the same path USA is pacing now. Paranoid State Discorder (PSD) is prevailing in US government. For example the Partriot Act is a typical reaction from paramoid after 9/11. Noam Chomsky said "Blowing back" is what happening in US now. We are responsible what we do. Look at the cause, not only look at the consequence. What William Binney, Susan Lindauer, Bradle Manning and Edward Snowden doing is blowing back. The love their country as much as we do. Think about it.

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  47. Snowden also seems eerily resigned to the likely consequences of his actions — namely that he may never see his home country again, and that government officials may come for him at any time.

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