The Director of NSA claims Snowden stole 200,000 documents. Allegations in Australian press claim he stole "up to 20,000." British authorities accuse Snowden of stealing 58,000. Claims are bruited in the 5 Eyes that this is the "greatest intelligence failure since World War 2." High officials and ex-spies accuse Snowden and related media of engaging in terrorism.
This suggests a counter-espionage campaign to exaggerate Snowden's damage,
of betrayal to his country, of aiding the enemy, of threatening national
security. It is successfully restricting release of the Snowden material
and will likely become more forceful as releases continue to the extent of
legislation (open or secret) to criminalize release as a national security
This counter-espionage shares features of the Red Scare, of the Cold War,
of 9/11, of the Global War on Terrorism.
It duplicates these precedents to enhance the powers of intelligence and
increase its funding for protecting national security. This is the post-WW2
deeply-seated and deeply-mined heritage of governmental and public policy.
The "public debate" Snowden is said will justify his action is underway with
competing programs to garner public support, for curtailing covert surveillance
on the one side, for sustaining and increasing it on the other. A legacy
of practices in such debates is driving the dialogue, the propaganda, the
accusations, the standard means and methods, the competing interests, for
There will be demons and angels on both sides, there will be casualties,
there will be treacheries and betrayals, there will be lies and dissimulations,
there will be open and secret meetings, bribes, thefts, confessions and
There will be incidents and revelations proving the case of both sides. Some
will be authentic, some false, some a hybrid of credibility. Some of these
will occur in courts, some will occur in public relations, some in contract
negotiations, some through "insider leakage" genuine and confected.
From the Rosenbergs to Osama bin Laden to Edward Snowden, the "enemy of the
state," most often invoked by nations ruled by national security secrecy,
generates undercover investigations, provocateurs, informants, covert agents,
black lists, turn coats, confessions, plea bargains; leading to trials,
convictions, imprisonment, public executions, covert assassinations.
As the debate moves from Roberts Rules of Order to national security unlimited
rules of engagement, there will be divisions among the public separating
those favoring civilized discourse from those favoring official violence.
As extremism takes hold -- inevitably the outcome of great differences of
privilege, wealth, belief and policy -- remaining neutral, or indifferent,
will be called aiding the enemy. And with precedents a guide, most of the
public will support whatever it takes to "defeat the enemy," in particular
the "enemy inside." As threats of official violence increase there will be
rapid conversions to the winning side of those most privileged, wealthy and
honored by official policy.
Based on precedents there will be today's ex-Communists, Saudi benefactors,
and First Amendment advocates jumping the ship of dissent when coming under
the fire of official withdrawng privilege of speech and profitability looms.
So it was after WW2, after 9/11, as it appears looming for the Snowden campaign
by the kick in of official exaggeration.
This is the arc of civil wars from high-toned, lawful debate to cruel
and vicious laws of war.