I just watched an interview with Brian Williams and Edward Snowden.
Is Snowden a hero or villain? I'm curious about what others on atheist nexus think.

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Excellent! 

Another brutal truth I learned while I was doing hardball politics:

The best slaves of all are those who believe they are free.

Well Tom...I believe  I am free,,,and I have  no complaints...So if this is what slavery  is  then I am all for it......I  have had  a successful career, I own my own home, I drive  a nice car,  and I am able to spend my winters  in Florida.....If that is the life of a slave..then we slaves  are  doing ok......

And yet, F31, you repeat yourself so often.

Tom......  If that is my worst  fault  I can live with it......

Does nobody else find the Snowden situation to be peculiar? The most notable whistleblower in history is sitting comfortably at arms length from the country that clandestinely usurped the basic rights of its citizens, which form the basis for which its Constitution was constructed? The surveillance programs of this country became far too large to hide anymore, physically and financially, so their exposure was becoming inevitable. Knowing this, the government would be stupid to not do their best to control how that exposure unfolds.

I'm not the least bit convinced that Snowden is not a part of that controlled release. He sits wherever we're told he is, while we are told he cannot be extradited, time goes by while the citizenry slowly succumbs to the fact that regardless of what we think our rights are, we now have zero rights to the reasonable expectation of privacy.

I see Snowden as far more of a tool for generating talking points and discussions than an authentic whistleblower. That reality is easily masked by all the support and outrage exhibited by the pawns in this game. Eventually, the boil will transition to a simmer, once we have been adequately acclimated to our new environment of massively invasive surveillance, all supposedly the response to the terrorism boogeyman.

fwiw, I see Snowden as an authentic whistle blower, not as part of a conspiracy to acclimate us to the controlled release of information.  It's a thought that I didn't have before, but it doesn't strike me as plausible as the idea that he's just what he presents.

As to what I think overall about Snowden, I guess I have mixed views.  

So a government goes to the extreme of secretly using hundreds of billions of tax dollars to build, staff and maintain secret facilities to spy on those citizens who contributed those tax dollars, and you find it implausible for that government to conjure up a false narrative as part of an effort to stay in front of the inevitable disclosure of what it did? Why? Because the false narrative would be dishonest?

Mind you, meanwhile the country borrows money at a reckless rate, building a deficit that will burden many future generations, while simultaneously ignoring badly deteriorated infrastructure. All for what? A program with a zero percent success rate for doing what we are told it is meant for? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the true objectives of this surveillance program have nothing to do with fighting terrorism.

This is the real purpose of the current state of surveillance in the US:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/12/former-top-nsa-official-now-...

Hi Future - please re-read what I wrote.  I did not say (or imply) "implausible". 

I suggest you read the article I linked above, which is filled with additional links that go beyond plausibility and point to straight up reality. It's some of the most eye opening information I have read in decades.

NSA overreach and parallel construction are topics so widely acknowledged as real, that they have appeared as plot lines in legal themed shows on mainstream television shows like Good Wife (which is an excellent show, btw).

FUTURE.....Do you honestly  believe  our  government is trying  to subvert us?    What  horrible deeds  have they  committed against  you?    I do agree that  some in government have  overstepped, and  they need to be dismissed.  However,  to  say `our government' is at fault because  of a few  irrational  employees  is  a bit  much....The terrorism  boogeyman is  real......Remember  9/11?........We live in a dangerous  world and  it is getting  much more  difficult for our government  to protect us..........All of  us,  who have nothing to fear, should  be able  to tolerate a little  loss in  freedom if it means  some bad guys planning  to terrorize  us  can be caught  before anything  happens.....If  the government  wants  to read  my boring  e-mails so be it......It would  probably  put them to sleep anyway....From what I understand..the government  is only  looking  for code words  that could  mean  trouble for us, and not actually  reading  our  personal  e-mails  outright........ 

You need to read up on Bill Binney's story. He was the NSA's principal architect of the original versions of the pre-9/11 data mining software. There were two versions being considered. The one he endorsed was a targeted approach to eavesdropping on communications that involved key words and phrases specific to terrorism threats. The other version simply swept up EVERYTHING, and was cripplingly expensive, and too comprehensive to be of any reasonable use for snooping out terrorism threats - and most importantly, was highly problematic in Binney's opinion relative to being unconstitutional.

After 9/11, he was furious about the NSA's decision to focus on the second version, and claimed that decision was responsible for the failure to detect the hijacking operations that likely would have been detected with the first version. He blew the whistle, using the government approved whistleblowing protocol, and subsequently had his career and his reputation destroyed because of it - big surprise!

Now we have evidence of how obscenely large the PRISM system is, making it clear that it is of no value for real time detection of threats. It is nothing but a mega ocean of stored private communications, useful only for trudging through for any number of nefarious reasons. There are literally millions of people in this country who hold a security clearance. There is also clear evidence of these people using this system to eavesdrop on acquaintances for personal reasons, and evidence that the vast majority of emails and text messages being read through involve drama and sexual matter having nothing to do with terrorism threats. Russia even warned us specifically of two radicals in a known location in the US who are suspected extremists, yet they easily succeeded in pulling off the Boston Marathon bombings regardless. Why? Because the surveillance system we have in place isn't even concerned with stopping terrorism. It has been of zero value in that respect, despite the crippling expense its actual targets have shouldered to build it. Americans, like Angela Merkel and the rest of the international community, should be absolutely outraged over this. The government knows this, and would be insanely stupid to not be actively trying to downplay this disgraceful situation. Enter the villain/hero Edward Snowden, safely tucked away where he is untouchable. It's all too convenient.

The US imprisons more of its citizens than some of the worst dictatorships that exist throughout the world. How do so many people get caught for imprisonable offenses? Parallel construction. Illegal, warrantless wiretaps are used to mine information. That information can't be used in court, and is instead used to set up a victim. When you read a news story about how a car was randomly pulled over for something benign like a marked lane violation, and they decided to search the car and found a pile of drugs - that was no random occurrence. The officers knew where to be and at what time to be there. Law enforcement has already admitted that this is a flagrantly used technique. It's all part of the same abusive scam. The system is overtly unconstitutional, and there are too many operators that benefit from abusing it to think that it's ever going to be corrected.

Welcome to the new Orwellian world.

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