A former CIA agent who was punished for publishing a memoir in the 1970s about intelligence failures in the Vietnam war has come down hard against former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Frank Snepp, who served at the U.S. embassy in Saigon for five years, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Snowden " may have sparked an important national privacy debate, but he did so through reprehensible actions that harmed national security."
Snepp also takes offense at Snowden's aversion to the U.S. legal system — " Yet, for all that I suffered personally, I never ran or tried to hide" — and pushes back on Snowden's claim that he didn't want to hurt vital intelligence programs.
He claims his only concern is for privacy. But many of his leaks, like those exposing National Security Agency operations against Chinese targets, and those involving critics and allies in Europe and Latin America, have nothing to do with 4th Amendment protections for American citizens and everything to do with ingratiating himself with potential benefactors, from Beijing to Moscow.
Had he read though his stolen documents, moreover, he would have realized that Russia and China are as aggressive as anyone on the planet in attacking our digital firewalls. If he were to cripple the NSA, which seems to be his real purpose, he would simply be sabotaging our defenses against governments that abhor our constitutional values, including privacy rights.
Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist and Russian security services expert, echoed that there seemed to be a shift in Snowden stories from spying on ordinary citizens to stories about political espionage on targets such as one of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phones.
"I don't want to care about security of German officials. And I don't think that German citizens should care about these things because it is a task for German security services," Soldatov told BI. "And to be frank it's a traditional espionage: It's not about privacy, it's not about public interest anymore."
The larger context of the Snowden revelations is the global debate over control of the Internet, according to Soldatov. Consequently, he finds it odd and frustrating that Snowden, who currently lives in Russia, and primary source Glenn Greenwald have not expressed any criticism toward oppressive countries.
"It seems to be completely crazy because we need to talk about all security services," Soldatov, co-author of the definitive book on Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), told BI. "Why is it all about Americans? They are missing the point."
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