The Snowden Dilemma

In somewhat of a daze, my wife and I left the theater after watching the movie Snowden. I was quite happy with the movie. It did not seem too bias one way or another and it provided a pleasant story for those who do not keep up with politics or world news. I could not wait to get in the car and start picking my wife’s mind about the issues the movie brought up – only to get stopped by one of those mall venders who pester you to buy something or try some invention of theirs. He got my attention by standing in front of our path and asking, “What movie did you see?” Slightly put off by his action to stop us, I tried to walk around him and muttered, “Snowden”.

 

As most people are when they hear the word Snowden, he was taken aback and asked, “I hear the movie was biased and make him out to be a hero. I think he should be hung – he is responsible for American deaths! What do you think?” I was clearly not wanting to talk to the man – and his question isn’t something that can be answered right there in the middle of a mall – but his clear ignorance of the issues warranted my response. Plus, there are many people who don’t clearly know what Snowden did, or the outcome of his actions, or what should be done with him. the Snowden case will undoubtedly go down as a historical and moral questions that will decide the direction of our nation.

 

Edward Snowden was an extreamly capable and intelligent student. He excelled in his career and was considered a computer wizard at the CIA making him highly desired. Although Snowden loved working at the CIA, he quickly began seeing dubious actions in their international affairs. For example, at his first diplomatic mission in Geneva, he witnessed the CIA successfully bribe the Geneva police and judiciary. Although he did not report this, the whole mission left Snowden uneasy.

 

Later in his career, Snowden began working at the NSA’s Hawaii Regional operations center where he was a system administrator – technically an “Infrastructure Analyst” where he would look for new ways to break into the internet and telephone traffic. This is where Snowden had a problem with his job: although his job was directed at China and North Korea, he witnessed the government using back-door methods of entry into electronic devices of U.S. Citizens and keeping that data unlawfully. Snowden did actually try to express his concerns to officials multiple times – but was warned not to say anything. Snowden has said

The NSA has records—they have copies of emails right now to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks from me raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities. I had raised these complaints not just officially in writing through email, but to my supervisors, to my colleagues, in more than one office. I did it in Fort Meade. I did it in Hawaii. And many, many of these individuals were shocked by these programs. They had never seen them themselves. And the ones who had, went, “You know, you’re right. … But if you say something about this, they’re going to destroy you”

It would seem that the same whistle blowing standards the government holds to corporations does not apply to the NSA. Stuck in a rut, Snowden took drastic actions looking to change the course of surveillance. May 20 2013, Snowden arrived in Hong Kong in a leave of absence to meet with Guardian reporters to leak the information – which was over 1.5 million files. He finally left his hotel room and sneaked through security to board a plane to Russia which was then to take him to Ecuador to live with Wikileak founder Julian Assange. Snowden had had a ticket to Havana, Cuba but did not board his flight saying later in an interview, “I was ticketed for onward travel via Havana—a planeload of reporters documented the seat I was supposed to be in—but the State Department decided they wanted me in Moscow, and cancelled my passport.” Snowden assumed the reason they wanted him in Moscow was to label him a Russian spy. He is still in Moscow today waiting for another place to find asylum.

The idea that Snowden is a Russian spy and released information that has had Americans killed is not found in fact. And the recent election of Donald Trump has made the situation much more clear. Fox News and NBC has heard reports that Russian officials have found that Snowden has no more value to the government and could be a useful bargaining chip for Putin to cozy up to Trump. As a response, Snowden tweeted:

Finally: irrefutable evidence that I never cooperated with Russian intel. No country trades away spies, as the rest would fear they’re next.

A very clear observation. In fact, the Ecuadorian government is feeling the same way about Assange whilst he released Clinton’s emails in the 2016 election. Could this be the end of Wikileaks and whistle-blowing? That lies with the world leaders. No doubt, as long as Snowden has asylum, he will be safe – it is the transportation that is dangerous for him. But one must ask – what would the world be like it the world governments’ secrets cannot be held up to the light? This will be a pivotal question our generation has to answer.

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If the Candidates say it – it’s Probably not True

You know credulity has gone too far when both candidates of an American Presidential Election are spreading conspiracy theories – and people believe them! On one side, the trailing candidate is claiming that the system is rigged, triggering a huge backlash of voters crying foul. And on the other hand, the front runner is blaming her crimes on a foreign country. The very first thing you should do – which the majority of voters do not do -is ask: What is the evidence?

The Democratic candidate has been repeating repetitively that Russia has been hacking the DNC emails in a ploy to influence the 2016 elections. Part of this stems from Republican candidate Trump and Putin’s seemingly close relationship, and the other part stems from Hillary’s attempt to avoid being held accountable for what was inside of her emails. Among the tens of thousands of emails, there has been definitive light shed on the character of Clinton – a character that has been seen as fraudulent, vindictive, and unfair for decades. The once hero, Julian Assange has now become a Democrat nightmare as he has shifted his focus from the Bush administration to Clinton’s long overdue private life. As Clinton has said, in politics, you need a private and public life – it cannot be clearer: she is corrupt.

Many people could not believe Clinton and the leading Democrats could be so rotten behind the scenes – even Barack Obama exchanged emails with Clinton’s private server assuming she followed confidential protocol. The trust in Clinton was so strong that the government did conduct an investigation into the DNC email hack. Hillary has claimed that over 17 government agencies have said Russia is behind the DNC hack – like many of Clinton’s automatic lies, this is probably another knee jerk lie to the public. In fact, there were only two agencies conducting investigation, the Department of National Intelligence, and the Department of Homeland Security – and they concluded that they don’t have evidence that Russia is behind the hack. They clearly stated that, “…the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia…” but throughout the two joint investigations, they did not ever say Russia was behind the hacks. So where is Hillary getting this from? Probably the same place she gets her other lies – her colon.

Now, on the other side of the aisle, there has been a Trump-tantrum over the polls. They are far too close, and Trump has turned to the old “rigged poll” trick. Used in the Bush-Gore race, it is not a new strategy and it is not a strong strategy. It is so weak, very few people with a few brain cells have taken it seriously. But don’t let your guard down! The lies are not the dangerous aspect of this – it is those who believe in these lies without evidence that  pose a real threat to a civil election. Be mindful, credulity is everywhere – and it leave brain rot in it’s wake. Hopefully, we can get through this election without being overrun by gullible voters.

 

Exaggeration and Ukraine do not Mix

Fear mounts as the NATO allies (including the US) and Russia are moving more troops to the Ukraine border. Earlier today, Putin stations over 40,000 troops on the Ukraine border threatening the year long lull in the conflict. This, may or may not be a reaction to the U.S. fulfilling it’s commitment to assisting the NATO forces in the eastern front by sending it’s own troops. This is another push to “World War III” – but is that a rational conclusion, or a drastic over exaggeration?

You may notice, when a big event occurs be it a technological advancement, a political change, or even a UFO, we see stories all the time that point to the biggest conclusion. I bet the reader has already thought of some examples.

Over exaggerations are a completely normal human trait – however irrational. The erg to over exaggerate stories is a way we get people’s attention or a way of story telling itself. But the human Psyche may offer a clearer picture as to why people just to the biggest conclusions. The Psychological Journal ‘Emotion’ published a study in which the test subjects would or would not over exaggerate. The researchers checked their vitals and noticed the the ones over exaggerating were overwhelmingly more calm and confident. The reason, Dr. Gramzow determined, “It’s basically an exercise in projecting the self toward one’s goals”.

It would also seem that over exaggeration, though useful in the media, helps spread stories and gather attention. because it is an irrational reaction, it needs to be carefully examined. One needs to be skeptical.

Of course military moves by Putin and other world leaders need to be taken seriously – but with a grain of salt. Same with UFO sightings or government conspiracies, extreme claims require extreme evidence, and assuming this means World War III, is silly. Let us handle the situation as is to avoid any rash or impulse decisions.

 

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