The reviews are in: NBC’s Brian Williams was a sap for Edward Snowden in Moscow when he gave the NSA leaker a platform disguised as an interview.
It was “Edward’s Snowden’s first interview on American television,” Williams announced. But it was conducted in Moscow, under the watchful eye of the Russian security service, the FSB. In an interview with VentureBeat, former KGB General Oleg Kalugin said, “The FSB are now his hosts, and they are taking care of him.”
Snowden followed the script, and so did Williams. It was the NBC version of the Voice of Russia, which highlighted his claim that “he was not under the control of Russia’s government and had given Moscow no intelligence documents after nearly a year of asylum there.”
This is the Moscow party line. NBC and Brian Williams swallowed it—hook, line and sinker.
The interview also backfired on the 9/11 “truth” movement. Snowden, hailed as a hero and “whistleblower” by the 9/11 “truth” movement, failed to validate their claims that the U.S. government and its secret puppet masters were behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America.
If anyone should have concrete proof of 9/11 being an “inside job,” it should have been Snowden, with his access to all kinds of top-secret and classified documents. He addressed 9/11 during the NBC interview, but failed to disclose anything about secret agents planting explosives to bring down Building 7 in what the “truthers” say was a controlled demolition.
It was NBC’s Brian Williams who suffered the most embarrassment, however.
“In the days that have followed [the interview], Williams has been criticized for not pressing Snowden on many issues,” noted Don Kaplan of the New York Daily News. “Williams grilled Snowden about his motives and responsibility for the largest security breach in U.S. history. But many of Snowden’s answers were unsatisfying—and Williams failed to push for examples of exactly how government surveillance has harmed anyone.”
“Brian Williams of NBC News did a good job of letting Edward J. Snowden say what he wanted to say,” commented Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times. She, too, noted that Snowden “wasn’t pushed for specific examples where government surveillance had harmed a single American individual…”
In short, Snowden failed to prove his case that the NSA had been violating the privacy rights of ordinary Americans.
In this case, Williams became the dupe. And that may become as big a story as Snowden’s defection to the Russians. “I thought you guys might give this a fair shake,” Snowden told Williams, in explaining why he chose the network. He was rewarded for his faith and confidence in NBC. He was allowed to portray himself as a patriot.
The softballs went like this: When Williams asked, “Do you see yourself as a patriot?,” Snowden answered immediately, “I do.”
Sitting in Moscow, under Russian surveillance, Snowden added, “If we want to be free, we can’t become subject to surveillance. We can’t—give away our privacy. We can’t give away our rights.” Yet, Moscow controls his fate.
When previous NSA defectors William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell landed in Moscow, they, too, held a press event. “We were employees of the highly secret National Security Agency, which gathers communications intelligence from almost all nations of the world for use by the U.S. government,” they said at a 1960 press conference with the Soviet press at the “House of Journalists” in Moscow. Like Snowden, they were granted asylum.
The Martin and Mitchell defections were “a spectacular publicity coup,” noted Vasili Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew in The Sword and the Shield. It was “the most embarrassing press conference in the history of the American intelligence community.”
One might say, based on the press reaction, that the Snowden interview was also embarrassing—but mostly for Williams and NBC.
Bob Cesca of The Daily Banter commented that Williams’ interview with Snowden “was yet another in a long, long line of deferential, uninformed, unchallenging genuflections before a guy whose story and motivations are more than a little specious.”
A fascinating follow-up story is how lunatic fringe sources such as the Alex Jones “Infowars” website focused on Snowden’s 9/11 comments, as if he somehow confirmed the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as being an “inside job” conspiracy.
NBC “censored” his comments, Mikael Thalen wrote on the Alex Jones website, even though they were, in fact, posted by the network. The Alex Jones channel featured this story under the graphic “9/11 was an inside job.”
What Snowden said was that the U.S. “had all of the information we needed as an intelligence community, as a classified sector, as the national defense of the United States, to detect this plot.” This is a non-controversial statement that captures the failure of the intelligence community to stop the plot. The problem is that Snowden’s leaking of more classified information relating to ongoing intelligence and military operations makes it more likely that terrorists will be able to carry out another 9/11-type assault.
Snowden never echoed the 9/11 “truthers” in claiming that the attacks were carried out by a mysterious cabal that blamed 9/11 on Muslims, or that they were deliberately allowed to occur so that the U.S. could go to war in the Middle East.
No worry: the 9/11 “truth” movement has another explanation for Snowden’s failure to blame 9/11 on “inside job” conspirators. They argue that Snowden himself is part of the conspiracy.
Iranian Press TV, a dependable outlet for anti-American propaganda and disinformation, reports that Snowden himself may be part of the “inside job.” According to this line of thinking, Snowden is actually working for the globalist cabal operating behind the scenes and is making sure that more damaging and sensational secrets don’t come out. The author of this Press TV piece is Dr. Kevin Barrett, described as “one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror,” and author of Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle Against the 9/11 Big Lie (2007).
In other words, Snowden is a double agent! In fact, the truth—as they see it—has already come out. “Edward Snowden told Brian Williams and NBC Nightly News he is a trained intelligence operative who worked for the CIA, NSA and DIA,” reported Kurt Nimmo of the “Infowars” site. He claims this “admission” means that Snowden is still working for the U.S. government and won’t blow the whistle on the real serious scandals.
Snowden’s mouthpiece, meanwhile, is threatening to release the names of American citizens who were targeted by the NSA. Glenn Greenwald, who received many of Snowden’s documents and has now written a book about the leaker, was even interviewed by Tucker Carlson on the Fox News Channel on Sunday about this possibility. Greenwald has called this the “finishing piece” to the Snowden story.
What got lost in the discussion, as usual, is the fact that there are legitimate grounds for conducting surveillance of Americans in contact with foreign intelligence agencies or foreign terrorist movements. One of the NSA’s greatest successes was Venona, the code name given to the intercepted and deciphered Soviet intelligence messages between Moscow and the Soviet espionage network in the United States.
If Greenwald’s “finishing piece” alerts foreign spies and terrorists to the fact that their American agents are under surveillance, it becomes that much harder to stop plots against the American people. Snowden—and Greenwald—would then have blood on their hands.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.