The new Edward Snowden movie, “Citizenfour,” was seen by about four people during the Saturday morning showing at the E Street Cinema in Washington, D.C. The film shows the former National Security Agency (NSA) analyst in Hong Kong, China, after arranging through encrypted messages to meet his collaborators and spill his stolen NSA documents. What the film describes is an espionage operation to damage America and our allies.
But our media don’t call it espionage.
For obvious reasons, Snowden’s most important collaborator and current sponsor, Russian President Vladimir Putin, doesn‘t make an appearance in the film.
Meanwhile, back in Russia—Snowden’s new home—another Putin critic, the Russian actor Alexei Devotchenko, has been found dead in a pool of blood. Authorities will probably blame the death on natural causes.
You won’t find Snowden demanding justice in that case. But Snowden may suffer the same fate one day, when Putin is done using him for anti-American propaganda purposes.
Another NSA defector, Victor Norris Hamilton, who defected to the Soviet Union in 1963, was found in a psychiatric prison near Moscow in 1992. Perhaps he realized, too late, that he had made a drastic mistake. It is too late for Snowden, unless the Obama administration makes a deal to get him back. That is possible.
Incredibly, Snowden could be returned, in exchange for the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year sentence in U.S. federal prison. In a dramatic new development, Bout has reportedly hired the law firm of former Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft and a Russian lawyer named Alexey Tarasov to try to get him a new trial.
The idea of a Bout-Snowden trade first surfaced in 2013.
Attorney General Eric Holder has already written to the Russians promising that Snowden wouldn’t be given the death penalty if he returned home. Obama’s new Attorney General-nominee, Loretta Lynch, should be questioned about whether a swap is currently being negotiated and if she would approve it. Since Putin may be done with Snowden, such a deal makes sense from his perspective. Then the Obama administration could go through the motions of pretending to have Snowden punished for espionage.
The evil genius of Snowden’s collaborators was to frame his defection in terms of alleging that he was a “whistleblower” who was informing the American people that they were being spied upon illegally. Obama called him a mere “hacker,” which sounds bad but not treasonous.
“Citizenfour” shows the fawning media coverage on networks like CNN, that greeted Snowden’s disclosures. But the truth is beginning to catch up to the lies. Speaking on CNN recently, former CIA officer Robert Baer said, “…ISIS has been reading Snowden…they know to stay off phones, stay off e-mail and the rest of it. They’re communicating with mobile Wi-Fi. They can beat the National Security Agency…”
When the terrorists beat the NSA, that means it is more likely they will be able to kill Americans.
Directed by Laura Poitras, who says she is on a U.S. “watch” list, the film helps demonstrate how our media have changed from opposing treason to celebrating it.
In 1960, when NSA analysts Bernon F. Mitchell and William H. Martin defected to the Soviet Union, they held a news conference with Soviet officials in Moscow to spill their secrets. They knew they wouldn’t be able to find a journalist willing to publicize their stolen secrets and make them into heroes.
Snowden worked mostly through intermediaries like Poitras; Glenn Greenwald, the former gay-pornography executive and columnist; and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post. They became the recipients of the Pulitzer Prizes for espionage, as we called them. It was another new low for the journalism business.
The Pulitzers were announced in New York City at the Columbia Journalism Building, in front of a reproduction of the World Building Stained Glass Window that carries the title of “Liberty Lighting the World.” But liberty didn’t benefit from Snowden; Putin did.
I had asked Sig Gissler, administrator of the prizes: “You said Joseph Pulitzer would approve of these NSA stories because he wanted the press to be a watchdog. He also said he wanted the press to be a moral force that would promote public virtue. What about the argument that these NSA stories are based on espionage activity by somebody who stole documents who is in the custody of a foreign government committing aggression abroad? Do you think Joseph Pulitzer would approve of that?”
Gissler replied: “I don’t know whether he would or not. But the focus of these stories was really on the information that was made available to the public. It really wasn’t focused on Mr. Snowden.”
The “information that was made available to the public” was stolen by Snowden and has enabled Russia to invade Ukraine, and ISIS to rise in the Middle East. The next development, courtesy of Snowden, could be another 9/11 attack on America.
Equally significant, the Edward Snowden affair demonstrates the complete failure of the U.S. government to defend the American people against internal and external threats.
President Eisenhower labeled Mitchell and Martin traitors, and former President Harry Truman said they should be shot. The Obama administration could label Snowden as an enemy combatant, but that’s clearly not in the cards.
The new Congress has a unique opportunity to define the term “treason” and those who engage in it by holding public hearings into the damage being done by Snowden and his Russian protectors and collaborators. Such hearings would demonstrate the Obama administration’s nonchalance toward the ongoing damage to U.S. national security and perhaps stop a deal, which may now be in the works, for Snowden to return to the U.S. in exchange for the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Congress can reconstitute the internal security committees or subcommittees in both Houses that were dismantled by liberals. These committees could examine how a libertarian ideologue like Snowden, a financial contributor to Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign for president, got security clearances in the first place.
Ron Paul’s son, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), could explain why he compared Snowden’s thievery and betrayal to the civil disobedience of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Congress could also give consideration to a new loyalty program to make sure our high-level federal officials and those in the intelligence community understand what it means to pledge allegiance to the United States of America.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org