Edward Snowden may be feuding with WikiLeaks, which supported him in his anti-NSA travails. That would seemingly pit the two dispensers of American secrets at odds with each other. While some might call out Snowden for purportedly biting the hand that feeds him in this controversy, it is worth a more thorough examination.
The event which triggered this circumstance is WikiLeak’s recent release of hacked ’s emails, which caused a political uproar and prompted the resignation of the DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz as a peace offering to outraged Bernie Sanders supporters.
Though a feud between supposed kindred spirits such as Snowden and WikiLeaks might seem improbable, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal (paywall) sheds light on an issue which is at the heart of the controversy. The two protagonists, or antagonists, depending on your political bent or agenda are Julian Assange, the embattled and exiled head of WikiLeaks and the likewise embattled and exiled Edward Snowden.
Assange is currently ensconced in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, while Snowden, of course, is holed up as a guest of Putin in Russia. Snowden isn’t in full adversary mode with WikiLeaks, or even with the hack of the DNC. What appears to have ruffled his feathers is the scope of the hacks, which he feels went too far.
In Snowden’s view, by dumping the emails in toto, the demonstrated “hostility to even modest curation is a mistake,” as names and phone numbers were not redacted. The conservatively slanted organ felt compelled to refer to the notion that there must ostensibly be honor among thieves, alluding to WikiLeaks and Snowden’s propensity for tweaking the US. Is this merely the ranting of a respectable right-wing rag, or is there merit in the discussion?
WikiLeaks has not taken the criticism lightly or favorably, firing back that Snowden is currying favor with the likely new president, Hillary Clinton, in the hopes of securing preferential treatment (perhaps even a pardon) in a Clinton led administration. Knowing her history as a hawk, I say “Good luck with that.”
In retort, WikiLeaks tweeted, “Opportunism won’t earn you a pardon from Clinton.” In that, WikiLeaks is probably correct. Nothing in Hillary Clinton’s resume suggests she would ever brook such an option. The candidate, who while a US senator voted for the Iraq war, is an unlikely savior for the fugitive NSA contractor who, bravely by some accounts, exposed American spy agencies’ tricks and mischief.
Probably more than trying to get cozy with Clinton, Snowden’s remarks could be those of an individual who is trying to remain relevant in a world that is steadily moving to the right on issues of surveillance, privacy, and national security. He has chosen an unlikely target and time to make his stand, and possibly has tarnished WikiLeaks’ image in the process. That is, most likely an unintentional by-product of his criticism.
So what has been the impact of Snowden’s critique? It seems to have lasted less long than the initial jolt of WikiLeak’s dump of the DNC’s emails, i.e. a few 24-hour news cycles at best. The Clinton campaign deftly shrugged it off, and even got some mileage out of blaming the Russians (and Putin’s preference for Trump), and scored political points.
But give Edward Snowden his due for being politically astute. If you’re a betting person, you are better off backing Clinton – at this juncture at least. Apparently, Edward Snowden can sense which way the wind is blowing. In his position, one can’t blame him for that.