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Los Angeles Times Editorial Board Endorses Prosecution of Edward Snowden

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board published an editorial that argues against granting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden a pardon. It endorses the Justice Department’s prosecution of Snowden under the Espionage Act, despite the fact that his unauthorized disclosures were responsible for key reforms.

The “serious arguments” against a pardon, according to the editorial board, include the fact that America is a “society of laws” and “someone who engages in civil disobedience in a higher cause should be prepared to accept the consequences.”

“A stronger objection, in our view, is that Snowden didn’t limit his disclosures to information about violations of Americans’ privacy. He divulged other sensitive information about traditional foreign intelligence activities, including a document showing that the NSA had intercepted the communications of then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during a Group of 20 summit in London in 2009.”

“A government contractor who discloses details of US spying on another country is not most Americans’ idea of a whistleblower,” the editorial board declares.

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board’s chief complaint amounts to the suggestion that Snowden is not a big enough nationalist because he revealed ethically dubious spying activities carried out against other countries. And, although there has never been a public debate about the extent to which the US government should be spying on all the people of the world, as well as leaders of countries, Snowden should not be shown too much leniency because this spying should remain secret from the American public.

Whatever “Americans’ idea of a whistleblower” happens to be, it has been influenced by government officials seeking to propagandize the public so that they oppose individuals like Snowden.

Jason Leopold, a journalist for VICE News, reported that a “group of bipartisan lawmakers solicited details from the Pentagon,” which could be used to “damage” Snowden’s “credibility in the press and court of public opinion.”

The Pentagon provided Congress with unclassified talking points on January 8, 2014. They may seem familiar because they have been repeated numerous times by US media organizations. (In fact, the second talking point is what the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board considers to be the most persuasive argument against pardoning Snowden.)

Much of the information compromised [by Snowden] has the potential to gravely impact the National Security of the United States, to include the Department of Defense [DoD] and its capabilities.

While most of the reporting to date in the press has centered on NSA’s acquisition of foreign intelligence to protect the lives of our citizens and allies, the files cover sensitive topics well beyond the NSA collection. Disclosure of this information in the press and to adversaries has the potential to put Defense personnel in harm’s way and jeopardize the success of DoD operations.

These unauthorized disclosures have tipped off our adversaries to intelligence sources and methods and negatively impacted our Allies who partner with us to fight terrorism, cyber crimes, human and narcotics trafficking, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Such international cooperation involving the pooling of information, technology, and expertise is critical to preserve our security and that of our allies.

The Los Angeles Times published a story on Snowden on June 28, 2013, that quoted anonymous officials who were speaking about classified information that they claimed showed Snowden had given an “edge” to “US rivals.”

“Russia, China and terrorism suspects have altered how they communicate to evade US detection, current and former U.S. intelligence officials say,” the media organization reported.

It is now abundantly clear that this story was based in Pentagon propaganda, which officials were prepared to feed to the public through journalists and members of Congress.

The editorial board also pushes an argument that has been popular among critics—that someone who engages in civil disobedience must “be prepared to accept the consequences.” MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry was one of the first to promote this idea.

The argument ignores the fact that Snowden has sacrificed quite a bit by disobeying the law and leaving the United States. He had his passport revoked and was trapped in a Moscow airport. It seriously disrupted his life and forced him to begin a new life away from his home and his family.

It also is a state-identified view of civil disobedience that serves those in power. Turn yourself in and face trial for revealing unlawful, unethical and illegitimate activities. The government may decide to show mercy or not. It all depends on whether the government remains committed to making an example out of you for challenging them so brazenly. But, regardless, martyr yourself for the good of the cause and enter a position where the government can completely control you.

Overall, it is quite distressing to see any media organization’s editorial board publish something that supports putting a source on trial. Snowden provided documents to journalists at The Washington Post and The Guardian. Some of those documents were passed along to The New York Times. Journalists like Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Ewan MacAskill and Barton Gellman have won awards and accolades for their reporting.

This is how investigative journalism works and benefits the public. It cannot work if media organizations support the criminalization of people like Snowden when they come forward to reveal corruption on a wide scale.

Government employees know they face huge risks even if they go through “proper channels” in an agency to raise concerns about fraud, waste, abuse or illegality. They have prior examples of whistleblowers becoming targets to discourage them from coming forward. They can see Espionage Act prosecutions of leakers as examples of why a government employee should not reveal wrongdoing to the press.

A media organization like the Los Angeles Times should not contribute to the chilly climate by further reinforcing the idea that it is criminal to leak to the press. Not only is that against their self-interest as a media organization but it also helps the government get away with claiming new sweeping powers without ever having to inform and justify such expansions of power to citizens. ”

Image from LA Times Building” by Jim Winstead from Los Angeles – the Los Angeles Times Building. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."


  1. Shaf
    June 5, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    The reason for everything is terrorism.
    We shouldn’t be concerned about government invasion of privacy because terrorism, should not challenge NatSec law because terrorism — like they know better what’s best for their citizens.
    This is not democracy.

  2. JohnRedican
    June 5, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    What else would anyone expect from an organ whose sole chance at access to power is dependent on its supplication to that power? These “journalists” are little more than toadies, unembarrassed by their endless cheerleading.

  3. bsbafflesbrains
    June 5, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    “A media organization like the Los Angeles Times ” ??? Now there’s yer problem! LAT like the NYT are wholly controlled by the .1%. They parrot the same talking points by and large as the Sunday talking heads. You have outed them as a propaganda arm of the 1% again.

  4. pelham
    June 5, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    There are a number of good arguments for not prosecuting Snowden, but one in particular should not be overlooked: We literally have a rogue government, and anything that highlights its perversities is a service to the Constitution and — incidentally — humanity.

    What’s the evidence for this? A definitive study recently completed by professors Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page of Princeton and Northwestern universities that reveals that at least 70% of the American people on the lower rungs of the income scale have had — for the past 30 years at least — no representation at the federal level.

    Therefore, the federal government is a rogue power structure under God-knows-what influence, with one consequence the wreaking of bloody havoc globally against the express will of its own people.

    I realize this is a bold assertion. But whether it’s bold or not is beside the point — the point being that Gilens’ and Page’s work — and, for that matter, much of the work of many other political scientists — tells us with empirical certainty that the democratic representation mandated in the Constitution doesn’t in fact exist. To deny this fact is equivalent to placing yourself in the same camp of general ignorance as our right-wing trogs, rejecting the science behind evolution, global warming or any other established fact.

    We need to face up to this. And then we need to resist the urge to just shrug and blow it off and instead focus intensely on coming up with a disciplined, detailed, methodical plan as to how we’ll go about fixing it.

  5. Screwtape
    June 5, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    So then, what are consequences anymore of an “endorsement” by LA Times, NYT, etc?

    Just wondering.

  6. Rational
    June 5, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Simple prosecution
    Snowden gets the same deal that Petraus got including returning and retaining his security clearences and job with the Gov. and Contractors.
    Snowden acted to protect the Constitution.
    Petraus acted to impress his piece on the side and fatten his paycheck for the book they were writing.
    Granted them getting an equal deal is unfair to Snowden, who should receive a Medal, but with the perverted value system of the judiciary and politico’s it is obvious that greed and lust are more socially acceptable values then patriotism and honesty

  7. firedancer
    June 5, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Regarding the fact that America is a “society of laws” and “someone who engages in civil disobedience in a higher cause should be prepared to accept the consequences”… how about someone who engages in war crimes, criminal financial behavior, torture? Where are the legal consequences for these things?

  8. kgosztola
    June 5, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    They are a media organization and part of the press. Whether they use their power to serve the elites or not, they are still journalists. Which is why I so vigorously criticize them.

  9. kgosztola
    June 5, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Remove the quotes. They’re journalists. That is why they deserve to be criticized.

    I dislike when journalists call me an activist writer and not a journalist. So, I don’t argue that a person is not a journalist. They always are. But whether they are producing journalism, not stenography, that is a different issue altogether.

  10. kgosztola
    June 5, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    We were all told to look forward, not backward, when it came to CIA and US military personnel who tortured people. Most newspapers, including the LA Times, went along with that.

  11. joel
    June 5, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Exactly! America is a ‘society of laws’ that must be followed by some of us. The some of us doesn’t include the zillion gov’t spy agencies, the police, bankers, governors etc etc.

    LATimes: wink wink

  12. bsbafflesbrains
    June 5, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Agree and maybe I’m into semantics here but they are not part of a “Free Press” as envisioned by the founding fathers IMO. To me the Corporate controlled Media cannot be Jounalists and the divergence of opinion and fact has become so pronounced as to invalidate their status as real journalists. This is not to minimize what you are saying and doing by pointing out fair criticism of the lack of journalistic effort but Ben Franklin would not consider LAT part of a Free and Unfettered Press at this point in our history.

  13. June 5, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    They are journalists only if you buy into the narrative that the media is not a propaganda organ of the corporate state.

    The quotes are justified, They are propagandists.

  14. JamesJoyce
    June 5, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Fuck zee LA Times like zee “Silent German.” Prosecute a real criminal called Cheney! Nuremberg Principles do apply to this pile of crap.

  15. JamesJoyce
    June 5, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Yes the policy of compliance…..

  16. bsbafflesbrains
    June 5, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Why this story right now? Is there a more clear case of someone who should have status as a whistleblower than Edward Snowden based on all the revelations and recent events? What would a real journalist opine based on the known facts about Snowden? Oh, I know because I read FDL and real journalism by Kevin.

  17. kgosztola
    June 5, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Corporate press are journalists. They just have a profit motive in addition to a commitment to protecting access to the halls of power that pollutes their work.

  18. June 5, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Why pick on Cheney, only?

    Giving a pass to the system which no longer – if ever – serves the interests of the majority public and is at it’s core anti-democratic turns reality into myopic partisan brinkmanship. Divide and conquer, and all that….

  19. kgosztola
    June 5, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Anyone engaged in the act of journalism is protected by freedom of the press under the First Amendment. If they are producing propaganda, they’re still journalists but they’re also propagandists. They should be heavily criticized for being so subservient and acquiescent to those in power.

  20. June 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    “Democrats” do not represent democratic tendencies. We have a problem with labels; the Luntzes and Lakoffs…

    “Socialist” Bernie is not a socialist. Journalism has long (going on 100 years) been dead.

    But if you insist…

  21. JamesJoyce
    June 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    One head of a seven headed dragon. No passes at all… Not even for the “Good German, if my history is correct.

    Those who comply, are complicit. “Nuremberg Principle 101”

    Where was the LA Times way back when???????

    A cheerleader for corporate fascism? Rather unexceptional!

  22. June 5, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    They are propagandists – engaged in the manufacture of consent – parading as “journalists.”

    The closest we get to journalism – holding fire to the feet of government – is at RT, PressTV, and other, smaller and independent media outlets.

  23. Edgar
    June 5, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    (Off topic) My 2 cents on the new firedoglake look and style. — It’s mostly good, but I wish the links weren’t the same color as the text. After reading this article, I skimmed through it again to find the la times link. It took me a while. The underlined text doesn’t jump out as well when it’s the camouflaged with the rest of the text.

  24. June 5, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    The “Good German” had been a victim of the manufacture of consent, just as the two American political tribes are today.

  25. JamesJoyce
    June 5, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    “A media organization like the Los Angeles Times should not contribute to the chilly climate by further reinforcing the idea that it is criminal to leak to the press.”

    Are they illiterate at the LA Times?

    “…shall not be abridged.”

    This is a policy of compliance! Here is the Single digit salute to the LA Times, neo-fascist opine…. “1”

  26. CloudyTheScribbler
    June 5, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    First, a cavil — I think it would be a good idea to clearly link to the (admittedly lousy) LA Times editorial in question (maybe there’s some legal problem I don’t know about). Looking at the original, the first thing that strikes the reader is that most of the editorial maintains the stance that the MSM understands to be popular with the majority of the public — namely, that Snowden deserves credit for the debate and the changes (however superficial, an issue not addressed in the LAT editorial) made in the current law; they note that all three branches of government have indeed found that the massive bulk spying on Americans he revealed to have been improper, at least implicitly (as in the case of Obama). This is particularly interesting and in the context of their call for prosecution, not a matter so much of confusing readers here as of the LA Times clearly trying to do a snow job on THEIR readers. This is a false flag of sympathy, something like those who cite Dr King in condemning instances of occasional violence in the recent protests against police murder impunity, as if they truly support the real Dr King at all, which clearly they don’t. There is something especially noxious about this “Good Job, Snowden, Now Come Home and Face Prosecution” meme, and it should be spelled out.

    I would hope that the NY Times has not and would not follow suit in this bait-and-switch attempt to appear reasonable and supportive while in fact overlooking the scope of the problems Snowden exposed. BTW, where is there the principle, often cited by those generally unwilling to do the ‘civil disobedience’ they insist be prosecuted themselves, that one should be ready and willing to stand trial and/or at least ‘pay the price’ (whatever the establishment wants) for exposing oppression?It would be interesting to know a geneology of this canarde, and whether actual authentic progressive leaders have ever embraced it.

    And notice the vagueness — facing the “consequences”. There isn’t even an assertion of due process of substance and form — of facing the statutorily mandated penalties after a real and complete trial. “Consequences” could be assassination, vigilanteism, and anything else the state elite deigns to cook up (and others launder).

    One particular which has been raised elsewhere (including by Daniel Ellsberg very forcefully) is that the notion that one is apt to get any justice out of this legal system is a sick joke. The LA Times doesn’t even address this well-known counterargument in its editorial, unsurprisingly. I notice that this editorial, for some reason, did NOT appear in the Real Clear Politics (rightward bent site) news of the day, although they did reference ANOTHER LA Times editorial today. I guess conservatives don’t find this particular argument a good expression of the argument, more phoning it in.

    I would also note that even with all the systematic condemnation of Snowden’s supposed excesses, the majority of the US public continues, in contrast to what the editorial suggests is proper, to view Snowden overall as whistleblower

    The LA Times apparently couldn’t find a more compelling concrete example than Snowden’s revelation of the spying on Medvedev at an international conference in 2009 as the kind of thing he should be prosecuted for — and it is a lousy example. I remember years ago coverage in detail in either TIME or NEWSWEEK at the time of the elaborate means used to spy on Gorbachev, including a special toilet that was to trap and salvage his output there for analysis. Also, the LA Times doesn’t even bother trying to show, concretely, how this or any other Snowden revelation seriously tends to hamper American security, instead merely repeating, as Kevin notes, general talking points already put out by the Pentagon. And where are the Pentagon’s concrete examples of harmful revelation here or in the Manning case? This is one of the key lacks in the current witch hunt for whistleblowers that contrasts, for example, with the often and powerfully criticized Rosenberg case. And although I don’t support the death penalty, and the case against Rosenberg’s wife was more than dubious, and there were other things wrong with the trial, at least there was a concrete case that Rosenberg (later verified in Kruschev’s memoirs) had in fact provided crucial sensitive information to a foe of the US. Even aside from the ‘journalist v spy’ argument, assuming that if Rosenberg had simply made the information public, it would also be criminal, that case unlike the modern ones points to some REAL rather than either presumed or analogous basis for nailing someone. The standards have become increasingly what I call “horseshiteous.”

    Another point about the LA Times going against its supposed “interests”, dovetailing with whether they are real ‘journalists’. Their journalism as is characteristic of the mainstream in practice, is journalism that “serves” the purpose of justifying the lying, whether overtly and clumsily or subtly. It is in an at least informal sense REQUIRED to do so to be considered “professional”. And it is certainly in the “interest” of these MSM institutions, including the NY Times, to soft pedal or at least bury on the back pages somewhere anything that trenchantly goes against the current ‘program’. I remember that after the whole country was riveted to a pseudoscandal originally raised by AM Rosenthal in a New York Times column, about a particularly rabid speech by oriole ultranationalist Khalid Abdul Muhammad on Nov 29 1993 (first nationally reported months later by Rosenthal). When after huge quantities of ballyhoo, and both Congresses unanimously passing a resolution pointing to this affaire that simply condemned antiSemitism, the NY Times rightly noted, in a passing phrase in an editorial, that Congress had passed a measure “condemning Farrakhan” without any further commentary or ballyhoo on that side of the (attainder) issue. So there is little doubt that journalists and newspapers know where their ‘interests’ lie and it isn’t with the truth. But the supposed mission of journalist is to bring out all views — yes very muich including those of “activists” freely before the public, to have issues thrashed out in an unfettered and public manner. That is the Jefferson vision of journalism and it is THAT vision that the LA Times and other media who call for Snowden’s prosecution betray.

  27. JamesJoyce
    June 5, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Seems we have some inconstancy here?

    It is a sign of fascist behavior, unequal protection under the law. Greed and lust have nothing to do with honesty and patriotism. Greed and lust have everything to do with “the acquisition of power” and the “disastrous rise of misplaced power???”

    I believe Ike was warning US of Cheney, et als…

    Ike is right. LA Times is Dead Wrong…

  28. CloudyTheScribbler
    June 5, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Where is the link to the LA Times editorial? I still can’t find it, only to an article quoted from 2013. I agree that the linx should be in a bright color and here, the link to the editorial should be in the opening sentence, possibly where the word “editorial” appears. Here’s the link:

  29. Rational
    June 5, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    I may be misreading you or you I but it appears as though there is a misunderstanding.
    Snowden operated out of Patriotism
    Petraus operated driven by greed and lust.

  30. dick_c
    June 5, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    The “society of laws” argument got a laugh out of me, too. Since I’m not at all near LA, I don’t follow their positions much, but I’ll bet they’ve been pretty mum regarding prosecutions for torture, bank fraud, or anything that powerful people find profitable.

  31. Atomsk
    June 5, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Mltoday, BAR, counterpunch, even wsws etc 🙂 wikileaks of course too

  32. Edgar
    June 5, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    You’re right. It wasn’t there. I only found the 2013 link.

  33. June 5, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Pressitute rag

  34. June 5, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Because Pres. Peace Prize is a sore loser. He unleashes his “lame stream media” to make sure Snowden doesn’t get to say, “in yo’ face: after we swapped the Patriot Act for the Freedom Act.

  35. Screwtape
    June 5, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    I don’t think the PTB actually want a trial at this point. It wouldn’t recover anything that got out, and which has been revealed already or may be in the future. I understand Snowden isn’t the only one in control of the bulk.

    Instead, a trial would revisit everything on the front pages for a long time to come.

    In practice, though, our officials would be expected to demand Snowden’s return to the US to be prosecuted — it’s a necessary US stance for the benefit of embarrassed allies, maybe not more than that.

  36. dubinsky
    June 5, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    leniency and plenty of it is fitting…..
    and perhaps a pardon down the road

  37. dubinsky
    June 5, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    a pardon in advance is circumventing due process, is it not?

  38. dubinsky
    June 5, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    there’s nary a thing fascistic about the opinion and you’re being emotional rather than anything else.

  39. dubinsky
    June 5, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    not a good argument, kevin.

    “Jimmy did something worse and he didn’t get punished, so you can’t punish me”

    just doesn’t do it.

  40. Hugh
    June 6, 2015 at 12:04 am

    The MSM does not do journalism. It does propaganda and infotainment to distract us, and distraction is the primary weapon of the class war which is being waged against us. So when the Versailles, courtier, lapdog (choose your descriptive) press does the bidding of the powers that be, our ruling classes of the elites and rich, and turns journalism on its head blaming Snowden for enabling real journalism, it should come as a surprise to no one. It is just another among thousands of instances that Upton Sinclair described so well: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

    I should say too that civil disobedience only works if the system within which it occurs is legitimate. In our two tiered justice system, the LA Times invitation to Snowden to return to face our kangaroo courts is not high minded but deeply cynical.

  41. Hugh
    June 6, 2015 at 12:07 am

    Amnesties are part of the pardoning power and do not require any action or admission on the part of their recipients. So no, no circumvention of due process.

  42. CloudyTheScribbler
    June 6, 2015 at 12:20 am

    in addition to Hugh’s points, remember that no one is to be DEPRIVED of their rights without “due process of law”. This is different in principle from exonerating or permitting someone to do something — except insofar as you allege that such allowance is interfering with someone else’s rights. And I am unaware of any “right” to spy on the part of anybody

  43. dubinsky
    June 6, 2015 at 12:35 am

    if there’s no right to spy….is there a right to steal and reveal information gained upon promise not to reveal same?

  44. dubinsky
    June 6, 2015 at 12:37 am

    so you’re saying that by not having Snowden face trial or even admit to his actions…..there’s no circumvention.

    I understand what you mean.

    perhaps something or other is being circumvented

  45. CloudyTheScribbler
    June 6, 2015 at 2:10 am

    no I think the point is that what Snowden did was to expose a massive assault on the Fourth Amendment, while the banksters were basically just dangerous thieves. The latter were of and for the ruling class so got off scott free while Snowden, a true hero of democracy, is said by supposed Democrats and liberals to need to face inevitably stacked against him prosecution

  46. CloudyTheScribbler
    June 6, 2015 at 2:13 am

    when that information is about grossly illegal and improper conduct it’s whistleblowing, and when reporters use that information it’s called the proper function of a free press. Our society has drifted so far over the years from a real democratic pluralist and free society that even its normal functioning, let alone special allowance for dire conditions that need to be corrected, even if something outside the box is necessary, seems to many like misconduct — an impression systematically promoted by the MSM

  47. dubinsky
    June 6, 2015 at 2:19 am

    I think that we owe Snowden a debt of gratitude for the stuff about the NSA collection of information of Americans and for the FISA courts … but some of the other stuff that he released was not beneficial to the people of the uS…. and that’s my difficulty with granting him an immediate pardon…. it’s not quite justifiable, even if it’s emotionally appealing.

    as to the deck being stacked against him in a court of law…… in fairness, Snowden is undeniably guilty of the charges. the only reason to raise that crud about a stacked deck is that there is no real defense for him…. hell, ask him and he’ll tell you that he did just what he’s charged with doing.

  48. dubinsky
    June 6, 2015 at 2:55 am

    but it wasn’t all about grossly illegal and improper conduct, Cloudy…..

    he released some that was and some that was not……he sent stuff to Greenwald that Greenwald wanted to publish in The Guardian and had written up ….but other folks at the paper pointed out to Greenwald that the information was so specific as to jeopardize the lives of intelligence service field operatives.
    to his credit, when Greenwald understood this, his withdrew the info from his story.

    that sort of leak from Snowden is not easily excusable

  49. CloudyTheScribbler
    June 6, 2015 at 3:48 am

    this was also true about Daniel Ellsberg, who “did it”, but managed to be cleared in the courts on First Amendment grounds. But as Ellsberg himself has emphasized, in response to Obama specifically trying to distinguish Ellsberg from Manning and Snowden, there is little opportunity to even make the case on the issues to a jury — that is one of the ways that the courts are stacked against whistleblowers. Kevin over the years has written pretty extensively on a lot of these issues, covering at least some of the points I made in the long comment as well as here

    is there any likelihood that an honestly selected jury freely allowed by the judge to debate the general First Amendment justifications for Snowden would unanimously vote to convict:? I think not. But is there any chance the system will allow that sort of democratic use of the jury system to stymie the establishment on an important issue? Not until Hell freezes over

  50. CloudyTheScribbler
    June 6, 2015 at 3:56 am

    this is the main argument used by the LA Times against Snowden (and the Times at least about Manning) and Kevin has made some points about that and so have I, but again I point to the example of the Pentagon Papers and Daniel Ellsberg. Most mainstream liberals and neoliberals, including Obama, claim or pretend to support what Daniel Ellsberg did and then try to distinguish it from Manning and Snowden. And on this point, it would be impossible to go through the Pentagon papers and argue that every single point in it was about grossly illegal and improper conduct (except that the whole war was — as is much of the so-called “war on terrorism”). But Ellsberg does not oblige these liberals and neoliberals and specifically and strongly supports Snowden, including Snowden’s decision not to face the travesty of what passes for justice in this country in recent decades, as in general.

    On the issue of jeopardizing the lives of intelligence service operatives — so far there has not been ONE specific cited instance of ANYONE who has been harmed by the revelations of either Snowden or Manning. If we placed the burden of proof for harm on the state, and put things before the kind of honest jury free to debate the issues and balance the pro and con sides, and needing to come to a consensus to convict, that would be one thing. But that is not how the legal system works for whistleblowers — the idea of that kind of a trial in the US today is a pipe dream at best,

  51. dubinsky
    June 6, 2015 at 4:06 am

    there is no First Amendment right to lie and steal…. and there is no legal defense on that ground.

    you’re trying to make an ethical argument into a legal one…..and that is rarely availing.

    your line of argument is more an argument for leniency than a defense at law.

  52. dubinsky
    June 6, 2015 at 4:13 am

    Ellsburg wasn’t tried….and it’s probably a good thing for him that he wa not.

    as to the argument that his “good” leaks are cause to dismiss the others…… that’s real thin on ethical grounds and useless as a legal defense.

    ” On the issue of jeopardizing the lives of intelligence service operatives”

    as I quite clearly wrote, no one was endangered because The Guardian chose not to print all of the stuff that Snowden gave to Greenwald….

    and that it wasn’t printed was only due to the discretion of the journalists…… and that’s something that Snowden can not be excused for leaking.

    there is no justification on any grounds for that. it was simply wrong… and that crap can not be called “whistle-blowing” it’s simply criminal conduct and ethically repugnant.

  53. CloudyTheScribbler
    June 6, 2015 at 6:01 am

    remember I am talking about taking the case before a jury, and the question becomes the complex and delicate one of just what kinds of arguments can be made the the jury. in the case of Snowden, there’s no doubt the judges will be as broad as possible in defining the offenses and as narrow as possible in defending leakers, especially in the absence of adequate legislation to protect leakers. So the kinds of “ethical not legal” arguments that could sway at least some jurors (probably not you) couldn’t be made. Remember that in cases of leaking issues to the press, not everyone has as strong a moral apprehension against Snowden as you appear to have, despite (like the LA Times) protestations about ‘debt of gratitude’ or whatever. again, I think that it would be difficult to get an honest jury free to consider all the issues to unanimously convict, as the law requires, and it would be impossible to get that kind of trial, a fair one, in the US today

  54. CloudyTheScribbler
    June 6, 2015 at 6:22 am

    yes, Ellsberg wasn’t tried as the case against him was dismissed on legal grounds (including governmental misconduct). The separation of “good” leaks and bad ones is one that you and the LA Times make. To me and I think many and perhaps most Americans, this whole program, about which Clapper lied to Congress and was never held accountable for it (nor do I see those like you and the LA Times baying for him to be prosecuted) was a pattern of illegal and improper conduct which it is important for the public to fully understand. That was implicit in my point about the Pentagon Papers. Incidentally, Obama specifically claimed to be sympathetic to Ellsberg, including presumably his exoneration. Are you? I get the sense that you find figures like Manning, Snowden AND Ellsberg all “ethically repugnant” especially the latter two, as most Repugs do. But remember that the Founding Fathers established a system that among other things, required both proper government conduct AND a jury conviction, which if allowed to proceed freely, is hard to get to convict people like Snowden. Again, Obama, the LA Times, you and many others clearly despise Snowden overall and would all vote to convict. Me and many many others regard him as a hero and would disagree. A jury made up of a cross section of the public then, would produce a hung jury, would it not, except as courts are able to manipulate outcomes (as in having only jurors willing to impose the death penalty in a City where the overwhelming majority oppose it in principle and over two thirds opposed it in the Tsarnaev case)? As I said, every step of the process is corrupted and manipulated to produce the outcome that the state elite want, and that’s when they even have an open trial — which authentic progressives rarely get, mostly facing underground repression (another issue at least somewhat related)

    As for the ‘dangerous’ leaks, I think that Wikileaks has published fairly complete versions of at least much of the stuff (some has still I gather not been released — all was provided before Snowden took refuge in Russia).

    Snowden chose only the most responsible of journalists, like the NY Times and the Guardian, to handle the info, and the results have been an overall major positive with little downside if any. Many like you are just itching to see him punished, seeing that as “justice”. That opinion is your right. But if it takes a consensus to convict, and at least a plurality consider him a hero, the jury system has to be manipulated, as it would be, bigtime, to get a conviction. Another “ethical” argument that might sway a civil jury, in this as in Manning’s case is that, like Ellsberg, the information released, in addition to giving an understanding not only of specific illegal and immoral practices of enormous proportion, ALSO in their totality give the public and especially intellectuals over time a much better understanding of just what our government is up to. This larger “ethical” concern is also important for democracy, and as I said, if the burden of proof is on the state to show, where massive misconduct has indeed been revealed, some tangible harm and not just the kind of general blather, including “bringing discredit on the military” and such, or broad brush talking points about irresponsible conduct and endangering national interests — it would be difficult to get an honest jury to convict, tho impossible to get that honest jury

  55. June 6, 2015 at 7:03 am

    I think the reason is because there has been a “growing discussion” regarding the espionage apparatus in use by the US alphabet soup agencies…and Edward Snowden’s name has been appearing as a reason why more Americans have been apprehensive about allowing unwarranted spying and mass data collection.

    This is a hit and smear piece, in which the reputation of the masthead is supposed to be the means to sway the reader into changing their viewpoint against their target, often without critical review. But it has to look as if this comes independently, from the bottom up (And not like a passed out astroturf piece).

  56. JamesJoyce
    June 6, 2015 at 7:19 am


  57. kgosztola
    June 6, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for the comment. We can change it so the links do not camouflage with the rest of the text.

  58. kgosztola
    June 6, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Do recognize that I make no such argument in my post and opted for another entirely different argument to critique the LA Times. As for the “look forward, not backward” comment, I was just replying to the essence of joel’s comment.

  59. kgosztola
    June 6, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Media outlets that come closer to representing your viewpoint = journalists.

    Media outlets that stray farther and farther away from representing your viewpoint = propagandists

    Is that how this works for you?

  60. June 6, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    That’s immature of you, and appears to me that you may be – not unlike John Kerry vs. RT – projecting, Kevin.

  61. Atomsk
    June 6, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Argue with this instead of strawmen.

    And you yourself admitted that they may “use their power to serve the elites”, which does make them propagandists. You can go on calling them “journalists” of course, but that will have consequences (eg. if people who serve power through creating propaganda are also “journalists”, any claim that says journalism supports democracy will become debatable and easily shown to be false).

  62. dubinsky
    June 6, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    you don’t really seem to understand my feelings about Snowden,,,,,which are distinct from m reasoning about his leaks,,,,,,, I REALLY am sympathetic.

    I also don’t consider Snowden to be in the same category as Manning,,,,,Snowden is clearly a cut above in acting out of a mature consideration rather than acting as Manning did.

  63. dubinsky
    June 6, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    of course you are. but it’s OK

    you’re good enough, you’re smart enough and doggone it, people like you like you.

  64. dubinsky
    June 6, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    I certainly recognize that it was the comment, not the post, to which I was replying, kevin.

  65. bsbafflesbrains
    June 6, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Agree. M$M “journalists” are putatively in the category Journalists like plastic Xmas trees are in the category of trees. P.s. GG just tweeted about this and put quotes around “Journalists” at LAT

  66. JamesJoyce
    June 6, 2015 at 4:13 pm


  67. peacelover2345
    June 6, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    I don’t understand the reference you included “while the banksters were basically just dangerous thieves. Please explain what you mean and the relevance it has to Snowden’s leaking information.

  68. peacelover2345
    June 6, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    It is my understanding that will be charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, for which “motive ” is not relevant and cannot get him off.

    However, I would like him to propose a willingness to be tried by the US, but with him testifying from abroad by video link. THAT would expose the governments machinations, and may even result in a groundswell of support, forcing the government to pardon him.

  69. peacelover2345
    June 6, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    See my reply to Dubinsky, above, in which I recommend that Snowden propose a willingness to be tried by the US, but with him testifying from abroad by video link. THAT would expose the governments machinations, and may even result in a groundswell of support, forcing the government to pardon him. As you imply, perhaps a jury, in such a situation, would acquit, or become a “hung jury”.

    I do not believe the Government would relish that sort of publicity.

  70. dubinsky
    June 6, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    the criminal complaint against Snowden has already been filed…..

    it can, of course, be amended

  71. peacelover2345
    June 6, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    As I said above, it would be interesting if he were to AGREE to be tried under the conditions I described.

  72. dubinsky
    June 6, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    your conditions are sorta idiotic and your conclusion not as good

  73. peacelover2345
    June 6, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Thank you for your vote of confidence,

    Seriously, if given enough publicity, such an offer by Snowden could end up receiving a public petition, with a groundswell demand that the facts come out in such a public way.

  74. dubinsky
    June 6, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    it’s an offer that’s ludicrous and what correctly be rejected…and no sane adult would treat such a rejection as revealing a damn thing.

    I hope that you’re really enjoying whatever substance you’re using tonight.

    enjoy the rest of your Saturday.

  75. CloudyTheScribbler
    June 6, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    it refers to previous discussion on the thread, including the original comment (which actually mainly dealt with war crimes) and two comments by Kevin. In retrospect, I might have also been thinking about a reference I read elsewhere making the precise comparison I made. The relevance of both war and economic crimes is that these really harm people and don’t get prosecuted, because they don’t harm/offend the ruling class, while Snowden on the other hand did much good and no discernible harm other than for lots of high-placed individuals to have MUCHO egg all over their face. Clapper obviously perjured himself to Congress and not even any move to prosecute him has taken place

    Those who justify their total pile of garbage approach in the rotund name of the law like to appeal to the idea of law as a set of societywide, democratically set precepts that all must equally follow, but the “law” is really about not doing anything to offend an upper stratum who are above the law and to whom owing one’s fealty IS the substance of the so-called “law”

  76. Ron Citizen
    June 7, 2015 at 1:12 am

    “When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government.” – N.Y. TIMES

  77. Ron Citizen
    June 7, 2015 at 1:16 am

    It’s worth noting here that the best reason that anyone could have for really having it out for Edward Snowden, for wishing him ill, is that his leaks have weakened the U.S. government’s ability to prevent terrorist attacks on civilians.

    But, it really must be remembered, the NSA and related agencies have not been able to come up with a shred of evidence that any of their unconventional methods (the dragnet surveillance and the overreaching snooping which have been approved largely by secret court decisions since 9/11, or which haven’t been legally approved at all) have been of any use at stopping terrorist attacks.

    Indeed, morality and legality aside, how can an agency which pays hundreds of employees to play World of Warcraft and Second Life – because terrorists could, in principle, communicate through them, possibly correctly determine the very small chance that some particular communication is terrorist plotting? It’s a scam…..for-profit anti-terrorist funding……sucking the big, fat anti-terrorism welfare tit….pimping the anti-terrorism lies………

  78. Ron Citizen
    June 7, 2015 at 1:28 am

    U.S. spying/eavesdropping doesn’t protect America; no, the threat of nuclear annihilation is what protects America; NSA whistleblowers have spoken about well-connected individuals directing NSA employees to “get the dirt on,” (blackmail) their enemies. If spying was outlawed tomorrow morning, how many government employees would be unemployed? Therein lies the problem. They been sucking this spy vs. spy tit since the Cold War.

  79. Atomsk
    June 8, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Actually, your difficulty with granting him an immediate pardon stems mostly from being an ignorant imperialist pigdog, who brings up Pol Pot any time they can but conveniently forgets the role of the USA in putting him in power; who mocks North Korea but forgets the role of the USA in the Korean conflict; who brings up Venezuela but forgets the US sponsored coup and constant economic pressure; who ignores explicitly admitted US mass murders (eg. the 500’000 child victims of Clinton policies) and ignores when they’re pointed out to them; who relishes in demonising Puting but uses every instrument of rationalisation to avoid his own country’s responsibility; who reliably forgets and/or misinterprets *every single imperialist USAn action* to mean something else to what it *obviously* means to the rest of the world. That’s all. You’re a typical American who, despite their ideologised ignorance believes their country has a right to govern the world. That’s what Snowden endangered, nothing else.

  80. dubinsky
    June 8, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    actually, I’m not all that ignorant and you’re not all that much not sophomoric and a nattering nasshole.

  81. Atomsk
    June 8, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Sorry, you are right, I didn’t use it accurately. I meant you were intentionally disregarding historical facts and processes to support your own point of view and I listed a few examples. That’s definitely not ignorance, it’s lying and not having intellectual integrity.

  82. kgosztola
    June 8, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    No because I think RT qualifies as media and all their employees deserve protections of journalists even when they produce blatant Russian state propaganda.

    It’s the same for CNN. All who report on the news are journalists even if they are spreading Pentagon propaganda.

  83. June 8, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    “…even when they produce blatant Russian state propaganda.”

    Really? Care to compare notes on the subject at hand, or any other for that matter, perhaps?

    What I see at RT – and there is also some propaganda, to be sure – is the sort of “journalism” which you attempt to practice; the questioning and denueing of the corporate MSM’s, and elite establishment’s, neoliberal/neocon power narratives.