Edward Snowden’s Catch-22: a Pando meta media mashup

By Adam L. Penenberg , written on June 16, 2013

From The News Desk

Lots, lots, has been written about Edward Snowden, who leaked information that had been classified "top secret" detailing US surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency. It's been all over the news, on TV, radio, in newspapers, online and raining down on the blogosphere. So we sifted through all that opinion so you don’t have to, to bring you a curated mash up of the great Snowden/NSA debate, every sentence taken from someone else. It’s the ultimate hyperlinked aggregation, a veritable clickapalooza, a teeming mass of hyperlink madness.

There has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Like the OJ Simpson trial almost twenty years ago, there are some public events which not only divide people but divide you against people you didn’t expect to be divided against.

Snowden's actions have united some strange bedfellows. Conservative television host Glenn Beck and filmmaker Michael Moore don’t often agree on much, but after Edward Snowden revealed himself to be the National Security Agency contractor who leaked information about government monitoring, they both took to Twitter to praise the 29-year-old, calling him a “hero.” Rush Limbaugh called him “profoundly articulate and extremely thoughtful.” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called whistleblower Edward Snowden "a hero to all humanity."

Since Edward Snowden came forward to identify himself as the leaker of the National Security Agency spying programs, the D.C. mandarins have been working overtime to discredit the man many view as a hero. The Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Republican Speaker of the House don’t agree on large number of issues, but they both have the same assessment of NSA leaker Edward Snowden — that he is a traitor. "I don't look at this as being a whistle-blower. I think it's an act of treason," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) didn't mince words Tuesday when offering his assessment. “He's a traitor,” the highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives said. “The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk. It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are. And it’s a giant violation of the law.”

“Proudly liberal” Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says NSA leaker Edward Snowden should be prosecuted. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), recognized by the American Conservative Union (ACU) for his conservative voting record: “I hope we follow Mr. Snowden to the ends of the Earth to bring him to justice.” Senator Mitch McConnell agrees: “What’s difficult to understand is the motivation of somebody who intentionally would seek to warn the nation’s enemies of lawful programs created to protect the American people. And I hope that he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, claims Snowden “was lying. He clearly has over-inflated his position, he has over-inflated his access and he's even over-inflated what the actually technology of the programs would allow one to do. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do."

“I hope that we don't decide that our national security interests are going to be determined by a high-school dropout who had a whole series of both academic troubles and employment troubles.”

U.S. intelligence officials on the trail of rogue contractor Edward Snowden are now treating the National Security Agency leak case as a possible foreign espionage matter, raising fears that the 29-year-old computer whiz may be attempting to defect to China with a trove of America's most sensitive secrets. Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said . . . he’s worried the U.S. government will assassinate . . . Snowden.

“I’m worried about somebody in our government might kill him with a cruise missile or a drone missile,” Paul said on the Fox Business Network. “I mean, we live in a bad time where American citizens don’t even have rights, and that they can be killed, but the gentlemen is trying to tell the truth about what’s going on.”

The Daily Show host John Oliver on Wednesday night mocked the media’s shallow and tabloid-esque coverage of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Rather than discuss the legal and ethical ramifications of leaking classified information, many outlets decided to zero in on trite personal information, such as Snowden’s educational history. The media also took an interest in Snowden’s pole-dancing bohemian girlfriend, causing Oliver to reluctantly remark, “I’d never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I am not interested in any pole-dancing YouTube channels right now.”

Pundits attack: Ralph Peters, a retired U.S. Army officer and New York Post columnist, has made several derisive references to Snowden’s dropout status, calling him, among other things, a “spoiled-brat, dropout Benedict Arnold” who deserves to be executed. “The impossibly self-important NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, who ‘exposed’ two vital intelligence programs, isn’t a leftie Paul Revere. He’s Kim Kardashian with stubble. This spoiled-brat, dropout Benedict Arnold claims he was pulling down a $200,000 salary for his NSA contract work . . . [he’s a] fame-hungry traitor.” Joe Scarborough calls . . . Snowden “a weasel.” He’s “a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison,” “the dousche that leaked,” “the slacker who came in from the cold,” “an arrogant, misguided egomaniac. And he’s no different than Bradley Manning, the soldier who gave away secrets to Julian Assange, for them to be publicized to the world.” “Some Americans may lionize Snowden, but there are terrorists who surely do.” Could [he] be a Chinese spy?

NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s online presence reveals silly, nerdy, horny side of computer whiz. [He] fancied himself a ladies’ man who liked to roll over to Krispy Kreme doughnuts after sex, long before he gave up everything to release top-secret information on US phone records surveillance. And there is the real conundrum. A computer nerd, a member of a networked generation that lives and socializes and organizes itself publicly online, is obsessed with privacy. Like "leaked secrets," "Internet privacy" is not an oxymoron to Snowden.

Devotees of the novel Catch-22 will remember the character Snowden as the mortally wounded airmen who quite literally spilled his guts across the floor of Yossarian’s aircraft, thereby permanently altering the protagonist’s view of the war effort. When the present Snowden spilled his guts in a slightly less dramatic fashion, he precipitated a firestorm of public debate.

“I'm neither traitor nor hero. I'm an American,” the 29-year-old former defense contractor said.


1. "Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America," by Daniel Elsberg, The Guardian, Jun. 10, 2013.

2. “The Snowden Prism,” by Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo, Jun. 11, 2013.

3. “NSA leaker ignites global debate: hero or traitor?” by Ashley Fantz, CNN, Jun. 10, 2013.

4. “Glenn Beck, Michael Moore call Edward Snowden a hero,” by Hadas Gold, Politico, Jun. 10, 2013.

5. “Spying As They Like It,” by Michael Moynihan, The Daily Beast, Jun. 12, 2013.

6. “Assange: Snowden ‘a hero to all humanity,’” Xinhua, Jun. 13, 2013.

7. “The Sickening Snowden Backlash,” by Kirsten Powers, The Daily Beast, Jun. 14, 2013.

8. “Boehner, Feinstein: Snowden’s a traitor,” by Ed Morrisey, Hot Air, Jun. 11, 2013.

9. “Edward Snowden, hero or traitor? NSA leaker divides political world in sometimes-unpredictable ways,” by Adam Edelman, New York Daily News, Jun. 11, 2013.

10. “Boehner On Snowden: ‘He’s A Traitor,’” by Tom Kludt, Talking Points Memo, Jun. 11, 2013.

11. “Boehner: NSA Leaker a ‘Traitor,” by Abby D. Phillip, ABC News, Jun. 11, 2013.

12. “Boehner: Snowden a ‘Traitor’ Who ‘Put America at Risk,’” Newsmax, Jun. 11, 2013.

13. “Nancy Pelosi – ‘I'm proudly liberal,’” by Richard McGregor, Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2013.

14. Twitter: @NancyPelosi

15. “Nancy Pelosi Says NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Should Be Prosecuted,” by Michael McAuliff, Huffington Post, Jun. 13, 2013.

16. “Immigration Reform Q&A with Senator Lindsey Graham,” by Jay Newton-Small, Time, Jun. 11, 2013.

17. “Graham Named ‘ACU Conservative,’” Sen. Graham press release, Mar. 1, 2013.

18. “22 Nauseating Quotes From Hypocritical Establishment Politicians About The NSA Spying Scandal,” Secrets of the Fed, undated.

19. “Senator Mitch McConnell Agrees That ‘Corporations Are People, Too,’” by Lee Fang, Republic Report, Jun. 18, 2012.

20. “22 Nauseating Quotes From Hypocritical Establishment Politicians About The NSA Spying Scandal,” Secrets of the Fed, undated.

21. “NSA leaker Snowden is lying, say leaders of House Intelligence Committee,” by Mike Lillis, The Hill, Jun. 13, 2013.

22. “’High-School Dropout Snowden Is Lying,’ Chairman Of House Intelligence Committee Claims,” by Tyler Durden, Day Asset, Jun. 13, 2013.

23. “U.S. Fears Edward Snowden May Defect to China: Sources,” by James Gordon Meek, Matthew Mosk, and Shushannah Walshe, ABC News, Jun. 13, 2013.

24. “Ron Paul warns US government may assassinate NSA leaker Snowden,” by Jonathan Easley, The Hill, Jun. 11, 2013.

25. “‘Oh, for f*ck’s sake!’ John Oliver lampoons media’s coverage of Edward Snowden,” by Eric W. Dolan, The Raw Story, Jun. 13, 2013.

26. “Attacks on Edward Snowden,” Fair TV, Jun. 14, 2013.

27. “Edward Snowden, model dropout,” by Reihan Salam, Reuters, Jun. 14, 2013.

28. “Making treason cool,” by Ralph Peters, New York Post, Jun. 11, 2013.

29. “Joe Scarborough Calls Edward Snowden A ‘Weasel,’ And Mika Brzezinski Blasts Glenn Greenwald As ‘Misleading,’” by Brett Logiurato, Business Insider, Jun. 12, 2013.

30. “Edward Snowden is no hero,” by Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker (blog), Jun. 10, 2013.

31. “Edward Snowden: The Dousche That Leaked,” by Writtinstone, The Word Chisel, Jun. 11, 2013.

32. “Edward Snowden: The slacker who came in from the cold,” by Roger Simon, Politico, Jun. 11, 2013.

33. “Snowden No Hero – Should Be Prosecuted Like Manning; Partisan Hypocrites: Despite Denials, Limbaugh Others Supported More Invasive Bush NSA Wiretapping,” by Debbie Schlussel, personal blog, Jun. 11, 2013.

34. “Edward Snowden broke the law: Opposing view,” by Steven Bucci, USA Today, June 10, 2013.

35. “Could Snowden Be a Chinese Spy?” by Matthew Guariglia, Heavy, Jun. 15, 2013.

36. “NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s online presence reveals silly, nerdy, horny side of computer whiz,” by Stephen Rex Brown, New York Daily News, Jun. 13, 2013.

37. “Edward Snowden's Strange Quest for Internet Privacy,” by Francis Wilkinson, Bloomberg, Jun. 10, 2013.

38. “Blind fear: Combating terror with eyes wide shut,” by M.W. Guzy, St. Louis Beacon, Jun. 13, 2013.

39. “NSA leaker Snowden tells newspaper: ‘I'm neither traitor nor hero,’” by Justin Sink, The Hill, Jun. 12, 2013.