Dissident whistleblower/leaker Edward Snowden has some choice comments about US hacking. He told the South China Morning Post that there had been “more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and on the mainland.”
But his direct quotes are more striking.
“We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he said.
“Last week the American government happily operated in the shadows with no respect for the consent of the governed, but no longer. Every level of society is demanding accountability and oversight.”
Snowden said he was releasing the information to demonstrate “the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries”.
Yes, Ed but the question is: does the US government hack the latest model of Lenovo computer and hand it over to HP? Is the US government hacking the latest jet fighter made in China and giving the plans to Northrop for Northrop to copy and bootleg? That is the question. Is the NSA finding out how much the Chinese are paying for rare-earth materials and giving the pricing information to Apple?
The most revealing quote, I think, is this:
Asked if he had been offered asylum by the Russian government, he said: “My only comment is that I am glad there are governments that refuse to be intimidated by great power”
Snowden must have been really busy at work at the NSA. So busy in fact, that he didn’t have time to check in how the freedom of expression and privacy were faring for the people of Russia and in China. It just rings false, really false.
But it also rings delusional. Snowden, like Assange, seems to view the US government as “Matrix.” (I mean that, as in the movie, Matrix.) “Prism” is an ironic word. And both Snowden and Assange can only do this, if there were some level of openness and publicity to them.
Everything else falls into place. The great-half-seen conspiracy, with the supremacy of the individual at the center, and the justification for any act that unmasks the system.
So, ironically, for the openness and accountability the US system does afford, it is treated as a global conspiracy. This is certainly true with Assange. This tweet keeps coming to mind:
Who does and who does not offer #Snowden asylum over the next week will reveal which countries are truly independent from US power.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 10, 2013
That is, there is simply no other factor or criterion in assessing a country’s relationship with the US. Not trade, not human rights, not history. Only one thing: the Wikileaks issue. Prism, indeed.
With Snowden, however, his motives might be a lot more old-fashioned.