Snowden’s timing

I am agnostic about whether Snowden is a libertarian martyr patriot or a rogue under the spell of a foreign government. It’s not clear and it may never be clear, although watching the reaction to his leaks, you can’t help but wonder if he’s playing to a domestic or foreign audience.

However, since Snowden was based in Hawaii, it brought this story to mind the story of Benjamin Pierce Bishop from March.

A defense contractor and former U.S. Army officer has been charged with communicating national defense secrets to a 27-year-old Chinese national with whom he had a romantic relationship.

This honey trap case is why there was such interest in whether Snowden’s girlfriend was a foreign national. Could investigators in Hawaii, looking for more Benjamin Pierce Bishops in the ranks of the security operations there, have caused Snowden to make his move? 

Is Edward Snowden the first US defector of the new US-China Cold War?

A couple thoughts on the Edward Snowden NSA leaker story

1) Snowden is the first celebrity of the China-US online espionage era, if not the first high-profile US defector

2) Watching the video, I’m very interested in what Snowden said in response to the questions about why he would go to Hong Kong. Very interesting indeed that he dismissed the assertion that China and US are “enemies.”

There are conflicts between the United States government and the Chinese PRC government. but the people’s inherently, we don’t care. We trade with each other freely. We’re not at war. We’re not in armed conflict and we’re not trying to be.
We’re the largest trading partners out there for each other.

Even cyber-bystanders these days acknowledge the online Cold War that has broken out between China and the US but Snowden, who has a background in computers and intelligence, doesn’t think so. I guess his action can be seen as a message of peace. It really does bring to mind the role of the anti-nuke movements in the West during the Old Cold War, were the Soviet Union used calls for “peace” as a way to make the West defend its nuclear weapons programs.

3) Watching the #istandwithedwardsnowden hashtag take off on Twitter and calls for rallies in Snowden’s defense, its like the UK and Germany during the CND days.

4) The timing of his disclosure, around the summit between US president Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping, in which cybersecurity figures prominently, has not gone unnoticed by others. If Snowden is a defector (he himself described his move as “leaving it all behind” his high-profile defection coming amid the US-China summit talk would frankly be consistent with the penchant for surprise used in Chinese diplomacy and defense matters.

5) Did the Guardian choose to leak this during the Obama-Xi summit, or was the timing of the release of the news determined by Snowden? And if was by Snowden, what was driving his timing? I will be interested to see if any light is shed on this.

6) Because nothing is black and white, the issues he raises about the risks of a US surveillence state are, of course, worth consideration. What kind of controls were in place? What kind of checks and balances? The Washington Post articles suggest congress has been briefed and there is oversight.

Although Snowden says the NSA is lying to Congress: this, of course, is definitely worth an investigation.

7) Who is Snowden’s girlfriend? Is she American?

8) What is Chinese media saying? I had a glance an hour ago and saw nothing. That doesn’t mean this is a Chinese plot. There could be wariness in how to cover it. At the same time, there has to be some mention eventually and then some description of it. I’ll be curious to see how Snowden’s actions are portrayed.