Snowden's 'Proper Whistleblowing Channel' Finally Speaks And It's All Talking Points, Condescension And Smears

from the those-famous-'whistleblower-protections'-in-action dept

Well, it seems like we’ve heard an opinion on Ed Snowden from nearly everyone in the intelligence community, barring the rank-and-file. (Of course, we’ve been assured by “unnamed sources” and various named officials that they’re all extremely irate that they’ve been portrayed as the collective eyeball staring through the national peephole. Curiously, we’ve been offered no proxy opinion on the multiple abuse incidents…)

Finally, the Inspector General of the NSA has weighed in on the Snowden situation, and his comments are indistinguishable from any other die-hard NSA defender’s.

During a day-long conference at the Georgetown University Law Center, Dr. George Ellard, the inspector general for the National Security Agency, spoke for the first time about the disclosures made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In addressing the alleged damage caused by Snowden’s disclosures he compared Snowden to Robert Hanssen, a former FBI agent and convicted spy who sold secrets to the Russians.

It seems impossible for anyone connected with the national security framework to even acknowledge that Snowden’s intentions might be exactly what he’s repeatedly stated they are: to inform the public about the NSA’s pervasive surveillance efforts. He’s never compared to other whistleblowers. Instead, the NSA Defense Squad compares him to infamous spies. To his credit, Ellard admits the only real comparison between the two is the large number of documents taken.

But then Ellard adds this, which not only plays up the Snowden=spy equivalent, but also exposes a bit more of the national security mindset.

“Hanssen’s motives were venal, for cash perhaps or perhaps they were psychological, a desire to play a very, very dangerous game that is therefore very, very exciting. At the end of his career, Hanssen had almost 30 years in intelligence and counterintelligence. He knew exactly what was of value to his spy handlers and he was very specific in choosing documents to steal. He knew how to control his handlers better than they knew how to control him.”

Snowden, in contrast, was manic in his thievery, which was exponentially larger than Hanssen’s. Hanssen’s theft was in a sense finite whereas Snowden is open-ended, as his agents decide daily which documents to disclose. Snowden had no background in intelligence and is likely unaware of the significance of the documents he stole,” Ellard suggested.

It is quite possible that Snowden grabbed a bunch of documents without vetting them for “public interest,” but to call his search efforts “manic” is just a cheap way to downplay both Snowden’s technical skill and the agency’s astounding lack of internal security.

What’s more troubling is how Ellard views the press. Ellard calls the journalists Snowden gave documents to “agents,” showing that he (and other national security insiders) view the world through espionage-tinted glasses. Journalists are now “agents,” supposedly acting at the behest of their “handler,” Edward Snowden. It’s a smear thinly disguised as SIGINT shop talk — a small-minded attempt to portray reporting leaks as a dark and nasty business.

What makes all of this more remarkable than the normal NSA defensive efforts is the fact that Ellard was Snowden’s “proper channel.”

Ellard has been the NSA’s inspector general since 2007. In this capacity he has not spoken in a public forum before so that made what he said additionally significant. Had Snowden made the decision to report his concerns through approved NSA channels it would have been through Ellard’s office.

The route Snowden supposedly should have taken runs right through Ellard’s office. And what Ellard would have given him in exchange for his concerns was a recitation of the NSA’s talking points.

Ellard was asked what he would have done if Snowden had come to him with complaints. Had this happened, Ellard says would have said something like, “Hey, listen, fifteen federal judges have certified this program is okay.” (He was referring to the NSA phone records collection program.)

This offer to explain the (alleged) constitutionality of the program may have meant something if Ellard had made this statement at any point before June 2013. Delivering it now — with all the inside information that’s been uncovered since then — is remarkably tone deaf. It shows that NSA officials still have no idea how to approach potential whistleblowers. Those in that position actually still think delivering stale talking points will somehow dissuade someone who’s truly shocked by the vast power and reach of the agency.

If you think this statement indicates Ellard’s incredibly out of touch with the reality of the situation, the next assurance effort he offers removes all doubt.

“Perhaps it’s the case that we could have shown, we could have explained to Mr. Snowden his misperceptions, his lack of understanding of what we do. If not, I would have made the Senate and House Intelligence Committees open to him. Given the reaction of by some members of that committee, he would have found a welcome audience.”

Really? Mike Rogers? Dutch Ruppersberger? Dianne Feinstein? This is the “welcome audience” Snowden would have faced. They, like Ellard, would have rubbed his boyish head and told him not to worry about all these lawful programs he simply didn’t “understand.” And then they would have sent him on his way. (And, most likely, reported him to his superiors and redundantly suggested Ellard open an internal investigation.)

The “proper channels” wouldn’t have given Snowden anything other than a swift ride to the “EXIT” door and some threats about just how much of a living hell the NSA would make his life if he passed any of his knowledge on to the general public. Ellard’s attitude towards Snowden shows how much hostility awaits those who find themselves unable to be good NSA company men/women. Following proper channels means being greeted with condescension, cliches and a lifetime of suspicion.

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Comments on “Snowden's 'Proper Whistleblowing Channel' Finally Speaks And It's All Talking Points, Condescension And Smears”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Too much credit

To his credit, Ellard admits the only real comparison between the two is the large number of documents taken.

You give him way more credit than he deserves.

The ‘comparison’ is likely anything but ‘accidental’, by continually comparing Snowden to a professional spy who sold the intel he gathered to the russians(you know, just like certain deranged politicians have been accusing Snowden of doing?), he’s not so subtly trying to paint Snowden in the same light, to get people to think ‘spy’ rather than ‘whistleblower’.

Also, it is way past time to put the ’15 judges said it’s okay’ excuse down.

If the program was really so obviously legal, then why have they been fighting tooth and nail to keep it out of the courts, away from any court that might not just agree with everything they presented?

’15 Federal Judges’ might at first glance sound impressive, but given most, if not all of those are likely FISA ‘court’ judges, who for all intents and purposes are just another branch of the NSA, claiming ‘they okayed the program, that means it’s fine’ doesn’t even come close to being an acceptable defense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Again to sum up,

Roger Clemens, he lied to congress when they asked him about steroid use, and a Federal Grand Jury indited him. He was later acquitted, but there was a trial.

James Clapper lied to congress about his direct roll in the violation of the constitutional rights of 100’s of millions of American citizens, and there has not only been no grand jury, but no one in the federal government seems to think he did anything wrong at all.

The minute Clapper goes to prison, is the minute these other traitorous rats will start to abandon the ship, and suddenly develop a strong desire to become zealous defenders of the constitution.

No wonder why Putin was envious of our spy program.

Anonymous Coward says:

In other words. Snowden had no other choice of recourse, other then the one he so wisely chose. Which was going public through journalists, with his disclosures about unconstitutional spying on the American people.

George Ellard, has just confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the ‘Official’ whistle blowing channels are stacked against those attempting to blow the whistle.

Anonymous Coward says:

I guess my question at this point, is why I should buy this guy’s explanation of what he thinks Snowden should’ve done?
If Clapper can lie to Congress without impunity, what guarantee is there that this guy also isn’t making the “least untruthful statement” that he’s allowed to make?

Sorry assholes…your credibility went out the door with Clapper’s lying bullshit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Boy what a snowjob this guy is trying to pull. To make it worse, he’s the IG of the NSA that Snowden should have reported to? Pluhleese.

First off, the IG is for NSA personell, not contractors. Nor are the whistle blower programs in place for contractors. The are for the full blown employees and we’ve tons of examples made public on how poor they work. If the bosses can’t get the employee to drop it, then the employee’s life becomes difficult. The way big places deal with problem contractors is they tell the place he works for not to send him back. Which usually means bye bye job. No one hears from the contractor anymore; problem solved.

All we have to do to see how well the whistle blower program is working is to take a look at Obama’s over zealous pursuit of whistle blowers under the Espionage Act. What you have never heard Obama do while president is praise a whistle blower for doing the right thing. That says it all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Man, our government is pathetic. They’re not just failures at good government, they’re failures at bad government. They’re so devoid of humanity that they don’t even know how to pretend to be something people can like.

They’re aware that Snowden is looked upon as a hero by a significant chunk of the world. Their response?
“If we, who are widely viewed as mustache-twirling villains, continually put down and demean Snowden, people will start believing us instead of him.”
Really. The villain’s scheme to change his reputation, so people stop considering him a villain, is to constantly insult the hero.

It’s just mind-boggling to me. They’re such monsters that they can’t even fake reforming, much less actually reform? These people should be in straitjackets, not in charge of government agencies.

BitterReality (profile) says:

If its Federal it's always run by criminals or traitors

Criminals form the 3 letter rogue groups then traitors empower them.

CIA = Criminals In Authority
DEA – Death Enthusiastically Administered
DOD = Dept of Disaster
DOE = Dept of Extinction
EPA = Environmental Pollution Assured
FBI = Financially Boosting Insurrection
NSA = No Spy Adept
IRS = Irrational Rapist Society

The one thing we can thank the traitors for, assembling the lowest life scum into groups ready for prosecution and execution.

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