Marc Andreessen Thinks Snowden, Administration Are To Blame For Backlash Against US Tech Industry
from the but-not-the-NSA,-for-some-reason dept
Marc Andreessen, venture capitalist, has weighed in on the Snowden leaks, putting forth what even he terms to be an “unpopular” view. On CNBC’s Squawk Box, he lead with this statement:
Obviously, he’s a traitor. Like, if you look up in the encyclopedia, traitor, there’s a picture of Edward Snowden. He’s a textbook traitor. I’m in the distinct minority out here. I think most people in Silicon Valley would pick the other designation.
Being a traitor and committing treason falls under a very distinct definition. In Andreessen’s dictionary (the one with Snowden’s picture), this definition runs as follows:
Because he stole national security secrets and gave them to everybody on the planet.
Whereas the Constitution clearly defines treason as this:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
Giving documents to “everybody on the planet” is not specifically “aiding or comforting” enemies of the United States. While it may have given some of them guidance on how to avoid surveillance, there’s been no evidence presented that the leaks have done any specific harm to the US. There’s been a lot of handwringing about the implications of the leaks, but the most specific claims released to date by the US government deal with Defense Dept. docs supposedly in Snowden’s possession which, even if they exist (the NSA still doesn’t know what Snowden took), haven’t been released to anybody.
But Andreessen’s most spectacular statement is also his most self-serving. He decries the damage done to US tech companies by the leaks, but rather than hold the NSA responsible, he shoots the messenger — and wings the President.
[A]merican technology companies get a huge amount of revenue from outside the US. In fact, some of these companies get up to 70% of revenue outside the US and there’s a big open question right now, how successful our companies will be when they go to sell products overseas. And there are a lot of foreign countries that are very envious of Silicon Valley and America’s domination of tech and wish they could implement protection policies and will use this whole affair as a reason to do that…
The administration is just letting — they’re letting the American tech industry out to dry. I haven’t met anybody who feels like the White House has a plan, It’s just happening.
Andreessen’s responses don’t find anything necessarily wrong with the NSA’s actions. The problem, as he sees it, lies with the “traitor” who exposed the NSA’s subversion of tech company hardware and software. The administration is also partly to blame for not having done enough to shelter the tech world from the fallout of the NSA leaks. Andreessen also (via Twitter) blames both Americans for misunderstanding the NSA’s programs and the media for misrepresenting the 702 program, implying that tech companies were working with the NSA to collect American communications.
But as far as he can see it, the agency itself is nearly blameless. He’s “not surprised” the agency was spying. After all, it has thousands of employees and billions in funding (actual budget numbers exposed by another leak). What else were we Americans to believe it was doing with all that manpower and money?
Well, I’m fairly sure we weren’t expecting to find it was grabbing bulk metadata on Americans’ phone calls or sweeping up tons of “incidental” communications via its many surveillance programs. We weren’t expecting it to have partnered with other nations to help them surveil their own citizens. And we certainly weren’t expecting it to hand off unminimized data to other nations’ intelligence agencies.
This is a very close-minded and self-centered view of the situation. That tech companies were damaged is unfortunate, but the blame lies with the agency that aims to “collect it all,” rather than the person who exposed the egregious excesses done in the name of “security.” And if the administration is to blame for anything, it’s for not reining the NSA in over the years, rather than for not sheltering the industry from fallout.