Why Do Our Senators Keep Calling Ed Snowden 'Eric Snowden'?

from the and-if-they-can't-get-that-straight dept

Three times in the past two weeks, Senators debating surveillance reform on the Senate floor have referred to Ed Snowden* as “Eric Snowden.” This includes Senate Intelligence Committee boss Richard Burr, the NSA’s own Senator Barbara Mikulski and Senator Dan Coats. All three of them have spoken out angrily about Snowden’s revelations. Mikulski has called him “Eric Snowden” multiple times (in that speech, as Dave Maass points out, she also claims that NSA employees “work 36-hour days” and “10-day weeks” — so perhaps Mikulski’s issues go beyond just remembering people’s names…).

Yes, people make mistakes, but it seems fairly bizarre that three separate Senators, all of whom are seen as staunch defenders of the surveillance state, can’t even get Snowden’s name right. It makes you wonder what other details they don’t really pay much attention to. And, of course, it’s not just a recent thing. The Guardian has an article noting that a bunch of others have made this mistake as well going back further than just the past couple of weeks, including Senators Lamar Alexander and Rand Paul, and one-time Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Either way, it must be interesting times for people actually named Eric Snowden. Kevin Collier, over at DailyDot, has put together a fantastic interview with one of a few Eric Snowdens out there, asking him how he feels to be called a traitor to the country by Senator Richard Burr. The interview is hilarious as the 70-year old sculptor in New York seems to handle the situation in the best possible way. Here’s just the opening snippet, but really, go read the whole thing:

So Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) just said that you, Eric Snowden, are a traitor.

Eric Snowden: Well, you got that right, I?m a traitor. What?s he gonna do about it?

And Sen. Barbara Mikulski?

Oh, from Maryland.

That’s her. She said, and she?s referred on the floor to ?Eric Snowden? several different times in the past few weeks?

That is so odd! Maybe I have a bunch of fans, a fan base I wasn?t aware of.

Meanwhile, another Eric Snowden (this one works at Adobe) seems perplexed by all of this:

It’s a bit of excellent comic relief to a bizarre situation. But, really, the question remains: why do our elected officials, who are supposed to be experts, have so much trouble remembering Snowden’s name?

* Some people have asked why we refer to him as Ed, rather than the more regularly used “Edward” and it’s as simple as this: he always appears to refer to himself as “Ed” from the very first video interview that he conducted with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. Thus, we refer to him as Ed, even as pretty much every other media outlet calls him Edward.

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Comments on “Why Do Our Senators Keep Calling Ed Snowden 'Eric Snowden'?”

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51 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I wouldn’t be surprised if any petitioned to legally change their name.

To Chelsea?

Personally, I think many Ed Snowdens are probably quite happy to be associated with a whistleblower. Since it’s just the executive branch who’s got it in for him, the name probably doesn’t cause any issues at airports etc. — just more work for the TLAs to track movements.

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Could be a printing error

I don’t know if it was an error (I don’t doubt there’s a script, since multiple people keep making the same “mistake”). If someone’s clever enough over there, they could have intentionally botched the name to prevent people from getting proper Google results.

Now I said clever, not smart. Had they been smart, they’d realize that wouldn’t work, because Google adapts & Eric would still link to the real Edward stories.

Anonymous Coward says:

more to the point, why do they keep calling him ‘traitor’? if anything, they have betrayed the people they were elected to protect and work for, whereas Snowden has done his best to bring what those lying fuckers in the government, the Senate and the Courts have been doing for decades, contrary to what they said they were doing and contrary to what they should have been doing! a prime example being the total bullshit spouted yesterday by McConnell!
what really needs to happen is for these old fuckers to be ousted from their cushy little numbers and some fresh blood elected! perhaps then the antiquated ideas will be tossed and some new input happen to remove the cold war attitude that is present at the moment!!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

It seems obvious to me

it seems fairly bizarre that three separate Senators, all of whom are seen as staunch defenders of the surveillance state

The mistake has an obvious source: it must have been on the sheet of talking points that the NSA provided to them. What would be bizarre (in a good way) is if they even looked at any information other than those talking points.

alex (profile) says:

Re: It seems obvious to me

Totally agree.

Most Senators are only the mouth pieces of those that provide them money, protection and/or assurance of re-election. I’d bet that not Ten of them have really read/remember/understood/accepted/believed in the Federalist papers, Rights of Man, Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

We should just move on.. nothing more to see except a footnote to the ongoing corruption and incompetence of the US Congress.

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Remember, the United States kills people based on metadata

The Government also has claimed part of why they couldn’t stop the Boston Bombing was because, though at least one brother was in some database, the name was misspelt.

Confirmation: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/congressional-report-confirms-boston-bomber-misspelled-security-database/story?id=23068330

If spelling errors can render surveillance ineffective, it’s useless, if for no other reason than the potential for simple human error (especially when dealing w/ foreign names, which can end up spelt differently when transliterated). Unless, as some keep stating, catching terrorists isn’t the goal of said surveillance.

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