from the every-time-I-say-it-out-loud,-it-becomes-more-true dept
I used to think that those on the inside — those actually running the shadowy agencies of the world — were immune to conspiracy theories. After all, their hidden actions were usually the ignition point for conspiracy theories. Every tiny revelation gets exaggerated exponentially until someone from a Zionist cabal has used Barak Obama’s fake birth certificate to obtain a pilot’s license and fly a weather-controlling airliner onto the front lawn of the Pentagon in order to trigger a pre-wired explosion that takes down a chunk of the building from the inside.
But those on the inside see all the connections and know the players inside and out. Nothing’s surprising and nothing’s a conspiracy because there’s absolutely no mystery. But maybe it’s that lack of mystery that prompts some insiders to conjure up conspiracies linking their enemies du jour to something much bigger than their individual actions. Too much information is just as much of a curse as too little.
To operate effectively, agents must have a clearly-defined enemy. But the real world is often uncooperative and fails to provide irredeemable villains. Incidents like the recent high profile leaks of Manning and Snowden further cloud the issue. Sure, there’s the alleged “exceptionally grave damage” to national security, but much of what’s exposed hasn’t made the citizens being “defended” by the exposed entities any happier, or feel any less safe. So, when the enemies fail to hold the masses in thrall, what’s a former NSA agent to do? The usual narrative isn’t working and there’s no clear consensus that Snowden, Manning or their mutual associate, Julian Assange are villains. Faced with the untidiness of the current reality, former NSA officer John Schindler has built his own “reality,” and it’s as insane as it is ugly.
From nearly the outset I’ve stated that Snowden is very likely an agent of Russian intelligence; this was met with howls of indignation which have died down in recent weeks as it’s become apparent that Ed’s staying in Russia for some time, along with whatever classified materials he had on his person.
While the second part of Schindler’s statement is most likely true (Ed and documents in Russia indefinitely), his opening assertion is supposed to make us believe that a) something repeated often enough is true and b) the “howls of indignation” directed at that assertion have “died down.” The two latter assertions are decidedly less accurate.
Schindler has made some previous statements on the Snowden leaks, a majority of them insulting or dismissive. He even found Jeffrey Toobin’s hypocritical teardown of Snowden to be quite the thing.
“No Hero” Snowden “a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison” – Jeff Toobin nails it lawyer-style w details
A early editorial of his, posted at Politico roughly three weeks after the first leak, compares Snowden to Phillip Agee, a self-proclaimed whistleblower who was later discovered to be a Soviet spy.
Is Ed Snowden a Phil Agee for the 21st century, with superior technology and more media coverage? We may know the answer soon, but every day he stays under the care of hostile intelligence services renders his resemblance to Agee stronger.
If Snowden is under the care of “hostile intelligence services,” it’s the US government’s own fault. Charging him with espionage leaves Snowden very few options if he wishes to avoid being imprisoned. The documents he obtained clearly point out that pretty much all of Europe has been compromised, with various national intelligence agencies working directly in tandem with the NSA. This leaves a very short list of countries that Snowden would be willing to go to and an even shorter list of countries that would be willing to host him.
So, in Schindler’s mind, Snowden is well on his way (if he isn’t already) to being a tool of Russian intelligence. That requires a logical leap others haven’t been ready to take, even if they disagree with Snowden’s actions. They may believe the Russians have gained access to Snowden’s stash of NSA files, but few are ready to state publicly that he’s part of the Russian intelligence machinery. Schindler points out that Snowden’s contact with the Russians preceded his arrival as if that were some sort of proof of his assertions, rather than an indication that Snowden was looking for options that wouldn’t immediately turn him over to the US government.
From this leap, Schindler travels to another claim that he backs up with nothing more than “I’ve been saying this for a long time.”
I’ve been stating for a while now that Wikileaks is functionally an extension of Russian intelligence; it’s become a minor meme as a few journalists have decided that such a scandalous viewpoint is worth considering.
Again, repetition does not make things true, and even Schindler hedges this a bit by adding the word “functionally.” If Wikileaks’ actions sometimes correspond with the aims of Russian intelligence (learn US secrets, perhaps?), then it’s “functionally” the same as working for the Russians, according to Schindler.
Of course, for anyone versed in the ways of Russian intelligence, the notion that Wikileaks is a Moscow front that’s involved in anti-US espionage is about as controversial as, say, the notion that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. Running false flags, creating fake activist groups, using Western journalists and activists for deception purposes – this sort of thing is in the DNA of Russian intelligence going back to the 19th century and is second nature to them. They call espionage tradecraft konspiratsiya (conspiracy) for a reason.
Now, we have a full-blown conspiracy theory. Being involved in “anti-US espionage” (his terminology for the leaks that made Wikileaks famous) is now an “proof” that Wikileaks is a Russian front. Yes, Russian intelligence has performed all the acts listed, but his assertion is based on what? The fact that Snowden leaked documents, Wikileaks aided him during his trip to Russia and Snowden seeking asylum there? This is adding 1+1+1 and getting 5, because 5 is the number you had in your head the whole time.
Schindler seems to desperately want Snowden to be a tool of the Russian intelligence agencies and feels he has collected enough dots to say that Snowden is definitely in Russia and another entity he doesn’t care for (Wikileaks) helped him out. Therefore, Wikileaks is a “fake activist group” created by the Russian government. But he willingly leaps across several logical gaps without presenting any supporting evidence other than “I’ve said this several times before.” In other words, “Source: Me.”
He then goes on for a few hundred more words, offering up explanations that actually undercut his argument. He details the efforts of a spy who sold thousands of sensitive Canadian intelligence documents to Russia, and adds this speculation to his collection of “evidence.”
Simply put, one must wonder, after nearly five years of Delisle selling the Russians all the Five Eyes TOP SECRET/ SCI data he could get his hands on, how much there really was about NSA, GCHQ, et al, that Moscow didn’t already know. Perhaps Snowden is, if not exactly a patsy, a none-too-clever fellow – Putin today called Ed “a strange guy” – whose main purpose is causing pain and suffering to Washington, DC. Which, let it be said, he has done rather well, thanks to the propaganda offensive waged by Greenwald, Poitras, and their helpers in several countries, with Ed’s purloined information, and who have masked their radical activism under the (thin) guise of post-modern journalism.
Why would Russia seek Snowden if it already had tons of classified info from other nations’ intelligence agencies? What possible purpose could he serve going forward? He no longer works for the NSA and the documents he took have already been distributed out to several news agencies. If Snowden serves any purpose to the Russian government, it’s to be pointed at as an evidence of the US government’s hypocrisy. Every time it demands the return of its “criminal,” Putin will be happy to point out that if the situation was reversed, the US wouldn’t be placing a Russian dissident with hard drives full of sensitive documents back in the hands of a government seeking to punish him.
The extraneous slams against Greenwald and others doesn’t do his argument any favors. If anything, it shows the desperation of this theory. Schindler needs this theory to be true because it justifies all the accusations and barely-veiled contempt he has for Snowden, Wikileaks and Greenwald. If Snowden is now a Russian spy, then these attacks are “deserved.”
It is possible that Snowden’s appearance on the radar of Russian intelligence – presumably late in 2012, almost certainly through Wikileaks – actually represents a cover mechanism of sorts for Moscow. Tasked now with an enormous damage assessment and trying to uncover if Snowden had any helpers inside NSA, it seems unlikely that IC counterintelligence experts will have the resources or manpower anytime soon to find the Russian moles who may be deeply embedded inside NSA and related U.S. intelligence agencies.
The theory goes deeper. Now Snowden’s not just an active threat, he’s also cover for those already on the inside. The more words Schindler expends, the more his post begins to resemble a cinematic thriller whose team of writers couldn’t decide on an ending. Instead of picking one (barely) plausible wrap-up, they’ve opted to use all of them. Schindler wraps it this up with a call for the government to do the right thing and buy into his narrative.
[I]t would be a step in the right direction for the U.S. and Allied governments to start treating Wikileaks like the front for hostile intelligence that it actually is. Right now, President Obama is contemplating bombing Syria and possibly starting a new war in the Middle East. Surely he can find the strength to call Wikileaks what it actually is, a far easier thing to achieve.
Well, good luck with that. I’m sure the administration has enough issues with credibility without publicly condemning a “known” Russian intelligence front like Wikileaks. Even if it were true, without demonstrable proof, the president would look like a raving paranoiac who should possibly be removed from office for the safety of the nation.
Schindler, on the other hand, has no such office or impetus to maintain credibility, which makes it much easier (and safer) to construct a megaconspiracy that caters to his perception of these entities’ motivations. If this were even remotely true, don’t you think one out of the thousands of pieces written about Snowden would have attempted to paint Wikileaks as a flack for Russian intelligence?
Filed Under: conspiracy theories, ed snowden, john schindler, julian assange, russia, wikileaks