Splashed across the top of The Washington Post on Christmas Eve was this: “Edward Snowden: ‘I already won.’” Post reporter Barton Gellman wrote about his recent 14 hours of interviews with Snowden in Moscow, a man he likes much better than Dick Cheney, who he slammed at length in his book “Angler.”
Despite being a high school dropout, Snowden is painted by Gellman as a brainiac with an engineer’s approach:
Snowden is an orderly thinker, with an engineer’s approach to problem-solving. He had come to believe that a dangerous machine of mass surveillance was growing unchecked. Closed-door oversight by Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was a “graveyard of judgment,” he said, manipulated by the agency it was supposed to keep in check. Classification rules erected walls to prevent public debate.
Toppling those walls would be a spectacular act of transgression against the norms that prevailed inside them. Someone would have to bypass security, extract the secrets, make undetected contact with journalists and provide them with enough proof to tell the stories.
Snowden described his transgressions as comparable to the resistance of the American colonists and the NSA were the British oppressors. Gellman described the scene of the Dropout Traitor and his journalist buddy, dining and chattering:
He was relaxed and animated over two days of nearly unbroken conversation, fueled by burgers, pasta, ice cream and Russian pastry.
Snowden offered vignettes from his intelligence career and from his recent life as “an indoor cat” in Russia. But he consistently steered the conversation back to surveillance, democracy and the meaning of the documents he exposed.
“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he said. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”
“All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed,” he said. “That is a milestone we left a long time ago. Right now, all we are looking at are stretch goals.”
Snowden brazenly claimed “I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA. I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.”
At the very least, Gellman turned to NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines, who said Snowden is not telling the truth when he claimed to the Post that beginning in October 2012, he brought misgivings to four NSA superiors. Snowden claimed that he reported serious flaws in information security in 2009. Vines also said there was no record of those conversations.
But the headline as the Snowden story contined on its fourth page (A-12) the headline was "All I wanted was for the public to have a say." All hail Snowden, the Duke of Democracy.
Gellman throughout this story painted Snowden as the idealist, the one who believes in “democratic governance,” unlike the U.S. government after 9/11, which is to his mind clearly overzealous in its pursuit of terrorist plots. Gellman’s article concluded with Snowden’s reply to former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden calling him a defector:
“If I defected at all,” Snowden said, “I defected from the government to the public.”
Oh, barf. If he defected, it was to the Guardian and other leftist newspapers like the WashPost. Gellman was writing for print, so he couldn’t add a heroic swell of music to accompany his conclusion.