A few thoughts on Edward Snowden

Updated: Thursday, August 8, 2013
A few thoughts on Edward Snowden story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The flap over Russia granting asylum to Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker, has led to President Obama canceling a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Some diplomatic analysts suggest that the matter is returning the relationship between the countrires to cold war status.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's a shame it's so serious, because it reads like a dark comedy.

=====================

In case you've forgotten, Edward Snowden is a 29-year-old high school dropout who went on to get his G.E.D., take a few computer courses at a community college, get hired as a security guard for the NSA,  get promoted, and wound up working for a private information technology—I.T.--contractor for the U.S. government, living in Hawaii on an income of $200-thousand dollars a year.

While agents for the NSA were subjected to intense background checks, Snowden, with his limited IT credentials, was sort of just handed the highest security classification our nation has to offer and access to absolutely everything the NSA was doing. Everything!

And he didn't like what he saw. So after much consideration, which included the chucking of his own lifestyle, he blew the whistle.

He told The Guardian newspaper that he did so because he'd seen abuses—the framework, he said, for an architecture of oppression.

He said he could, on his own, as a computer specialist just sitting at his desk, wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, or even the President. All he needed was a personal e-mail.

Truly chilling, Orwellian stuff. And the NSA was doing it not only to whomever it pleased all over the world, it was doing it here in the United States as well.

Millions upon millions of personal bits of information were intercepted, stored, and ready to be examined at a whim—all in the name of national security.

Reaction was widely mixed. I have a brother who diminished it all, and immediately gave up fourth amendment rights, by saying, "It really doesn't bother me if the government knows I like pepperoni on my pizza."

And I have a friend who amplified my brother by saying, "Big deal. If you haven't done anything wrong, what are worried about?"

Both comments immediately bring to mind Benjamin Franklin's famous thought that if you are willing to forgo individual rights in the name of security—you deserve neither.

Let Snowden answer my brother:

"It's getting to the point where you don't have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you have ever made, every friend you've ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer."

All the classified information he gave to The Guardian—notice, he "gave," did not "sell;" and there was a lot of it—has inspired all kinds of debate in Washington.

Enough people there are sufficiently shocked, if not creeped out, to start thinking maybe, just maybe, the NSA is overstepping its bounds a bit.

So here we have a poorly-credentialed I.T. guy who tells the world the U.S. government is spying on them and its own citizens. In doing so he inspires congressional debate and a national dialogue.

He knows that his own country would like to lock him up, so he flees to Russia, where he gets sanctuary and is now looking for a job.

Now our president is also angry at their president who granted Snowden asylum—like we wouldn't—and cancels a summit meeting.

Meantime, we are repeatedly assured, and we have the word of our politicians on this, that all the stored information will be properly safeguarded and will never be abused.

Sure.

This from the same gang who hired a high school drop out to do some computer work -- and then gave him the keys to the kingdom.

With a little effort, we could stage a musical.

From this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on October 20, 2014 07:27 GMT

BUSINESS SURVEY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new business survey finds hiring is healthy but pay raises, not so much.

The quarterly survey by the National Association for Business Economics finds that only 24 percent of companies increased wages and salaries in the July-September quarter. That's down from 43 percent in the April-June quarter and the first drop after three straight increases.

Yet the firms still added jobs at a healthy pace, which usually pushes wages higher as employers compete for workers. The figures suggest that the number of people out of work remains high enough that companies aren't under any pressure to raise pay.

And just one-third of respondents said they expect their companies will boost wages in the October-December quarter.

The NABE surveyed 76 of its member economists in late September

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

UNDATED (AP) -- Investors will have many more corporate earnings reports to look at this week.

Apple will report third quarter financial results today after the market closes.

Tomorrow, Coca-Cola, Reynolds American, Verizon Communications and McDonald's will report earnings before the market opens. Discover Financial Services and Yahoo will report results after the closing bell.

Also on Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors will release existing home sales for September.

SPRINT LAYOFFS

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) -- Sprint Corp. has cut 452 jobs from its Overland Park, Kansas, headquarters as part of a previously announced cost-cutting effort.

The nation's third-biggest cellphone carrier disclosed the layoffs in a filing with the Kansas Department of Commerce.

The report, which was filed Friday, covers the first installment of layoffs planned throughout October. The Kansas City Star reports that it doesn't cover any job losses outside the headquarters campus, although they are believed to be happening too.

The company said earlier this month in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was cutting an unspecified number of jobs to better compete with AT&T and Verizon. Sprint said it would book a $160 million charge in its fiscal second quarter to cover the layoffs, which include managers as well as other employees. It may take more charges for future job cuts.

Another 477 Sprint employees in Overland Park were laid off earlier this year, bringing this year's job cut total to 929

Before the newly disclosed layoffs, about 7,500 worked for Sprint in the Kansas City area.

BOX OFFICE

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The bloody World War II drama "Fury" blew past "Gone Girl" at theaters this weekend.

"Gone Girl" was tops at the box office for two weeks before Brad Pitt and his rag-tag group of tank mates in "Fury" blasted the film to second place.

According to studio estimates Sunday, Sony's "Fury" captured $23.5 million in ticket sales during its opening weekend. Fox's "Gone Girl" followed with $17.8 million.

Two other new movies landed in the top five: The animated Fox feature "The Book of Life" opened in third place with $17 million; and Relativity's Nicholas Sparks romance "The Best of Me" debuted in fifth place with $10.2 million.

Disney's "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" placed fourth, dropping one spot since opening last weekend.

JAPAN-TRADE MINISTER RESIGNS

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's trade minister has announced her resignation after allegations that she violated election laws.

Yuko Obuchi's resignation on Monday is the first for the current administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and could dent his efforts to raise the profile of women both in politics and business.

The questions over Obuchi's use of election funds are the latest in a series of uproars over activities by some members of Abe's Cabinet. Obuchi is one of five women Abe appointed to Cabinet-level posts in a reshuffle last month that highlighted his commitment to promoting women to leadership positions.

GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's finance minister says he's confident he can keep promises to balance the budget next year and is rejecting anew suggestions that the country should borrow to finance greater public investment.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is determined to stick to plans to get by without new borrowing next year for the first time since 1969, though Germany's growth outlook has weakened and Berlin faces calls from abroad to pump money into the economy.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble acknowledged in Sunday's Welt am Sonntag newspaper that Germany "must invest more and improve our competitiveness." But he added: "We just don't want growth on credit."

Schaeuble said it's important to keep to promises and says he's confident a balanced budget can be achieved because "tax income doesn't react so quickly to economic changes."

advertisement
Washington Times
advertisement