Daniel Ellsberg v. Ambassador R. James Woolsey in the Great Snowden Debate

The great debate about the fate of the former NSA contractor who leaked documents detailing the agency's spying programs on the Internet, mobile phones and even in video games rages on. Some believe that Edward Snowden is a patriot and a whistleblower who deserves a full presidential pardon, while others believe that he should be get the maximum penalty under the law for treason and espionage.

This subject will be put front and center with a debate before a live audience for a taping of NPR's hit show/podcast, Intelligence Squared U.S. On Wednesday, February 12 at the Kaufman Center in New York City four individuals will argue about what Snowden did and what his fate should be.

On one side will be Daniel Ellsberg, former U.S. military analyst and Pentagon Papers whistleblower; and ACLU attorney and Snowden legal adviser, Ben Wizner. On the other side of the debate will be National Review contributing editor and former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy; and former CIA director and chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Ambassador R. James Woolsey.

Ellsberg and Wizner will argue that Snowden deserves clemency for his leaks, while Woolsey and McCarthy will argue that Snowden should return to the U.S. to face charges.

The event will be taped before a live audience on February 12 from 6:45-8:30 PM. The audience will decide via a vote which side won the debate.

Tickets are still available for the event at www.intelligencesquaredus.org.

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  1. 0
    black manta says:

    It's interesting that Ellsberg is part of this, as some people – including himself – have compared him to Snowden.  The only problem with that its, when Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon papers, he only leaked those documents pertaining to how the U.S. got involved in Vietnam.  And he only did it after taking them to several senators who refused to do anything about them.  He did not leak information on tactical movements, peace talks, or praise N. Vietnam's leaders.

    Had Snowden only revealed information on the NSA's domestic surveillance programs, the comparison might be apt.  But he didn't.  In addition to that information, he also leaked details about the NSA's interception of emails, phone calls and radio transmissions of Taliban fighters; an operation to test the loyalties of CIA recruits in Pakistan; NSA intercepts of email messages to help intelligence assessments of what was going on in Iran; and that the NSA routinely hacks into the computers of China and Hong Kong.

    NONE of that has to do with whistleblowing or domestic surveillance or even spying on allies.  And neither are they immoral, illegal or improper.  This is one of the reasons why I can't fully trust Snowden.  As I've been saying before, at best, he's misguided and deluded.  At worst, he's a tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist, albeit a very smart one.  (And apparently Bill Maher agrees with me in that it seems every time Snowden opens his mouth, he says something batshit crazy.)

    And while the claims of Mike Rogers that Snowden might have been recruited by the Russians might sound farfetched (a claim even Snowden says is "absurd"), I doubt Putin granted him asylum out of the goodness of his heart and that it was borne out of more than a desire to spite us.  A recently-released memo from 1996 indicates that Putin was hoping for someone like Snowden to come along, knowing full well what an advantage that would be to him.

    There's a lot of questions that still need to be asked about Snowden, because a lot of his behavior to me still sounds fishy.  He also supposedly hosted a live chat today via Twitter.  But I doubt these questions are going to be answered by him, or asked by either Ellsberg or Woolsey.  Specifically:

    1. Why did Snowden go to Hong Kong, and from there to Moscow?  He claims he intended to go from there to Havana, then Ecuador.  But there are many other ways to get from Hong Kong to Havana without going through Russia.
    2. For that matter, his claim of going to Ecuador also doesn't quite add up.  Julian Assange claims he advised Snowden that he would be "physically safest in Russia."  Also, the government voided Snowden's passport on June 22, and the Ecuadorian travel document that Assange acquired was void by the time Snowden landed in Moscow.  The Ecuadorian document was supposedly to help Snowden leave Hong Kong.  But why would he need it if his passport was still good?  And why would WikiLeaks send Snowden to Russia knowing he had both a revoked passport and a worthless travel document?
    3. Snowden supposedly spent 3 days at the Russian consulate in Hong Kong.  What did he do there?  What did he talk to the Russians about?  Did they offer him asylum, or did he request it?  Snowden claims he took no classified info with him to Russia.  But if it turns out that he gave it to either the Russians or the Chinese while at the consulate in Hong Kong, then I think any talk of clemency is off.
    4. The Russians must have surely asked him a lot of questions.  If not at the consulate, then while he was at the Sheremetyevo airport.  It would be helpful to us if he could tell us what the Russians wanted to know from him.
    5. Despite Snowden's claims that he first brought his concerns to his superiors, there's no real proof of this.  If Snowden could name names with assurances that the people in question not be charged and prosecuted, it would lend some legitimacy to his claim of being a whistleblower.

    But again, I doubt neither he nor his allies will fully or satisfactorily answer those questions, if at all.  It should be noted that his asylum in Russia is almost half-over.  So he might want to give some serious thought about coming back here and facing charges.  Personally, I think a trial would be the best place to make his case before the American public.

  2. 0
    IronPatriot says:

    Bush was "investigated" by the 911 Commission? Only in Republican fantasy land.


    Bush only had a "private meeting" with the 911 Commission…

    which as NOT under oath

    and was NOT transcribed.

    And instead of being questioned alone, the way a real investigation works, Bush insisted on having his girlfriend Cheney there to hold his hand and to remind him what he knew and when he knew it. 

    (Bush actually said he had to testify with his girlfriend Cheney so they could "see our body language… how we work together." Ick.) 

    Your best defense of Bush is his IGNORANCE? LOL! 

    Start with the chains on your own mind. 





  3. 0
    black manta says:

    Definitely. And it's been little-reported that Snowden doesn't much like Obama.  It seems at the time, though, that while Bush was President, he DID approve of the administration's intelligence policies (Any leakers should be "shot in the balls" according to a post he once made on Ars Technica back then.)

    So for all the championing of Snowden by the left, it should be noted that Snowden (and Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange for that matter) have no love of it, and in fact want to actively bring down – or at least seriously hurt – the liberal state; their beliefs more along the lines of a form of paranoid Libertarianism.

    Great article by the New Republic goes into more detail:

    Would You Feel Differently about Snowden, Greenwald and Assange if You Knew What They Really Thought?

    And while I'm at it, this from Business Insider:

    Edward Snowden's Relationship With WikiLeaks Should Concern Everyone

  4. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    Maybe it's because there's no evidence whatsoever that Bush knew about this?

    As for "never being investigated," perhaps you should google "9/11 commission."  He was investigated for a lot of the things people wanted him investigated for, and it was determined that he didn't do what his detractors said he did.

    Obama, on the other hand, was "fully briefed" in 2010 about this.  That means that, from that moment until the story broke last year, Obama knew this was going on and said and did NOTHING.  Then, when the story breaks, he pretends he knew nothing (officially lying to the US public).

  5. 0
    IronPatriot says:

    And what law did Obama break? 

    You see, before someone faces charges, there has to be an actual crime. 

    Check mate, mate. 

    Start with the chains on your own mind. 

  6. 0
    Mrxknown_JG says:

    What about Bush? This was going on during that period as well. But Bush's administration was never investigated even though many wanted them to. Now some people who defended Bush want to gut Obama.

    There is no fairness in this.

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