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Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance 396

Posted by timothy
from the keep-to-the-script-now dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Edward Snowden appeared on a Russian television call-in show to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about policies of mass surveillance. The exchange has a canned quality which will likely lead to questions regarding the integrity of Snowden's actions, in the query of his host in asylum."
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Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

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  • Re:Useful Idiot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vadim Grinshpun (31) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @01:09PM (#46780505) Homepage

    While true, your statement also assumes he had a choice...

  • by klingens (147173) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @01:25PM (#46780701)

    But you have to read the statement carefully to understand what he says. It is true that Russia doesn't have the money to put everyone under surveillance like the US does.
    So they might not do a mass surveillance like the US, instead they just put everyone interesting under direct surveillance: every Duma representative, every Oligarch, and especially everyone who is in public politicial opposition to President Putin. The NSA can't do that even when they would want to, so they simply target everyone: it's wasteful but now they can't be accused of any bias or that they target anyone they don't like.

  • Re:Useful Idiot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bigwheel (2238516) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @01:58PM (#46781063)

    Snowden's best chance of survival is to stay in the limelight, where his keepers will risk public scrutiny if he is harmed. So, assuming that becoming a tool was Snowden's only choice, his required tool-task wasn't that bad. Just lob a softball question to Putin, and let Putin respond with propaganda. Snowden didn't have to lie or endorse anything, and it gave him the necessary renewal of his 15 minutes of fame.

  • Re:Useful Idiot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nomanisanisland (3617737) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @02:23PM (#46781329)

    He chose to flee to the two countries with the BIGGEST free speech / surveillance issues in the world-- China and Russia-- after publicly blowing the whistle on much lesser instances in the US.

    I mean we're throwing a fit about the NSA's capturing of "metadata". China just snorts up every bit of cell and internet data that goes in or out of any ISP or carrier, and they barely attempt to hide it. Im sure Russia is pretty close.

    I don't know about you, but I don't want my country to only have to be slightly better than China or Russia. I don't give a crap how bad or good Russia or China are; I only care that my country abide by the values it claims to uphold. Being China++ doesn't mean much.

  • Re:Old proverb (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jeff Flanagan (2981883) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @02:26PM (#46781361)
    No, he also revealed state secrets to competing governments. You'd have to be an idiot to overlook his treachery just because a small part of the info he revealed demonstrated government wrongdoing.
  • by cold fjord (826450) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @02:30PM (#46781399)

    Contrast these two statements:

    A) Someone somewhere in the city would like to harm you.

    B) Your neighbor Bob plans to throw five Molotov cocktails now in his garage through several of your windows tonight at 2:00 AM and shoot your family as they come screaming out the door.

    Do you think there is a useful difference in specificity there? Details matter. The claim that the terrorists "just knew already" is bullshit and a whitewash. Terrorist groups have changed their communication methods since Snowden's leaks and intelligence has been lost because of it.

  • Re:Useful Idiot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @02:34PM (#46781441)

    That isn't actually true. The contractor protections were not as firm, but they apparently existed. (And from what I've read that has been addressed now.) And I'm pretty sure that would be a moot question if he had gone to Congress.

  • Re:Useful Idiot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rahvin112 (446269) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @02:37PM (#46781491)

    I think Snowden did the right thing when he revealed the NSA blanket spying on the US public. I think he did the wrong thing when he revealed legitimate spying on foreign nations such as the revelations about spying on the Chinese military. I think the former was so important that he deserved an award for it. I think the later was so damaging to our legitimate foreign espionage that he should be jailed for it.

    If he ever returns to the US he should be publicly honored for the former and jailed for the later. It's unfortunate that for whatever reason he came up with that he decided to reveal that legitimate espionage. It's destroyed his reputation among most Americans and in truth it's damaged the good stuff he did do. All those foreign spying revelations have ultimately destroyed his legacy, if he had stayed on topic of mass spying on the American people (his claimed goal) he might have been able to return to the US someday. As it stands if he ever returns he'll likely spend the rest of his life in prison and most Americans are going to remember him as a traitor.

  • Re:Voluntary? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Thursday April 17, 2014 @02:45PM (#46781561) Homepage

    Getting from Hong Kong to Ecuador (or wherever he was going) without flying over any US or allied territory requires strange routes - just go to a flight booking flight and notice that the returned results mostly involve changes in the USA.

    Taking such a route was wise - look at how US allies forced down the presidential jet of a LatAm leader just to search for Snowden.

    But I'm really not sure why you're arguing with me about this. What happened to Snowden is a matter of public record, it's not something that's up for debate. He got stuck in Russia because the USA revoked his passport and he then wasn't allowed to board his onward flight. But once it became clear that no plane was safe, not even those with diplomatic immunity, if it flew over any US allied territory, he would have been an idiot to leave anyway because that would have been a direct flight into a lifetime of solitary confinement.

  • Re:Useful Idiot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jkauzlar (596349) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @03:51PM (#46782223) Homepage

    As I said elsewhere, this argument makes no sense. We've shown Americans how we deal with leakers by our handling of Bradley/Chelsea Manning. Snowden had no choice but to go to our enemies for asylum. He's an American. For him to be a hypocrite, he'd have to spy on americans. If he has to do propaganda for the Russians to survive, then who cares? It's the Russians' problem, not ours.

  • Re:Useful Idiot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Solandri (704621) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @04:37PM (#46782595)

    We've shown Americans how we deal with leakers by our handling of Bradley/Chelsea Manning. Snowden had no choice but to go to our enemies for asylum.

    Please don't compare Manning to Snowden. Manning copied everything he could get his hands on and released it all without any consideration for whether or not it had a valid reason to be secret. He threw the baby out with the bathwater. Snowden has been careful to release only the things he feels violated the oath he and others took to the U.S. Constitution. One is a vandal. The other is a genuine whistleblower if not a patriot and hero.

    For him to be a hypocrite, he'd have to spy on americans. If he has to do propaganda for the Russians to survive, then who cares? It's the Russians' problem, not ours.

    I dunno why you think he has to spy on Americans to be a hypocrite. By doing propaganda for the Russians, he is affirming that sometimes you have to compromise your lesser values in order to protect greater ones. That's exactly what he's whistleblowing the U.S. government for doing - compromising Americans' privacy in order to (in their best estimation) protect their safety. If you actually listen to what Feinstein and others who defend these programs are saying, they're not evilly rubbing their hands together while cackling with glee that they're violating the Constitution. They implemented these programs because they genuinely thought the benefit (improved safety for Americans) was worth the cost (warrant-less searches and degradation of privacy).

    What differentiates what he's doing IMHO is that if something is written in the Constitution, that kinda implies that it's an uncompromisable value. That you cannot violate Americans' 4th Amendment rights even if doing so would result in greater safety. Exceptions can be made during martial law and war, but no such declarations were made (unless you consider the war on terrorism to be a real, declared, and unending war).

  • Re:Useful Idiot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quantaman (517394) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @05:19PM (#46782907)

    What China does in surveillance of their own citizens isn't acceptable in my opinion but how is "they're even worse" a valid defence for the US which has constantly acted like it stands apart on these matters. Secondly, and something I think Americans really don't appreciate, as someone from outside both China and the US I know China would probably try and intercept my calls etc, but at least they don't pretend to be my friend while they are at it which America has been.

    I don't think China and Russia being worse is a valid defence for the US. But I do think it's a valid point of criticism for Snowden. It is a bit hypocritical to criticize the US's surveillance activities, and then flee to the only two major powers that are demonstrably worse.

    That being said I think he did have understandable motives, he wanted to go to somewhere that wouldn't extradite him to the US. That means a country that is a) not particularly friendly with the US, and b) powerful enough to resist US pressure, that pretty much means China and Russia. As the Evo Morales grounding incident [wikipedia.org] demonstrates Europe was not an option. Maybe Ecuador was but they may not have been big enough and he still had to get there.

    It's still unfortunate that he's in Russia, I think the Ukraine incident has revealed that Putin is a bit crazier than anyone anticipated and Snowden's position more tenuous. The Russians may have been threatening to send him back to the US as a concession to ease the sanctions unless he starts cooperating in their propaganda.

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