Trumps’ Coy Snowden Mystery: The Kiss of Death

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.

– Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress” (1681)

I’m tired of the bullshit.

Now that I’ve joined Twittersphere I’ve been getting magic bullets tweeting me all day. Up and to the Left. Some Mark Chapman is said to be disappointed in how Trump has betrayed his deplorable principles since 2016. He tweets he’s looking to join the gig economy. And also he’s angry because he just realized (he’s prone to paradigm-shifting epiphanies, apparently) that it is supremely ironic that Hillary got 3,000,000 more votes than DJ, but the populist won anyway. Who wouldn’t want some gig work for this double fantasy with its plastic onanism?

And now we have to deal with Trump’s coy possibility that he’d be willing to “pardon” Snowden. Here’s the thing. Trump had better do it ASAP. We don’t have all day. We’re dropping like flies, the Democrats are reporting. With each new dawn arriving on Trump’s empire of Magical Thinking we move ever closer to the event horizon light seen at the end of the tunnel. (Hey wait.) Will the Pardon be Trump’s October surprise — you know, to get the college kids’ votes? Trump may need a six pack of October surprises this time.

If Snowden is not pardoned by election day, then, when the Lesser Evils take over, they may go after him fiercely, because Trump has said Ed’s been “treated unfairly,” like so many of Trump’s friends who’ve come and gone from the administration over the years — some of them even in jail, and maybe no longer eligible to ever vote again. (Sad.) Trump faux sympathy is, in fact, a stone cold kiss of death for Snowden. Democrats, like Biden and Harris, would probably love to see a one-two punch-out of Assange and Snowden. Biden has previously threatened Ecuador with unspecified mayhem if they allowed Snowden entry there. But maybe PopCorn doesn’t remember Snowden any more, his thoughts picked clean by admirers of his plagiarized thinking.

Well, if anyone deserves a pardon it’s Snowden. Nine years after the NYT quashed James Risen’s October 2004 blockbuster piece about the Bush administration’s comprehensive illegal wiretapping of American citizens without a warrant under an NSA program called STELLARWIND, Snowden revealed that that was just the tip of the iceberg that could bring down the titanic ship of state. Snowden was the one who alerted the Global Public that we shouldn’t just worry about 5 Eyes spying on us but the Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes, with TerrorScope — 7 Billion Eyes, if you count us finking on each other through aggressive passive algorithms we pay no attention to.

As Risen realized later, “I knew that this was the story of a lifetime.” Nixing the piece, Editor Bill Keller told him that the Times didn’t want to affect the upcoming election. But, as Snowden put it in his memoir Permanent Record, “Had that article run when it was originally written, it might well have changed the course of the 2004 election.” Adds Risen in his Intercept piece, “Ironically, the fact that the Times held the NSA story for more than a year convinced Edward Snowden not to come to the paper with his trove of documents when he became a whistleblower.”

And, Risen adds that, sadly for democracy, the decision to exclude the piece may have come as a result of the personal friendship between NSA Director Michael Hayden and Philip Taubman, associate editor for national security issues at the Times: “Keller now says that Taubman’s relationship with Hayden played an important role in the decision to not run the story.”

Snowden shouldn’t even be in trouble. He was happy as Larry in his NSA spy cave under that pineapple field in Hawaii, when he came across the memo describing how STELLARWIND had been covered up by the government — whistleblowers wasted, telcos given pardons, the FBI told to relax — and ignored by the NYT. Had they done their jobs, Snowden mightn’t have broken good. We’ll never know.

But what the heck does Trump even have in common with Snowden? Well, LOVEINT, for one. It was the godlike practice Snowden describes in his memoir whereby he and male colleagues “used the agency’s programs to surveil their current and former lovers along with objects of more casual affection—reading their emails, listening in on their phone calls, and stalking them online.” It got steamier.

Snowden is quick to add that this is a low point in his eavesdropping career and that not only is he not proud of this behavior, it helped him see just how abusive the system was. Nobody would stop them. As Snowden writes, “you can’t exactly convict someone of abusing your secret system of mass surveillance if you refuse to admit the existence of the system itself.” That included booby tubing ‘friends.’ Maybe Trump read his memoir and got titillated. Maybe the president will call Ed to figure out how to operate the girly gizmo.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, as Bobby Dylan would say, Mike Pompeo was introducing his Mr. Clean Campaign. You feel you’re hallucinating, but then Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove warned us reality-based observers to stay strapped down for the duration and wear a warm straitjacket for the ride. Suddenly, the Chinese are massive threats to hygiene that need the proctored gamble treatment. Like their data germs have more cooties than ours. More political deflection. No worries. Sam Biddle excoriates the silliness of it all over at Intercept with “The Filthy Hypocrisy of America’s ‘Clean’ China-Free Internet,” and probably Matt Taibbi is not far behind, and they’ll probably be an avalanche of razzies at Counterpunch. All fine and dandy, but I’ll stick with the Freddie Hubbard approach.

I’m tired of the bullshit.

Google’s Dragonfly would have helped keep Chinese dissidents stay away from chaos by removing their access to such pie-in-the-sky concepts as freedom and human rights, in return would have kept their minds right with Adsense voodoo pins and needles, restoring the Cappie-Commie balance the US worked so hard to install and update. I got an email recently from Google that told me everywhere I’d been last month and every URL I’d visited. Dragonfly would have helped Google field test new algorithm sets that could have been introduced to our own great firewalls back home. What a goof it all is.

I’m tired of the bullshit.

Consider this. When Stellar Wind was in full bloom, Robert Mueller was director of the FBI, the agency that benefited most from the comprehensive illegal hoovering of American data by the NSA. One of his deputies, and the lead cyber technician of this data gathering was Shawn Henry. He retired early, becoming what Snowden has called a homo contractus, and helped found a private business called CrowdStrike, the company responsible for “looking into” the 2016 DNC data breach. The former FBI assistant director, who once “oversaw half of the FBI’s investigative operations, including all FBI criminal and cyber investigations worldwide” is now president of CrowdStrike. Riddle me this: Was/Is he, as Snowden was with his Dell cover, still working for the FBI when CrowdStrike — and Mandiant (that’s another story) — “investigated” the DNC, or was it the reason why they did such a sloppy job and that their testimony before old boss Mueller was so insipid?

Internal Affairs, eternal questions. Can you trust me?

Pardon Ed now, Mr. President, and I’ll vote for you in the Fall. Fair exchange.


John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelancer based in Australia.  He is a former reporter for The New Bedford Standard-Times.