Glenn Greenwald NSA The Daily Banter

Snowden’s Credibility Problem Worsens as Whistleblowing Email Story Blows Up

In mid-June of last year, at the vanguard of the Edward Snowden revelations, a Hong Kong attorney named Albert Ho met with Snowden to assist the NSA contractor’s plans to leave the Chinese city-state for points unknown. Following the meeting, Ho told The New York Times, “He didn’t go out, he spent all his time inside a tiny space, but he said it was O.K. because he had his computer. If you were to deprive him of his computer, that would be totally intolerable.”

You might also recall a pair of photos take of Snowden in Moscow holding an open laptop adorned with a pair of stickers: a Tor encryption sticker and an Electronic Frontier Foundation sticker.


The point of noting the existence of at least one laptop in Snowden’s possession is to ask the following: Are we seriously supposed to believe that Snowden fired off a series of emails to various NSA officials blowing the whistle on what he considered to be illegal and unconstitutional activities, but didn’t bother to retain a single copy of those emails on a laptop which he transported with him while on the lamb?

Let’s rewind several days.

As we’re all aware by now, Snowden, for the first time ever, revealed to NBC News’ Brian Williams that he in fact tried to go through proper, internal whistleblowing channels before engaging in his plot to abscond with thousands of top secret, sensitive compartmented information (TS/SCI) files and leak them en masse to Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald and Barton Gellman. Snowden said NSA has emails to confirm this and called upon Congress to demand to see copies. Here’s how Greenwald reacted to this news:


The very next day, and in keeping with the 24 Hour Rule, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released an email exchange between Snowden and the agency’s Office of General Counsel. The content of the exchange had exactly nothing to do with material concerns regarding PRISM or bulk metadata collection. Instead it amounted to a basic civics question: does an executive order take precedent over federal statutes.

Suddenly Greenwald didn’t think the emails were such a big deal:


Uh-huh. So when the email exchange turned out to be a big nothing, Greenwald’s reaction magically transformed from “biggests news” to “irrelevant” news. Likewise, the ACLU called the email situation a “red herring.”

Now, if we really parse the hell out of Snowden’s civics question… READ MORE