Powell Aide: Snowden “Pure as a Driven Snow”

 

SnowdenSnowden “more helpful than dangerous” says ex-Colin Powell Chief of Staff:

The leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about US worldwide surveillance have helped rather than harmed America, and the leaks haven’t endangered lives.

Lawrence “Larry” Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell in the last Bush administration, said that he believed Snowden’s assertions that he leaked out of concern for the US breaking both domestic and international law.

“I think Snowden has done a service. I wouldn’t have had the courage, and maybe not even the intellectual capacity, to do it the way he did it,” he told Salon magazine.

“There’s a logic to what he has done that is impressive. He really has refrained from anything that was truly dangerous, with regard to our security – regardless of what people say.

Wilkerson, who played a key role in gathering intelligence to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said that Snowden and the journalists working with him had been “circumspect” in what data they had released, and thinks the fugitive’s decision to go public was driven by “altruistic” reasons.

“Snowden seems to me to be pure as a driven snow,” he said. “You can be dangerous if you’re that way, but you can also be helpful. And I think he’s been more helpful than dangerous.”

Despite his apparent admiration for Snowden, Wilkerson said that the former NSA worker had made his bed and now would have to lie in it.

“I credit Snowden for having a great deal of courage, because he’s ruined himself forever,” he said. “I don’t think he has a future. He has a future so long as he can continue to co-exist with all the restraints and pressures around him. But I’m not sure that’s being long-lived. And I don’t see him ever being accepted back here.”

“Regardless of what people say?”

What people might that be?

Maybe people like Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper – the falsehood of whose testimony before Congress was outed by Snowden.

The director of National Intelligence apologized in June to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee for lying during a hearing, according to a letter published on the DNI website on Tuesday.

Director James Clapper appeared before the committee in March, where Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked him specifically if NSA spies on millions of Americans. Clapper answered, “No.”

Since then, Edward Snowden reportedly leaked government documents that unveiled a secretive government program that did precisely what Wyden suggested in collecting meta data for cell phone and internet records of hundreds of millions of Americans.

Snowden is still on the run. Clapper still has his job. Isn’t it wonderful what a really sincere apology can do?

There are 38 comments.

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  1. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    I am generally against the death penalty but I would gladly serve as Snowden’s executioner and sleep peacefully after.

    • #1
  2. Israel P. Inactive
    Israel P.
    @IsraelP

    Ontheleftcoast: Snowden ‘more helpful than dangerous’ says ex-Colin Powell aide

    I don’t trust Colin Powell’s judgement. Why would I trust his aide’s?

    • #2
  3. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Israel P.: I don’t trust Colin Powell’s judgement. Why would I trust his aide’s?

    Sure, and one alway wonders about ulterior motives. On the other hand, Wilkerson’s sources are a lot better than mine.

    • #3
  4. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Ontheleftcoast:

    Israel P.: I don’t trust Colin Powell’s judgement. Why would I trust his aide’s?

    Sure, and one alway wonders about ulterior motives. On the other hand, Wilkerson’s sources are a lot better than mine.

    Are they better than Clapper’s or Hayden’s?

    • #4
  5. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Wilkerson and Salon were made for each other.  The man served honorably in ‘Nam, so he doesn’t deserve to be raked over the coals, but he’s said a number of things over the past several years that are, to say the least, questionable.

    • #5
  6. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Hoyacon:Wilkerson and Salon were made for each other. The man served honorably in ‘Nam, so he doesn’t deserve to be raked over the coals, but he’s said a number of things over the past several years that are, to say the least, questionable.

    Would be careful using him as a reliable source.  Currently an advisor to Bernie Sanders and thinks that Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria was a false flag operation by Israel.

    • #6
  7. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

    Do we know exactly what info Snowden revealed, and to whom? If not, it’s impossible to say how much harm he’s done. So it’s impossible to say he’s done more good then harm.

    • #7
  8. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Matt Bartle:Do we know exactly what info Snowden revealed, and to whom? If not, it’s impossible to say how much harm he’s done. So it’s impossible to say he’s done more good then harm.

    Those who are not supporters of Snowden have at least one hand tied behind their backs for this very reason.  It’s essentially impossible to reveal the damage he did without revealing classified information.  So we’re left with vague assertions that don’t go that far in convincing people that the man is a traitor.

    • #8
  9. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Klaatu:

    Ontheleftcoast:

    Israel P.: I don’t trust Colin Powell’s judgement. Why would I trust his aide’s?

    Sure, and one alway wonders about ulterior motives. On the other hand, Wilkerson’s sources are a lot better than mine.

    Are they better than Clapper’s or Hayden’s?

    Clapper lied to Congress; Snowden’s actions revealed his lies. Of course, Clapper wouldn’t shade the truth, let alone lie about harmful effects of Snowden’s actions.

    Hayden? You mean the guy who said this?

    If somebody would come up to me and say “Look, Hayden, here’s the thing: This Snowden thing is going to be a nightmare for you guys for about two years. And when we get all done with it, what you’re going to be required to do is that little 215 program about American telephony metadata — and by the way, you can still have access to it, but you got to go to the court and get access to it from the companies, rather than keep it to yourself” — I go: “And this is it after two years? Cool!”

    Or this?

    Edward Snowden will likely prove to be the most costly leaker of American secrets in the history of the Republic.

    • #9
  10. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Ontheleftcoast:Clapper lied to Congress; Snowden’s actions revealed his lies. Of course, Clapper wouldn’t shade the truth, let alone lie about harmful effects of Snowden’s actions.

    I’m not sure if this addresses your point, but regardless—Clapper lied to Congress; he should have paid a price for that.  That doesn’t make Snowden any less of a traitor.

    • #10
  11. Locke On Inactive
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Snowden is a traitor to the U. S. Government.  I’m less convinced that he is a traitor to the citizens of the United States.

    • #11
  12. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Ontheleftcoast:

    Klaatu:

    Ontheleftcoast:

    Israel P.: I don’t trust Colin Powell’s judgement. Why would I trust his aide’s?

    Sure, and one alway wonders about ulterior motives. On the other hand, Wilkerson’s sources are a lot better than mine.

    Are they better than Clapper’s or Hayden’s?

    Clapper lied to Congress; Snowden’s actions revealed his lies. Of course, Clapper wouldn’t shade the truth, let alone lie about harmful effects of Snowden’s actions.

    Hayden? You mean the guy who said this?

    If somebody would come up to me and say “Look, Hayden, here’s the thing: This Snowden thing is going to be a nightmare for you guys for about two years. And when we get all done with it, what you’re going to be required to do is that little 215 program about American telephony metadata — and by the way, you can still have access to it, but you got to go to the court and get access to it from the companies, rather than keep it to yourself” — I go: “And this is it after two years? Cool!”

    Or this?

    Edward Snowden will likely prove to be the most costly leaker of American secrets in the history of the Republic.

    Clapper did not lie to Congress.  He told the same committee the truth the previous day in a closed session.  The senator in question attempted to get Clapper to illegally disclose what he knew was a classified program in public.

    I’m not sure what point you are trying to make regarding GEN Hayden.

    • #12
  13. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    It is hard to tell if Snowden was a witting or unwitting tool of others.  It is certain that he was a tool of Glenn Greenwald, who has boasted of his role, as well as of his hatred of America.  It is possible he was a tool of Russian intelligence.

    Ask yourself – for a man with access to a sea of secrets, how come everything that he and his allies have released is harmful and/or embarrassing for the US and its allies but somehow there is nothing damaging to our enemies?

    • #13
  14. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Klaatu:

    I’m not sure what point you are trying to make regarding GEN Hayden.

    The general seems to want to have it both ways. When it suits his purposes, Snowden is the most costly traitor ever… or a just a bump in the road to the creation of a surveillance state that would have made Markus Wolf turn green with envy.

    I’d like to point out that the “pure as the driven snow” quote wasn’t the original heading. It’s certainly grabbier than what I had. In that part of the interview Wilkerson was making the interesting point that being “pure” doesn’t necessarily guarantee doing good (though he thinks that on balance, Snowden did do good.)

    • #14
  15. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Ontheleftcoast:

    Klaatu:

    I’m not sure what point you are trying to make regarding GEN Hayden.

    The general seems to want to have it both ways. When it suits his purposes, Snowden is the most costly traitor ever… or a just a bump in the road to the creation of a surveillance state that would have made Markus Wolf turn green with envy.

    You assume the damage Snowden did was limited to the metadata program.

    • #15
  16. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Ontheleftcoast:

    Klaatu:

    I’m not sure what point you are trying to make regarding GEN Hayden.

    The general seems to want to have it both ways. When it suits his purposes, Snowden is the most costly traitor ever… or a just a bump in the road to the creation of a surveillance state that would have made Markus Wolf turn green with envy.

    Markus Wolf would be green with envy over having to get a court order?

    • #16
  17. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Mark:It is hard to tell if Snowden was a witting or unwitting tool of others. It is certain that he was a tool of Glenn Greenwald, who has boasted of his role, as well as of his hatred of America. It is possible he was a tool of Russian intelligence.

    Ask yourself – for a man with access to a sea of secrets, how come everything that he and his allies have released is harmful and/or embarrassing for the US and its allies but somehow there is nothing damaging to our enemies?

    Maybe because what is known about our enemies can be found with a simple google search? We know that Russia, China, and ISIL, and Iran are hell holes, why would we need to divulge classified information to confirm that?

    • #17
  18. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Klaatu:

    You assume the damage Snowden did was limited to the metadata program.

    No, but in the WSJ interview Gen. Hayden didn’t seem to think that there was serious damage… period.

    • #18
  19. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Ontheleftcoast:

    Klaatu:

    You assume the damage Snowden did was limited to the metadata program.

    No, but in the WSJ interview Gen. Hayden didn’t seem to think that there was serious damage… period.

    He was not asked that in the clip I watched.  In fact, we never heard the actual question, did we?  His response seemed to go to the future prospects for reviving a similar program, not to the actual damage done by Snowden in the past.  Those are two different things.

    • #19
  20. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Ontheleftcoast:

    Klaatu:

    You assume the damage Snowden did was limited to the metadata program.

    No, but in the WSJ interview Gen. Hayden didn’t seem to think that there was serious damage… period.

    Not sure that is accurate.  He seems to be speaking of that specific program.

    • #20
  21. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    If there’s one thing that removes any doubts about someone’s motivations or character, it’s defecting to Russia.

    • #21
  22. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    James Lileks:If there’s one thing that removes any doubts about someone’s motivations or character, it’s defecting to Russia.

    His actions definitely speak to how he thinks his fellow citizens would react if the matter ever came to trial.

    • #22
  23. Fred Cole Inactive
    Fred Cole
    @FredCole

    James Lileks:If there’s one thing that removes any doubts about someone’s motivations or character, it’s defecting to Russia.

    One can hardly blame him for running to Russia considering how he’d likely be treated in the United States.

    • #23
  24. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Fred Cole:

    James Lileks:If there’s one thing that removes any doubts about someone’s motivations or character, it’s defecting to Russia.

    One can hardly blame him for running to Russia considering how he’d likely be treated in the United States.

    Actually, one can.  Actions have consequences.  Can one blame him for having to run to Russia?

    • #24
  25. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Fred Cole:

    James Lileks:If there’s one thing that removes any doubts about someone’s motivations or character, it’s defecting to Russia.

    One can hardly blame him for running to Russia considering how he’d likely be treated in the United States.

    Trial for treason is hardly justification for fleeing from justice.

    • #25
  26. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Fred Cole:

    James Lileks:If there’s one thing that removes any doubts about someone’s motivations or character, it’s defecting to Russia.

    One can hardly blame him for running to Russia considering how he’d likely be treated in the United States.

    There were places to run and hide besides Russia or China. He defected to an enemy nation — one which would happily imprison him and extract information by force if not supplied with that information willingly. By choosing Russia, he rejected the option of being selective in his sharing of knowledge. He opted to be a pawn.

    • #26
  27. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Fred Cole:

    James Lileks:If there’s one thing that removes any doubts about someone’s motivations or character, it’s defecting to Russia.

    One can hardly blame him for running to Russia considering how he’d likely be treated in the United States.

    I have some sympathy considering the Obama Administration’s attitudes toward the matter (Bradley Manning’s solitary confinement certainly seemed punitive). But Snowden seems to have made no effort to try anything short of running and his subsequent releases of stuff that has no bearing on citizens’ privacy are downright despicable.

    There is, also, something weird and creepy about being an advocate for openness and transparency while hiding behind Putin’s legs.

    • #27
  28. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Klaatu:I am generally against the death penalty but I would gladly serve as Snowden’s executioner and sleep peacefully after.

    I think this is out of line. Despite his defection to Russia, I don’t think that Snowden was a motivated to hurt the US. I think he was motivated by privacy rights. That being said the way he went about it was illegal and wrong. He should be prosecuted, but I wouldn’t support a treason charge.

    • #28
  29. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Fred Cole:

    James Lileks:If there’s one thing that removes any doubts about someone’s motivations or character, it’s defecting to Russia.

    One can hardly blame him for running to Russia considering how he’d likely be treated in the United States.

    I have some sympathy considering the Obama Administration’s attitudes toward the matter (Bradley Manning’s solitary confinement certainly seemed punitive). But Snowden seems to have made no effort to try anything short of running and his subsequent releases of stuff that has no bearing on citizens’ privacy are downright despicable.

    There is, also, something weird and creepy about being an advocate for openness and transparency while hiding behind Putin’s legs.

    This is a very important point and links back to my earlier comment.  He could have easily released material going to the existence of secret programs but in addition to that he has released material directly harmful or embarrassing to the US that has nothing to do with privacy and, as I mentioned, somehow nothing released is damaging to our enemies.

    • #29
  30. BD Member
    BD
    @

    Colin Powell was an absolute disaster as Bush’s Secretary of State. Among other things, it brought us Wilkerson and Richard Armitage.

    • #30

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