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With @Snowden book coming out, I'm hearing multiple respected people in the industry say "the domestic programs were wrong, I just don't agree with how he released the data." I get where these people are coming from, but let's examine why this is a hollow argument. 1/
It's worth noting that I don't endorse Snowden's actions, but I DO have a better understanding than most what his options really were. So let's talk about that a little.

First, it's easy to say "but whistleblower protections!" That is the WORST POSSIBLE argument to use here. 2/
Intelligence community contractors didn't have whistleblower protections in 2013 when Snowden leaked. But the US government recognized what a problem this was and fixed it, right? Um, no. No they didn't. There may be a Snowden 2.0 festering in the IC right now as a result. 3/
What about "he shouldn't have gone to Hong Kong"? Okay, but this assumes that anyone who wants to leak illegal activity by the IC should be ready to go to prison themselves. I'm not sure I'm there. I want people to be able to out illegal activity without threat of prison. 4/
The there's the question of "why did he go to Russian then"? But that just demonstrates you don't know history (or refuse to Google). Russia was not the first country to offer Snowden asylum. Each country that offered before Russia withdrew the asylum offer. 5/
I can only assume there was a systematic operation by the State Department to pressure these other countries to withdraw their asylum offers. Russia just honey badgered it. Honestly, I think we created the Russia issue and it seems odd to focus on it now. 6/
Another popular argument is "but Snowden must be giving Putin information now." I'm not sure I believe this. His very presence in Russia is a middle finger to the US. The US housed not-insignificant numbers of Soviet political refugees during the cold war for the same reason. 7/
Finally, I'll address "but why did he take more information than the domestic surveillance program info"? I think the simple answer is that Snowden didn't know what he didn't know. Ironically, the same who make the "too much data" argument like to hint at his lack of access. 8/
But we DO know that Snowden uncovered programs that effectively turned the Constitution into a Choose Your Own Adventure book. He watched DNI Clapper and Gen. Alexander (DIRNSA) lie about these programs, under oath, to oversight committees. This is indisputable. 9/
I do then think it's reasonable to ask "what else don't I know?" If you can get there, then I totally understand why he would take whatever he could get his hands on. If the goal is to leak data about illegal classified programs, why limit the scope? 10/
Anyway, I'll close with this:
1. There is no question the IC was breaking the law. The public only knows about it because of Snowden.
2. I'm no supporter of Snowden, but I also recognize this isn't a black and white issue. It's shades of grey. 11/
3. Feel free to hold any opinion on his actions you want, but FFS educate yourself before sharing. For instance, before saying "treason" know the ACTUAL definition of the word and then be ready to explain how his actions amount to that. Any less is irresponsible hyperbole... 12/
4. I won't be engaging sealions looking to argue in bad faith. I am not "human Google." Use Google to seek out facts before responding/asking for clarification of my positions. 13/
5. I spent a lot of time away from my family engineering legitimate intelligence collection missions. Many of those suffered substantially from information revealed by the press as a result of the Snowden leaks. There is no love here. "Hate" is too strong, but so is "like" 14/
6. Lots of other people in the IC saw this illegal collection activity and looked the other way. I always find it curious nobody ever wants to talk about that. Because every one of those people took an oath to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign AND domestic /FIN
One more note since I've got a lot of new followers. I spent 18 years in the IC in various mission roles, left as a GS-14. I chose to leave after seeing something I'm convinced is illegal. I suspect it's still happening. I didn't feel it was safe to go to oversight though. 1/2
That's not new, I've said it before. Not going into what it was (ever). I reasoned there was no way to expose the activity (even to oversight) without killing lots of mission that was positive for national security. All I'm saying is I don't think Snowden's decision was easy. 2/2
@Snowden I don't have a SoundCloud, but since this has blown up, please read and understand the *current* whistleblower issue being covered up by the acting DNI.
Joe is correct that there are words that say "whistleblower protection" for IC contractors. They prevent the government from taking explicit action against the individual contract employee. This used to only apply to prime contractors, not subs. 1/
But the important point here is that even now, these aren't "whistleblower protections" in the sense that they protect the employee from being fired. This is admittedly a hard problem. 2/
When a contract employee whistleblows on the government, you can imagine that places the contract in jeopardy. This is not good for the employee in the long run. The government forcing a contractor to continue to employ an individual is admittedly problematic. 3/
The TL;DR is that there's nothing for contractors that resembles the job protection ensured for government whistleblowers. So Joe is correct, but the government meaning of protection and generally understood meaning of "whistleblower protection are different. /4
I analogize this to a military general officer who has an "no reprisal open door policy." The general won't take any action against you, but your lower level command damn sure will. The analogy breaks down because in the military example, you won't be let go... /FIN
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