— by Polydamas
As the details come into focus about the personal life of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor who exposed the frightening extent to which the American people are subjected to electronic surveillance by their government, various statist lapdogs have seized upon the opportunity to demonize tech-savvy, libertarian-leaning members of Generation Y. One hit piece, an article by one Peter Weber, titled “How Edward Snowden Stole His Cache of NSA Secrets” and dated June 14, 2013, is just one of many such hit pieces that will be used to justify the inevitable government crackdown. (http://yhoo.it/153gI0V).
Mr. Weber writes about Snowden:
For a few years, and more than 800 posts, Snowden was a frequent contributor to Ars Technica forums — the successor to Usenet and precursor of Reddit — making him “a part of the internet’s relatively small but powerful creative nucleus.”
Once he opened his mouth, Snowden outed himself not just as the leaker but as an internet person, . . . , and his forum persona “is instantly recognizable to anyone who spent time in a major forum in the early to mid-2000s.”
He’s a bit of a know-it-all, a bit of a troll, opinionated about both subjects he knows well and ones he doesn’t. He unsubtly references his sex life, his security clearance, and his mysterious work. He was not shy about giving advice, which is probably the defining trait of the forum power user….
Most of the people he used to interact with are long gone — like Snowden, they grew up, and receded back into the real world. But he took with him the set of values he either learned or became comfortable expressing online: A keen interest in rights and speech, particularly where they concern the internet and privacy, suspicion of government and authority, a belief in both free markets and free-flowing information, and a set of cultural and aesthetic values that both set him apart from the mainstream and endear him to his people — the internet people.
A whole group of people out there are just like Snowden, . . . , and that should make the NSA, and any organization with secrets, a little nervous. Because when you move from how to why, the answer is a little unsettling, . . . “This isn’t about ‘hacktivism’ or some kind of unified cause. This is about the children of the internet coming of age.”
Weber’s hit piece used as its source yet another hit piece John Herrman’s June 13, 2013 post titled “He Came From the Internet” on BuzzFeed (http://bit.ly/ZMpeTr), which stated:
When Snowden announced himself to the world — his white, young, computer-savvy, EFF-supporting, TOR-using self — he spoke in a way that could be understood by all but sounded strangely familiar to few. He outed himself not just as the NSA leaker, but as a member of a growing and increasingly powerful alumni group: the internet people. The first new information discovered by others confirmed the profile: Ron Paul supporter, anime enthusiast, gamer. Edward Snowden, international newsmaker, hero and villain, lived online, at least for a time.
We at The Cassandra Times can see where this road is heading. We have seen statist politicians seize upon any incident of a mass school shooting, and before the bodies of the victims have had the opportunity to go cold, advocate the most draconian bills to compile an exhaustive registry of all gun owners as a precursor to confiscating firearms from law-abiding Americans, and, gradually, to concentrate all weapons in the hands of an all-powerful central government. Now, let us carry the same analogy further.
From the portrait Messrs. Weber and Herrman paint of Snowden, “clear and present danger” is posed to government hegemony by “white, young, computer-savvy” power users who participate in technical forums, who have a “keen interest in rights and speech, particularly where they concern the internet and privacy, suspicion of government and authority, a belief in both free markets and free-flowing information”, and anyone who may be a “Ron Paul supporter, anime enthusiast, gamer”. The same game plan may be afoot here.
It is not too far fetched to imagine that, under the guise of national security, statist politicians, such as President Barack Hussein Obama or Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) or Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the United States government will mandate that people who meet the above demographics and possessing elite computer skills must be considered government assets to be nationalized. There is ample precedent for such practices. Behind the former “Iron Curtain”, young boys and girls who possessed exceptional athletic prowess were identified by the communist regimes at an early age. They were considered assets of their totalitarian regimes and were promptly removed from their families, placed into government-controlled housing and education programs, trained to the highest levels of their athletic abilities, and were deployed by their governments in pursuit of gold medals and glory in the Olympic Games and world championships.
As elite computer knowledge is ascendant in the 21st century, there is no reason to believe that the same model will not be used. Red China has already conscripted its own army of hackers to infiltrate America’s military computers and to purloin technological innovations from leading American companies. Other countries have embarked upon similar campaigns. It should not surprise any of the readers of The Cassandra Times to learn that the United States may have secretly created its own “Manhattan Project” of young computer wizards, and that Edward Snowden may have just escaped from the government reservation.
Astute science fiction readers may note some parallels between the Edward Snowden saga and Orson Scott Card’s 1985 Hugo and Nebula Award winning novel “Ender’s Game.” In the novel, a a futuristic Earth military conscripts a six-year-old genius named Andrew “Ender” Wiggin together with other gifted children as cadets at an off-planet officer candidate school. At the school, Ender grows up, matures, and hones his superior abilities to devise innovative strategic and tactical battle plans in a war against an interstellar enemy. Yet, after leading Earth’s forces to a decisive victory, Ender learns that he can never return to Earth because any of the various factions vying for control of the Earth would use him as a tool against the others. Ender opts to make his escape to a faraway Earth colony to avoid his further conscription as a weapon.
Unlike Ender, however, Edward Snowden is earthbound and unable to lose himself among the galaxy’s anonymous human masses. We here at The Cassandra Times predict that Snowden will be captured by a foreign government, by Al Qaida, or by criminal underworld organizations and will be forced to divulge all of his knowledge. Although liberty-loving individuals everywhere are indebted to Snowden for exposing the National Security Agency’s blatant abuses of power, Snowden, himself, will never be free again. Snowden only succeeded in swapping one government master for another, but his servitude and shackles ultimately remain the same.