The know-it-all Millennial arrogated to himself the right to determine what secrets, if any, our government should be allowed to keep
Edward Snowden represents the worst traits of the Millennial generation: self-entitlement, moral equivocation and no sense of loyalty to one’s country.
There was Snowden Wednesday, chatting it up with NBC News’ Brian Williams, who had traveled all the way to Moscow to meet with the fugitive National Security Agency leaker. Americans suspicious of how Snowden wound up there, of all places, after having divulged some 2 million secret U.S. government documents, are apparently paranoid to think that he is somehow working for our friends, the Russians.
“I have no relationship with the Russian government at all,” he protested, “I’m not supported by the Russian government.” This is exactly what Russian President Vladimir Putin uttered just a week before. Snowden “is not our agent, and gave up no secrets,” he said.
And those “little green men” in Crimea are not Russian troops.
It took Oleg Kalugin, a retired KGB Major General, to bring us back to earth. “The FSB are now his hosts, and they are taking care of him,” Kalugin told the site VentureBeat, referring to the Russian security agency.
Snowden insists he did not bring his digital documents to Moscow and that the Russians thus have no access to America’s national security secrets. But even if he didn’t carry the files with him, there remains plenty of classified information he could have provided his hosts by other means.
And Snowden either doesn’t care about, or is completely oblivious to, the propaganda victory he has handed the Russians by allowing them to portray themselves as gracious hosts to a courageous “whistleblower” exposing the ravages of America’s national security state. For the deleterious effects this has had on the United States, simply look at the conversation in countries like Brazil or Germany, where people talk as if America were the only country in the world that engages in espionage.
Ah, but Snowden told Williams, he never intended to settle in Moscow. No, he really wanted to land in Cuba or Venezuela, other paragons of free speech and individual rights. It was only after big, bad Uncle Sam revoked his passport that he found himself stranded in the transfer terminal at Sheremetyevo airport.
Unbelievable. Snowden breaks his oath, deceives his colleagues, filches top-secret documents, flees to Red China, and then whines about how the people whom he lied to and stole from tried to prevent him from getting away with it?
“The situation determined that this needed to be told to the public,” Snowden declared, in the smug tone of the undergraduate drunk for the first time on post-modernist theory. “Situations” do not determine the course of events. Individuals do.
And Snowden, the know-it-all Millennial, arrogated to himself the right to determine what secrets, if any, our government should be allowed to keep.
A Pew poll found 57% of Americans age 18-29 believe Snowden “served the public interest” — almost an exact inverse of Americans over 65. Trust in him is highest among those with no recollection of WWII or the Cold War.
Had Snowden limited his disclosures to the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs, which certainly deserve more scrutiny, we would be having an entirely different conversation. But the minute he decided to expose America’s foreign intelligence operations — operations that are not constrained by the Constitution he so claims to love — and abscond to the capital of an authoritarian adversary, Snowden lost any claim to the mantle of “whistleblower.”
At this point he became what Secretary of State John Kerry has now labeled him: a “traitor.”
Thankfully, not all us Millennials are like Snowden, as evidenced by the young men and women who have sacrificed so much over the past decade by serving their country in the armed services or, indeed, the NSA. It is these people, whom he betrayed, who indeed serve the public interest.
James Kirchick is a fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative