During an interview Saturday and again on Tuesday, whistle-blower Edward Snowden actively denied any allegations that he gave United States security information to China or Russia. He also denied the assertions that the Chinese government had access to his laptops and “drained the contents of his computers.” These claims are what have been used to label Snowden as a traitor and a coward. The mainstream media and Washington political establishment have launched several attacks against Snowden in an attempt of character assassination. This isn’t uncommon among the political elite. Once election season comes around there aren’t any issues being debated, there are merely attacks against individuals characters. This happens to be the same method they used against Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who originally broke the story about the NSA’s spy program.
So where did the information about Snowden giving classified documents to the Chinese government come from? There were several allegations that Snowden might have leaked information to China, but on June 23rd an article in the New York Times:
“Two Western intelligence experts, who worked for major government spy agencies, said they believed that the Chinese government had managed to drain the contents of the four laptops that Mr. Snowden said he brought to Hong Kong, and that he said were with him during his stay at a Hong Kong hotel.”
There are several aspects of this statement that need to be broken down and understood. The two Western intelligence experts commented under the conditions of anonymity. There were no sources that were cited and there wasn’t any evidence given to back up these claims, even up until this day. Also, these Western intelligence experts said they “believed” the Chinese government has managed to drain the contents of the four laptops. So not only are the authors of the article unable to disclose their source (which is understandable), their sources only “believe” that Snowden gave information out to the Chinese government. Up until the time of this article there has been no substantial evidence that has been given to believe that Snowden gave any information to the Chinese government.
Since the origination of this myth, The New Yorker also published an article using the same information to perpetuate this unsubstantiated claim,
“His usefulness was almost exhausted. Intelligence experts cited by the Times believed that the Chinese government “had managed to drain the contents of the four laptops that Mr. Snowden said he brought to Hong Kong, and that he said were with him during his stay at a Hong Kong hotel.”
This is how the story caught on like wild fire throughout the mainstream media and accepted as truth by many. However, if we continue to follow the tracks back to the original claim it is easy to see that the information provided was unsubstantiated and provided no evidence except a mere hunch by two anonymous “experts.” As far as we know, the only information the Chinese government has about United States spying on their country is the information Snowden made available to everyone. There is no proof that Snowden disseminated classified information to foreign governments that he hasn’t already disclosed to the general public.
Meanwhile despite the efforts of the mainstream media to sway public opinion about Snowden, the majority of Americans view him as a whistle-blower not a traitor. According to a poll by Quinnipiac University 55 percent of American voters view Snowden as a whistleblower as opposed to 34 percent who view him as a traitor.
“Almost every party, gender, income, education, age and income group regards Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor. The lone exception is black voters, with 43 percent calling him a traitor and 42 percent calling him a whistle-blower.”
Nevertheless, the focus on Snowden’s history, his political affiliation, his education background or even his travels for that matter, shouldn’t over shadow what has been revealed. There isn’t anyone claiming that the NSA’s metadata collection and PRISM programs were illegal. As a matter of fact, we know that these programs designed to gather copious amounts of information on Americans are perfectly legal and that is the problem.