The Irony of It All: the Snowden Affair

Early this morning I was reading yet another news report on the celebrated and infamous Mr. Snowden, this one on the BBC web site, Edward Snowden documents show NSA broke privacy rules.

No real surprises there, but the following lines of text caught my eye. It caused a flashback to the different world of my youth in the 1950’s and 1960’s:

Mr Snowden, a former NSA contractor, has leaked top secret documents to the US and British media.

He has been given asylum in Russia.

If you’re too young to remember the Cold War years, the salvos of political diatribe hurled back and forth across the continents, the Spy vs. Spy cartoons in MAD Magazine, and the strong and justifiable condemnation of the pervasively brutal authoritarian state then called the Soviet Union, the irony of this all might take longer to sink in.

No matter what else we may think of this Mr. Snowden, he challenged the legality of our national security apparatus, and the authority of the United States of America to clandestinely and indiscriminately intrude into the private affairs of every ordinary American Citizen, without warrant or explicit legal consent.

Not to mention: our hacking into the very most private affairs of Downing Street, Whitehall, Brussels, Prague, Paris, Bonn, or anywhere else in the world.

Thus Mr. Snowden found refuge in Russia, still largely run by the vestiges of the old Soviet KGB apparatus, and there, for a time at least, it would seem, he has been provided refuge and shelter from the wrath of an authoritarian security apparatus, and from lifetime incarceration in some American prison camp.

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