Former CIA officer and NSA contractor Edward Snowden has recently joined Twitter. While this is hardly headline news the story has gone around the world, reported on by dozens of major media outlets. A follow-up story, that Snowden accidentally received 47 gigabytes of emails as a result of joining Twitter also got enormous attention, despite being obviously untrue.
In this episode I briefly outline the reasons for my suspicion towards Snowden and demonstrate how the 47 gigabyte story cannot be true. I relate this back to the story of when and how Snowden stole tens of thousands of documents from the NSA, explaining why I find both sets of claims implausible. I round off by speculating as to the real purpose behind Snowden joining Twitter, guessing that it is some sort of experiment to see how relevant and popular the general public still believe Snowden is.
Former CIA agent and NSA contractor Edward Snowden has joined Twitter. ‘So what?’ I hear you ask. And indeed, so what? Why should any of us care? Man joins website. It’s not exactly a headline we’ve all been waiting for.
However, clearly the twitterati have been waiting because in just a few days Snowden has 1.35 million followers, despite posting only 14 times, and nothing for several days at the time I’m recording this. And despite posting nothing of any consequences to anyone or anything, but then, this is social media we’re talking about, 99% of everything on social media has no meaningful consequence for anyone or anything.
So, how has Snowden managed to drum up such a huge following? Well, of course it’s because of the media coverage. Within a couple of hours of him joining the site the story was covered on Wired, The Intercept, Slate, CNN, the NY Times, NPR, Time magazine and so on. Just like with EVERY other aspect of the Snowden story, the media coverage has been exceptional. No other whistleblower in history has ever garnered this much media traction so easily.
And going back to the original phase of this story in the summer of 2013 this is what made me think the whole thing is a sham – whistleblowers usually get ignored by the mainstream media. If they are lucky they get a few stories, most of which present a handful of nuggets of information with little context or explanation and which are never reported on again, never followed up. With Snowden even the most mundane things he said or did got reported on. And this is from a man with nothing subtle or original to say, a man who defined a security state as being where security takes precedence over all other considerations, and then denied that the US was a security state. Which is just moronic, as though if the fascism is 100%, if there’s a velvet glove over the iron fist, then it isn’t really fascism and isn’t really an iron fist. Seriously, I cannot understand why people take this man seriously, everything he says sounds like a first year undergraduate politics student who leans a little to the left but not too far because they want to work for a thinktank one day.
But, since me just getting pissed off is unlikely to convince those of you who are in two minds about Snowden, I guess it would be sensible to actually answer one of the questions from the comments section. I apologise, I can’t remember who made this comment or even which episode it was on but recently someone asked for the reasons behind the suspicion towards Snowden. And it’s a fair question, so I’ll try to answer it. I have done two episodes of my ClandesTime podcast about all this, the first was episode 14 Is Edward Snowden a False Flag? and the second was episode 23 Predictive Programming Edward Snowden. So if you want a fuller breakdown of my thinking then please take a look at those.
The number 1 reason is the reason I’ve just mentioned – the media coverage. Whistleblowers never get this kind of fawning, sickeningly heroising media coverage. While the government have predictably played along by condemning Snowden and a few section of the media call him a traitor and so on, the reality is that all of the newspapers who received batches of the Snowden documents were liaising with the government over their reporting. This is widely and openly admitted. So the whole thing of sending police in the Guardian’s offices and smashing hard drives, arresting Greenwald’s partner as he travelled through an airport – this is all theatre. It’s all bullshit designed to make it look like this brave whistleblowers and these brave reporters were bucking the system. They weren’t.
Likewise, can you think of any whistleblower in history who within a year or so of going public had not just one but two major Hollywood films being made about them? I can’t, and this is exactly the part of Hollywood that I pay attention to, the political part. Beyond that, the people responsible for making one of these films are the same people behind Zero Dark Thirty, a film codifying the myth of the Bin Laden raid, and The Interview, a CIA-sponsored film promoting the idea of a revolution in North Korea. The other film is being made by Oliver Stone, the man who codified the myth of the collapse of the WTC towers on 9/11. So two films codifying the myth of Snowden, produced by people with a history of making films that codify the myths of other deep state events. That has never happened with any other whistleblower I can think of. By all means, if any of you can think of a counter-example to what I’m saying here then I’m ears and please point it out to me.
But the number 2 reason for suspicion towards Snowden is that this is a man who has only ever worked for the military-intelligence complex, and there are strong reasons to think that he’s been an intelligence asset since he was a teenager. For example, there’s this clip from his first TV interview with an American TV network:
Let’s put all this together just so it’s clear – Snowden was born in 1983, so he was 18 years old when 9/11 happened. He was also a high school dropout who only got his diploma later from a community college in Baltimore. His father was a military veteran who worked for the Coast Guard on unspecified national security issues and his grandfather was in the FBI but worked in the Pentagon. So what is this kid from a family of spooks doing on Fort Meade, which is a highly secure military base, on 9/11? They don’t just let unemployed 18 year old highschool drop-outs onto military bases in the middle of the greatest attack on US shores in more than half a century. That doesn’t just happen. So either this story is complete bullshit – though why would Snowden make it up? – or Snowden was a spook from a very young age.
Since then he joined the US special forces, where he washed out due to breaking both his legs in a training accident, then went to work for CASL, Center for the Advanced Study of Language, a Pentagon-funded research facility. When the center was opened Porter Goss, the head of the CIA, was in attendance. Snowden was supposedly there working as a security guard, because that’s the exact sort of job you go into after a serious injury like breaking both your legs – clearly something about this is bullshit too. After leaving CASL he joins the CIA, and then becomes an NSA contractor working for Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton. So this is a guy who has literally never worked outside of the military-intelligence world. Never.
Reason number 3 is the nature of Snowden’s leaks and the story of how he acquired them. I could go on at length about this too but I’ll just give you the salient points of this argument:
– There is nothing from his time at the CIA
– There is nothing about 9/11, Bin Laden, or any of the other myths supporting the War on Terror political narrative and paradigm
– There is nothing truly original in the disclosures on surveillance – all of this was known before under other operational names
Now that last point I make all the time and the response I get from Snowden defenders is that Snowden told a much larger number of people about mass surveillance, which has to be a good thing. I could not disagree more. For one thing, Snowden told a tiny number of people, it was certain sections of the mainstream media who told large numbers of people. For another thing – is it necessarily a good thing? Now lots of people know they are being spied on all the time, and have done nothing about it. Mass surveillance has become normalised, accepted in a way that wasn’t possible until Snowden and the media coverage of him made it possible.
The other thing that bothers me about the Snowden documents, and this relates to the Twitter question, is the numbers involved. Some of you may have heard me make this argument before but even if we take the lowest number of documents that he supposedly stole and handed over to Greenwald, Poitras and the other very select club of journalists he dealt with – the lowest number is a little under 60 thousand documents.
Snowden had three years in which to do this. Take out holidays and you’re left with around 1000 days to steal 60,000 documents. And not just steal them, but arrange them into journalist-friendly folders. Greenwald made some comment about the documents being ‘scarily’ well arranged. Which means Snowden had to find, read, copy and sort nearly 60 documents per day, every day, for three years to get up to the reported total. That in itself would be no mean feat but he was also supposed to be doing a job alongside this. A job for which he got paid a quarter of a million dollars, and I can only assume that meant he actually had to do something for it. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for going out with his sexy girlfriend and for hosting a hacker meet up with a bunch of people who were getting Pentagon money to develop TOR.
So something doesn’t add up here for me. And it’s the same with this absurd Twitter story. I know some of you will think why am I even covering this but it’s not really about Twitter, it’s about how the media storm around Snowden is a pack of lies. And this particular pack of lies pisses me off. According to RT and the rest, Snowden received 47 GB of emails in the first few days because he forgot to turn his twitter email notifications off. So every time someone followed him or favourited his tweet or whatever, he got an email.
And I hope I’m not getting too nerdy but I divided it up – 47 GB of emails at 14 kb per email (which is the size of the only twitter notifications I could find in my emails but they were from some years ago), but 47 GB by 14kb comes to a little over 3,35 million emails. And yes, if Snowden received an email every time someone interacted with him on twitter it would have come to something like this number in the first few days.
But let’s pause for a moment here. 3.35 million emails comes to around 1 million emails per day. That’s about 10 or 12 per second. Now, I don’t know about you but if I was getting 12 emails a second for more than, y’know, a minute or so or basically as soon as I noticed it was happening, I’d check and figure out what was happening. Because I think the total size of my inbox on my server is only about 10 GB, which at that rate would either fill up or just crash within a few hours. Each of these emails from twitter contains the usual ‘if you’re getting unwanted emails then change your subscription settings here’ link. There’s no way Snowden got 47 GB of unwanted emails. It is theoretically possible for him to have done so, and I’m guessing they added up the total number of twitter interactions and multiplied it by the size of one email to come up with the number of 47 GB. But that didn’t actually happen.
So, why say to the press that it did happen? We’re entering into tin foil hat country a little bit but that’s fine with me as long it’s clear I’m speculating here. What I think is that this whole thing was an experiment to see how popular Snowden still is. A way of gauging the mid-term effectiveness of the operation. They were presumably quite happy with getting hundreds of thousands of favourites and followers and blah blah. So this second story, about Snowden accidentally getting 47 GB of unwanted emails, is like a little thank you for that. A psychological reinforcement for all of those people who responded to this experiment. The idea that ‘my action on twitter actually got an email sent to Snowden himself’, the notion of just for a moment touching the stardust surrounding celebrities.
Because what’s the alternative? That this supposed computer genius who used unspecified methods to steal 60 documents a day for three years from one of the world’s most secretive security agencies can’t figure out how to turn off twitter notifications? That’s clearly bullshit. The sheer incompetence involved – it’s the sort of thing that happens when teenagers get their grandparents to try to use the internet. Before you know it a home that’s been in the family for three generations has been trashed and looted and there are people posting pictures of it all on facebook. This doesn’t happen to an NSA whistleblower. So I also wonder, is this one of those things they are putting out there to see who is gullible enough to actually report this obviously nonsensical bullshit story?
Because the ultimate irony here is, of course, that the NSA and GCHQ and the rest have been spying on twitter for ages, and even the Snowden documents confirm that. We also know that intelligence agencies create fake profiles on social media for the purposes of shaping and subverting public conversations. The digital form of sending a supposed ‘ex’ special branch guy to a 9/11 truth meeting. So, is it possible that this isn’t even Snowden at all? That this whole thing has been put together by a PR company or an intelligence agency, or a PR company contracted by an intelligence agency? It would not be at all difficult to do. This kind of media fakery I very much believe in.