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Thursday, June 20

Ed Snowden is a transgender CIA operative from outer space: America's Tin Foil Hat Tribe gets to the bottom of the NSA Affair

Alex Seitz-Wald has collected the wilder conspiracy theories about Edward Snowden; the result is his laugh out loud funny Here Come the Edward Snowden Truthers for Salon magazine. Seitz-Wald's romp on America's wackiest side is a reminder to me and all those alarmed by portrayals of Snowden as a traitor and spy that we need to lighten up. Trust the fertile imagination of America's conspiracy theorists to transform a serious issue into a comedy of confusion worthy of Shakespeare at his drunkest:
Conspiracists are reflexively skeptical of the “official narrative,” even when it should confirm their worldview. Snowden should be a victory for them, but because the mainstream media and the government are corroborating much of what Snowden leaked, the mainstream account immediately becomes suspicious.
Of course Edward Snowden is not a transgender CIA operative from another planet. He's Neo. Daniel Ellsberg is Morpheus; we know this because he announced Snowden is The One. (Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America). Obviously this means Agent Smith is General Keith B. Alexander and that the story about the The Matrix being a creation of sentient machines is propaganda cooked up by the real creator of The Matrix, the NSA.

Don't ask me how I figure these things out. Sometimes (striking her hands together)] it's like a thunderclap. Sometimes I see a burning bush.

What is not a figment of anyone's imagination is the situation that Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) described almost poetically last week for the National Journal: "Tower after glass tower" in Arlington and Fairfax Counties in Northern Virginia. The glass-sided office buildings springing up like ike mushrooms are, as Himes explained, stuffed with private contractors hired by NSA to wage America's cyberwar. This is an undeclared war and, something like The Matrix, it's all around us but can't be seen. It's a war that has made Washington, DC and its environs a boom town and provided employment for many American veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars.

This is also the most dangerous type of war because it's amorphous. There are no rules of engagement because the war has never been clearly defined, let alone made a topic for U.S. public policy discussion. And it's a war that has placed very powerful algorithims under the control of a civilian government that can't even do basic arithmetic.

One of the questions in the wake of Ed Snowden's revelations about NSA's draconian phone/email data collection is whether expenses for this war have been swept under the rug of "surveillance." Telling the American public that for its own good the answer is classified is not acceptable. And diverting attention from the question by accusing Snowden of being a traitor isn't acceptable, either.

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