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Monday, June 17

The Parable of the Priest and the Whore

On Thursday, June 13 John Batchelor discussed Ed Snowden with Wall Street Journal editorial board member Mary Kissel. Here are John's notes on the discussion. I would like to reply to Ms Kissel's remarks, as John summarized them:


1. Ms Kissel asked rhetorically whether you would flee to Hong Kong if you'd stolen documents from NSA. Yes, an American's best bet would be to head for Hong Kong if he didn't want to be extradited to the U.S. and arrested here.

An American citizen can enter Hong Kong without a visa and stay there without a visa for up to three months. And at this time in history Hong Kong represents a very unusual if not unique situation, which involves the United Nations. The situation is so complex, and so confused, that no one can agree on exactly what it means in terms of procedure. This means an American can reasonably hope to spend years in Hong Kong while different courts and institutions argue about his case.

2. According to John's notes Ms Kissel also said that Mr Snowden had the choice of going to Congress and being a whistleblower.

American law regarding whistleblowers needs to be revised. But as it stands now, if he had followed whistleblower procedure under the law, his allegations about the NSA's abuse of data would not have reached the American public. The allegations, by the time they were written up in an official report, would have been so heavily redacted that the report would have provided virtually no information to the public. And U.S. members of Congress who heard his complaint would have been prevented by law from discussing anything about it that was deemed classified -- and virtually everything concerning the NSA and U.S. intelligence is classified.

That means Mr Snowden had only a Sophie's Choice. He could choose to be a criminal by stealing documents as evidence to back up his allegations or he could choose not to warn the American public.


He rightfully chose the criminal route on the sound principle that when scoundrels write the laws the justice system that upholds them is an offense to the concept of jurisprudence.

3. John wrote, "Whatever we think of NSA surveillance, it’s a fact that China is gathering data not to protect a democracy but to keep the Communist Party in power."

Here I am reminded of the parable about the priest and the whore. The two died at the same hour. When they reached the gates of heaven the whore was immediately ushered through; the priest was turned away. Outraged, the priest told the gatekeeper that he'd allowed a whore into heaven. When the gatekeeper asked how the priest knew the woman in her mortal coil had been a whore, the priest replied, "Because she lived across the street from me. I kept track of her shameless behavior every hour of every day."

China is a hot mess and a security threat to the United States. Yet so many countries are now deemed a threat that our government is transforming the bastion of freedom into a police state -- for our safety and security, of course. This situation, not China, is the greatest threat Americans face; not to confront this is to have skewed priorities.

That's enough banging your head against a stone wall, Pundita. Time to try and get some sleep; I've been up for 70 hours, I think. But then it's not every week one learns the unvarnished truth about one's government.
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