Friday, January 17, 2014


Yesterday, Benny Johnson of BuzzFeed posted this story:
Edward Snowden has made some dangerous enemies. As the American intelligence community struggles to contain the public damage done by the former National Security Agency contractor's revelations of mass domestic spying, intelligence operators have continued to seethe in very personal terms against the 30-year-old whistle-blower.

"In a world where I would not be restricted from killing an American, I personally would go and kill him myself," a current NSA analyst told BuzzFeed. "A lot of people share this sentiment."

"I would love to put a bullet in his head," one Pentagon official, a former special forces officer, said bluntly. "I do not take pleasure in taking another human beings life, having to do it in uniform, but he is single-handedly the greatest traitor in American history." ...

One Army intelligence officer even offered BuzzFeed a chillingly detailed fantasy.

"I think if we had the chance, we would end it very quickly," he said. "Just casually walking on the streets of Moscow, coming back from buying his groceries. Going back to his flat and he is casually poked by a passerby. He thinks nothing of it at the time starts to feel a little woozy and thinks it’s a parasite from the local water. He goes home very innocently and next thing you know he dies in the shower." ...
David Sirota's reaction was to speculate that this means Snowden really might be "extrajudicially assassinated," with President Obama's assent. Sirota said so on Twitter and in a post accompanied by a Photoshopped picture of Obama shooting at a photo of Snowden.

I read about this after the president delivered his speech on NSA surveillance, a speech that disappointed most civil liberties advocates. Yeah, I've been dismayed by the president's record on a lot of things -- spying, drones, and so on -- but I think Sirota's looking at this wrong. I think Obama believes, rightly or wrongly, that the people in the intelligence community have dug in their heels, and he doesn't want to push them too far. To a great extent, I think that's just his temperament -- he rarely attempts to steamroll people a la Chris Christie, as we see in his dealings with congressional Republicans and the military establishment -- but I wonder if he also fears these particular SOBs. If I were Obama, I'd fear them.

So, yes, maybe the critic of surveillance abuses got sworn in as president, got all the briefings, and concluded that there was great wisdom in the national security approach he inherited. I think it's partly that, partly that he's a compromiser by nature, partly that he was exaggerating his abhorrence at security excesses -- and partly that these people backed him down. He might actually find the national security establishment intimidating.


Never Ben Better said...

I've read speculation elsewhere that JFK was assassinated because he was trying to dismantle the CIA, or at least reform it in major ways that would greatly reduce its power.

I have no idea whether there's any merit to those speculations, but it does give one pause, to contemplate the possible pressures on our president.

You can read more, much more on this aspect over at Booman, text and comments:

Victor said...

Yeah, if I was President Obama, I'd be concerned, too.

With all of our Conservatives and white supremacists (but I repeat myself) already figuratively and literally gunning for him, President Obama doesn't want to be on any more "Enemies Lists." Especially not with people like this.
They have a long track record of having foreign leaders die in airplane crashed, in what look like "accidents."

I'm not sure about JFK. Like many people, I still have a lot of doubts and questions.

And if memory serves me right, Carter also tried to do something with the CIA and NSA, or at least started to make noises.

He didn't keep CIA head George H.W. Bush on at the beginning of his term, and that created a lot of animosity towards the President from Day 1.

Don't ask me why, but I seem to remember some NYT's article not long after Carter came into office and started to talk about changes in our security agencies, and there was a quote - from I can't remember who, probably an un-named source - which basically said, 'We've been here for a long, long time. He's just coming in. He'll be gone soon enough. And when he's gone in 4 or 8 years, most of us will still be here."
So it's not just our DC MSM Villagers who have that "Our Town" philosophy.

Then, after weeks of the NY Times front-page warnings about the possibility of a takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran, the Ayatollah's groups overtook it.

The CIA said it never saw THAT coming!!!
Uh, yeah...
What, no one at the CIA or NSA ever reads the "Libtard" NY Times?
Not even back then?
Uh, yeah...

Chris Andersen said...

I seem to recall that some online postings by Edward Snowden from a few years back were found and that they included him making threats against leakers.

The point being that people make stupid comments but that they prove nothing about real threats.

Never Ben Better said...

Very true, Chris, and that's why I don't leap headlong into the "JFK was killed by the CIA!" parade. I do believe that there's way more going on behind the scenes that we know nothing about, and that people will go to sometimes drastic lengths to protect their power and wealth.

jfxgillis said...


Nope. If Gates's account can be credited, Obama isn't the slightest bit intimidated by the National Security establishment. Unlike Bill Clinton.

Pops said...

He is correct to be concerned. JFK was too cocky and look what he got. RFK and MLK the same thing. Now there are total fools like Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, FOX News, all the Religious Wingnuts, plus the Web that were not around in the 60s. USA of Lunacy.