Your Tired Midnight Blogger has been offending people right and left with a multi-part series of posts centering around the Mar-A-Lago investigation. Here are links to these posts: https://wordpress.com/post/tiredmidnightblogger.com/2861
And for those who are new to this page and want to have a better perspective on the Tired Blogger’s analysis of Trump, I’ll leave a link here, but it isn’t totally necessary, as I am at least attempting to be objective with these posts.
Today the topic is to discuss the similarities and contrasts between Trump’s situation and that of Edward Snowden and Julien Assange, and I may give some verdict based off my research on whether Trump should or should not be indicted. Let’s dig in.
First things first though. While in no way do I wish to go down a rabbit hole, while doing my research I did some reading on Edward Snowden’s Twitter page. Go there. Please read what he has to say. It is worth it. https://twitter.com/snowden
I followed him, it is just too much to ignore.
These are the best sites I could find on Edward Snowden:
These are the best sites I can find on Julien Assange:
And last of all, the best articles I can find for Trump and Mar-A-Lago:
NPR reports on Edward Snowden that he would not betray his nation to the Russians, though they offered him amnesty in their country if he would share the secrets he knew. “I didn’t cooperate with the Russian intelligence services — I haven’t and I won’t,” he says. “I destroyed my access to the archive. … I had no material with me before I left Hong Kong because I knew I was going to have to go through this complex multi-jurisdictional route.” Later NPR quotes Snowden as saying “People look at me now and they think I’m this crazy guy, I’m this extremist or whatever. Some people have a misconception that [I] set out to burn down the NSA,” he says. “But that’s not what this was about. In many ways, 2013 wasn’t about surveillance at all. What it was about was a violation of the Constitution.”
NPR also quotes him as saying:
“Over the final years of my career … I see that we have the same capabilities as the Chinese government, and we are applying them domestically — just as they are. We have an internal strategy at the NSA, which was never publicly avowed, but it was all over their top-secret internal slides, that said the aspiration was to “collect it all.” What this means was they were not just collecting and intercepting communications from criminals, spies, terrorists…they were collecting on everyone, everywhere, all of the time, just in case, because you never know what’s going to be interesting. And if you miss it when it’s passing by, you might not get another chance.
“And so what happened was every time we wrote an email, every time you typed something into that Google search box, every time your phone moved… sent a text message…made a phone call…the boundaries of the Fourth Amendment were being changed. This was without even the vast majority of members of Congress knowing about it. And this is when I start to think about maybe we need to know about this…”
As far as I can tell, Trump has given no explanation for why he kept the documents found at Mar-A-Lago. The only justifications given have been that 1) the FBI planted documents, and 2) actually yes there were documents but Trump had declassified them. I’m afraid I am more impressed with Ernest P. Worrell’s response to the question if he had leadership experience: “I had an ant farm once.”
The New Yorker was much less kind to Snowden. Jeffrey Toobin writes “Edward Snowden…has leaked news of National Security Agency programs that collect vast amounts of information about the telephone calls made by millions of Americans, as well as e-mails and other files of foreign targets and their American connections. For this, some, including my colleague John Cassidy, are hailing him as a hero and a whistle-blower. He is neither. He is, rather, a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.” He backs up this statement by essentially attacking Snowden Ad Hominem. He quotes Snowden in an interview with the Guardian: “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things… I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
Toobin’s somewhat snarky response (of course, your Tired Blogger is never snarky) is:
“What did Snowden think the N.S.A. did? Any marginally attentive citizen, much less N.S.A. employee or contractor, knows that the entire mission of the agency is to intercept electronic communications. Perhaps he thought that the N.S.A. operated only outside the United States; in that case, he hadn’t been paying very close attention. In any event, Snowden decided that he does not “want to live in a society” that intercepts private communications. His latter-day conversion is dubious.”
Toobin proceeds “And what of his decision to leak the documents? Doing so was, as he more or less acknowledges, a crime. Any government employee or contractor is warned repeatedly that the unauthorized disclosure of classified information is a crime. But Snowden, apparently, was answering to a higher calling. “When you see everything you realize that some of these things are abusive,” he said. “The awareness of wrongdoing builds up. There was not one morning when I woke up. It was a natural process.” These were legally authorized programs; in the case of Verizon Business’s phone records, Snowden certainly knew this, because he leaked the very court order that approved the continuation of the project. So he wasn’t blowing the whistle on anything illegal; he was exposing something that failed to meet his own standards of propriety. The question, of course, is whether the government can function when all of its employees…can take it upon themselves to sabotage the programs they don’t like.” Your Tired Blogger can’t let that one go. I likely should let you do your own thinking, and if you agree with Toobin likely you are right and I am wrong but…let’s take a look at this statement: “he wasn’t blowing the whistle on anything illegal; he was exposing something that failed to meet his own standards of propriety. The question, of course, is whether the government can function when all of its employees (and contractors) can take it upon themselves to sabotage the programs they don’t like.” That’s what Snowden has done.”
I wonder if Toobin ever took a Civics course? Maybe there is something I don’t know or understand, but…when I took American Government in College we were taught that the Constitution supersedes all other laws. An unconstitutional law is null and void. It shouldn’t matter whether I like it or not. The Constitution is the bedrock upon which our laws stand. So why is your Tired Blogger jumping up and down about this?
Ok…so far it seems to me that whether you think Snowden is a hero or a villain depends on whether the Fourth Amendment is more or less valuable than Corona hoarded toilet paper. What does Trump think about our Fourth Amendment?
Likely Trump’s strongest arguments depend upon the Fourth Amendment for support. From the site Lawfareblog.com: “Trump’s complaint begins with a Fourth Amendment claim. He argues that the search warrant obtained by the FBI for his estate was “facially overbroad” under the Fourth Amendment. Trump notes that the warrant permitted the seizure of, among other things,
Any physical documents with classification markings, along with any containers/boxes … in which such documents are located, as well as any other containers/boxes that are collectively stored or found together with the aforementioned documents and containers/boxes. (Emphasis added.)“
Essentially, the main differences between Trump and Snowden are:
- 1) Trump is a billionaire ex-president (i.e. very powerful), and Snowden is an ex-military and NSA contractor.
- 2) Trump was keeping things concealed (albeit arguably poorly) while Snowden revealed secrets.
- 3) Trump is blanketing himself in the Fourth Amendment for protection, Snowden was attempting to protect the Fourth Amendment.
- 4) Trump is vilified by Amnesty International but idolizes Snowden.
Now let’s examine Julian Assange. According to britannica.com, he is an “Australian computer programmer who founded the media organization WikiLeaks.” I’m afraid I was a fan back then. I knew little about his allegedly unsavory habits, and I was so happy that someone was out there sticking it to the man. Big government and big corporations thought they could get away with bullying us, spying on us, and here someone was exposing their dark secrets to the world.
Britannica continues: “He was inspired to create WikiLeaks by Daniel Ellsberg’s 1971 release of the Pentagon Papers.” I wrote about those pesky Pentagon Papers in one of my earlier posts about espionage For Your Eyes Only.
Assange believed the internet could cut out the middleman. He published documents straight onto his website rather than enduring the laborious process Snowden experienced sharing his information with newspapers. Whether he brought any more justice into the world may be debatable, but it is a fact he brought down the wrath of the Big Brothers upon him.
Britannica continues: “In 2010 WikiLeaks posted a flurry of documents—almost half a million in total—relating to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” “In the wake of those leaks, lawmakers in the United States pushed for the prosecution of Assange and any journalists or government insiders who had collaborated with WikiLeaks. The first formal charges were filed in May 2010…” Charges were filed, IP addresses closed down or blocked, and major financial corporations like Visa and Mastercard suspended the ability to send online donations to WikiLeaks. So Assange upped the ante:
“In August 2011 the German newspapers Der Freitag and Der Spiegel uncovered a massive cache of unedited WikiLeaks documents in a password-protected file that was circulating on the Internet. The password was easily discovered, and the raw documents—the entirety of the U.S. diplomatic cable collection—could be viewed online. WikiLeaks responded to this revelation by posting more than 130,000 unedited cables onto its website. This was a radical departure from the organization’s previous methods, which involved redacting the names of sources or informants in the interest of preserving the safety of those individuals.”
Assange would eventually go so far as to take on Hillary Clinton. It is debatable how much impact he had on the elections, but it is clear Assange was not a fan.
“In July 2016, just days before the Democratic Party officially nominated Clinton as its candidate in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, WikiLeaks published more than 60,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mail messages and documents. The internal communication revealed that top DNC officials had a marked preference for Clinton over her rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz resigned as a result. A probe by U.S. intelligence services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation later concluded that individuals with ties to the Russian government had hacked the DNC in an attempt to gain information that would bolster support for Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump. WikiLeaks had originally followed a policy of redacting personal or sensitive information from documents…before release, but the DNC hack database contained credit card information as well as Social Security and passport numbers. Assange publicly declared his opposition to Clinton, but he denied any connection with Russia, although he made regular appearances on RT in the months before the November 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
Britannica finishes the story with “WikiLeaks published a trove of e-mail messages from the personal account of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Investigators determined that access to Podesta’s Gmail account had been obtained via a spear-phishing attack carried out by Russian hackers. At that point, even people who had supported WikiLeaks began to criticize the organization for its lack of curation of leaked materials, its evolution into a de facto anti-Clinton research operation, and its role in an apparent cyberwar campaign orchestrated by Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin. After Trump’s victory, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence published a declassified summary of its findings, and it identified individuals within the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, that it believed were responsible for the hacking attacks on Podesta and the DNC. Assange continued to deny that WikiLeaks had received any material directly from the Russian government.”
Jonathan David Farley, Harvard Foundation’s Scientist of the Year in 2004, writes an op-ed piece for The Baltimore Sun in 2019 praising Assange and declaring we must set him free or admit we live in a dystopian world.
“A real-life Robin Hood, a Neo from “The Matrix,” Mr. Assange follows the path of Geronimo and H. Rap Brown. He fights for us by revealing in black and white U.S. complicity in the torture and murder of innocents. Saving Mr. Assange is a battle everyone who loves freedom must join.
“I have felt for years that the last defenders of our freedom would be the cyber-anarchists. We are not at freedom’s end yet, but cameras capture the average Briton 300 times daily. The Lord of Flies even wishes to invade our minds, to determine when we are lying to him.”
Farley continues, making some harsh accusations against the nations.
“The British government, by arresting Mr. Assange, has disgraced itself and proven to the world it is America’s toady. It is also violating European Union conventions, if it extradites a man to a place (America) where he could be executed.
“Sweden has also disgraced itself. We know the real motivation of the Swedish government, which has wanted Mr. Assange for “questioning,” is political, but, to smear his name, the actual crime they want to question him about is carnal, albeit not one that is a crime in the United States: A woman who had crawled into bed with Mr. Assange claimed he had relations with her without a prophylactic; another woman claimed she willingly had relations with Assange, but that he had removed the prophylactic…
“In truth, one of the women, after the alleged “crime,” tweeted to the world that she was “with the world’s coolest, smartest people!”, referring to Mr. Assange, whom she was photographed with, smiling, also after the alleged “crime.” It was only after one of the women discovered that Mr. Assange had recently had relations with the other woman that she tried to file charges.
“Like so many public rape accusations, this is simply a case of a woman scorned (and one more reason he-said-she-said cases must be summarily dismissed, not summarily believed). The news media continue to broadcast the lie that Assange faces “rape” or “assault” charges because the real goal is to defame Mr. Assange. It is not enough to kill him, because that makes him a martyr.”
DW.com makes a stronger effort at neutrality toward Assange. “Julian Assange is regarded by many as a hero who uncovered war crimes and corruption and is the father of modern investigative journalism, having dealt with huge amounts of leaked data. But others see him as a traitor, an enemy of the state, an accomplice to Russian President Vladimir Putin, perhaps the man responsible for Donald Trump’s 2016 election as president of the United States — or all of the above.
“His disgruntled former employee Daniel Domscheit-Berg once characterized Assange as “brilliant, paranoid, and obsessed with power” and accused him of turning WikiLeaks into an “ego trip” that he had “tied too closely to himself and his belligerent personality.”
“Assange’s alleged paranoia, in turn, has proven justified. Since 2010 he has been on a “Manhunting Timeline” list of US intelligence agencies, the online publication Intercept reported, citing secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden. These mention extensive intelligence operations whose goal is to investigate, stop, or at least damage WikiLeaks.”
The article continues: “Then, on August 21, 2010, the Swedish tabloid Expressen reported that Assange was the subject of rape allegations. This became the basis of an investigation that would go on for years — although no official charges were ever brought against him.
“The accusation came from two women who walked into a Stockholm police station. Assange, who has a reputation for promiscuity, had sex with both of them during a visit to Stockholm in August 2010. One woman said he tampered with a condom during sex, while the other accused him of having sex with her while she was asleep.
“Assange said he was not concerned about any proceedings in Sweden, but believed the Swedish allegations were designed to discredit him and were a pretext for his extradition from Sweden to the United States.
“Günter Wallraff, a renowned German investigative journalist, told DW that there had been a “character assassination” against Julian Assange.”
Assange has been accused of colluding with Russia, selling secrets to them, and assisting in hacking the voting machines to ensure Trump’s victory.
“Wallraff says accusations of Assange’s closeness to Russia are undermined by WikiLeaks publications on Putin or human rights violations in Russia.
“Andy Müller-Maguhn, a former spokesman for the Chaos Computer Club, said he visited Assange almost every month during his time in the embassy in his capacity as chairman of the Wau-Holland Foundation, which campaigns for freedom of information. Regarding Assange’s stance on the US election campaign and specifically Hillary Clinton, Müller-Maguhn reports “extremely critical disputes about which comments are still in the spirit of journalism and freedom of information and when it starts to relate to personal disputes.”
“But Müller-Maguhn also told DW he can understand Assange’s position. “Hillary Clinton has said publicly several times that he should be killed with a drone,” he said. “She was secretary of state when he published the embassy dispatches in 2010, the Afghan and Iraqi war diaries. Whether this woman became president was a question of life and death for him. You can’t blame him for what he did.”
“Clinton denied she ever made the comment about wanting to kill Assange with a drone, and media fact-checkers have described the alleged remark as a rumor.”
So how does Assange compare to Trump? Both are controversial, and both are hated by Hillary Clinton. Both are accused of colluding with the Russians. Both are being threatened with charges of espionage.
How do they differ? Once again, one is a billionaire ex-head of state, and one is a computer programmer and leader of a shadow organization outlawed by the Powers That Be. Assange lived on the lamb for a decade or so, while Trump has been living the life of Riley. One pays porn stars for sex, and the other has porn stars write poems about him. One disseminated secrets on a global scale, and the other hid secrets in his basement. One is an American citizen, and one is ostensibly an Australian, but truly a man without a country.
Finally, what are we to make of all this Mar-A-Lago stuff? How can we sift through all the confusion and make up our minds whether Trump is the victim or the villain? Is that possible, when we can’t really be sure about Assange or even Snowden? Let’s dig in. I so should have made this a three-post series by itself.
The Guardian gives the details of what was discovered and relates how Trump’s defense team requested a special master to review the documents, and the judge agreed to this request: “The FBI says it took about 11,000 documents, including roughly 100 with classification markings found in a storage room and an office, while serving a court-authorized search warrant at the home on 8 August.” Judge Cannon appointed “Raymond Dearie, the former chief judge of the federal court based in Brooklyn, to serve” as special master.
And no…this appears to be nothing like being a Dungeon Master.
The long and the short is, a Trump appointee admitted the motion for a Special Master, gave them till November 30 to review all these thousands of documents, and the liberals are upset that “Trump is getting away with it,” while the conservatives are angry that this is happening at all.
I have a friend in the military with top-secret clearance. (Shout out to the NSA agent monitoring this blog. Oh, the safeword is still “Mar-A-Lago,” but I had trouble getting into your only fans page). Don’t worry, he reveals no secrets to me (although he did show me the map with all of Lichtenstein’s atomic bombs) but according to him, the clearance does not automatically expire. While my friend (I’ll refer to my friend as John Smith to protect the innocent) did agree that Trump would have no legal right to the original documents, John Smith says that someone with Top Secret clearance does have the right to “access copies of documents that are properly stored in approved, locked storage” for five years thereafter, assuming that the clearance is not proactively revoked by your superiors. John Smith told me that Top Secret clearance does not passively expire for five years. John Smith stated that if the authorities were to arrest Mr. Smith, they could search him and his premises according to any judge’s warrant, but could not look into any Secret documents he possessed (hypothetically, I don’t think Mr. Smith has any, I’m just saying given the premise). He stated in that case his superiors would have to send an authorized agent to inspect the documents and that agent would make the decision on whether or not the police could seize or inspect them. So what is a Tire Blogger to make of that information?
I wrote another thousand words giving my analysis of the Trump/Mar-A-Lago fiasco, but for some reason, those failed to save. There were also several edits I made crucial to the thought process that didn’t save. I’m tired, and I’m at 4208 words now.
Ok, I’m going to go ahead and publish this and try again on the next one. My next post will be my evaluation of Trump and the Mar-A-Lago fiasco. Till Monday, make mine Marvel! Or DC. Or Dark Horse. Whatever.