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Career Journalist on Russian Espionage Argues Snowden is probably a Spy.
on 24 March 2015
The Snowden narrative should strike a cautious observer as bizarre. Why would someone who purports to be simply exposing violations of privacy in intelligence agencies steal so much data unrelated to violations of privacy? Why would much of this stolen data detail particulars of US intelligence gathering against rival countries, including China and Russia? Why had Snowden been stealing data from the NSA as far back as his earlier employment with Dell? Why did he deliberately seek out a job for the NSA in Hawaii, a weak point in the NSA network, which had full access to the main NSA networks in Fort Meade? What explains his peculiar trip to Hong Kong, of all places in the world, following the data theft? At the very least, some time before his NSA employment in Hawaii, Snowden intended to steal information, and had contact with others on how best to do it. Whether or not Snowden has been sincere about his ideals, his action was premeditated theft.
Drawing upon a career of following and reporting on the world of espionage in the West, Eastern Europe and the former USSR, Lucas questions the benign "whistleblowing" image of Edward Snowden to show how he could have been duped into cooperating with Russian intelligence. By providing a series of plausible answers to the lingering questions around Snowden's actions, Lucas shows the uneasy parallels between Snowden's situation and the spycraft practiced by Russians. The conclusions are striking. Snowden has either been oblivious about what the effects of his actions are, and is a naive anti-US government ideologue, or cooperating with foreign powers to damage American institutions, and is a traitor. While Lucas realizes that there are no "smoking guns" in the Snowden case, as of yet, that can definitively establish Snowden's motivations, Lucas is able to provide a compelling account of a bizarre series of events: a series of events, which, in the media's sanctimonious posturing against the long-standing practices of espionage, need more careful scrutiny.
Other reviewers, squirming to see Lucas accuse Snowden so forcefully, denounce the book as akin to political party literature. They are likely upset that Lucas is not in their political party. Nor is Lucas in any recognizable "pro-NSA" political party either. Lucas has strident criticisms concerning the NSA and its leadership, as well as previous and current US Presidential administrations. Ultimately, Lucas is trying to provide some subtle analysis in a charged, partly mythologized conversation, a conversation that is already moving into that summit of mythologizing, the Hollywood biopic. The book's one weakness is that it is an account of current events: it lacks the time to make a more polished description of espionage practices and the institutional accountability that already exists over the NSA, and where room for improvement could take place. Such a description would show that Snowden's sensational actions can only be justified by one who already views democratically-elected legislative assemblies and contemporary diplomacy as inherently illegitimate. This would demonstrate the theoretical extremism of Snowden's supporters and the existential challenge they present to the long-standing, if often misunderstood, institutions that underwrite international relations.