Another Hatchet Job on Snowden

Exclusive: The hatchet jobs against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden keep on coming with a new book whose author says he applied James Angleton’s counterintelligence techniques to Snowden, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

In depicting National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden as a Russian spy, author Edward Jay Epstein acknowledges his debt to the CIA’s famously paranoid counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, who specialized in counterintuitive thinking that surely smeared more honest CIA officers than it snared actual spies.

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. (Photo credit: The Guardian)

At a recent book signing at the Hoover Institute in Washington, D.C., for How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft, Epstein proudly announced that he learned the tricks of the counterintelligence trade from the now-deceased Angleton.

But Angleton, like other counterintelligence sleuths, assumed the carte-blanche right to smother a slender fact with weighty assumptions and then weave upon them a hefty garment of allegations, speculation and imagination fitting with the occupational predisposition to detect a spy.

Over the decades, it’s conceivable that this “methodology” may have caught a spy or two (although Angleton is perhaps best known for missing the notorious Soviet spy Kim Philby). But creating a counterfactual, evidence-free scenario seems an irresponsible way to write about Edward Snowden, a whistleblower responsible for the most consequential intelligence leak in U.S. history.

In his new book, Epstein spins his intricate web to prove Snowden’s supposed treachery around the fact that after leaking secrets to Western journalists in Hong Kong, Snowden wound up in Russia. The well-known reality is that Snowden never intended to get stuck in Russia but was stranded there when the U.S. government blocked his path to South America. Yet, however clear the record regarding how and why Snowden found asylum there, Epstein sees a more sinister logic.

As a veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and a private citizen who has befriended many government whistleblowers, I happen to have known Angleton and currently know Snowden (whom I count among my friends).

I recall in 1974, when CIA Director William Colby finally fired Angleton, audible sighs of relief rippled through spydom. Angleton had ruined the careers – and sometimes the lives – of many conscientious CIA officers. When, finally, Angleton was not in position to do any more damage, many of my contemporaries recounted personal examples of how misguided and harmful Angleton’s periodic witch hunts had been.

Like Angleton, Epstein also has a tendency to see spies where they aren’t, including asserting that Lee Harvey Oswald was a Soviet spy, a claim that finds zero support in the KGB records now available. That proclivity is also evident in Epstein’s new book.

Before the book signing at the Hoover Institute, a New York Times review and Pulitzer Prize winner Barton Gellman had thoroughly panned Epstein’s book, and more recently New York Times journalist Charlie Savage picked it apart. Their indictments suffice; I feel no need to again recite Epstein’s errors of fact and analysis.

Squeezing in a Question

But I did squeeze a question in at the Hoover book event. Epstein’s interviewer, Ben Witte of Brookings, had served up a few innings-worth of softball pitches but allowed no questions from the audience. However, when Epstein claimed that his best source on Snowden’s perfidy was Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Epstein proceeded to quote – incorrectly – to the effect that Snowden had met with Russian officials in Hong Kong. I spoke out, saying, “Putin did not say that.”

Longtime CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton.

Shock hit the audience at my impertinence, and Witte’s eyes scoured the back of the room apparently looking for Security. But the ever-genteel Epstein saved the day by admitting that I was right and that he had misspoken.

After the Witte-Epstein dialogue, the audience was allowed to approach Epstein for conversation. I introduced myself and noted that I had joined other former intelligence officers in visiting Snowden in Moscow.

“Oh, yes, I remember your name,” Epstein said, prompting me to ask why he did not seek to interview me for the book. “Yes, I should have contacted you,” he said with a smile.

At the time I was unaware of the curious limits Epstein had put on his outreach. Besides those of us who had met with Snowden in Moscow, Epstein “should have contacted” Sarah Harrison, who stayed by Snowden’s side during his five weeks at Moscow’s Sheremetevo Airport and then for a few additional months; Julian Assange, who pulled out all the stops to facilitate Snowden’s sudden and safe departure from Hong Kong; NSA whistleblowers William Binney, Kirk Wiebe and Ed Loomis; and Diane Roark, House Intelligence Committee senior aide who had the NSA account for several years.

Epstein’s book shows that – while ignoring people who know Snowden or have had painful experiences trying to expose NSA wrongdoing by going through the “proper channels” – he conducted many interviews with people who consider Snowden, as well as Putin, the devil incarnate.

There is also the issue of how much actual “damage” Snowden’s disclosures caused. According to former NSA Technical Director William Binney, it is fair to say that the extent of the NSA’s vacuuming up of bulk data on Americans and people around the world was a surprise, first and foremost, to Americans whose eyes were opened (as Snowden intended); that U.S. adversaries were generally aware of NSA’s capabilities; and that damage to sources and methods typically has been exaggerated by those interested in overstating it.

Alarmist Complaints

Here there are shades of the alarmist complaints about the supposed damage caused by the disclosures about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq from Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning.

U.S. Army Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning.

After Defense Secretary Robert Gates had joined other senior officials in lamenting the “grave damage” from Manning’s revelations, Gates was asked by Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin to put it in writing. Gates came back with an honest report: Early claims of damage had been, in Gates’s words, “significantly overwrought.”

Bill Binney and his colleagues tell me the same is probably true of the hyperbole used to portray the damage from the Snowden disclosures.

Yet, balancing whatever that “damage” was is the significance of Snowden’s argument that the warrantless bulk surveillance of Americans was illegal under the Constitution and created the risk of a future leader imposing a “turnkey tyranny” on the United States because of all the embarrassing and incriminating information that would be collected on American citizens.

There is now no doubt that Snowden’s constitutional concerns were well-founded and it is not hard to imagine how an unscrupulous politician might make effective use of people’s personal secrets or their unguarded comments.

But it is easier to discredit Snowden by simply portraying him as a Russian spy. After all, we are now deep in a New McCarthyism that accompanies the New Cold War. Any contact with Russians – no matter how unintentional in Snowden’s case – is regarded as somehow disqualifying.

So, that is the tack that Epstein took. However, the evidence isn’t there.

Chris Inglis, who was NSA’s Deputy Director when Snowden made the disclosures and who headed the initial NSA investigation, said about Snowden a year ago: “I don’t think he was in the employ of the Chinese or the Russians. I don’t see any evidence that would indicate that.”

Epstein – like so many others – also shows a basic lack of understanding of the important, graduated scale of values that Ed Snowden and other whistleblowers take with utmost seriousness. At one point, Epstein glibly says of Snowden, “In signing this [nondisclosure] document, he swore an oath not to divulge any of this information.”

But that’s not correct. The only oath that we, as military or other government officials swear is: “To support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.” 

Ethicists describe such an oath as a “supervening value,” far more serious than a promise like that embedded in the contract one signs in agreeing not to disclose classified information that could be harmful to U.S. national security. In other words, what do you do when your oath conflicts with the contract language, which one has the priority?

Snowden’s Choice

Are promises important? Of course they are. But in the moral sphere, oaths supersede promises. NSA was playing fast and loose with the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment (and arguably with the First and the Fifth as well) with warrantless surveillance. Snowden chose not to break his oath to the Constitution. Nor would he remain silent when others broke theirs.

Former National Security Agency official William Binney (foreground) and other veteran intelligence professionals watching a video feed from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. (Photo credit: Silkie Carlo)

Watching what happened to fellow whistleblowers – like Thomas Drake – who tried to “go through channels,” Snowden knew that he had to “get out of Dodge” to have any hope of remaining at liberty long enough to complete his mission. He decided to run the huge risk involved in defending the Constitution against incipient “turnkey tyranny.”

That may be difficult for Epstein and many cynical observers to believe, but without any evidence to the contrary, Snowden hardly deserves to be treated like the CIA officers who faced character assassination from Epstein’s paranoid mentor, Angleton.

I first met Snowden in early October 2013 when I was a member of the first delegation of Americans to visit him as a political exile in Russia. Four of us, all members of Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, officially presented him with our annual award for integrity.

My three colleagues, each of them an earlier awardee, were whistleblowers Coleen Rowley, Thomas Drake, and Jesselyn Raddack (ex-FBI, -NSA, -Department of Justice, respectively). After the award ceremony we spent seven hours relaxing and comparing notes with Snowden. And a year later, I had a long lunch with him in Moscow.

For my colleagues and me, this unassuming, courageous young man, known to us only by what he had said and done over the previous three months, proved to be the precisely the patriotic whistleblower we thought he was. His courage and motivation were altogether believable to Rowley, Drake and Raddack, for each of them had taken similar risks in blowing the whistle on U.S. government misconduct.

This is simply to say that all four of us seasoned professionals had a unique opportunity to take the measure of Snowden up close and personal. It is a truly a pity that author Epstein did not do the same.

Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years; he briefed the president’s daily brief one-on-one to President Reagan’s most senior national security officials from 1981-85.

54 comments for “Another Hatchet Job on Snowden

  1. March 7, 2017 at 10:01

    This article is a keeper. Edward J Epstein has written other books, one which I bought a zillion years ago. Due to poverty and the chaos that that causes, I lost the book, along with many others I had acquired. That’s just as well, it seems.

  2. March 6, 2017 at 10:55

    Epstein is a “takfiri” — one whose identity crisis is resolved by taking it upon himself to accuse others of infidelity — such is the proper term to describe the fanatics of ISIS.

  3. March 5, 2017 at 20:19

    For Leland, one can also find websites that Snowden is a Russian agent, interesting one “The Kremlin Admits Snowden is a Russian Agent”, The XX Committee, 20 Committee 7-02-2016, originally published in BILD, the German newspaper, no author stated. Why would the Kremlin admit that? What is the 20 Committee? The Veterans Today article was also suspect to me, so long and tedious, repeated points over and over with little backup evidence, that it made me curious about its purpose, and as to Snowden’s defection linked to murder of Slavs in Ukraine, no backup evidence either. That is the problem with the internet, it can be a great source of disinformation and propaganda.

  4. delia ruhe
    March 5, 2017 at 18:34

    I missed the Oliver Stone film about Snowden but got the dvd as soon as it was released. Although I closely followed the Snowden saga from the day Greenwald’s first article on it appeared in The Guardian — and I have read the books and seen the documentaries — I think I must have forgotten the most important thing in it. Stone’s film reminded me of it — namely, the American constitution. (Stone is just like that, isn’t he.)

    Because I’m not an American, there have been times over the years when I just got tired of the patriotic rhapsodizing about “freedom” (as if the US were the only nation on the planet with it) and the sacred text that guaranteed it. My impatience with this tiresome discourse grew out of my observation that no other prominent document has been as abused as the American constitution. In the years following 9/11, virtually no amendment escaped being at least singed in the Great Torching of the Great Document — except perhaps the second amendment, but that one had already been so twisted and disfigured by right-wing lunatics on the Supreme Court and gun junkies that it was difficult to see how it could be further destroyed by the neocons who dominated the Cheney-Bush administration.

    Even the black messiah who succeeded the childish Bush couldn’t or wouldn’t fix things — indeed, Obama perfected that division of the law into two distinct tiers: torturers, banksters, warrantless wire-tappers were all securely above the law. Those who blew the whistle on them; those who outed their infamous work by taking photos at abu Ghraib; those who were defrauded of their homes by the nation-wide subprime mortgage scam — they would all face economic ruin and/or jail time on behalf of their pampered persecutors. Fuck the glorious US constitution.

    Watching the Stone film against the background of the punishment that has been inflicted upon Snowden and, more important, what has been done to rectify the crimes he outed at the NSA — i.e., next to nothing — I realized that the only tiny piece of ground he is left to stand upon is the constitution. Bruised, burnt, ground to dust under the feet of a thoroughly corrupt political and economic system, the constitution is still a statement of principle which, for the time being, will have to be its own reward — Snowden’s only reward. After the empire crashes and the republic is reborn, history will reward him properly.

  5. March 5, 2017 at 16:35
  6. Molly
    March 5, 2017 at 13:53

    It is Ben WitteS, not Witte.

  7. Mark Petersen
    March 5, 2017 at 13:13

    Thank you, Mr. McGovern, for your unselfish reporting and insight. These are heady times and its important to have men of your mettle keeping the facts straight so the truth can find the light of day.

  8. March 5, 2017 at 13:05

    Yes, Chuckman is probably right, I’ve got “Legend” in front of me: Reader’s Digest Press! And Epstein quotes his “master”
    JJ Angleton on page five: “In the field of intelligence, a legend is an operational plan for a cover, or a cover itself, depending on the mission.”
    The late Markus (Mischa) Wolf / HVA / Stasi could not have said it better. JJ and Mischa are now burning in hell? Sorry, was carried away a bit by Dante.

  9. March 5, 2017 at 12:54

    The Morrissey and Policoff comments are very important it seems although many JFK researchers quoted widely from Epstein’s “Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald” (1978), mainly in the George de Mohrenschildt context. Sources say de M was Oswald’s CIA “handler” when the “defector” came back from the USSR. De M was later shot to death, “an apparent suicide”, in 1977, so Epstein could not finish his interviews with the “oil baron”. (Guess who’s name was found in de M’s address book)
    Was/is Epstein (now 81) “too close” to the CIA like a myriad of other journalists past and present? (Posner comes to mind)

    By the way, on Angleton/Ben Bradlee see Peter Janney’s recent ground breaking book on Mary Meyer-Pinchot. Devastating.
    It “produced” more than 200 comments on the Amazon Book site alone!

  10. March 5, 2017 at 12:24

    Thank you, Ray McGovern. As always, your revelations are of great value.

  11. March 5, 2017 at 12:21

    Epstein has been in bed with CIA his entire career.

    He wrote many years ago a trio of books on the Kennedy assassination: Inquest, Counterplot, and Legend

    The first of them questioned some limited aspects of the Warren Commission, gaining “creds” for Epstein among assassination critics.

    But the next two books are virtually unreadable by anyone well-informed on the matter.

    Epstein proceeded to support all the key findings of the Warren Commision. He also proceeded to attempt destroying Oswald as a person.

    It is an old intelligence trick. Give something to establish your creds, then proceed to do what you really want to do. A pat on the back just before a violent kick in the ass.

    If you look back at the publications in which Epstein was typically published, you’ll find the kind of outfits CIA used to secretly subsidize and use as outlets for disinformation.

    The CIA had a whole stable of well-known magazines and publications in the United States and abroad it used as outlets for people like Epstein.

    So here’s Epstein once again doing what he does best, write scripts for the CIA.

  12. Jerry Policoff
    March 5, 2017 at 01:03

    Epstein began his career with his doctoral thesis which became the book “Inquest.” That book was critical of the Warren Report, but it also gave them an “out” by saying that they created “political truth” out of necessity. Not a cover-up, but protection against the consequences for telling the truth. Epstein morphed into a total apologist for the Warren Commission, and the sly techniques Ray McGovern documents have been an Epstein trademark from day one. Just one example was how he cited a CBS “jiggle theory” analysis purporting to use three jiggles in the Zapruder film to prove that there were only three shots and no conspiracy. The only problem was that Warren Commission critic Sylvia Meagher had pointed out to Epstein over a year before he cited this analysis in The New York Times Magazine that there were 4 other such jiggles in the film that CBS had ignored. Epstein responded to Meagher that he was “shocked” to learn this, and that this information rendered the CBS analysis egregiously dishonest,” “and the tests are meaningless.” When Epstein wrote “Legend,” a book that not only branded Oswald a lone shooter (ignoring evidence to the contrary), but also suggested he was a Soviet spy, he had a secret mentor working with him behind the scenes. That mentor was none other than James Jesus Angleton. Angleton himself admitted to me that he was working with Epstein when I phoned him to inquire if rumors to that effect were true. JFK assassination scholars have known all about Epstein for decades. Nothing Ray McGovern wrote here is a surprise to us.

  13. Zim
    March 4, 2017 at 15:43

    Excellent essay. Thanks.

  14. Michael Morrissey
    March 4, 2017 at 14:16

    Vince Salandria saw through Epstein very early, when he (Epstein) was hard at work on the JFK cover story. See the comments in my book, Correspondence with Vincent Salandria.

  15. CB
    March 4, 2017 at 13:39

    Hatchet Job indeed. Trump should definitely pardon Snowden as his disclosures only highlighted procedures signed into Law with the Patriot Act. Of course the MSM/Deep State full court “Putin did it” press ignores completely the “alternative press” Wikileaks/insider leak vs. Russian hack possibility. This regardless of the opinion of a group of legitimate, qualified former Deep State operatives, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). And then of course the statements of Craig Murray and Steve Pieczenik appear to bolster the argument. That refuses to be considered or discussed or even considered by the MSM or any Congressional investigative team. Of course the infamous alleged “dossier” author Chris Steele is a preferred witness, but not the actual publisher of the information in question, Julian Assage? Perhaps another leaker that might be consider for a Trump pardon…..

    With the Donald off and tweeting today, the show goes on. The editors clearly are not running out of democratic spinmiesters but I think it is time for truthers to get the word out that whistleblowing can’t be prosecuted if the underlying concealed activity is illegal. The thousands of ignored, under-reported, factual instances of situations, activities and realities is proof positive of the scripted/spun dialog that ignores what can keep society civil and advance humanity.

    The good news is, the genie is out of the bottle and I think a combination of disparate items propelled by social media will make this year one for the books. From Currency Resets, Historical Debt Settlement, to Trumps “high flying assets” and plankton saving the planet a third party like Trump arriving on the scene at this point in time is bonkers. Hold onto your hat.

  16. March 4, 2017 at 12:42

    um, cut back on the absinthe ? ? ?

  17. March 4, 2017 at 12:06

    That’s your opinion, Mr Patriot. Sounds like you really enjoy the surveillance state. I guess you approve whatever this government does. Let me recommend to you a good book by Stephen Kinzer, “Overthrow”, a survey of the US sordid history of taking over other nations, from the overthrow of Hawaii to the invasion of Iraq, for which some of us believe Bush, Cheney should face criminal charges. Ah, yes, a Strenuously Assertive Patriot, Tom Tomorrow’s sobriquet for a SAP.

  18. Don Patriot
    March 4, 2017 at 11:01

    Snowden is simply a traitor and should be return to the free wiry, he should face a Court of law and face the outcome.

    • Skip Scott
      March 4, 2017 at 15:08

      What a crock! There is no justice in the USA, for the deep state it’s Just-US. Look at the other whistle-blower outcomes. Only a masochist or a fool would surrender himself. Snowden is a true patriot who gave up “the good life” in an attempt to secure our freedoms. You are a Patriot in name only, and it’s probably not even your real name.

    • Skip Scott
      March 5, 2017 at 07:50

      I am wondering why James Clapper didn’t face a court of law over lying to Congress and the American people, and why those who violated our 4 amendment rights in the NSA didn’t face a court of law. The reason is that they think the Courts are not for the deep state, only the little people. To paraphrase George Carlin, “it’s a small club, and we ain’t in it.”

  19. March 4, 2017 at 09:00

    I went back to reread this article to be more aware of Epstein’s book and noted Mr Owen’s comment about LaRouche organization. While I don’t consider them nuts, they’re always discredited by deep state as kooks! Many good investigators are getting good facts out to us, but yellow journalism keeps marching on, and, frankly, we’re going right over the cliff if this insanity continues! I sound like a broken record, but the ozone hole is larger now than our continent (likely affected by overuse of chemicals, especially chemtrails which I’m called a nut for having seen for years) which means more dangerous UV to earth, the Pacific is dangerous with Fukushima radiation, earth is losing species in a sixth extinction, on and on…we don’t have time for this BS from these idiots!

    Snowden would be well advised to remain in Russia as things are going. The US is doing its best to mess up South America for the Empire’s purposes. And, Mr Sanford, if you remember your dreams in that detail, you don’t need Freud!

    • David
      March 4, 2017 at 16:29

      Ever actually talk to a LaRouchie? They are far beyond nuts! They are zealots, dangerously mis-informed zealots.

  20. Skip Scott
    March 4, 2017 at 08:31

    I know this might be a little off-topic, but I can’t help but wonder why the Latte-sipping Hollywood elite could fall for all the bullshit in the MSM, and award the White Helmets documentary. You would think that they would have time enough to read real news on the internet. I wonder if they fear a resurgence of McCarthy blacklisting, or if they are just dupes. Of course, Oliver Stone is an exception. You would think he would be able to get the word out to a lot of the chuckleheads in Hollywood that they being victimized by propaganda. I suppose another possibility is the power of the Jewish lobby in Hollywood, and their desire to see Syria wind up like Libya and Iraq.

  21. F. G. Sanford
    March 4, 2017 at 03:09

    I finally got around to reading that Michael Scheuer interview with Sophie Shevardnaze. I had always found Scheuer a rather interesting character, but was unaware of his vituperous attitude toward Snowden. Then, I fell asleep and had this weird dream. I dreamed that Robert Parry sold Consortium News and dropped out of circulation. Rumor had it he was “holed up” in an old fishing lodge in North Dakota, and was heavily armed. He had chosen this refuge because it had a bomb shelter built in the 1950’s. On the news, Yullary Clitntoshenko was ranting about “liberals”. She was the new face of America, a cross between Hillary Clinton and Yulia Timoshenko, but without makeup. Behind her was a reproduction of that picture Hitler drew of his Alsatian dog, “Blondie”. Dog lovers were considered loyal Americans, and unlikely to be targeted. Yullary was making her regular pitch, inviting Americans everywhere to spend weekends in the woods with their dogs, fanning out to search for liberals, who were hiding behind every tree. I was worried most for my cat, who weighs nearly thirty pounds, but is nevertheless no match for a dog. If confronted, friends reminded me to mention that I had served in the Navy, which made me conservative enough to own a cat without drawing suspicion. Having Italian relatives was helpful too, because James “Jesus” Angleton had spent years subverting liberal democracy in Italy, and anyone with even the most preposterously tenuous connection to the P-2 Lodge or the Knights of Columbus was probably safe. Rumor had it that Joe Tedesky was running an underground railroad for beleaguered liberals seeking refuge, so I should contact him if the “heat” got too intense. Then, I decided to check the internet, and discovered that all computers now required users to specify whether or not they were trying to access legitimate news or “fake” news. When I opened the internet, there was a message from my old high school girlfriend. She found my name with a search engine, and wanted to “reconnect”. She was quite a “babe” back in the day, but that was more than forty years ago. Friends insisted that I shouldn’t reply, because she was now an “agent of the deep state”, and it was probably a trick. Thirty pounds of hungry cat – purring and demanding attention – woke me from this awful nightmare. America is descending into terminal paranoid psychosis. I thought, “I’d better check Consortium News and see what’s up.” I found this article. Any Freudians out there care to comment?

      March 4, 2017 at 07:58

      F. G. Sanford,

      Yes. I’d like to comment.

      You woke up too soon. In the next moment I was going to come crashing into the room wearing my Orgazmo cape and carrying the real Orgazmo gun. I would have been there to protect you.

      P.S. IF any of you have not seen the delightful Trey Parker film “Orgazmo,” you deserve to. You can check out the coming attractions on You Tube but nothing comes close to seeing the film from start to the delightful “neuter man” finish.

      Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor of Philosophy, Northeastern University, Boston, MA—and a great fan of ORGANAZMO

      • F. G. Sanford
        March 4, 2017 at 13:03

        Bart, I realize it’s the thought that counts. But I’m not sure I’d enjoy being awakened by a guy in a cape armed with an “orgazmo gun”. Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure you’d look better in leotards than Hillary…but that being said, I’ll stick with the cat. Cheers!

    • Joe Tedesky
      March 4, 2017 at 16:56

      I thought that was you. Apparently we were in the same dream. I was running an Underground Railroad for liberals that was at least until it was raided by Yullary Clitntoshenko …..who looked an awful lot like Hillary Clinton. Yullary Clitntoshenko gave me a pardon, and yes it was because she thought my puppy was cute. My lawyer tried to get me exported to Russia but Putin said no because he finally had had enough of us Americans and our craziness. Poor Robert Parry was buried alive in his bomb shelter since they built a Trump hotel over top of it. Then I woke up and found out Obama did bug Trump Towers until he didn’t bug Trump Towers. That was when I decided it was more fun being asleep so I went back to bed.

  22. Zachary Smith
    March 4, 2017 at 02:15

    To be honest, I’d never previously heard of Edward Jay Epstein, and so I’m sort of winging it here. Mr. McGovern’s essay and other things I’ve read about the author suggest to me he tends to start off with a premise, then shapes his book around that preconceived notion.

    I’ve no idea at all what motivated Snowden. The idea he is a fanatical libertarian who believes the NSA ought not exist at all is a plausible one, and that he might be a CIA guy engaged in deflating the NSA as part of a power struggle is equally believable. In the absence of any knowledge of what’s really going on a fast talking smoothie like Mr. Epstein can be convincing.

    Something I do firmly believe is that any nation stupid enough to privatize National Security deserves whatever happens to them. Also, since a low-level worker like Snowden found it so easy to carry off the information, an honest-to-God Russian/Chinese spy would have done so long before his arrival. That’s the main reason I dismiss the “Snowden-Russian-Spy” idea – I’d give long odds the Russians already had everything Snowden copied, and lots more.

      March 4, 2017 at 07:53


      Thanks for your very thoughtful response. The points you raise in your closing paragraph are not only plausible, they are the most straightforward explanation—using Occam’s Razor to cut away the likely bullshit. Amazing, actually. Here it is again:

      “Something I do firmly believe is that any nation stupid enough to privatize National Security deserves whatever happens to them. Also, since a low-level worker like Snowden found it so easy to carry off the information, an honest-to-God Russian/Chinese spy would have done so long before his arrival. That’s the main reason I dismiss the “Snowden-Russian-Spy” idea – I’d give long odds the Russians already had everything Snowden copied, and lots more.”

      My only criticism of what you write above is that the privatization of National Security also determines what happens to the rest of the world, so I’m not fully comfortable with saying we “deserve” what happens because a nuclear war destroys not only us, but all large mammal life on the planet.

      Otherwise, a BRILLIANT COMMENT!!!! THANK YOU!!!

      Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus Philosophy and Public Policy, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

  23. Plincoln
    March 4, 2017 at 01:46

    I think Snowden is a deep state asset and this is pure psyops. Let Americans know they are being spied on so they keep silent (and many do self censor) . Remind potential whistleblowers what happens if they go down that path. Have him transit through Moscow and revoke his passport so he can gets asylum in Russia, thus reinforcing the Russia is bad meme.

    There wasnt really much new there, although it did confirm it to many of those in denial, and much of what he gave to Greenwald who might be another controlled asset was never released. Surely Snowden could not be so naive to believe that anything would change? So why risk everything? Maybe he risked nothing and was just doing a job. After he is done he gets a new identity . Just speculation on my part of course.

      March 4, 2017 at 07:47


      A very plausible and interesting speculation. The Deep State is very powerful and has its tentacles into everything and everyone so your psycho ops story is, oddly enough, certainly plausible.

      I don’t want to believe it. But I didn’t want to believe Obama was lying through the 2008 campaign about being against war—my friends did alert me to their beliefs that he was. Hmmm…. court’s not in session but it will be interesting how all of this looks in twenty years.

      Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy and Public Policy, Northeastern University, Boston, MA—I did not vote for Obama in 2012 when his agenda was apparent and I am the only Ph.D. I know in philosophy who supports our president.

  24. evelync
    March 4, 2017 at 01:40

    Thanks Ray McGovern for being a friend to Edward Snowden.
    I do not know Ed Snowden personally, although I have watched Citizenfour the Laura Poitras documentary. And I have watched several videos including the University of Arizona one on privacy featuring Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Noam Chomsky.

    I believe that Edward Snowden may be the smartest person I have ever “known”.And a man truly dedicated to the constitution and the publc interest. A great hero. A man of principle and courage.

    If this country continues to try to discredit Edward Snowden that will be one more piece of evidence that the government is afraid of us and considers the public its adversary.

    The endless regime change wars, the brutal predatory financial deregulation and destruction of the middle class has already undermined the credibility of the political class.

    Snowden sacrificed everything to bring us the truth that the mass surveillance state was violating the laws and the constitution not to make the country safer but to hide official wrong doing.

    He is a hero.

    Obama should have pardoned him.

    If Snowden is not officially recognized as a hero, that will be one more big piece of evidence that the leadership of this country is too weak and fearful to stand up for what’s right- To honor the principles of liberty and justice and to honor the acts of courage of whistleblowers instead of trying to hide behind the national security state.

    An incredible intellect and man of integrity.
    Thank you Edward Snowden for giving me a bit of hope.

    Hillary Clinton’s attack on Edward Snowden during one of the debates may have been the final assurance I needed that she could not be trusted to stand up for what was right. She did it all by herself. Trying to pin it on Russia has just made it all even more absurd.

      March 4, 2017 at 07:43


      Thanks for a great comment. POTUS Trump should pardon him but first Trump’s got to get himself out of the line of fire from the Deep State. IF POTUS Trump pardoned Snowden today, the Deep State and its many “running dogs”—Obama, Hilliar, Soros, Michael Moore, Amy Goodman, millions of lost melting snowflakes, thousands of disconnected Ph.D.s—would bury him and probably be able to stage an impeachment that many Republicans would be forced to support by their own constituents given the propaganda the presstitutes would pile on.

      What’s interesting is the damage that can be traceable to Snowden: primarily letting the American public know how violated it was. “According to former NSA Technical Director William Binney, it is fair to say that the extent of the NSA’s vacuuming up of bulk data on Americans and people around the world was a surprise, first and foremost, to Americans whose eyes were opened (as Snowden intended); that U.S. adversaries were generally aware of NSA’s capabilities; and that damage to sources and methods typically has been exaggerated by those interested in overstating it.”

      Snowden should get a Nobel peace prize but that’s about as likely as the Deep State calling for a truce with POTUS Trump.


      Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus Philosophy and Public Policy, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

      • evelync
        March 4, 2017 at 12:42

        Professor Grizalski

        I think that President Trump criticized Edward Snowden. So, if I remember that correctly he joined Secretary Clinton in bowing to the national security state or Deep State or whatever seems to be the enforcer of what Snowden was trying to shine some light on for us.

        I hope I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure I heard him say this when asked.

        I was also surprised to see Amy Goodman mentioned in the same group
        with Hillary Clinton. Amy hosted Manuel Zelaya last year? maybe within the last couple of years I think to explain why Clinton failed to help him overturn the coup in Honduras. He said on the show that Clinton was weak and listened to right wing elements in the state dept. plus Amy nearly got killed herself in East Timor exposing the military govts rampage there against the indigenous people.
        I think Amy has done good work so I’m surprised you associate her with
        what I observed anyways as her exposing of the ills we are all concerned
        about here.

        • Christian
          March 4, 2017 at 15:23

          Amys post election coverage has been abysmal. Really disheartening. Mostly Anti Trump hysteria with little or no adversarial reporting debunking the MSMs CIA approved narratives, challenging the deep states russophobic cointelpro inspired political assassinations preferring to dwell on President Trumps regrettably uninclusive identity politics rather than the deep state (with the help of their MSM shills) OPENLY undermining the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our representative democracy..

          Jeremy Scahill over at the Intercept has been struggling with that as well

          • evelync
            March 5, 2017 at 00:20

            Ohh, ok, thanks for sharing that…

            Interestingly we went to NYC to see a few shows and that included the St Petersberg Carnegie Hall.

            It got a wonderful reception with standing ovations.
            Beautiful performances.

            Hard to reconcile that welcome with the political attacks on Russia that seem bizarre in that Hillary Clinton failed herself because voters didn’t trust her to be on their side.
            Why Democrats can’t face that truth and instead want to whip up a frenzy to place blame on a scape goat is really weak.

            It seems everything on foreign policy is being conflated and confused with domestic politics….

        • John
          March 8, 2017 at 21:57

          Amy also was gung ho for the “rebels” in Libya and Syria, uncritically so, at least last I actually watched her show. I remember watching it livestream during the Lybia invasion, and the chat room was filled with people trying to tell her that she needed to talk to Cynthia McKinney, not the embedded “reporters”. I haven’t attempted to watch her cheering on the White Helmetted Headchoppers, but have read she is doing so.

  25. Gary Hare
    March 3, 2017 at 21:25

    I like the way The Constitution can be misrepresented by those wishing to malign others. Reminds me of the various interpretations of The Bible, or The Koran, or what people have said to Investigative Committees (ie Sessions recently). Or how The Supreme Leader of Iran vowed ‘to annihilate the State of Israel”, when the proper interpretation was that Israel, being “unGodly” would annihilate itself.

  26. Bill Bodden
    March 3, 2017 at 20:52

    My three colleagues, each of them an earlier awardee, were whistleblowers Coleen Rowley, Thomas Drake, and Jesselyn Raddack (ex-FBI, -NSA, -Department of Justice, respectively). After the award ceremony we spent seven hours relaxing and comparing notes with Snowden.

    One consolation for the hardships Edward Snowden has endured since he took on his whistleblowing mission must surely be found in the great friends who have come to his support.

  27. Bob Van Noy
    March 3, 2017 at 20:48

    Thank you Ray McGovern for all that you do. You’re a National Treasure.

    I distinctly remember in the run up to G.W. Bush’s Iraq war reading an op-ed by David Davenport of the Hoover Institute where he discusses George W’s “Moral authority for war”
    (link included) where I first realized, in “real time” the propaganda run up to war. I’ve been a skeptic every day since then. Clearly the “Mighty Wurlitzer” is at work again…

    Wurlitzer here:

  28. March 3, 2017 at 20:40

    Ray McGovern always blows fresh air on noxious fumes of lies. The fanatics and zealots of MSM and deep state might push Epstein’s book, they are stooping to anything. Not just one Joseph McCarthy, but a whole gang of them in the form of Democrats. I agree with Kalen that there has to be concerted push back, because this is not a puny voice of these hysterics, it’s reaching a scream. Lying is done on TV, radio, internet, daily. However, how to proceed? Speak up? Letters to Editor? Organize a “Stop the New Cold War Against Russia” demo in your town or city? If the women could march on Washington to protest Trump, why can’t we march against treacherous Russophobic campaign of lying? It’s not to protect Trump, but to get some truth telling. To think that Hillary Clinton started this, and it has now become a blizzard of hysterical lies!

    • Brad Owen
      March 4, 2017 at 08:28

      If you want to do something to push back, you should contact the LaRouche organizations; Executive Intelligence Review (EIR website), and LaRouchePAC website. Helga LaRouche wrote an editorial: “Denial of Reality by narcissistic Democrats reaching clinical proportions”. They published a 17 page dossier on the Obama/Soros sponsored “2017 Color Revolution” coup launched upon the Trump administration; the 2014 Ukraine Coup operation imported into USA. They sponsored an international Day of Truth to get the word out, especially to Americans who are so in the dark about WTF is going on in our country.

  29. Jay
    March 3, 2017 at 20:34

    Um, pretty much none of what Snowden disclosed was a surprise.

    Didn’t Ray McGovern note the broad language in the “Patriot Act”?

    What was a surprise is that the NSA would make the illegal collection so easy to document.

  30. Erik G
    March 3, 2017 at 20:32

    An excellent article, well evidenced and well reasoned, valuable to all persons thinking about patriotism vs. tribalism, about the Constitution vs. flag-waving. Thank you Ray McGovern and the VIPS, and thank you, Edward Snowden. It is largely through your actions that we see the better side of the secret agencies.

  31. Herman
    March 3, 2017 at 20:11

    I know there are more important points about the Ray McGovern article but the most important to me is his tight and precise argumentation and the quality of his writing. It is a pleasure read what he writes. Of course, I am on the side that enjoys his writing the most.

    March 3, 2017 at 19:53

    Ray McGovern,

    Another beautiful article and expose of the presstitute Eptsein. You show Snowden to be the patriot that he is, and one deserving of America’s highest medal awarded to those in the intelligence community. I am pleased that your group gave him its highest award.

    How people like Eptsein get away with their lies and get audiences for book-signings is absolutely part of the propaganda motivated by the Deep State (my recent “the Deep State versus President Trump” documents why and how the Deep State is after our POTUS to either impeach or assassinate him). I am going to post your article on Facebook—I do what I can to counter the unbelievable propaganda the prostitute press puts out to support the Deep State’s numerous attacks.

    Why don’t you think POTUS Trump hasn’t prosecuted some of these folks for sedition or treason? Surely Soros is guilty, as is Michael Moore and her holiness, the liar supreme, Hillair. She could at least be prosecuted for her email lies and for being the person responsible, if only as the “top dog,” for Benghazi, though I think there’s a lot more that has been temporarily swept aside regarding Hilliar’s responsibility.

    Thanks for a good piece. It will be on Facebook as soon as I sign off.

    Best to you,

    Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy and Public Policy and Religion, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

  33. mike k
    March 3, 2017 at 19:21

    A signing at the Hoover Institute? Did it include a fat check from those right wing fanatics?

      March 3, 2017 at 19:56

      mike k,

      Ya think they’d sign me up to have folks line up for my signing my three books on Trump? Gosh, I wouldn’t even need a fat check, just a bit of publicity to get the word out about the dire threats against out POTUS.

      Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy and Public Policy and Religion, Northeastern University, Boston, MA—I’m the only professional philosopher I know, and I know lots of ’em, who supported and continues to support President Trump.

  34. Kalen
    March 3, 2017 at 19:04

    One must point out enormous MSM and Deep State establishment hypocrisy as far as writing in a Snowden affair into current anti-Russian and anti-Putin hysteria or rather MSM not writing it in at all, only because such a narrative would have been supportive of Trump’s namely “Snowden is a Traitor”

    Even “The Intercept” that suppose to be epitomizing Russian propaganda as Russian spies or useful idiots by publishing classified documents allegedly “stolen” by Snowden , a proverbial Russian spy, has been spared direct attacks of MSM and CIA or Congressional Russian hating zealots. Why?

    Why another juicy target of Russian spy accusation like Manning has been absent from the daily MSM tabloids?

    May be because it was Obama who commuted sentence of this possible Russian spy?

    Let’s not be fooled by such a straw-man arguments.

    It is all about new McCarthyism, new campaign of terrors and accusation, alienation of the journalists from their readers under cloud of criminality, spying and FBI investigation against those who do not peddle official narratives who are not buying utter nonsense and who do not draw absurd conclusions based on lies and innuendos without any shred of evidence.

    All independent medial journalists and readers must unite and must drown this puny voice of paranoia perpetuated by MSM and Deep State in the ocean of sanity, humanity and reason.

      March 3, 2017 at 20:09


      I heartily agree with your concluding paragraph: “All independent medial journalists and readers must unite and must drown this puny voice of paranoia perpetuated by MSM and Deep State in the ocean of sanity, humanity and reason.”

      That’s why I wrote my most recent Trump book, “The Deep State Versus President Trump.”

      The threats to our POTUS are quite serious. The Deep State wants him impeached or assassinated, it doesn’t matter which. The group supporting the Deep State includes Obama, the failed president; Hilliar, the failed candidate; Michael Moore, the horribly overweight filmster; Soros, the greedy billionaire; Amy Goodman, the presstitute who runs “Democracy Now”; actresses and actors who should know better than put their noses where the sun doesn’t shine and where they know nothing but poop; plus bunches of snowflakes who want their own “safe spaces” at universities and university faculties who actually put up with this poop piled higher than the cows that produce it several times a day.

      The academic community of Ph.D.’s also supports the Deep State and their support is important to the neoconservatives who believe they are the intellectual heirs of Philosophy Professor Leo Strauss and take the Ph.D.’s irrational hatred of Trump (should I write an article about this?) as offering an academic round of applause for their nefarious actions.

      Finally, we have the rabid discontents in the intelligence community—in NSA, CIA, FBI and others—who are part of the Deep State and pushing for the destruction, however it happens, of President Trump.

      All of them be damned, charged with high crimes and misdemeanors, and put in jail or executed to protect not only our POTUS, but our very democracy and the institutions that are crucial to it.

      Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy and Public Policy and Religion, Northeastern University, Boston, MA—and the only philosophy Ph.D. whom I know who supports Trump (many have stopped communicating with me despite my excellent academic standing—a bunch of spoiled brats).

    • fudmier
      March 4, 2017 at 05:24

      Yes, yes, yes! the question is why.. and without that narrative none understand enough to educate the general public.
      Forward after 1868, list de Great Powers: Russia, Germany, France, China Britain. and the Ottoman Empire.. Now let”s look at the religion issues.. Powerful Christian Catholic Russia its Tzars were intermarried to the British and German aristocracy ..
      In 1904-08 forced by fire and threat of death the Ottomans forced the exodus from Salonika.. 1/2 to NYC (Balfour Agreement to WW1) 1/2 to Russia (Lenin Led October, 1917, killed 32 million Ukrainians, forced back into Germany 1932, rise of Hitler) what was the fight over.. OIL man OIL and slave trade and dominance over land and sea.. Iraq oil discovered late 18th century,. German deal.. I build you roads and you let me buy your oil and transport it back to Germany,, OH no you are not== all dat oil aint going to Germany,, so here come de opposition ..WWi, WWII and soon to be WWIII.

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