Edward Snowden (Courtesy of guardiannews.com)
I got an e-mail from Edward Snowden yesterday. He says he’s got money in banks in Hong Kong and needs my help in getting it out. There are two surprises here: first, that he picked me; second, that his English is pretty bad. I’m excited that he picked me, but frankly I’m concerned about his writing.
He wrote, “Before I blue the whistle about the American secret, I had deposited sum money abroad, in a disguise, to two countries.”
He should have asked Julian Assange to help him with that sentence—Assange is English, and they are really good at writing—look at Christopher Hitchens. (Actually Assange is Australian, but he’s in England, so it’s sort of the same thing.)
The statement Snowden released at the Moscow airport was a lot better: “I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing,” he wrote. “I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.” That’s good writing. But I guess a lot of people are sloppier in their e-mails.
The deal is this: he wants me to help him “get this fund out of those countries and keep it either a personal of companies account which you have absolute control over.” It’s a little hard to follow, but you get the point.
Moving millions of dollars that belong to the most wanted man in the Western world—what could possibly go wrong with that?
Maybe he picked me because I consider him a whistleblower and not a traitor.
But then 55 percent of Americans think the same thing—that’s 172 million people.
Maybe he picked me because I think it’s wrong for Obama to charge him with violating the Espionage Act. Espionage is giving secrets to the enemy. Edward Snowden gave secrets to all of us. But I’m not the only one who thinks that—The New York Times said pretty much the same thing in an editorial: it called the Espionage Act “a 1917 law that has become the Obama administration’s hobbyhorse to go after government workers whose actions look nothing like spying.”
Frankly the spelling in the e-mail from “Edward Snowden” is a lot like the spelling in an e-mail I got a while ago from the widow of the oil minister of Nigeria. She wanted my help in getting his millions; the problem was that he had died in what she described as a “plan crash.”
I couldn’t resist replying, “What was the plan?”
Ever since I sent that e-mail, lots of people in faraway places with millions of dollars have been asking me to help them with their money.
Snowden’s biggest revelation was an NSA program called XKeystore, where they can search the content of your e-mails and other online activity if they know your e-mail address. I imagine they would be searching all e-mails sent by “Edward Snowden.” In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last month, NSA Deputy Director John C. Inglis said that the agency’s data sweeps extend “two or three hops.”
From this “Edward Snowden” to me is one hop. The second hop is everyone in my e-mail address book and everyone who sent me an e-mail. Also all of my Facebook “friends.” The third hop is everyone in the e-mail address books of all of those people. We are talking about a lot of people. Luckily the NSA computers can handle a lot of data—a billion pieces a day, or something like that.
But what if this “Edward Snowden” sent the same e-mail to other people?
Did Scott Walker really compare himself to FDR?