Edward Snowden: Hero of Transparency

Or, you know, not

Since he publicly acknowledged being the source of bombshell leaks about the NSA two weeks ago, Ed Snowden has portrayed government secrecy as a threat to democracy, and his own leaks as acts of conscience. But chat logs uncovered by the tech news site Ars Technica suggest Snowden hasn’t always felt that way.

“Those people should be shot in the balls,” Snowden apparently said of leakers in a January 2009 chat. Snowden had logged into an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) server associated with Ars Technica. While Ars itself didn’t log the conversations, multiple participants in the discussions kept logs of the chats and 
provided them to the technology site.

At this point, Snowden’s evolution into a fierce critic of the national security establishment was in its early stages. Snowden was incensed at the New York Times, which had 
described secret negotiations between the United States and Israel over how best to deal with Iran’s suspected nuclear program.

“Are they TRYING to start a war? Jesus christ. They’re like wikileaks.” Snowden wrote. “You don’t put that s— in the NEWSPAPER.”

“They have a HISTORY of this s—,” he continued, making liberal use of capital letters and profanity. “These are the same people who blew the whole ‘we could listen to osama’s cell phone’ thing. The same people who screwed us on wiretapping. Over and over and over again.”

He said he enjoyed “ethical reporting.” But “VIOLATING NATIONAL SECURITY? no. That s— is classified for a reason. It’s not because ‘oh we hope our citizens don’t find out.’ It’s because ‘this s— won’t work if iran knows what we’re doing.’”

“I am so angry right now. This is completely unbelievable.”

People change, of course. But few change so drastically. Fewer still currently claim to be champions of openness and transparency while using unfree societies to shield themselves from the law, and very few openness and transparency advocates get jobs under false pretenses.