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Psychological Sketch and Motivational Speculation
The United States and the world are trying to wrap their collective heads around exactly what it is that Edward Snowden did and why. Diverging opinions of him have arisen. I’m not going to touch the controversy surrounding the implications of his actions.
For the most part every American has to decide that for their selves. There is no understating the gravity of the stunning revelations about the US Government ‘s ongoing, somewhat venerable and undeniably vast Data Mining Program, PRISM, where Government Agencies (with the help of contractors like Snowden) were trolling through meta data of millions of phone calls and who knows what else. Worse it may be the tip of a larger iceberg.
Most Americans seemingly had always suspected such a program was in place, but last week Edward Snowden went ‘off the reservation’ and verified the existence of PRISM along with some details.
At this point, aside an affinity for metalic grey button down shirts; very little is known about Snowden.
Snowden didn’t complete High School. He’s a tech nerd who sports a GED. I would speculate that poor social skills were the biggest factor into his dropping out. Whether he never showed up, couldn’t perform on tests or merely had ADD, all show some level of social ineptitude.
Next Snowden spent about a year in the US Army but took a medical discharge after breaking both his legs. I’m no medical doctor but I do know most of the time in young people full recovery from a broken leg is the expected outcome. Maybe he had 2 compound fractures and just couldn’t deal, not a whole lot is known about this yet. It seems more likely he just didn’t feel as committed to the military as he initially had and again flaked out. If true it DOES mirror his inability to finish High School.
We now know that Snowden, who passed an in depth background check to work as a contractor for an outside firm doing work for the National Security Agency, which runs the Data Trolling Program know as PRISM. Just like High School and the military Snowden ended up leaving under nefarious circumstances. He had shown a propensity for the grandiose by apparently claiming to make about double his acknowledged pay of $122,000 a year.
Snowden threw away his career, his citizenship and his reputations such as it was. He also left behind what I would call a pretty hot girlfriend. Would seem to be a life, in beautiful Hawaii, birthplace of our current president; that most of us would probably want to hold into. He had a high level of security clearance into the PRISM Spying Program and something happened. Arrogance of Power? Heartfelt Patriotic Duty? Avaricious desires sprung from the lucrative opportunities that would come from selling the information he was privy to? It’s not totally clear but SOMETHING definitely happened in Snowdens mind that started this chain of events. At some point a decision was made.
Did Edward suddenly become principled and decide he had a Civic Duty? Is he nuts? Is he a Spy? Let’s look at all three possibilities!
Theories on Snowden Motives-
Theory 1 – He’s a dedicated Libertarian who truly believes in what he’s doing
This is always possible. There have numerous people in the past who have been lauded (after being vilified) for exposing secret government information. The Pentagon Papers would be the most well-known example after the Wikileaks scandal.
Snowden has identified with and contributed money to Ron Paul, who endorses Snowden’s actions.
Ask Ron or Rand Paul and they will tell you they will gladly pay his airfare home and try to protect Snowden, possibly getting him immunity. Snowden has said just yesterday he was prepared to let Hong Kong courts decide his fate, so he’s certainly not looking to face an American court if he can get around it. Certainly he lacks the sort of Courage of his Convictions displayed by Bradley Manning, who I have discussed here, is a far more sympathetic figure.
Theory 2- He’s a Bi-Polar Madman
Emotions, traits and feelings displayed by Snowden in the interviews I have seen so far could described as erratic, unpredictable, just a little unfocused, impulsive and grandiose. There’s some from the NSA and other sources saying he massively overstated the scope of his powers. Indeed, being granted the closest thing to omnipotence seems unlikely. He has claimed to have had the ability to know everything about the whereabouts of every NSA Operative. The only thing keeping people from scoffing is that an even younger and far less well financially compensated Bradley Manning also had very high clearance despite holding to the lowest rank in the Unites States Military. Snowdens claim is just crazy enough to be true. More likely he had a somewhat lower level of clearance. It’s deeply disturbing he had any clearance at all. He’s not just a risk, he’s arguably unemployable in the Intelligence Field for red flags showing he was indeed a flake.
Don’t discount the fact the guy may just be a little nuts. Picking up and moving away from everything you know is pretty damn extreme. Bi-Polar High? This is something we’ll probably never know for sure, but the traits are somewhat manifest. Doubtless he is fully engaged in a Messiah Complex or feelings of Martyrdom for freedom and privacy.
He may cycle back to low and give himself up if this theory is correct.
The Real McTeag Theory- ‘Honey-Potted’ and Flipped by the Red Chinese
Here’s a guy who was a classic underachiever. He was young, had some jack, a measure of success, and a pretty cute girlfriend he could only kind of commit to (it’s not like they were engaged). Social ineptitude held him back. His bosses had plumbed the depth of his soul before he got Top Secret Clearance. Despite this neither his employers nor his girlfriend seem to have really known the guy.
I think he was Honey Potted by Chinese Agents.
Here’s how it probably went down-
Honey Potting is a way to flip, trap or otherwise manipulate a potential source. As far back as Samson and Delilah men have done unbelievably stupid and self-destructive things for beautiful women. In the soulless world of espionage this is a lot better than getting grabbed up and tortured and its great publicity too. The US has a huge PR problem, maybe to the point of handcuffing its own cyber espionage, and China uses Hong Kong as a front for protecting him.
It doesn’t take a lot of imagination. At some point an Asian goddess (or a couple of them) approached the permanently disaffected Snowden and gave him the ride of his life. One thing led to another and Snowden is thinking he’s James Bond. He is promised money, fame and political asylum.
I am also pretty sold on Theory 2, Bi-Polar madman, but only so far as I think this led him to be an easy target for the Chinese to “flip”. Now he’s living in 5 Star Hotels in an area more than nominally under the control of the Chinese. Where did this guy get that kind of money? Who are his patrons? Julian Assange doesn’t seem to be involved beyond travel advice!
UPDATE 6-17-13 CNN reported lte last night that “Government Sources” and ‘sources within the administration” are starting to intimate they are considering a “Flipped by the Chinese/Somehow Compromised” scenario.
“Flipped” is pulling ahead in the realm of likelihood, though Bi-Polar Grandiose Libertarianism may have been part of his actions. It now seems like the whole Ron Paul thing he spoke of was just a rationalization that Snowden was using to deal with whats going on.