December 16, 2013

"National Security Agency officials are considering a controversial amnesty that would return Edward Snowden to the United States..."

"... in exchange for the extensive document trove the whistleblower took from the agency."

So the message is: If you take enough, you can get away with it simply by giving it back.

This is a variation on the big lie ("a lie so 'colossal' that no one would believe that someone 'could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously'").  Go big enough, and you can get away with what the small time liars/cheats/thieves/monsters must pay for.

Or what was it Donald Trump — I think it was Donald Trump — said? The bank turns down people who ask for small loans, but if you ask for a yoooge enough loan, they don't say no. Can't find the precise thing I'm looking for, but I did find:

"As long as you are going to be thinking anyway, think big."

Back to Snowden. I thought when he first took it on the lam, he said that there were copies distributed to various persons for safekeeping, so that if he were killed, it would all come out. How is the NSA to know whether all those copies are called back?

ADDED: Meade, reading this out loud, helping me proofread, said: "'a lie so colossal that no one would believe that someone could have the impudence'.... how about the audacity?"

I'm irritated for a second by his discontinuity and say "It's a quote," as if I think Meade is offering me writing advice and there's a better word than "impudence," and then I realize that Meade is gesturing at Obama — "Audacity of Hope" — and the colossal Lie-of-the-Year lie that Obama told.

"You do realize that's a Hitler quote?" I ask, unnecessarily.

49 comments:

Revenant said...

Are you thinking of the Getty quote that if you owe the bank $100 you've got a problem, but if you owe them $100,000,000 the bank has a problem?

iowan2 said...

I dont know it was Trump.
The advice from the successful mogal.

Always use other peoples money. Always borrow more than you need, because, If you borrow $50,000 and cant pay it back, you're in trouble. If you borrow $50,000,000 and can't pay it back.......they're in trouble.

bridgecross said...

As usual for the Guardian, the headline and text don't exactly line up. I can't tease out where they are actually considering a pardon. Most of the article seems to indicate the opposite.

Michael said...

Trump basically said that if you borrow enough and go into default the bank has lost its leverage. A huge loan requires expertise to sort out that a small one does not.

Hagar said...

There is all this talk about the NSA/CIA whatever considering a pardon, but no mention that Snowden has asked for one, or even if they have asked him if he would accept one, if offered.

And he might not; in his position I certainly would not trust these guys to keep a promise. They are the government; they don't have to.

rhhardin said...

Belmont Club sees a more likely possibility, that it's a disinformation trap.

MadisonMan said...

Snowden comes back and gives back his treasure.

And then the IRS audits him.

But there's no connection to the two things. No, not at all.

rehajm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rehajm said...

Tump's quote was along the line of Getty's...

If you owe the bank a million dollars, the bank owns you...

If you owe the bank a billion dollars, you own the bank.

traditionalguy said...

The "CO2 trace gas causes global warming" hoax is a perfect example of a Big Lie Propaganda in operation.

The key is that the Lie be repeated over and over until it seems to be a part of realty. It is a propaganda technique requiring a compliant media.

EDH said...

Just have Obama promise Snowden "if you'd like to keep your freedom and return to the US, you can keep your freedom and return to the US."

Well, maybe somebody else can make that promise for it to work.

Matthew Sablan said...

"When you strike at a king, you must kill him," Emerson, I think.

The same goes with any crime. If you are going to face the same music anyway, go all in.

Andy Freeman said...

> If you are going to face the same music anyway, go all in.

If you're going to do the time, you might as well do the crime.

Strelnikov said...

What was the lie in Snowden's case?

This is misapplication of the entire concept.

Bob Boyd said...

@MadisonMan
Snowden comes back and gives back his treasure.

And then is caught with child porn and kills himself.


garage mahal said...

Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras have a monopoly on the NSA docs. They'll profit nicely from those docs on their new media start up. I don't know of any previous whistleblowers who effectively privatized their actions.

Ambrose said...

If - and granted that is a very big "if" - the US can prevent the future release of documents that would cause great harm to us and our allies, than I think they almost have to cut the deal.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for the Getty quote. It made me say: So we own China!

Also note the correspondence between the Hitler quote and the John Adams quote in the earlier.post.

@Strelkinov, I didn't say Snowden lied. The overall topic here is going big.

Smilin' Jack said...

...he said that there were copies distributed to various persons for safekeeping, so that if he were killed, it would all come out. How is the NSA to know whether all those copies are called back?

The point isn't to get it back, the point is to know exactly what got out.

Larry J said...


EDH said...

Just have Obama promise Snowden "if you'd like to keep your freedom and return to the US, you can keep your freedom and return to the US."


In the end, the epitath of the entire Obama presidency and administration can be summed up by one sentence: "You f**ked up, you trusted us."

YoungHegelian said...

I'm afraid what garage says is right: with Poitras & Greenwald in the picture there is no way a "recall" of Snowden can put the genie back in the bottle.

The more one hears about the details of how Snowden amassed his collection, the more appalling the lack of internal controls at NSA looks. It might be worthwhile to get him back, not to get his documents, but to understand how he subverted internal NSA rules. Do you really think, especially now, that only Snowden was (is) collecting documents?

david7134 said...

Snowden needs to remember that he can also keep his present insurance plan.

elkh1 said...

Too Big to Fail.
Too naïve to survive.

Think Snowden should wriggle out a EU citizenship before he testified in the EU parliament. Obama can kill a US citizen on foreign soil, so get rid of that target from his back. Inside the US, he will become another Michael Hastings.

Pettifogger said...

My father used to say that, if you owe the bank $10,000, the bank owns you. But if you owe the bank $10,000,000, you own the bank.

These days we might have to move the decimal points, but the principle remains.

Martinkh said...

If Snowden has anything that shows the Obama Administration gathering blackmail information on prominent political enemies (or fence sitters) in order to get their political way, that needs to be released and if such information exists, it would be a tragedy of epic proportions if it simply went back into the lock-box.

My first thought when John Roberts rolled on Obamacare was "who has what on him?"

Paul Fraker said...

The proper bank analogy is this old chestnut: If you owe the bank $1,000, the bank owns you. If you owe it $1,000,000 you own the bank.

Levi Starks said...

I don't see him accepting it.
Accepting amnesty would imply an admission of guilt.
I don't believe he feels guilty for anything he's done.
The only way he can maintain the moral "high ground" is to maintain his fugitive status.
His objective was never to hold the USA hostage, but rather to release it from the ideological prison in which it's being held hostage.

madAsHell said...

So, they are basically admitting that they have no idea how much data Snowden has...

Scott M said...

This has probably already been mentioned...but we're not talking about a maltese falcon here. These are documents; easily copied and distributed.

How in the world could the US government ever confirm that Snowden hadn't done so?

Further, it would seem that what's in those documents scares the shit out of someone pretty far up the ladder in Justice.

BarrySanders20 said...

The audacious lie only works if many are already primed to want to believe the lie. Millions of Germans wanted to believe that the Jews were the reason for their problems. Millions of Americans wanted to believe in the hopeandchange bullshit. Millions still defend Obama because they think he meant well. He can and will tell unfettered lies -- that is, lies without fetters -- until enough people on his own side tell him he has to stop.

Fetters are restraints. Obama was in need of some restraint.

Where is Mick who used to haunt these halls when we need him?

Robert Cook said...

"Go big enough, and you can get away with what the small time liars/cheats/thieves/monsters must pay for. "

This is what out "job creators" (sic) on Wall Street and heading the big banks and multinational corporations learned long ago and practice with remorseless industry.

Robert Cook said...

"The key is that the Lie be repeated over and over until it seems to be a part of realty. It is a propaganda technique requiring a compliant media."

The key is a credulous public; the media are always compliant, or can be made so.

Scott M said...

AA - Did you Godwin a conversation with Meade?

Carl said...

They don't give a damn about him "giving it all back." They just want the complete list of what he took and to whom he gave it, so they can evaluate the damage and take counter-measures. They want to interrogate him in a position where it's very much in his interest to make full disclosure.

That's Job #1 when you have a security breach. The worst outcome is that you fail to realize asset X is compromised and take no steps to defend it. The second worst is that you think asset Y is compromised and you're wrong, and you have abandoned something very useful or spent loads of money and effort defending what didn't need defending.

No, they don't expect to make an offer or Snowden to agree to it. But they are probably interested in how the Russians (or Chinese) react to the idea, because it will say something about what they (the two state actors) know and don't know. And if in addition Snowden (or rather his handlers) offers something up in response that, too, will tell them something about their position, which in turn tells them something about what the state actors know and don't know. There's also the possibility that Snowden carried poison, and they're interested in validating it.

At least...that's how it would go with professionals. Unfortunately, it's hard to know how far down from President Clown himself the amateur hour extends, and whether this is actually merely the usual Obama doofosity.

hombre said...

Wasn't "the big lie" a Goebbels conversation?

lemondog said...

White House: No amnesty for Snowden

Mark Jones said...

I see that Hagar beat me to it: you ask how the government can be sure Snowden has given them back all the copies of all the documents. My question: how can Snowden be sure they won't double-cross him?

Answer in both cases: they can't. The government has lied and lied and lied to us all, and continues to lie. The only think forestalling (some of) the lies is the knowledge that Snowden could say, "No, that's lie"--and release more documents proving it, as he's already done several times. That's why they want the material back, so that they can at least know what lies can be told with some assurance that nobody will be ably to contradict them. Again.

Smilin' Jack said...

Meade, reading this out loud, helping me proofread, said: "'a lie so colossal that no one would believe that someone could have the impudence'.... how about the audacity?"

I'm irritated for a second by his discontinuity and say "It's a quote," as if I think Meade is offering me writing advice and there's a better word than "impudence,"


It's not a quote, it's a translation, and the original German word could be translated either way.

Clyde said...

"Don't be stupid,
"Be a smarty,
"Come and join
"The Democrat party!"

Clyde said...

If Snowden knows what's good for him, he'll stay in exile. He's embarrassed a lot of people who have access to exotic ways of killing people. The Russians aren't the only ones who have Polonium, for instance.

Sunslut7 said...

Ann,
Exactly what is the point if Russian, Chinese, Cuban, Iranian and North Korean intelligence services have 'proof' copies of every thing that Snowden stole?

My guess is that he gave them the hard data in encrypted form but he retained the 'private key' that unlocks the code. The clients have the 'pblic key. All they need is th eprivate key to unlock the code.

My further point is that the key must come from thr NSA as only they have the technologies to make a key that the foreign intelligence services can not brake.

I bet the real juice information includes data detailing how well the NSA has compromised the secrurity services and codes of the USA's rivals. Information that the NSA would not want to advertise.

Don't be surpised if Snowden has a piano dropped on him at soem point.

Especially if this was an NSA / CIA misinformation scheme to flush-out foreign intelligence assets.

elkh1 said...

Clyde: Americans can make sure one do a Michael Hastings.

Paul said...

If Snowden comes back and gives back his treasure then soon after that child porn will be found on his computer by the FBI and off to jail he goes (but then maybe they will just have a drone take him out.

No, if I was Snowden I'd never even consider taking their offer, not while Obama is in office.

XisDshizL said...

Lie of the year? No, lie of the century! I made this parody video to illustrate all the lies told to sell Obamacare, and its funnier than the clownshow over at Politifarce too!

Hitler's health insurance is cancelled

Hari said...

Too big to jail.

Rusty said...

So. They don't know what he has, but they do know he has something.

lemondog said...

Snowden offers to help Brazil if given asylum

Ymarsakar said...

Snowden may have not only the targets the NSA were ordered to spy on, but also the hard data intel acquired. Such as the data on Roberts kids used to blackmail him, or some equivalent data set that was acquired by the NSA spying on the IRS/Roberts.

Or the NSA may have the goods on the boys, girls, women, and men various members of Congress have had sexual relations with, both inside the US and outside of it, both legal and illegal. The same things Reid used to harness the party line vote. Nobody wants that kind of stuff decrypted by Snow or anyone else.

Charles M. Cosgrove said...

great
binary signals