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back to article Marc Andreessen: Edward Snowden is a 'textbook traitor'

Netscape cofounder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen has said that NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a "textbook traitor," even though he admits that his peers in Silicon Valley mostly don't see it that way. "Obviously he's a traitor," Andreessen said in an interview with CNBC. "If you look up in the encyclopedia, 'traitor', …

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Facepalm

Bread. Butter.

I suppose he knows which side his bread is buttered on, hmm?

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Re: Bread. Butter. - could it be...

That Marc Andreessen is a textbook twat?

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Re: Bread. Butter. - could it be...

While Marc has the right to believe that Snowden is a Russian spy (USA is supposedly a free country), his notion that the scale of operations of NSA and whatever Russian agency there is is comparable betrays lack of intellect.

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Re: Bread. Butter.

I think it's pretty poor form of you to just accuse him of being a shill.

When he says that the 'US govt is hanging out the tech industry to dry', I think he means they're not any longer encouraging as much as they ought, the work of the NSA in detecting and stopping e.g. Chinese industrial espionage and technology theft, such as diminishes US industrial and thus taxation revenues. The interests of the US people just like your interests are necessarily tied up with the health of the economy and government revenues wherever you live. Barring some extraordinary moral wrong involved in it, you'd do well to support that health. I don't think 'snooping' is such an extraordinary moral wrong, and if it is, there are numerous extraordinary circumstances (the threat of terrorism and said espionage) which call for it.

So when he says he knows what side his bread is buttered on, I think he's talking about all of your bread(s), unless of course you live in China or some other techno-kleptocracy.

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Is this guy serious?

Of course everyone knew that the NSA does spying on the "enemies" of the US.

What they didn't necessarily realise was that they were spying on absolutely *everyone* and using methods that, in many cases, are specifically illegal according to US statutes.

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He's always serious, which is great because he doesn't know when people are laughing at him. Which is pretty much all the time.

He's spot on about being in a minority, he is a minority inside a minority (does that make him a super minority?) He is the 'makes you itchy to talk to minority'. It's common knowledge that the only way to deal with him is if you're blackout drunk (which makes you impervious to airborne hives) or by using the epinephrine, adrenaline and ketamine mega-dose syringe they use in equine emergencies (but only if you haven't been drinking).

The guy is a living, one episode, Dr. Who villain. If a big fucking blue police box just materialized and took him away absolutely nobody would really be surprised. The universal response among any of those who witnessed the event would be 'I knew that was going to happen'.

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When I grow up I want to be you, Don.

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Big Brother

Well then

that's him off my christmas card list

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Anonymous Coward

get over it!

I completely agree with Andreson and I am as liberal as they get. Anyone with half a brain would know the NSA was doing this. And oh yea, there was excellent PBS Frontline documentary years ago about NSA installing purpose built hardware to snoop, but no one really cared at that time it seems. You sheep just need to go back to grazing on your iGrass feedstock and go about your life in bless full ignorance.

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Re: get over it!

Dear AC, your point is rather moot. I really doubt there's anyone with half a brain on this globe that expects a Spying Agency to do anything else but toe the line, and sometimes cross it. It's inherent in the business. Spais need to be able to Spai, else they simply cannot do their job.

However, you can expect that an agency like that will at least keep to its government-given mandate, and not cross those lines. Most working governments ( which sadly does not include the U.S.) will have review processes in place where duly elected officials do indeed check regularly whether or not those lines are crossed. Thus the status quo is maintained.

The NSA** not only crossed the lines of its mandate, it completely ignored it. And its Nations' Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Watergate Scandal is a kindergarten accident compared to the sheer scale of this activity, and people are rightly concerned and even furious about it.

Edward Snowden saw this, and decided to reveal this to the world. He did not show all and sundry that the NSA did spy-stuff. He showed the world, but specifically the people of his nation, that one of their government agencies had grossly ignored its mandate, and basically gone rogue under an ineffectual control mechanism.

That is not the work of a traitor. That is the work of a conscientious citizen of a nation. Given the fact that he is *still* at risk of the actions of the agency, and its government puppets, one could even argue a mild case of heroism.

** Insert the british subdivision where needed.

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Big Brother

Re: get over it!

You're just about right, G. The problem is that he didn't just hand over the documents about the likely illegal spying on US citizens and residents, but he handed over everything, including really sensitive secrets such as info about compromising Huawei's internal network and locations of cable taps around the world. Do the latter is traitorous in effect (and has nothing to do with Constitutional rights), so the bottom line is that he's both a patriot and a traitor, with the latter part solely due to his failure to vet what info he made public.

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Quantum of betrayal?

Hmm! That sounds like it would be a great movie title!

Both a traitor and patriot, but only from your frame of reference one or the other.

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Re: get over it!

He is both a patriot and traitor, but unfortunately such a circumstance is not conceivable in US politics. Nuanced views are not permitted - you're either with US or against US.

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Re: get over it!

However, you can expect that an agency like that will at least keep to its government-given mandate, and not cross those lines.

Serioulsy, you believe that? Are all Americans that naive?

Edward Snowden saw this, and decided to reveal this to the world.

Indeed he did, and in doing so he not only crossed the lines of his mandate, he completely ignored it. And the solemn oath he had sworn to his nation to protect it.

There are ways to blow the whistle on this sort of thing which leave the guilty some way to save face, many of which require some self-sacrifice with no reward, but by "revealing it to the world" Snowden chose the "hey look at me, I'm such a great guy saving you all from this" wannabe-hero approach. Not so smart.

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Unhappy

Re: get over it!

"including really sensitive secrets such as info about compromising Huawei's internal network"

Yup, spying on a legitimate company seem fair to me....and I wonder how much information "occidentally" got in the hands of a certain US networking giant.

And as for "spying on enemies", they are only enemies because you choose to make them so, and that they do so like wise. Most people in this world with even half a brain want to live without hatred and fear, but those in power like to peddle it, because it suits their own agendas.

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Re: get over it!

"There are ways to blow the whistle on this sort of thing which leave the guilty some way to save face, many of which require some self-sacrifice with no reward, but by "revealing it to the world" Snowden chose the "hey look at me, I'm such a great guy saving you all from this" wannabe-hero approach. Not so smart."

Sorry, but it almost seems as though you are implying he took the easy way and glamorous way out.

The easy thing to do would have been to do well, what every other member of the NSA has done, which is to sit down and shut up - to keep pulling in a paycheck fully aware that the constitutionally guaranteed rights of their fellow citizens are being abused. He could have gone out for beers with his friends on Friday nights, seen his family on Sunday and generally had a pleasant life.

I would have a difficult time choosing between doing the right thing and living a comfortable life and I am sure he agonised over it but I am very glad that he had the courage to do what no one else had done.

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Re: get over it!

Crikey, you Americans and your constitution and bill of rights. The NSA is the "Department of Breaking The Law When We Think We Need To", and you are surprised that they break more laws than the ones you wanted them to break?

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Re: get over it!

I always like seeing Anonymous Cowards who haven't enough guts to stick their name above their opinion.

It sort of rates their scribble, which is why I never read them.

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Re: get over it!

"It sort of rates their scribble, which is why I never read <anonymous coward stuff>."

That;s a shame, because surely the way it should be is that the words are often more important than the identity of the person posting them?

AC. Because the message is more important than the messenger.

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Re: get over it!

+1

Indeed, and often the more interesting posts are actually the ones where a prudent approach is not to associate yourself with them, because the internet never forgets and you never know who's going to take offence. But...... each to their own, I guess.

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Anonymous Coward

Ahh...Bless full ignorance...

...whatever that means.

Clearly a reader.

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Anonymous Coward

Ah, the fallacy of appeal to authority.

If an argument isn't true just because of who says it, then it also isn't false just because you don't know who said it. Arguments should stand or fall on their own strengths, and not on whether or not you like the person making them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the message is more important than the messenger.

the message should be more important than the messenger's ego.

FTFY.

I did like someone's suggestion the other day that anons in a given discussion should each be uniquely identfied, simply for the purpose of continuity and clarity of discussion.

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Joke

Re: Quantum of betrayal?

That's what the MSM call 'spin'. It comes in half-integral quantities.

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Re: get over it!

"There are ways to blow the whistle on this sort of thing which leave the guilty some way to save face"

Er, to coin a phrase ... "Serioulsy, you believe that?".

The scale of the operation revealed by Snowden is not one or two rogue operatives. It implies that *lots* of people were aware of it and signing off massive expenditure to support it, including those at the very top. One can probably assume that Obama (and Bush before him) don't ask probing questions and so didn't know, but by the same token, there's no point in telling them because they'll believe whatever the NSA chiefs say. So you are trying to blow the whistle on an organisation with billions of dollars at its disposal and no effective legal oversight. The court of public opinion is probably the only place you'll get a hearing and foreign governments are probably your only hope of protection whilst that court is making up its mind.

Those who don't like "blanket revelations" should perhaps reconsider the wisdom of "blanket surveillance".

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Happy

Re: get over it! @ JaitcH

Fortunately, most of the AC's that aren't trolling, and are genuinely asses with very narrow world views based on a complete lack of experience, are so boringly repetitive in their braying that it's easy to tell who they are.

The upshot of that is it makes it easy to know which comments to skip, or which ones to screw with, as your inclination dictates.

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Re: get over it!

...but obviously, the US don't understand that the message is the more important part, given the comparative lack of effort they're putting into restraining these self-appointed watchmen while still vilifying the messenger.

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They're letting the American tech industry hang out to dry.

And there you have it folks. What he is really saying is "my portfolio and cloudy profits are at risk because of these leaks!"

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Facepalm

> They're letting the American tech industry hang out to dry.

Spot on and quite right too. What's the phrase? "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?" Everyone knows that all countries spy on all other countries, friends and enemies alike. The problem is that the NSA broke the golden rule: don't get caught.

If you get caught betraying your friend Merkel's trust, you are a traitor. There may not be a law against it in your own country, but most people agree that you shouldn't bug your friends' phones in case they say something you can use against them.

Worse, the NSA indulged in internal spying which is against their charter. They were spying against the people who voted for their bosses. And they got caught. Americans are quite happy to treat foreigners badly as long as their own privilege is maintained. What came out was that the government views everyone as an enemy, including Americans. Again, most people assumed that some sort of internal security and spying was going on but the sheer scope and catch-all focus moved it (in the public mind) from "catching known criminals" to massive state spying on everything you do. That's creepy.

The US government hung the tech industry out to dry when they gave their law enforcement extra-territorial powers. They could easily have said, "data held abroad falls under local jurisdiction only," but they wanted it all. They could easily have been selective if that was too broad - Europe, Japan and Australia qualify for special jurisdictional allowances.

The US government got greedy, very greedy and were incredibly efficient. Weirdly the NSA never asked the question, "What could possibly go wrong?" It has now gone wrong and it seems to have taken them by surprise that their actions have consequences.

Integrity, honour, reputation. Perhaps prizing these will come back into fashion, but I'm not holding my breath.

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@P.Lee

I think it's actually a bit simpler than that - I believe that a large portion of those in the NSA actually believed in their own righteousness.

That's not a problem per se as most people fall into that trap. That's why the whole system of 'checks and balances' exists - because self-regulation almost never works.

Unfortunately for the American people and indeed the rest of the normal humans out in that wide land known as 'not-the-USA', the NSA operated outside of that system. They lied to congress (you know - the representative part of 'representative democracy') and were shielded from the oversight of the courts. That's two whole arms of the US federal government excluded.

Little wonder they ran amok.

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I think you are right Dan I suggest we call it the "Donald rumsfeld" effect.

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Anonymous Coward

What a prat.

'spose he thinks it OK for out-of-control-government to spy on people 24/7.

"nothing to hide", etc... hope he never has to fear.

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Re: What a prat.

'spose he thinks it OK for out-of-control-government to spy on people 24/7.

Actually, no. His statement that Snowden is a traitor is textbook correct . Snowden's actions do indeed tick all the boxes for the official definition of a traitor. His data release is an illegal act that benefits foreign entities - that's all the boxes ticked.

However, being a traitor and a whistleblower are not mutually exclusive - whatever you think of his approach, he did kickstart a long overdue debate about accountability.

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Re: What a prat.

"His data release is an illegal act that benefits foreign entities"

How are you measuring that legality and that benefit?

On the first point,concealing knowledge of a major (constitutional) crime is presumably itself an offence, so he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't. Call it a score-draw.

On the second point, if the US government responds by reining in the military and intelligence communities so that the rest of the US (its people and businesses) are trusted by foreigners once again, the net benefit to his country will have been enormous. (Failure of the US government to do this would of course be illegal and of benefit to foreign entities.)

In other news, China continues its campaign to exclude all recent versions of Windows from the Chinese market and therefore provide a billion customers for anyone who isn't Microsoft. Beijing is being slightly opportunistic and rather less slightly hypocritical and self-serving here, but the current climate is such that many other countries (like the other three in the BRIC group) might well be interested in following suit.

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Re: What a prat.

There's a very strong argument to be made that the Constitution not only supports actions like Snowden's, but even stronger action should it be deemed necessary. Unfortunately the Constitution only applies if you care to acknowledge it, so it's all kind of pointless if one group can ignore it, but another acknowledge it.

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Re: What a prat.

@Don Jefe

Now, with my oft-repeated disclaimer that I am not a US citizen, one might argue that the kind of situation the US finds itself in may fulfil the criteria established in the Second Ammendment.

As a non-American, I find the 'founding fathers' of that country of great interest. Here were people who understood the pitfalls of humanity and, especially, leadership. They were flawed humans (which is as perfect a tautology as there is) but their most important message was that a government should be "of, by and for the people" and they must be watched night and day and held to account when they stray from the wishes of the people.

Now, in any modern democracy, there are things that do need to be kept from the public. That is inevitable in an open society where people are free to associate and communicate as they see fit. But that's why you have congress - to process information and make decisions on behalf of the people. The problem here is that, as said, congress was largely excluded and thus couldn't adequately represent the people.

As someone (apologies for forgetting) said in one of these related stories - when the director of the NSA is allowed to lie to an elected member of congress then we (you) cease to live in a representative democracy.

That is the long and the short of it.

The whole point of the constitution, born as it was of the Revolution, was to put limits of government. What is happening now is exactly the sort of thing that the revolution sought to free the people from. The revolution and the subsequient constitution was birthed in the blood of those for whom freedom from oppression was more important than freedom from harm and danger.

On the 4th of July every year, the American people celebrate the sacrifice of people who would rather DIE than be enslaved by their government. The president of the day gives a fine speech about democracy and bravery and standing up for what is right but those lessons are paid lip-service only. How can you honour those who gave their lives for freedom when you insitute polices that take the liberties of your people in exchange for some imagined level of security.

With barely-controlled melodrama, it makes me sick and I am not even American.

Heroes are to be revered and noble ideas defended no matter where they come from. True heroes are champions for more than their own countries because they fight for what is good in humanity - not any given race or creed. The ideals that those revolutionaries fought for are universal rights.

And so, to all the US citizens - a month from now, when you light your firecrackers and drape your red-white-and-blue bunting around the place, you ask yourselves why it is okay to deprive the citizens of other nations of their privacy. Perhaps you might answer that it is up to every country to protect its own interests and citizens and the US is justified in spying on the rest of the world so long as they respect their own people. Well fuck you. And fuck your president for standing up in Normandy this week and praising the young men who fought for democracy.

That argument is no more than 'might makes right' and it's people like you who have all helped lead to the current reality because right now your government has the 'might'.

The US once sought ot be a beacon to other nations - a symbol of freedom and liberty. Having watched 'Superman: Man of Steel" recently, I find a line in that particularly moving: "You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time you will help them accomplish wonders."

That was what the US once wished to be - they marched side-by-side with their allies to bring freedom and democracy to the world but now they have secret internment camps all over that freed world. They tried to raise countries to their level, promoting improved workign conditions and better labour laws; now they off-shore to the lowest bidder. They sought to be the "city upon a hill" with, as Reagan said, "doors . . . open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here". Now? A locked, gate, surrounded by self-important guards who believe themselves above the law.

What a long way to fall.

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Re: What a prat.

Of course we're going to fall, in every way imaginable. That's the only possible outcome of existing in a constant State of FearTM. Nearly everything we've done as a nation since the mid-1960's and most of everything between Korea and Vietnam, has been in response to never ending fear of something. The next Great ThreatTM changes, but the base level of Fear continuously escalates, it never gets dialed back, we just get 'protected', we don't actually solve anything.

You can see it everywhere. There aren't many people in The West still alive who know what actual war and fear are about. Catapulting people to the opposite side of the planet with no goal, just guns, isn't war, that's market manipulation and job creation. People run around shitting in their pants over Commies, Economies and Terrorists and spend more money protecting themselves from ideas and anomalies than actually trying to change anything.

It's one thing to be afraid of something, that's common sense. But to Fear something is just cowardice wrapped up in feel good semantics. Fear is useless and debilitating on every possible front and until people realize just how absurdly safe the world really is then everything is just going to get more fucked up. We're taking the fights to the wrong enemy. The enemy is ourselves and this stupid fucking idea that 50 hour weeks and $100k salaries are the height of civilization instead of the very slavery we pretend to detest.

It people want to be mollycoddled and live life wrapped in swaddling clothes that's fine. But those people shouldn't get a voice in how those who don't want that do with the country. I'm not going to slow down and kneel so I can hear the whinging through the swaddling. Fuck 'em. They're safe and if that's not good enough tough shit. Come on up here and let's work together and move forward, not sit in your corner, covered in your own stinking fear shit and bitch about Chinese labor policy while too scared to come out in the open. It's pathetic and is the most 'Un-American' and unpatriotic kind of shit I can possibly imagine.

Until those people are gone, then we're fucked. It's just so crazy insane that my office, home and mountain fortress are militarized zones, but that's because it's the great Middle Class, anti-American pantywaists that I protect my family and staff from, not an foreign power or ideological nutter from overseas. It's just embarrassing. We could have skipped centuries of great thinking and not even bothered with trying to set an example and just remained British. There's no fucking way any of the Founding Fathers would have bothered with this lot of sad sacks.

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Anonymous Coward

Yup, that's about 2 cents worth

Nothing dime-a-dozen about that grad student, nosiree.

Also, Beldar

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FAIL

Another brick in the wall

Oh noes! My liberal peace president "Serial Obomba" is not doing enough to support a totally out-of-control spy bureaucracy which is just waiting for the reincarnation of Heydrich to, like, totally grease the place up! OH WOES!!

Has anyone looked closely as this arseholelittle lost sheep's products? You might find the literal backdoor therein.

Here's hoping he has a messy encounter with a random Silicon Valley 20-wheeler.

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I admit - I agree with Marc!

Who <b>didn't</b> know what the NSA was doing?

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Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?

It's not that we didn't expect the NSA to be spying, but the scope and methods put people off – including overseas clients of US-based cloud services, which I believe is Andreessen's actual beef with Snowden. "All this truth is hurting my bottom line!" is the long and short of it, really. Talk about butthurt!

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OK, I'll bite:

If everyone knew what the NSA was doing, how can anyone accuse Snowden of treason?

On the other hand, if what the NSA was doing was massively (TS//SI//TK//NOFORN) secret, then one might be able to credible accuse Snowden of treachery, but one might also raise the question of why the NSA expended the effort to circumvent the rubber stamp FISA court...

Even Dianne Feinstein has objected to the behavior of the intelligence agencies, which confirms that their are objections to be levelled. Whether or not those objections justify the actions Snowden took is another matter.

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@Malcolm Weir

Excellent point.

But, I would suggest that no, everybody did not know what was going on.

There were certainly plenty of people who worried about what might be happening but trusted the 'checks and balances' of the tripartite systems to make sure that the constitution was upheld and their best interests kept at heart.

Those members of the public who 'knew' were called paranoid and ridiculed as conspiracy theorists wearing foil hats and watching out for black helicopters. They were told that the government had better things to do than listen to everyone's conversations, told that, even if the government wanted to do that then the equipment and storage and cost would be prohibitive, told that there's no way the government was putting 'back doors' and spyware into software and hardware.

The truly crazy thing was that it wasn't even the government that told them that - it was the rest of the public dismissing them. They were lumped with those who think the moon landing was faked and the destruction of the World Trade Center was an inside job. Alex Jones agreed with them.

And anyway, how many people believed that the government was doing all this is not the point. After all, how can you get the government to change its policies if they won't even admit what they are doing?

PROOF, however, changes the whole game. The simple fact that prior to this proof, there was no outrage but after it there is is surely evidence enough that.

The whole 'traitor' thing is ridiculous because Mr. Andreessen is making a big, though all-too-common, mistake, which is to confuse 'The Government of the United States of America' with 'The United States of America'..

And anyway, if revealing to the US people what the US government is doing (ostensibly on their behalf) makes Edward Snowden a traitor, what does breaking the constitution make the US government?

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RE: Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?

It isn't JUST the NSA - every other nation is doing similar things, to the degree that they can. As long as the data that's being gathered isn't being used nefariously, who cares?

And Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon et al are doing the SAME THING, at a commercial level.

So is General Motors, Ford, Mercedes Benz, etc etc etc.

Not that it isn't ANNOYING :-)...

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Anonymous Coward

If everyone knew what the NSA was doing, how can anyone accuse Snowden of treason?

Snowden released secret information. That is illegal, and it benefitted governments abroad, ergo a treasonous act. He ticks all the boxes of the textbook definition - there is no "but he did for a good reason" escape clause.

Until he released the documents, NSA activities were only rumours and the US government thus had deniability.

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Re: RE: Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?

Well said, sir.

It seems remarkable to British people that Americans are bellyaching vociferously about the NSA but seem willing to tell Google, Facebook, and co almost anything.

It seems they still have not gotten over the distorted and exaggerated grievances whipped up by a minority of activists against the lawful and wise government of George III.

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Re: RE: Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?

The difference is, the information Google et al holds* isn't likely to get you on a no-fly list, affect your employment prospects, destroy your family, lead to criminal prosecutions etc. Nothing these companies hold is likely to hurt you. Also, whether you like it or not, people get something that they feel is positive from Google et al - not so with the excessive spying in by the government. No-one expects to be spied by the State on just because they exist - no cause, no reason, no justification. Basically, to equate the two is specious in the extreme.

*At least, until it is sequestered by the government.

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"Mr. Andreessen is making a big, though all-too-common, mistake, which is to confuse 'The Government of the United States of America' with 'The United States of America'.."

This *is* a common mistake, but it is an extraordinary one for all that. Don't Americans learn about this in school?

The whole fucking point of the US constitution was to create a system where the government would be under the people. The government was deliberately hampered with checks and balances and just in case thosey didn't work the people were given the right to bear arms, the clear (and, amongst legal scholars, undisputed) intention being that if all else fails the people could go home, pick up their guns, and blow the fuckers away and start again.

Back in the 18th century, that was a jaw-dropping idea. Even today, how many other countries are deliberately structured to put the government permanently on the back foot?

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Re: RE: Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?

@Potsherd

You seem to trust Google more than you trust government. I for one do not trust Google.

I do take the point that what is innocent today may be guilty tomorrow. For example, I have argued that global warming is natural. The British government does not currently want to lock me up for that, although some people urge them to do just that.

But compare that with the real threats of various terrorist groups, or of organised crime. In the light of that, is it so unreasonable for robotic systems to have an information trail of a few months, so that if a person comes under suspicion but twigs that he is rumbled, there is pre-suspicion information available?

Believe me, They are not interested in Us. I went to a privileged university with some of Them.

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Re: RE: Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?

Okay - you may have a point in there...at least, a partial point. Here's why I say that:

"Nothing these companies hold is likely to hurt you"

The big Credit Reporting Trio has info that CAN hurt you, agreed? No mortgage, no car loan, etc. How'd they gather that, do you suppose?

"No-one expects to be spied by the State on just because they exist - no cause, no reason, no justification. Basically, to equate the two is specious in the extreme."

Specious? How? Can you please provide a documented case that whatever data NSA has was used improperly? Sure, that they gathered it at all is scary...but how was it USED?

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