On Monday’s NOW with Alex Wagner, the panel discussed Edward Snowden’s latest press conference in Russia and debated who was more radical–Snowden for leaking NSA secrets, or the government for expanding its surveillance program.
Alex referred to a recent column by The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf, who wrote that while Snowden and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald are frequently painted as the radicals in the current debate over NSA surveillance, “the establishment’s policies have implications far more radical than the most strident voices opposing them.”
She pointed to the secretive FISA court, which, according to The New York Times has “quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court” and which, according to The Wall Street Journal, has turned down just 11 of 33,900 government surveillance requests in its 33-year history.
Slate’s Matthew Yglesias weighed in, saying, ”They’ve sort of pushed him into becoming an international fugitive and it hasn’t been good for anyone.”
“They say they welcome this debate about privacy, they are having the debate now but it’s being treated as this very extreme, criminal action and it’s led to very negative consequences when we could have had a debate,” he added.
The panel also discussed the administration’s new PR offensive–on Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki used the same language, accusing Russia of giving Snowden a “propaganda platform.”
“It’s better for the U.S. government to be talking about Snowden,” Huffington Post Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim said. “His numbers are underwater if he was a politician, so just keep talking about him and don’t talk about this surveillance state that you’ve built and you’re better off.”
Actually, according to a Quinnipiac poll released last week, Americans have a fairly sympathetic view toward Snowden, with 55% calling him a whistle-blower and just 34% calling him a traitor. Still, in the same poll, 54% said the NSA programs were “necessary to keep Americans safe.”