“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.” T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
As Edward Snowden reenacts OJ’s 1994 Bronco chase in airplanes, with Sen. Lindsey Graham squawking that “we’ll chase him to the ends of the Earth” and civil libertarians issuing apocalyptic warnings about “1984,” I am simply baffled by this theater of the absurd. The road to Armageddon turns out to be, not tragedy, but farce.
With college graduates suffocating under $1.1 trillion of student debt, a high-school dropout gets a job with a high-powered consulting firm, at a salary (he says) of $200,000, and subsequently hands over the U.S. espionage capability to a British newspaper. For his sins against the world’s largest spy network, our hero is charged with . . . espionage. And so, in search of a haven of transparency, he sets off for China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, where criticizing the government is not for the faint of heart. Carrying four computers of data, the man who condemned the NSA’s invasion of privacy seems bent on sharing its files with every other spy agency in the world. Since they are all engaged in the same activities, they presumably already have the information. Still, this is not the kind of transparency that reassures my sense of privacy. Meanwhile, we wait for the Chinese version of Edward Snowden, whom we will hail as a hero.
When Secretary of State Henry Stimson closed America’s code-breaking agency in 1929, he did so because “Gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail.” Naïve, yes, but how refreshing.