The CEOs Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Marissa Mayer (Yahoo!) are defending themselves for collaborating with the NSA spies. When I first saw the story yesterday morning, it read: “Yahoo CEO Mayer: We Faced Jail If We Revealed NSA Surveillance Secrets.” Now the headline has change to something much less dramatic and puts a different emphasis on the story, though it still mentions the threat of incarceration.
But others are still reporting in full. Fox News:
“Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer said she feared winding up in prison for treason if she refused to comply with U.S. spy demands for data… ‘If you don’t comply, it is treason,’ Mayer said when asked why she couldn’t just spill details of requests by U.S. spy agencies for information about Yahoo users. ‘We can’t talk about it because it is classified,’ she continued. ‘Releasing classified information is treason, and you are incarcerated. In terms of protecting our users, it makes more sense to work within the system.’”
What she means is that it made more sense to her to “work within the system” for her own good.
I don’t judge her. She didn’t go to school and work hard in order to go to prison. She did it to become rich and successful. That would have all been taken away from her if she had revealed the NSA’s unconstitutional spying.
But while I don’t judge her I’m not interested in anything she or Zuckerberg has to say in criticizing the NSA. They don’t sound like outraged victims. They sound like businessmen trying to salvage the reputations of their companies. I understand that, but I don’t have any reason to care about it. They are still doing the same things for the NSA that they have always been doing.
But perhaps this gives us a chance to think again about the actions of Edward Snowden. Remember David Brooks’ disgusting preaching about him?
“From what we know so far, Edward Snowden appears to be the ultimate unmediated man. Though obviously terrifically bright, he could not successfully work his way through the institution of high school. Then he failed to navigate his way through community college… he has not been a regular presence around his mother’s house for years. When a neighbor in Hawaii tried to introduce himself, Snowden cut him off and made it clear he wanted no neighborly relationships… Though thoughtful, morally engaged and deeply committed to his beliefs, he appears to be a product of one of the more unfortunate trends of the age: the atomization of society, the loosening of social bonds, the apparently growing share of young men in their 20s who are living technological existences in the fuzzy land between their childhood institutions and adult family commitments.”
Remove the psychobabble and let’s look at the real difference in Edward Snowden: He didn’t have a career that he loved more than the American republic and he didn’t have dependents who were relying on his career success.
The “mediated” persons that Brooks wants us all to be are people driven by ambitions and with strong ties to potential hostages. The state can crush our dreams or hurt our loved ones if we refuse to join their informers network.
Snowden will never have Zuckerberg’s billions, but he has done more for American society than Zuckerberg ever will.