Ellsberg vs. Snowden

December 22, 2016

A really excellent article about the fundamental and wide differences between Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden

In briefing Kissinger in 1968 about what it’s like to have security clearance, Ellsberg writes:
“You will feel like a fool for having studied, written, talked about these subjects, criticized and analyzed decisions made by presidents for years without having known of the existence of all this information, which presidents and others had and you didn’t, and which must have influenced their decisions in ways you couldn’t even guess.”

This is why I tend to give Presidents wide latitude in their foreign policy decision-making. They simply have more facts (and access to more informed opinions) than I, the writers of the articles I read, more than the participants on the programs I watch, and more than even the senior congressional leadership. That’s not to say they’re right all the time, but I’ve just convinced myself that, for decisions that I don’t quite understand, there’s more going on than the people informing me know about.

Another reason Gladwell’s article appeals to me (and I’m a much bigger fan of his magazine work than I am his books), is in his depiction of Snowden. I would never characterize what Snowden did as heroic or whistleblowing. He was a disgruntled, unsatisfied worker who disagreed with policy and found the means to blast it out to the world, regardless of the harm that would do.

It’s worth a read.

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