Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Observations from the Window 8.27

A few days ago Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison which, all things considered, I didn't find that bad. Wikileaks called the sentence a "significant strategic victory." With credit for time served she could be out in 8 years which is far better with the 90 years without parole she faced and didn't deserve. While the sentence is by far the longest ever given to a whistleblower, people need to remember that Manning is a member of the military and that fact changes everything.

While my feelings about Manning are tainted some by how I feel about Julian Assange I do consider her heroic in many ways. She didn't run from what she did, she stood up for what she believed, and she paid the price. If I were President I would at least commute Manning's sentence to time served when she requests a pardon. I doubt very much President Obama will do the same but I think history will be kind to Chelsea Manning.

I wasn't irritated by the sentence itself, if anything I was surprised because it bordered on fair, but I was irritated by the reaction some people had to it. I haven't been around any Occupy people in some time but I still have a Twitter list I use to keep track of them. While most on the list reacted to the Manning sentence with disgust and outrage there was no mention at all of the other breaking story that day, the chemical weapons attack in Syria.

Keeping with the subject of tinkers, geeks, whistleblowers, and spies yesterday I saw some new things about Edward Snowden's excellent adventure. The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that the reason Snowden didn't fly to Cuba wasn't the fear of being forced down by some grand international conspiracy but something far less sinister. Cuba didn't want him. They and The Washington Post also reported that far from surprising the Russians by flying to Moscow on June 23rd, Vladimir Putin himself said "It is true that Mr. Snowden arrived in Moscow, which was completely unexpected for us," Snowden actually spent several days in the Russian Consulate while in Hong Kong. Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian must have missed that minor part of the story. I don't think history will judge Snowden as kindly as it does Manning.

I've made no secret of the fact that I do not like Snowden or his sideshow at all because it takes away from a very important discussion of privacy in the digital world. I do however have a bit of advice for Mr. Snowden. Get a new photo taken, there are some good Russian photographers out there, because the world is really tired of that same photo of you it's been forced to look at since day one.

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