Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Ballad of Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden come home.
I suspect he won't. You can't. Neither can we. Where is home now when the walls have ears and our computer screens are staring back at us with the cold eyes of NSA bureaucrats?
No, Edward Snowden has sent us all off into exile from an America that may have never existed, from the Leave it to Beaver world before 9/11, before the Internet, when we still knew or cared about our actual neighbors more than our virtual pleasures.
Edward Snowden where will ye go now? Is it Ecuador? Maybe Cuba? Lands and powers that may or may not have your interests at heart. But probably not.
Maybe that's the last we'll ever see of him, the netherworld of the Moscow airport, stuck between flights. There will be rumors of sightings on strange midnight planes to Marrakech, on trains for Novosibirsk, on a bicycle to Finland, and whole mystic cults devoted to finding him, but Edward Snowden is not coming home. And neither are we.
But I hope to God his father has some success bending the ears of the machinery of state. Here's a pretty savvy operator writing a letter to Eric Holder and offering to broker a deal to get his son off the dime and out of the Moscow airport. Huzzah, Mr. Snowden.
Obama is clearly in PR mode, taking my advice and downplaying the whole affair. After all, why stoop to taking this guy seriously, right? Nothing he's said is actually that revelatory. Did anyone ever think for a second that Google and Facebook were in charge of the Internet and that higher authorities would not be brought to bear? Get real, people. What he's done is shed some light on the bureaucratic, legalistic and technological netherworld that exists in the intelligence gathering community and how it has latched onto the Internet like remoras on a whale. But did anyone not suspect that this is how it is done?
But Edward, like a hero in some poem by Shelley. has sacrificed himself for our sake. So that we might know how far we have strayed from home. And we might never get back. But at least we have our iPads and our Blackberrys and we don't ever have to look anyone in the face anymore and acknowledge them except on our screens. And the terrorists, well, they're not emailing each other or posting each other tidbits on Facebook and never have. They're not stupid. They know NSA from a hole in the ground. They still rely on human couriers, the real touch of flesh on flesh. In the end they might win.

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