Snowden Lawyer Compares Edward Snowden To Underground Railroad Runaway Slaves

Whistleblowing testicle-annihilator-cum-Russian television star Edward Snowden was back in the news this week by virtue of his feature length interview with NBC News’ Brian Williams.

To follow up the PR blitz, Snowden attorney Ben Wizner appeared on Sunday morning’s Up with Steve Kornackito explain that Snowden is kinda like slaves who escaped the South via the Underground Railroad, before quickly explaining that he wasn’t doing that.

Toward the end of his interview with Wizner, Steve Kornacki asked “Should Edward Snowden come back and face a trial?”

Wizner responded predictably, drawing comparisons to Daniel Ellsberg and equating a trial in U.S. courts with an automatic life sentence (even though none of the “whistleblowers” the Snowdies cite came anywhere close to a sentence like that), but Kornacki, to his credit, wouldn’t let Wizner off the hook.

“It seemed to me part of the deal, fair or unfair, if you’re going to claim whistleblower status, leak highly classified stuff, if you’re going t0 bring it out there, part of the deal is you’ve got to stand and take the consequences,” Kornacki said.

“Do you think people who used the underground railroad should have stayed and faced the consequences of the Fugitive Slave Act?” Wizner said, adding “We don’t always mean that.”

With an astonished laugh, Kornacki said “So you’re likening Edward Snowden to… that’s quite a comparison.”

Wizner explained that, no, Snowden isn’t like a fugitive slave, or isn’t only like a fugitive slave, but also like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Team Snowden long ago transitioned from jumping the shark to taking up permanent residence in a levitating capsule in the airspace above the shark, but even for them, this was spit-take inducing. Kudos to Kornacki for calling it out, and for pointing out that Snowden has taken refuge in a country where his worst U.S. nightmare is simply called “Thursday.”

I’m not going to dissect the the interview because I don’t care enough about this story to weather the aggravation. I’m much more of a spectator on the Snowden story, but as a spectator, there was one other pat of the interview that stood out to me. Kornacki brings up the capabilities that Snowden alleges in the Williams interview, including the ability of the NSA to turn on your phone (something I’ve found even Verizon incapable of on occasion), and asks him if any of these capabilities are being deployed on ordinary Americans.

Wizner patiently explains that it’s not what the NSA is doing now, but what they might do in the future. As tired a premise as that is, though, listen to the nightmare scenario Wizner envisions:

“It would help solve a lot of crimes.”

Oh, the humanity. There are a million different reasons that people might object to the NSA turning their phones into surveillance drones, but solving lots of crimes? Probably ninth or tenth, at best.

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