Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mitch Perry Report: How can Edward Snowden NOT be Time's Person of the Year?

Posted by on Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 8:18 AM

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Time magazine names its Person of the Year on Wednesday. Among the finalists are Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Iran's new president Hassan Rouhan, gay rights activist Edith Windsor, Pope Francis and Ted Cruz.

But is there seriously any doubt that the Person of the Year in terms of making news and an impact on the world is NSA leaker Edward Snowden? As a Honolulu-based employee of Booz Allen Hamilton doing contract work for the NSA, Snowden became disaffected about how the U.S. was using (and in his mind, abusing) surveillance tactics in the need for security. The data he then accessed and distributed through some thumb drives still are having repercussions, nearly half a year after Glenn Greenwald posted his first stories for The Guardian on the NSA.

Just today we learn via the NY Times another revelation from Snowden's document dump: How U.S. and British spies have infiltrated the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft and Second Life, conducting surveillance and scooping up data in the online games played by millions of people across the world.

The question that was posed this summer when some of his revelations about the NSA were first exposed was: is he a hero or a traitor? Obviously, everyone has an opinion on that. But nobody has had a bigger impact on the world this year. Just look at the reaction of world leaders (and allies) from Brazil and Spain upon learning that the U.S. was spying on them! The reverberations continue, and will continue into 2014.

And look at how the debate has finally opened up in this country about preserving privacy in the information age, and is it even possible? Snowden has helped those few legislators in Congress (like Oregon's Ron Wyden) who have been critical of what they've learned in classified hearings about what we've been doing since 9/11. No, with all due respect to Pope Francis, Snowden is the Man of the Year, undoubtedly.

Though the Hillsborough County PTC survived its possible demise last week, there are still critics gunning for them. Yesterday a Hillsborough Judge ruled that a case brought against the agency regarding its $50 minimum fare for limos can continue to proceed.

And while the family of the late Pinellas Congressman Bill Young continues to play out in the local media, Kathleen Peters is trying to stay above the fray. The Pinellas House member will participate in a fundraising luncheon for her candidacy to succeed Young in Congress tomorrow hosted by six members of the Republican Caucus in the House, including one member who has shown a tendency in the past to shoot from the hip, shall we say.

And there's a new documentary out about Lance Armstrong playing in the Bay area. The Armstrong Lie is the latest Alex Gibney doc, and you can read my review of it here.

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