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Snowden A Hero? Gates Says No, Woz Says Yes 335

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-for-a-cage-match dept.
hcs_$reboot writes "In a lengthy interview from Rolling Stone, Bill Gates, was asked: 'Do you consider [Snowden] a hero or a traitor?' The Microsoft founder responded, 'I certainly wouldn't characterize him as a hero. ... You won't find much admiration from me'. What about government surveillance? 'The government has such ability to do these things. ... But the specific techniques they use become unavailable if they're discussed in detail. Rolling Stone retorts that privacy can be an issue: 'We want safety, but we also want privacy,' says the journalist. Bill Gates tells his main priority focuses on stopping the bad guys: 'Let's say you knew nothing was going on. How would you feel? I mean, seriously. I would be very worried. Technology arms the bad guys with orders of magnitude more [power]. Not just bad guys. Crazy guys.' Meanwhile, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak expressed the opposite opinion about Snowden at a tech conference in Germany. 'He is a hero to me, but he may be a traitor to other people and I understand the reasons for them to think that way. I believe that Snowden believed, like I do, that the U.S. has a right to freedom. '"
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Snowden A Hero? Gates Says No, Woz Says Yes

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  • by Travis Mansbridge (830557) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @11:40AM (#46492411)
    Good thing they executed Einstein... oh wait...
  • by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @11:47AM (#46492473)

    I seem to recall Russia calling our Homeland protectors and warning us about a particular guy. they didn't have to bother to do that, and it's an extraordinary thing that they did. Our Protectors of Der Fatherland ignored the warning. being busy courting punks and filling their heads with violent thoughts and then fake weapons so they could make headlines. And so the Boston Marathon bombings happened. So, who is the enemy of We the People?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @11:49AM (#46492487)

    in this case the enemy is our government. Are you taking refuge with them ?

  • In other news (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @11:50AM (#46492499)

    Man that is most certainly part of the NSA dragnet says Snowden isn't a hero. Mean while other slowly becoming irrlevant has been tech leader/media whore that hasn't been part of an OS development team in nearly 30 years says YAY FOR SNOWDEN.

  • by Hey_Jude_Jesus (3442653) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @11:53AM (#46492521)
    The wealthy want to keep people under the control of the government, so they can increase their wealth and power over us.
  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @11:54AM (#46492525)

    Gates is an evil sociopath.

    If 'evil sociopaths' have the eradication of malaria, the delivery of clean drinking water and readily available birth control to all as objectives, I say bring 'em on.

    Certainly a bigger impact than all these so-called "Christians" blathering away on TV while doing nothing to follow Jesus's preachings.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @11:56AM (#46492533)

    Good thing they executed Einstein... oh wait...

    Completely irrelevant analogy. He was visiting the US when Hitler came to power and decided not to go back due to the anti-semitism. It's not like he gave away secret documents from the German High Command. Analogies need to be relevant to work.

  • by fredprado (2569351) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:01PM (#46492563)
    Sorry, but for every good deed he accomplished he did at least two dirty deals and bribed a couple of politicians to get richer..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:04PM (#46492581)

    Ha, the russian haven't been an enemy of the US for a long time, Was their another safe place for him to go? The US would have indefinitely detained snowden or executed him after a great show trial.

    Snowden is a hero, he had the conviction to stand up and say no to an organisation that would take his life for simply telling the truth.

  • by garyisabusyguy (732330) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:08PM (#46492617)

    I think that most successful corporate heads these days could be called sociopaths

    Gates-wise, certainly evil in the eyes of microsoft's competitors for the better part of three decades, but he has really put forward a Carnegie-esque effort to 'do good' with his accrued wealth

    Snowden-wise I think that you are pretty much spot on with the whole manipulation by greenwald angle. Maybe even the idea that Snowden has a latent superiority complex that greenwald fed into and used to manipulate him,

    Where does Snowden's redemption lie? Can he attempt to buy his reputation like Gates or Carnegie? Are public events like SXSW that currency that he will spend on it? If that is it, then I am not buying it. It is one thing to buy into the idea that Gates bringing clean water to Africa is a good thing, it is quite another thing to label Snowden's one-sided fear mongering as 'good'

  • Neutrality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by king neckbeard (1801738) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:10PM (#46492633)
    Gates isn't exactly neutral on this matter. Companies as big as Microsoft don't happen without close friendships with the government, and those relationships get even closer when the company is let off easy in an anti-trust case. Even if he did support Snowden, he wouldn't be able to publicly state that.
  • by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:12PM (#46492639) Homepage Journal

    eradication of malaria, the delivery of clean drinking water and readily available birth control to all as objectives

    Sociopaths can donate money to charity when it helps their tax burden.

    Bill Gates didn't himself do any work except public appearances...he's a **Billionaire** you don't get points for making charities to solve well-known problems that also promote your company's products

    Gates **should** give his money to charity...the fact that he does **the bare minimum** to charties that spread his products to new markets...and gets a **tax write off** doesn't make him not a sociopath

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:12PM (#46492651)

    All of your above statements are inaccurate, misleadingly potrayed, or require citation. Malaria is a third world problem that does not actually "require" a drug to eradicate. But Gates and his Pig Pharma buddies would certainly like to make billions from the attempt. Thrid World problem, does not require "EyePee" to solve. None of his damn business. Gates is a robber baron plain and simple. His company stands right up there with Standard Oil. A putrid waste that has cost the world untold billions.

  • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:13PM (#46492657) Homepage Journal

    OK, then, how about Fermi? Emigrated in 1938 to escape fascism and helped the U.S. (the "enemy") develop the atomic bomb.

  • by fermion (181285) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:15PM (#46492683) Homepage Journal
    Whistleblowers are not heroes or villains, They are meddlesome do gooders who are willing to destroy society and the status quo just to make a name for themselves. Sometimes, as with Snowden, they reveal practices that many would consider at least unethical and force change. They are seldom thanked for their contribution. What is always the case is that the people who have to change because of the revelations are annoyed. Changing means they lose money, power, or both.
  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:16PM (#46492687)
    What about someone fleeing from China to the US to whistleblow on genocide within the country? Would you think someone not a hero for going somewhere his story would be heard and that he wouldn't be in mortal danger?
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <> on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:16PM (#46492693) Homepage Journal

    If 'evil sociopaths' have the eradication of malaria, the delivery of clean drinking water and readily available birth control to all as objectives, I say bring 'em on.

    Those things are only being delivered as a means of exerting control over those countries for the next eternity. They're the foot in the door for Big Pharma, in which both the foundation and Gates are heavily invested.

  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:17PM (#46492697)

    History is written by the victors and all that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:17PM (#46492699)

    As far as I can tell, we don't want anything to do with the Crimea situation, but unfortunately the Ukraine signed an agreement that they would disarm their nuclear stockpile with the agreement that the west would protect their borders. And as such, we are now forced to intervene if we want to push forward any other nuclear disarmament agreements and not risking making other such agreements null and void.

    Like it or not, the world is usually more complex than just giving one group of people what they want.

  • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:19PM (#46492711)

    He's stuck in Russia, away from friends and family, probably not exactly having the best time of his life.

    Sure, it's probably a cakewalk compared to what the intelligence community would put him through and where he would end up once they're 'done' - but I think he's feeling quite a few consequences of his actions and revelations, and I tend to think those consequences are plenty unjust as they are.

    By your statement regarding facing consequences, I would think that you believe there should be no such thing as witness protection programs.

    Though I think the basic issue with the premise of the question is that it's a false dichotomy. I don't think Snowden is a hero. I also don't think he's a traitor. At least not wholly on either. Getting people to label him as one or the other is populist journalism. Of course, this is Rolling Stone.. while held in higher regard than the usual tabloids, it is what it is.

  • by mx_mx_mx (1625481) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:27PM (#46492791)

    The more I admire Steve Wozniak. He is a true hero.

  • by FunkyLich (2533348) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:31PM (#46492825)

    I can see the different viewpoints of those who say Snowden is a hero, and the others who say he is a villain. It is also a good thing to know that either group does agree that whatever the act of Snowden is labeled, it is a flagrant violation of the Constitution. This is still without getting out of the US worldview of things. If we suddenly 'retreat' a bit more to get into this 'field of view' not only the US, but the World as an entity, the US worldview should learn how to queue.

    But my main curiosity is this: We have two computer technology worldwide-known persons, who have expressed different opinions about the Snowden Saga. I wonder, why stop at them alone and not ask any further, how would other world-wide known computer technology persons see this matter? We could ask Larry Wall, Brian Kernighan, Bjarne Stroustrup, Larry Ellison... the more the better.

    THEN, we could mine this data set and maybe we could even find that there is some mysterious connection between beeing a famous computer guy AND success of wealth AND which of these have thick trade-pipes with governmental contracts which in turn loopback towards their welth.

    This way we would have way more accurate conclusions and much more credible ones. And with a much lower margin of error as the sampling set would be richer, supposing that the sampling set would not be cherry-picked.

  • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:36PM (#46492847)

    but unfortunately the Ukraine signed an agreement that they would disarm their nuclear stockpile with the agreement that the west would protect their borders.

    Treaties like that caused WWI.

  • by gIobaljustin (3526197) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:42PM (#46492903) Homepage

    They are meddlesome do gooders who are willing to destroy society and the status quo just to make a name for themselves.

    Don't decide what other people's intentions are for them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @12:51PM (#46492955)

    Heroes do not run and take refuge with our enemies. Snowden is a traitor and should be executed.

    The Founding Fathers were all traitors/terrorists to their motherland.
    No one gave himself up to the Crown just to express their dissent about how the colonies were being governed.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @01:05PM (#46493069) Homepage

    Much like many men in his position, charity is just a public relations whitewash. This is expecially obvious when all of this occurs in their "retirement". Of course Gates didn't invent this idea, he swiped it from someone else.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @01:07PM (#46493081)

    Russia failing to honor its part of the treaty may cause WW III.

  • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @01:08PM (#46493087)

    Sticking around hasn't helped Manning any.

    I think you're looking at "consequences" as a very black and white thing. Snowden is facing the consequences for his actions -- he's exiled from his country and may never be able to return. He's already sacrificed so much to do the right thing. Sticking around to be persecuted wouldn't help out any. He took the risk of being tortured, imprisoned, and even executed. Isn't that enough? That's the most we ask of our soldiers and then we declare them heroes -- we ask that they risk their lives. We ask that they risk sacrifice, not that they do sacrifice. Kamikaze pilots and suicide bombers have no place in the defense of our country. Why should the whistleblower be so self-sacrificial? Why is he not a hero for risking his life when that's the standard of valor we place upon ourselves?

  • by fnj (64210) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @01:25PM (#46493217)

    An interesting intellectual point. I take it you think "owning up" to asserting your rights and turning yourself in to a tyrant's forces is more somehow more heroic than doing your level best to expose and undermine the tyrant. That may be true by the definition of "hero", but I believe value to good is more important than pointless self sacrifice.

    I would categorically disagree in the strongest possible terms - i.e., vehemently - with your premise that "if one isn't prepared to face whatever the consequences are for the choices that they make, then they probably shouldn't be doing that in the first place". Yes, there is a need for heroes, but asserting one's rights - the rights of the people - should not require every individual to be a hero.

    Actually Snowden took a big risk on behalf of championing the rights of the people: the risk that he would be persecuted by a tyranny for the actions he took. Can you say the same? I am not willing to make the claim on my own behalf, so I have a damn high threshold for calling those who stick their necks out for me and my brothers "unheroic".

  • by vux984 (928602) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @02:12PM (#46493595)

    The summary didn't include the full sentence by Gates. Just for completeness, he said: "I think he broke the law, so I certainly wouldn't characterize him as a hero."

    I wonder if he applies that line of thinking to other heroes.

    Rosa Parks - broke the law
    Mahatma Gandi - broke the law
    Martin Luther King - broke the law
    Paul Revere ...
    John Hancock ...
    Oscar Schindler ...

    Underground Railroad...
    French Resistance...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @02:20PM (#46493657)

    Anybody in Africa who's received a polio vaccine from Gates' foundation would. I'm sure they'd be much more likely to call Gates a hero than Snowden, too.

    It's all perspective.

  • by Burz (138833) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @02:48PM (#46493847) Journal

    Maybe he thinks MS joining NSA PRISM was a heroic act.

  • by dwillden (521345) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @02:49PM (#46493863) Homepage
    No he would not likely be dead by now. Had he stayed here, he would have been prosecuted for the original revelations, claimed and won whistle-blower status and been acquitted or pardoned. And that would have been the end of it. When he made his original revelations of the surveillance program he was a hero. That needed to be revealed, and his choosing to flee to another country to make the revelation is semi-understandable though less than the honorable act of standing by your actions when you reveal government wrong doing.


    Because he fled the country, and has to keep his value to his current hosts in order to retain his guest status, he's kept revealing stuff that has gone far beyond whistle-blower status. We the people did need to know that our government was collecting our data, and most likely in violation of the Constitution (gotta leave the final decision to the courts but I think it was illegal). But we did not have any need to know about our collection efforts directed at foreign leaders, even if they are allies. It's the Intelligence game, everybody collects on everybody, allies and enemies both. A political and Military Ally is still an economic competitor, and politically we don't agree on everything so even in that realm is there cause for intelligence collection. Neither did we need any knowledge of the UK surveillance program nor the Aussie program. Nor anything else he's released. And it was all those revelations that pushed him from Hero Whistle-blower to Traitor.

    Had he stayed and faced the music he likely would have been acquitted by now as a Whistle-blower. We would still have had the national discussion about the surveillance program and even were he to be convicted he would be considered a Hero for protecting the Constitution. And had he stayed he likely would not have had the opportunity to dip into treason by revealing the stuff that did not concern us as constitutional violations.

    We do owe him a debt of gratitude, but he ruined that by revealing classified information that did not concern violations of our constitutional rights and damaged our valid intelligence collection efforts. He has tarnished his Hero status and now stands as a traitor.
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:36PM (#46494207)

    "yes, technology has certainly armed you, Bill Gates, you twisted evil fuck"

    Well, this certainly does illustrate how much Bill Gates is actually a closet Statist. But those who have followed what the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation do already knew that. At first I was happy to see Gates spending much of his fortune on "charity"... until I learned what they were actually doing with the money.

    Like supporting "Common Core" education... which is worse than you probably think. Contrary to what supporters say, while it may not technically be a "government" program, the government had a heavy hand in its formation. And there is a lot more to the whole story.

    You can bet that if the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is behind it, it has a Statist purpose.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:00PM (#46494307) Homepage Journal

    Russia has a SOF agreement with Ukraine as a part of the Sevastapol lease agreement - good well past a 2017 renewal. It allows for 35,000 Russian Troops in Crimea. The Russians are legally in Crimea under the same kind of frameworks that legally allow US troops in Bhagram, Afghanistan.

    The Crimean referendum is being conducted under the precedent most recently, of Kosovo and South Sudan.

    Good for the goose? Good for the gander.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:02PM (#46494323) Homepage Journal

    There are no terrorists. They are as fictional - in EVERY sense, as the "terrorists" in the movie "Brazil".


    Edward Snowden is definitely a "Harry Tuttle".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @06:30PM (#46495123)

    You illustrate nicely why I tend to dislike your country so much.

    The US is behaving like shit towards its "friends", and though its part of the game, there are things that go too far. Somehow it is OK to ignore *any* laws when it concerns people from outside of your country.

    Apart from being foolish (you really seem to believe he would stand a chance in his own country; I do not. I am sure he himself also doubts this, so far, you are in the minority here...), you are also blind. Snowden has shown us a lot about the exchange of info between spy-programs. You can freely spy on not-americans, and the Brits can freely spy on Americans, so you needed to know the whole thing. I cannot understand how the foreign part is not relevant to the discussion, you are deluding yourself. Your info will simply be collected by a foreign entity, and than given to the NSA. Poof...there go your rights and constitution, without doing anything illegal! How nice!

    Snowden did not release anything (apart from things he said in interviews). The call what to release and when to release it was made by journalists. So he did not go from hero to traitor, he did everything at the same time. Oh, and I actually see nothing tarnishing about being a traitor to the dark side.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @06:40PM (#46495173)

    This is such a glass-is-so-full-it's-causing-problems-with-laws-of-physics hindsight view of what happened. More likely he would have ended up an Aaron Schwartz, only he would never have seen the sunlight again after they got a hold of him. There is nothing worse you can do to people who love power than shame them, and that's what he did.

  • by gIobaljustin (3526197) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @07:08PM (#46495325) Homepage

    And that would have been the end of it.

    Or maybe he'd be absolutely miserable, like how other whistleblowers ended up.

    We do owe him a debt of gratitude, but he ruined that by revealing classified information that did not concern violations of our constitutional rights and damaged our valid intelligence collection efforts.

    I for one am thankful that he gave us a more in depth view of what our government is doing. Just because some of the activities he revealed aren't related to our constitutional rights doesn't mean that the activities are moral, or that we shouldn't know they're happening.

  • Lies lies lies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @07:42PM (#46495473)

    Wow, there is so much wrong in this post I don't even know where to begin.

    Let's start with the "claimed and won whistle-blower status". That is completely false. First off, the whistleblower laws only apply to government employees. As a contractor, they did not protect him at all. Second, he is charged under the Espionage Act, which does not have any whistleblower or "public good" exception. People prosecuted under this law are forbidden from telling a jury that they were acting for the greater good, the only thing that the jury is allowed to hear is that the law was broken. []

    Second, as for "the worst thing that could happen to him", consider the prior example of Thomas Drake, who was a whistleblower years before Snowden, followed the letter of the law precisely, and as a result had his house raided by armed FBI agents. They also raided the houses of three other people who knew Drake, the FBI holding the families of these associates at gunpoint. The prosecution of Drake was in fact persecution, as Richard D. Bennett of the Federal District Court said explicitly when he called it "unconscionable". []

    He has not "kept revealing stuff" in order to "keep his value". He gave his documents to a few trusted reporters before he fled, and since he left he has not released a single thing. The continuing revelations are from his original release to the reporters, he is not providing anything new at all. He says he has none of the documents anymore, and the NSA and CIA and FBI have not shown any evidence that he does have them. The intelligence agencies have instead used weasel-words to insinuate that he does without literally accusing him of it.

    The collection efforts directed at our allies need to be revealed, because they are part of a larger pattern of flagrant disrespect and veiled acts of war the intelligence agencies are perpetuating universally across the globe. Do you even realize we are talking about universal surveillance of every man, woman, and child on Earth? The reality is far worse than any dystopian science fiction you can find. The NSA is worse than the Stasi, as said by a former Stasi official. []

    As for our political and military allies also being economic competitors, how the hell do you justify spending more on our intelligence budget than the rest of the First World nations combined? In what possible way is that an economic advantage?

    The worst part of all this is that I cannot ever know for sure if you are simply grossly misinformed, or you are a government shill paid to deliberately post false information in an organized propaganda attempt. []

    You, sir, terrify me almost as much as the totalitarian government intelligence agencies.

  • by s.petry (762400) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @10:47PM (#46496197)

    The Gates foundation is just the last piece of exploitation for him. It really should take minutes to gather enough data to show that Bill Gates should not be used as a morality touch stone. He started by stealing a professors work, caused immense harm to the computer era, and does not mind harming people to get ahead. He is a liar, a cheat, a thief, and is working to undermine society pretty much every where he goes including his home (yes, Common Core is that bad).

    Asking Bill Gates if someone is a hero is akin to asking Bill Clinton about monogamy.

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