Saturday, June 22, 2013

Spies Like Us

It's been a while since I sat down and wrote.  Frankly life has been busy and I didn't find anything worth writing about that I couldn't accomplish in 140 characters on Twitter, or a random smart ass quip on Facebook.

I pointedly stayed away from writing about Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald and the NSA revelations.  Other people have been doing a much better job of debunking the non story than I would have dreamed of doing.  Bob Cesca, and Charles Johnson among others have been doing yeoman's work in reporting the facts of the Snowden case without Greenwald's disturbing bias towards the President and his Administration.

I chose today to jump back into the fray because Snowden was charged in Federal Court in the Eastern District of Virginia.  Per the AP he was charged with two counts under the Espionage act and one count of theft of government property.  Glenn Greenwald and his hoard of navel gazing fan boys are already crying foul and accuse the government of "over charging".

As somebody who is a both a Government employee (State of Illinois), and someone who routinely seeks criminal charges, I have some perspective on Snowden's charges.

If you work for the Government, whether it's Federal, State, or Local, there are some pretty strict rules about what you can take out of the office.  By strict I mean: You can't take ANYTHING out of the office. The only exception for us is State of Illinois pens, but much like the legislature they work fine for about 20 minutes, then get gummed up and useless.

In addition to working for the man, I'm also a union steward for AFSCME.  In that duty, I have represented co-workers in numerous grievance and discipline meetings.  People get disciplined up to and including dismissal for all sorts of things involving misusing Government issued phones, computers, what have you.  I represented a guy who got a day off with no pay for downloading 1.99 game to his work cell.

Lest ye think that I'm above it all. I once got a verbal reprimand for sending an office wide email that my daughter was selling pizza's for her school.  The point of these anecdotes is to underscore the fact that when you work for the Government there are certain things you don't do.

Taking classified documents is right at the top of that list.  What Snowden did would be like me bringing home a client file and giving it to the media. I would be fired on the spot and because client confidentiality is codified in Illinois, I would be charged with crime.

Which brings me to the "over charging" issue.  I have no idea exactly what Snowden is charged with but speaking to prosecutors charging suspects, issuing multiple charges is nothing new.  As a matter of fact,  I have been involved in cases in which an adult had sex with a minor.  The Assistant State's Attorney on the cases issued a discrete felony count for every single act. The ASA charged each individual act of intercourse, each individual fondle etc.

The reason that prosecutor's over charge as well as including lesser included charges is pretty obvious in dealing with sex cases.  A perp may be charged with 8 counts, plead guilty to two counts and do 10-20 years as apposed to the 160 years if he was convicted on all 8 counts.

I suspect that the Federal indictment of Snowden is similar. He and his jongleur Greenwald can claim all they want that the Government is going too far, but they've already admitted that Snowden broke the law.  In the end the Government may drop the Espionage Act charges if he pleads to stealing property.

If he does plead to a lesser charge, he'll probably end up serving a couple of years at a country club prison camp like Marion.

Who knows maybe he'll end up on a beach in Brazil with Greenwald drinking an ice cold bohemia style beer.  Although knowing Greenwald, I'm sure beer is something that "you people" drink.  Too bad for Snowden that when he's no longer useful to Greenwald, he'll be "you people" too.