back to article Marc Andreessen: Edward Snowden is a 'textbook traitor'

Netscape cofounder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen has said that NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a "textbook traitor," even though he admits that his peers in Silicon Valley mostly don't see it that way. "Obviously he's a traitor," Andreessen said in an interview with CNBC. "If you look up in the encyclopedia, 'traitor', …


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  1. Michael Hoffmann

    Bread. Butter.

    I suppose he knows which side his bread is buttered on, hmm?

    1. g e

      Re: Bread. Butter. - could it be...

      That Marc Andreessen is a textbook twat?

      1. Ramazan

        Re: Bread. Butter. - could it be...

        While Marc has the right to believe that Snowden is a Russian spy (USA is supposedly a free country), his notion that the scale of operations of NSA and whatever Russian agency there is is comparable betrays lack of intellect.

    2. Tapeador

      Re: Bread. Butter.

      I think it's pretty poor form of you to just accuse him of being a shill.

      When he says that the 'US govt is hanging out the tech industry to dry', I think he means they're not any longer encouraging as much as they ought, the work of the NSA in detecting and stopping e.g. Chinese industrial espionage and technology theft, such as diminishes US industrial and thus taxation revenues. The interests of the US people just like your interests are necessarily tied up with the health of the economy and government revenues wherever you live. Barring some extraordinary moral wrong involved in it, you'd do well to support that health. I don't think 'snooping' is such an extraordinary moral wrong, and if it is, there are numerous extraordinary circumstances (the threat of terrorism and said espionage) which call for it.

      So when he says he knows what side his bread is buttered on, I think he's talking about all of your bread(s), unless of course you live in China or some other techno-kleptocracy.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this guy serious?

    Of course everyone knew that the NSA does spying on the "enemies" of the US.

    What they didn't necessarily realise was that they were spying on absolutely *everyone* and using methods that, in many cases, are specifically illegal according to US statutes.

    1. Don Jefe

      He's always serious, which is great because he doesn't know when people are laughing at him. Which is pretty much all the time.

      He's spot on about being in a minority, he is a minority inside a minority (does that make him a super minority?) He is the 'makes you itchy to talk to minority'. It's common knowledge that the only way to deal with him is if you're blackout drunk (which makes you impervious to airborne hives) or by using the epinephrine, adrenaline and ketamine mega-dose syringe they use in equine emergencies (but only if you haven't been drinking).

      The guy is a living, one episode, Dr. Who villain. If a big fucking blue police box just materialized and took him away absolutely nobody would really be surprised. The universal response among any of those who witnessed the event would be 'I knew that was going to happen'.

      1. dan1980

        When I grow up I want to be you, Don.

  3. cookieMonster
    Big Brother

    Well then

    that's him off my christmas card list

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    get over it!

    I completely agree with Andreson and I am as liberal as they get. Anyone with half a brain would know the NSA was doing this. And oh yea, there was excellent PBS Frontline documentary years ago about NSA installing purpose built hardware to snoop, but no one really cared at that time it seems. You sheep just need to go back to grazing on your iGrass feedstock and go about your life in bless full ignorance.

    1. Grikath

      Re: get over it!

      Dear AC, your point is rather moot. I really doubt there's anyone with half a brain on this globe that expects a Spying Agency to do anything else but toe the line, and sometimes cross it. It's inherent in the business. Spais need to be able to Spai, else they simply cannot do their job.

      However, you can expect that an agency like that will at least keep to its government-given mandate, and not cross those lines. Most working governments ( which sadly does not include the U.S.) will have review processes in place where duly elected officials do indeed check regularly whether or not those lines are crossed. Thus the status quo is maintained.

      The NSA** not only crossed the lines of its mandate, it completely ignored it. And its Nations' Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Watergate Scandal is a kindergarten accident compared to the sheer scale of this activity, and people are rightly concerned and even furious about it.

      Edward Snowden saw this, and decided to reveal this to the world. He did not show all and sundry that the NSA did spy-stuff. He showed the world, but specifically the people of his nation, that one of their government agencies had grossly ignored its mandate, and basically gone rogue under an ineffectual control mechanism.

      That is not the work of a traitor. That is the work of a conscientious citizen of a nation. Given the fact that he is *still* at risk of the actions of the agency, and its government puppets, one could even argue a mild case of heroism.

      ** Insert the british subdivision where needed.

      1. MondoMan
        Big Brother

        Re: get over it!

        You're just about right, G. The problem is that he didn't just hand over the documents about the likely illegal spying on US citizens and residents, but he handed over everything, including really sensitive secrets such as info about compromising Huawei's internal network and locations of cable taps around the world. Do the latter is traitorous in effect (and has nothing to do with Constitutional rights), so the bottom line is that he's both a patriot and a traitor, with the latter part solely due to his failure to vet what info he made public.

        1. ian 22

          Quantum of betrayal?

          Hmm! That sounds like it would be a great movie title!

          Both a traitor and patriot, but only from your frame of reference one or the other.

          1. Primus Secundus Tertius

            Re: Quantum of betrayal?

            That's what the MSM call 'spin'. It comes in half-integral quantities.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: get over it!

          He is both a patriot and traitor, but unfortunately such a circumstance is not conceivable in US politics. Nuanced views are not permitted - you're either with US or against US.

        3. Anonymous Coward

          Re: get over it!

          "including really sensitive secrets such as info about compromising Huawei's internal network"

          Yup, spying on a legitimate company seem fair to me....and I wonder how much information "occidentally" got in the hands of a certain US networking giant.

          And as for "spying on enemies", they are only enemies because you choose to make them so, and that they do so like wise. Most people in this world with even half a brain want to live without hatred and fear, but those in power like to peddle it, because it suits their own agendas.

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: get over it!

        However, you can expect that an agency like that will at least keep to its government-given mandate, and not cross those lines.

        Serioulsy, you believe that? Are all Americans that naive?

        Edward Snowden saw this, and decided to reveal this to the world.

        Indeed he did, and in doing so he not only crossed the lines of his mandate, he completely ignored it. And the solemn oath he had sworn to his nation to protect it.

        There are ways to blow the whistle on this sort of thing which leave the guilty some way to save face, many of which require some self-sacrifice with no reward, but by "revealing it to the world" Snowden chose the "hey look at me, I'm such a great guy saving you all from this" wannabe-hero approach. Not so smart.

        1. dan1980

          Re: get over it!

          "There are ways to blow the whistle on this sort of thing which leave the guilty some way to save face, many of which require some self-sacrifice with no reward, but by "revealing it to the world" Snowden chose the "hey look at me, I'm such a great guy saving you all from this" wannabe-hero approach. Not so smart."

          Sorry, but it almost seems as though you are implying he took the easy way and glamorous way out.

          The easy thing to do would have been to do well, what every other member of the NSA has done, which is to sit down and shut up - to keep pulling in a paycheck fully aware that the constitutionally guaranteed rights of their fellow citizens are being abused. He could have gone out for beers with his friends on Friday nights, seen his family on Sunday and generally had a pleasant life.

          I would have a difficult time choosing between doing the right thing and living a comfortable life and I am sure he agonised over it but I am very glad that he had the courage to do what no one else had done.

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: get over it!

          "There are ways to blow the whistle on this sort of thing which leave the guilty some way to save face"

          Er, to coin a phrase ... "Serioulsy, you believe that?".

          The scale of the operation revealed by Snowden is not one or two rogue operatives. It implies that *lots* of people were aware of it and signing off massive expenditure to support it, including those at the very top. One can probably assume that Obama (and Bush before him) don't ask probing questions and so didn't know, but by the same token, there's no point in telling them because they'll believe whatever the NSA chiefs say. So you are trying to blow the whistle on an organisation with billions of dollars at its disposal and no effective legal oversight. The court of public opinion is probably the only place you'll get a hearing and foreign governments are probably your only hope of protection whilst that court is making up its mind.

          Those who don't like "blanket revelations" should perhaps reconsider the wisdom of "blanket surveillance".

      3. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: get over it!

        Crikey, you Americans and your constitution and bill of rights. The NSA is the "Department of Breaking The Law When We Think We Need To", and you are surprised that they break more laws than the ones you wanted them to break?

    2. JaitcH
      Thumb Down

      Re: get over it!

      I always like seeing Anonymous Cowards who haven't enough guts to stick their name above their opinion.

      It sort of rates their scribble, which is why I never read them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: get over it!

        "It sort of rates their scribble, which is why I never read <anonymous coward stuff>."

        That;s a shame, because surely the way it should be is that the words are often more important than the identity of the person posting them?

        AC. Because the message is more important than the messenger.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: get over it!


          Indeed, and often the more interesting posts are actually the ones where a prudent approach is not to associate yourself with them, because the internet never forgets and you never know who's going to take offence. But...... each to their own, I guess.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: the message is more important than the messenger.

          the message should be more important than the messenger's ego.


          I did like someone's suggestion the other day that anons in a given discussion should each be uniquely identfied, simply for the purpose of continuity and clarity of discussion.

        3. groMMitt

          Re: get over it!

          ...but obviously, the US don't understand that the message is the more important part, given the comparative lack of effort they're putting into restraining these self-appointed watchmen while still vilifying the messenger.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ah, the fallacy of appeal to authority.

        If an argument isn't true just because of who says it, then it also isn't false just because you don't know who said it. Arguments should stand or fall on their own strengths, and not on whether or not you like the person making them.

      3. Don Jefe

        Re: get over it! @ JaitcH

        Fortunately, most of the AC's that aren't trolling, and are genuinely asses with very narrow world views based on a complete lack of experience, are so boringly repetitive in their braying that it's easy to tell who they are.

        The upshot of that is it makes it easy to know which comments to skip, or which ones to screw with, as your inclination dictates.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ahh...Bless full ignorance...

      ...whatever that means.

      Clearly a reader.

  5. Eddy Ito

    They're letting the American tech industry hang out to dry.

    And there you have it folks. What he is really saying is "my portfolio and cloudy profits are at risk because of these leaks!"

    1. P. Lee

      > They're letting the American tech industry hang out to dry.

      Spot on and quite right too. What's the phrase? "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?" Everyone knows that all countries spy on all other countries, friends and enemies alike. The problem is that the NSA broke the golden rule: don't get caught.

      If you get caught betraying your friend Merkel's trust, you are a traitor. There may not be a law against it in your own country, but most people agree that you shouldn't bug your friends' phones in case they say something you can use against them.

      Worse, the NSA indulged in internal spying which is against their charter. They were spying against the people who voted for their bosses. And they got caught. Americans are quite happy to treat foreigners badly as long as their own privilege is maintained. What came out was that the government views everyone as an enemy, including Americans. Again, most people assumed that some sort of internal security and spying was going on but the sheer scope and catch-all focus moved it (in the public mind) from "catching known criminals" to massive state spying on everything you do. That's creepy.

      The US government hung the tech industry out to dry when they gave their law enforcement extra-territorial powers. They could easily have said, "data held abroad falls under local jurisdiction only," but they wanted it all. They could easily have been selective if that was too broad - Europe, Japan and Australia qualify for special jurisdictional allowances.

      The US government got greedy, very greedy and were incredibly efficient. Weirdly the NSA never asked the question, "What could possibly go wrong?" It has now gone wrong and it seems to have taken them by surprise that their actions have consequences.

      Integrity, honour, reputation. Perhaps prizing these will come back into fashion, but I'm not holding my breath.

      1. dan1980


        I think it's actually a bit simpler than that - I believe that a large portion of those in the NSA actually believed in their own righteousness.

        That's not a problem per se as most people fall into that trap. That's why the whole system of 'checks and balances' exists - because self-regulation almost never works.

        Unfortunately for the American people and indeed the rest of the normal humans out in that wide land known as 'not-the-USA', the NSA operated outside of that system. They lied to congress (you know - the representative part of 'representative democracy') and were shielded from the oversight of the courts. That's two whole arms of the US federal government excluded.

        Little wonder they ran amok.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

          I think you are right Dan I suggest we call it the "Donald rumsfeld" effect.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a prat.

    'spose he thinks it OK for out-of-control-government to spy on people 24/7.

    "nothing to hide", etc... hope he never has to fear.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a prat.

      'spose he thinks it OK for out-of-control-government to spy on people 24/7.

      Actually, no. His statement that Snowden is a traitor is textbook correct . Snowden's actions do indeed tick all the boxes for the official definition of a traitor. His data release is an illegal act that benefits foreign entities - that's all the boxes ticked.

      However, being a traitor and a whistleblower are not mutually exclusive - whatever you think of his approach, he did kickstart a long overdue debate about accountability.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: What a prat.

        "His data release is an illegal act that benefits foreign entities"

        How are you measuring that legality and that benefit?

        On the first point,concealing knowledge of a major (constitutional) crime is presumably itself an offence, so he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't. Call it a score-draw.

        On the second point, if the US government responds by reining in the military and intelligence communities so that the rest of the US (its people and businesses) are trusted by foreigners once again, the net benefit to his country will have been enormous. (Failure of the US government to do this would of course be illegal and of benefit to foreign entities.)

        In other news, China continues its campaign to exclude all recent versions of Windows from the Chinese market and therefore provide a billion customers for anyone who isn't Microsoft. Beijing is being slightly opportunistic and rather less slightly hypocritical and self-serving here, but the current climate is such that many other countries (like the other three in the BRIC group) might well be interested in following suit.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: What a prat.

          There's a very strong argument to be made that the Constitution not only supports actions like Snowden's, but even stronger action should it be deemed necessary. Unfortunately the Constitution only applies if you care to acknowledge it, so it's all kind of pointless if one group can ignore it, but another acknowledge it.

          1. dan1980

            Re: What a prat.

            @Don Jefe

            Now, with my oft-repeated disclaimer that I am not a US citizen, one might argue that the kind of situation the US finds itself in may fulfil the criteria established in the Second Ammendment.

            As a non-American, I find the 'founding fathers' of that country of great interest. Here were people who understood the pitfalls of humanity and, especially, leadership. They were flawed humans (which is as perfect a tautology as there is) but their most important message was that a government should be "of, by and for the people" and they must be watched night and day and held to account when they stray from the wishes of the people.

            Now, in any modern democracy, there are things that do need to be kept from the public. That is inevitable in an open society where people are free to associate and communicate as they see fit. But that's why you have congress - to process information and make decisions on behalf of the people. The problem here is that, as said, congress was largely excluded and thus couldn't adequately represent the people.

            As someone (apologies for forgetting) said in one of these related stories - when the director of the NSA is allowed to lie to an elected member of congress then we (you) cease to live in a representative democracy.

            That is the long and the short of it.

            The whole point of the constitution, born as it was of the Revolution, was to put limits of government. What is happening now is exactly the sort of thing that the revolution sought to free the people from. The revolution and the subsequient constitution was birthed in the blood of those for whom freedom from oppression was more important than freedom from harm and danger.

            On the 4th of July every year, the American people celebrate the sacrifice of people who would rather DIE than be enslaved by their government. The president of the day gives a fine speech about democracy and bravery and standing up for what is right but those lessons are paid lip-service only. How can you honour those who gave their lives for freedom when you insitute polices that take the liberties of your people in exchange for some imagined level of security.

            With barely-controlled melodrama, it makes me sick and I am not even American.

            Heroes are to be revered and noble ideas defended no matter where they come from. True heroes are champions for more than their own countries because they fight for what is good in humanity - not any given race or creed. The ideals that those revolutionaries fought for are universal rights.

            And so, to all the US citizens - a month from now, when you light your firecrackers and drape your red-white-and-blue bunting around the place, you ask yourselves why it is okay to deprive the citizens of other nations of their privacy. Perhaps you might answer that it is up to every country to protect its own interests and citizens and the US is justified in spying on the rest of the world so long as they respect their own people. Well fuck you. And fuck your president for standing up in Normandy this week and praising the young men who fought for democracy.

            That argument is no more than 'might makes right' and it's people like you who have all helped lead to the current reality because right now your government has the 'might'.

            The US once sought ot be a beacon to other nations - a symbol of freedom and liberty. Having watched 'Superman: Man of Steel" recently, I find a line in that particularly moving: "You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time you will help them accomplish wonders."

            That was what the US once wished to be - they marched side-by-side with their allies to bring freedom and democracy to the world but now they have secret internment camps all over that freed world. They tried to raise countries to their level, promoting improved workign conditions and better labour laws; now they off-shore to the lowest bidder. They sought to be the "city upon a hill" with, as Reagan said, "doors . . . open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here". Now? A locked, gate, surrounded by self-important guards who believe themselves above the law.

            What a long way to fall.

            1. Don Jefe

              Re: What a prat.

              Of course we're going to fall, in every way imaginable. That's the only possible outcome of existing in a constant State of FearTM. Nearly everything we've done as a nation since the mid-1960's and most of everything between Korea and Vietnam, has been in response to never ending fear of something. The next Great ThreatTM changes, but the base level of Fear continuously escalates, it never gets dialed back, we just get 'protected', we don't actually solve anything.

              You can see it everywhere. There aren't many people in The West still alive who know what actual war and fear are about. Catapulting people to the opposite side of the planet with no goal, just guns, isn't war, that's market manipulation and job creation. People run around shitting in their pants over Commies, Economies and Terrorists and spend more money protecting themselves from ideas and anomalies than actually trying to change anything.

              It's one thing to be afraid of something, that's common sense. But to Fear something is just cowardice wrapped up in feel good semantics. Fear is useless and debilitating on every possible front and until people realize just how absurdly safe the world really is then everything is just going to get more fucked up. We're taking the fights to the wrong enemy. The enemy is ourselves and this stupid fucking idea that 50 hour weeks and $100k salaries are the height of civilization instead of the very slavery we pretend to detest.

              It people want to be mollycoddled and live life wrapped in swaddling clothes that's fine. But those people shouldn't get a voice in how those who don't want that do with the country. I'm not going to slow down and kneel so I can hear the whinging through the swaddling. Fuck 'em. They're safe and if that's not good enough tough shit. Come on up here and let's work together and move forward, not sit in your corner, covered in your own stinking fear shit and bitch about Chinese labor policy while too scared to come out in the open. It's pathetic and is the most 'Un-American' and unpatriotic kind of shit I can possibly imagine.

              Until those people are gone, then we're fucked. It's just so crazy insane that my office, home and mountain fortress are militarized zones, but that's because it's the great Middle Class, anti-American pantywaists that I protect my family and staff from, not an foreign power or ideological nutter from overseas. It's just embarrassing. We could have skipped centuries of great thinking and not even bothered with trying to set an example and just remained British. There's no fucking way any of the Founding Fathers would have bothered with this lot of sad sacks.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yup, that's about 2 cents worth

    Nothing dime-a-dozen about that grad student, nosiree.

    Also, Beldar

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Another brick in the wall

    Oh noes! My liberal peace president "Serial Obomba" is not doing enough to support a totally out-of-control spy bureaucracy which is just waiting for the reincarnation of Heydrich to, like, totally grease the place up! OH WOES!!

    Has anyone looked closely as this arseholelittle lost sheep's products? You might find the literal backdoor therein.

    Here's hoping he has a messy encounter with a random Silicon Valley 20-wheeler.

  9. mtnbkr
    Thumb Up

    I admit - I agree with Marc!

    Who <b>didn't</b> know what the NSA was doing?

    1. xperroni

      Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?

      It's not that we didn't expect the NSA to be spying, but the scope and methods put people off – including overseas clients of US-based cloud services, which I believe is Andreessen's actual beef with Snowden. "All this truth is hurting my bottom line!" is the long and short of it, really. Talk about butthurt!

      1. mtnbkr

        RE: Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?

        It isn't JUST the NSA - every other nation is doing similar things, to the degree that they can. As long as the data that's being gathered isn't being used nefariously, who cares?

        And Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon et al are doing the SAME THING, at a commercial level.

        So is General Motors, Ford, Mercedes Benz, etc etc etc.

        Not that it isn't ANNOYING :-)...

        1. Primus Secundus Tertius

          Re: RE: Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?

          Well said, sir.

          It seems remarkable to British people that Americans are bellyaching vociferously about the NSA but seem willing to tell Google, Facebook, and co almost anything.

          It seems they still have not gotten over the distorted and exaggerated grievances whipped up by a minority of activists against the lawful and wise government of George III.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: RE: Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?

            The difference is, the information Google et al holds* isn't likely to get you on a no-fly list, affect your employment prospects, destroy your family, lead to criminal prosecutions etc. Nothing these companies hold is likely to hurt you. Also, whether you like it or not, people get something that they feel is positive from Google et al - not so with the excessive spying in by the government. No-one expects to be spied by the State on just because they exist - no cause, no reason, no justification. Basically, to equate the two is specious in the extreme.

            *At least, until it is sequestered by the government.

            1. Primus Secundus Tertius

              Re: RE: Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?


              You seem to trust Google more than you trust government. I for one do not trust Google.

              I do take the point that what is innocent today may be guilty tomorrow. For example, I have argued that global warming is natural. The British government does not currently want to lock me up for that, although some people urge them to do just that.

              But compare that with the real threats of various terrorist groups, or of organised crime. In the light of that, is it so unreasonable for robotic systems to have an information trail of a few months, so that if a person comes under suspicion but twigs that he is rumbled, there is pre-suspicion information available?

              Believe me, They are not interested in Us. I went to a privileged university with some of Them.

            2. mtnbkr

              Re: RE: Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?

              Okay - you may have a point in least, a partial point. Here's why I say that:

              "Nothing these companies hold is likely to hurt you"

              The big Credit Reporting Trio has info that CAN hurt you, agreed? No mortgage, no car loan, etc. How'd they gather that, do you suppose?

              "No-one expects to be spied by the State on just because they exist - no cause, no reason, no justification. Basically, to equate the two is specious in the extreme."

              Specious? How? Can you please provide a documented case that whatever data NSA has was used improperly? Sure, that they gathered it at all is scary...but how was it USED?

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: RE: Who didn't know what the NSA was doing?

              And what about all those people whose names are on the documents snowden stole? Have you considered that those people, many of whom are just people doing their jobs, are now potential targets of foreign agencies.

              Or do you think all NSA /GCHQ document authors use codenames too?

    2. Malcolm Weir

      OK, I'll bite:

      If everyone knew what the NSA was doing, how can anyone accuse Snowden of treason?

      On the other hand, if what the NSA was doing was massively (TS//SI//TK//NOFORN) secret, then one might be able to credible accuse Snowden of treachery, but one might also raise the question of why the NSA expended the effort to circumvent the rubber stamp FISA court...

      Even Dianne Feinstein has objected to the behavior of the intelligence agencies, which confirms that their are objections to be levelled. Whether or not those objections justify the actions Snowden took is another matter.

      1. dan1980

        @Malcolm Weir

        Excellent point.

        But, I would suggest that no, everybody did not know what was going on.

        There were certainly plenty of people who worried about what might be happening but trusted the 'checks and balances' of the tripartite systems to make sure that the constitution was upheld and their best interests kept at heart.

        Those members of the public who 'knew' were called paranoid and ridiculed as conspiracy theorists wearing foil hats and watching out for black helicopters. They were told that the government had better things to do than listen to everyone's conversations, told that, even if the government wanted to do that then the equipment and storage and cost would be prohibitive, told that there's no way the government was putting 'back doors' and spyware into software and hardware.

        The truly crazy thing was that it wasn't even the government that told them that - it was the rest of the public dismissing them. They were lumped with those who think the moon landing was faked and the destruction of the World Trade Center was an inside job. Alex Jones agreed with them.

        And anyway, how many people believed that the government was doing all this is not the point. After all, how can you get the government to change its policies if they won't even admit what they are doing?

        PROOF, however, changes the whole game. The simple fact that prior to this proof, there was no outrage but after it there is is surely evidence enough that.

        The whole 'traitor' thing is ridiculous because Mr. Andreessen is making a big, though all-too-common, mistake, which is to confuse 'The Government of the United States of America' with 'The United States of America'..

        And anyway, if revealing to the US people what the US government is doing (ostensibly on their behalf) makes Edward Snowden a traitor, what does breaking the constitution make the US government?

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          "Mr. Andreessen is making a big, though all-too-common, mistake, which is to confuse 'The Government of the United States of America' with 'The United States of America'.."

          This *is* a common mistake, but it is an extraordinary one for all that. Don't Americans learn about this in school?

          The whole fucking point of the US constitution was to create a system where the government would be under the people. The government was deliberately hampered with checks and balances and just in case thosey didn't work the people were given the right to bear arms, the clear (and, amongst legal scholars, undisputed) intention being that if all else fails the people could go home, pick up their guns, and blow the fuckers away and start again.

          Back in the 18th century, that was a jaw-dropping idea. Even today, how many other countries are deliberately structured to put the government permanently on the back foot?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If everyone knew what the NSA was doing, how can anyone accuse Snowden of treason?

        Snowden released secret information. That is illegal, and it benefitted governments abroad, ergo a treasonous act. He ticks all the boxes of the textbook definition - there is no "but he did for a good reason" escape clause.

        Until he released the documents, NSA activities were only rumours and the US government thus had deniability.

  10. Ilmarinen
    Big Brother

    I think not:

    It's the US Gov and its NSA that is the the traitor - to Mr Snowden, and to all the decent citizens of the US and the "free" world. Not the other way around. Unless of course your "textbook" was written by the East German Ministry for State Security, commonly known as the Stasi.

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: I think not:

      The STASI were the Staats Sicherheitsdienst - the state security service - and could be seen as the successors of the Geheime Staats Polizei (GESTAPO). They were policemen, not ministry jobsworths.

  11. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    There is a case to say

    He himself is a traitor, what, selling out to AOL and stuff... Wait.. to AOL??? Yewww...

  12. xperroni
    Big Brother

    Superior Orders

    "The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him". Thus says the fourth Nuremberg principle, as laid down by the victorious Allies after WWII.

    By the same token, didn't Snowden have a moral obligation to bring the NSA's excesses to light?

    Oh, but I guess these things only apply when you work to a defeated enemy of the US... Apologies, do go on Mr. Andreessen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Superior Orders

      IIRC In the My Lai Massacre the officer was still held responsible - by his own side.

      1. xperroni

        Re: Superior Orders

        IIRC In the My Lai Massacre the officer was still held responsible - by his own side.

        I had never heard of that, so I headed to Jimbo's Big Bag o' Trivia, which had this to say:

        The Mỹ Lai Massacre was the Vietnam War mass murder of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968. It was committed by U.S. Army soldiers from the Company C of the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division. Victims included men, women, children, and infants. Some of the women were gang-raped and their bodies mutilated. Twenty six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses, but only Lieutenant William Calley Jr., a platoon leader in C Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but served only three and a half years under house arrest.

        Not so much "holding responsible" as "scapegoating", then – and even the scapegoat got off with a metaphorical slap in the wrist, all things considered.

        Also disturbingly familiar:

        Initially, three U.S. servicemen who had tried to halt the massacre and rescue the hiding civilians were shunned, and even denounced as traitors by several U.S. Congressmen, including Mendel Rivers, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

        They never change...

        1. DropBear

          Re: Superior Orders

          They never change...

          I guess we're down to the "you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs" and "you can't handle the truth" level - and it seems those operating there cannot conceivably be convinced by any means that any truth might exist other than their own. Somehow I don't think they'd feel flattered if one told them the word for uncritical and irrational dedication is "fanatism"...

  13. raving angry loony

    Yet again someone who doesn't see the difference between "whistleblower" and "traitor". To some, they're one and the same. The government is the country, and the country can do no wrong, therefore to speak against them is to be a "traitor". The government can do no wrong, and is always right, therefore to escape any rightful "justice" they want to impose is being a "traitor". Ethics, law (local and international), treaties, agreements, nothing else matters

    We've seen the attitude before. We'll see it again. I don't agree with it, obviously. Not even sure if Andreessen actually believes what he's saying or if he's just positioning one of his companies as "whiter than white" in some government deals he has going. We'll probably never know.

  14. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    "I thought they were spying,"

    Spying on the enemies of one's state? Fine.

    Constructing a massive dragnet operation that treats *EVERYONE* as a potential enemy of the state? Not fine in the slightest.

    Quis custodet ipsos custodes, Mr Andreessen?

    1. dan1980

      Re: "I thought they were spying,"


      The custodes' mates, of course. Duh.

      But this isn't just for covert operations - it's just as good a policy for regulation and oversight of industry.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: "I thought they were spying,"


        The custodes' mates, of course. Duh.

        +1 for that one :)

    2. Graham Marsden

      Re: "I thought they were spying,"

      Hmm, a downvote.

      Mr Andreessen must read El Reg.

  15. Andrew Jones 2


    There is a difference between suspecting that something is happening and knowing 100% for certain that something is happening.

    Yes, I'm sure a large amount of people suspected what the NSA/GCHQ was doing, there might even have been some people who had *some* knowledge of how they were operating. That's all well and good, but having ALL the information laid out in black and white - detailing exactly what is happening is a whole different kettle of fish, of course people have the right to be outraged, by how these organisations operate - to claim how the NSA and other organisations operate is completely justified because "everyone already knew all along" is false logic, and idiotic.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The other designation

    Of course everybody knew that the NSA was spying. People could see the big room at AT&T slurping up all the data. People were splicing optical cables. The buildings were being built. Problem was, the government was claiming that the system was in the name of national security to create legal loopholes. Secret police, kidnappings, and grossly unconstitutional behavior based on intercepted gossip could not be challenged in court because the government claimed examination was a national security threat. Snowden's leaks mean that it's harder for the government to prevent examination of unlawful behavior - the secrets are out.

    If Snowden's actions help reign in the NSA and Homeland Security through politics, it could even save the US from a nasty revolution.

  17. Jeffrey Nonken

    Shoot first, then call what you hit the target

    If you define "Traitor" as "Edward Snowden", then yes, Edward Snowden is a textbook traitor. Which is pretty much what Mr. Andreessen is doing by metaphorically using Mr. Snowden's photo as the definition.

    Then there are those of us in the real world and don't redefine words to mean whatever supports our latest madness. If you use the actual dictionary definition -- or, better yet, the US Constitution's definition -- it may not be so simple.

    "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

    (I'm not claiming that the Constitution's definition is necessarily superior to that of a dictionary. It's just that it's the definition that Snowden should be prosecuted (or not) over, and would be if our government weren't being run by a bunch of [string of expletives deleted], seeing as how Mr. Snowden performed his actions as a US citizen.)

    1. RedneckMother

      Re: Shoot first, then call what you hit the target

      First and foremost - I am NOT disputing your post.

      What I wish to do is recount a phrase I have found apropos in many (corporate / governmental) situations:

      "Ready, Fire, Aim!"

      1. dan1980

        Re: Shoot first, then call what you hit the target


        Eh? What's this "ready" business?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What the NSA is doing?

    "What Andreessen said he doesn't understand, given how long the NSA has been around and the amount of money it draws from the US federal government, is how anybody could pretend to be surprised to learn what the agency is doing."

    Since the end of the cold war, the NSA spend most of the time engaged in industrial espionage. Such info is correlated into monthly packs and passed onto the major US corporations. It's kind of like the croupier at the casino having his thumb on the wheel.

  19. DerekCurrie

    I Like Your Work Marc, But OMG Are You Naive

    Please Marc, buck up and read some human history. I know it's boring to folks like you and me, but you are a textbook naive observer and judge of government and political behavior. There is soooo much more going on here. Here are a few quotes to get you started:

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

    "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." – Ronald Reagan, March 30, 1961

    The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution:

    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

  20. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Mission Creep Strikes Again

    Once upon a time, the FBI only dealt with domestic issues (crime).

    The CIA was the active group to deal with those out of the USA and Territories. Their charter prohibited them from any activity inside the US and Territories.

    The NSA could only do intelligence gathering on the outside of the boards. They were the eyes and ears of the CIA since the CIA was the boots on the ground data gathering agency.

    Somewhere things started getting muddled and mixed about and quite possibly it was well before the second Bush. It was gradual and no one noticed. We, the people who paid attention at least in passing, that the NSA was gathering data but assumed that from it's early charter it was gathering info on enemies and not on friends and citizens. Or so we had been told.

    Snowden has revealed wasn't generally known.. friends, citizens of the US, and enemies are now grist for the data mill. That's the part that's shocking and has much of the populace upset. I think folks would be just as upset if the Posse Comitatus Act were ignored and the US Army was allowed to do law enforcement work.

    And before you hit me, the National Guard is the realm of the States but the troops can be deployed overseas by the Feds. The State can deploy them within the State if there's an emergency situation that is overwhelming local authorities. Such as natural disasters, rioting. It's a bit of loophole in the Posse Comitatus Act

  21. Charles Manning

    Bye bye Brand America

    Until the 1990s, USA was flying pretty high as an international brand.

    There was general good will towards Americans even if they'd misbehaved in South/Central America.

    Then somewhere in the 1990s the wheels atarted to fall off. That good will got eraoded by increasing American arrogance and imperialism.

    American travellers started to sew Canadian flags to their backpacks. Still, America could generally be trusted as reasonably good global citizens much of the time.

    Now, well, everything has blown wide open. If people can find a way to go about their daily business without involving USA they will. Probably most people in the world would switch from US service providers to EU in a heartbeat.

    Sad to see all that crumbling.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bye bye Brand America

      Until the 1990s, USA was flying pretty high as an international brand.

      ITYM 1890s

    2. Daniel B.

      Re: Bye bye Brand America

      Until the 1990s, USA was flying pretty high as an international brand.

      Maybe in Europe, but over here in the American continent, most if not every single country south of the US border has been wary of the US. Especially due to their Central/South America misbehavior. How do you think Hugo Chavez got to be president? Down in Central and South America, the surefire way to win the presidential ticket these days is to be an anti-imperialist (that is, anti-USA) dude.

  22. RISC OS

    What a dick

    PS: small error in the first line:

    "Netscape cofounder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen"

    should be

    "Netscape cofounder and asset stripper Marc Andreessen"

    1. Fair Dinkum

      Re: What a dick

      He worked as a student on a project called "Mosaic", which was the first successful web browser.

      Some time later he left and presto, instant new web browser. Smells funny.

  23. Forget It


    Marc Andreessen chips in now.

    but jwz (another Netscape founder) was on topic a year ago!

  24. Hans 1
    Black Helicopters

    Excuse me Mr Andreessen, but I'm Mr too and you're given the Mr's a bad name, Mr's like you.

    So Mr Andreessen, you would do humanity great good by removing yourself from the human gene pool.

    BTW, did you know your name means "eat the others" in German ?

    1. hplasm
      Big Brother

      NSA- Agents everywhere...

      "You have a problem with authority, Mr. Andreessen." "It seems that you've been living two lives..."

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I thought they were spying, That was my impression. I thought everybody knew that."

    Naive shit! Its the fact that the NSA and other agencies were self-righteously routinely spying on UN diplomats and world leaders, doing corporate espionage for US companies against Brazilian / French interests, and monitoring individuals including OWS protestors that is so grating.

    But when you're already a long-time billionaire, none of this matters to you. You can just make a phone call and get a law passed or halted! ... Elite fuck-head!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If you look up in the encyclopedia, 'traitor', there's a picture of Ed Snowden."

    You're either with us or against us! America, Fuck yeah!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is a matter of direction and degree.

    It is one thing spying to protect those you serve, but it is another matter a rogue government spying to protect itself against those they are supposed to serve. The whole exercise loses any remaining credibility when engaging in rampant international industrial espionage for privileged corporations which distorts the local market and is harmful to international trade, and being part of a government which attack others over infringement of so called IP i.e. gross hypocrisy!

    Basically it's bad for business and civilisation, because most business and civilisation requires adequate trust, so this brings his judgement and morals into serious doubt!

    What really seals the rogue government evidence is departments which should not even need weapons placing orders for vast amounts of military hardware designed to kill people not for non-lethal defence e.g. "Dum Dum" bullets, etc.!

  28. Shrimpling

    I'm going to stop using Netscape Navigator... that will show him!

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      I still have Netscape 7 on one of my old boxes :-)

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > "I thought they were spying," Andreessen said. "That was my impression. I just thought that that's what they were doing. I thought everybody knew that."

    If everyone already knew this then surely what Snowden leaked wasn't secret and he can't be a traitor?

  30. Ben Rosenthal

    If someone is able to "whistleblow" on you, YOU are the traitors.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If someone is able to "whistleblow" on you, YOU are the traitors."

      That sums it up quite nicely, together with when they say "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" but don't want to apply that concept to the principles (never mind the details) of their own activities.

  31. Roj Blake

    The Founding Fathers

    Ask any American schoolchild and they'll tell you that the USA was founded by men who were patriots that stood up to a government that had become an oppressive tyranny. More than that, they were patriots BECAUSE they stood up to tyranny.

    Snowden is at least as much of a patriot as those men.

  32. bigtimehustler

    Maybe he is a traitor, maybe he isn't, thats for the American population as a whole to decide. For everyone outside the US though, he is a hero showing how much the US oversteps its mark in how it listens in on its supposed allies. Whether he is a traitor or not, the US was doing wrong to the rest of the world, I guess if a Nazi soldier during WW2 gave the allies intelligence he would have been called a traitor by Germany, whether or not he was a traitor however has little bearing on whether it was the right or wrong thing to do.

  33. Robert E A Harvey

    Unpopular view

    My view is that

    * Snowden was, by simple definition, a traitor

    * The world is better off for what he revealled

    So he was a Traitor working for a corrupt regime. He decided he could not keep the secrets secret. That makes him a good man, but does not stop the unfortunate side effect of being traitorious toward a regime that neither he nor I respect.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "What Andreessen said he doesn't understand, given how long the NSA has been around and the amount of money it draws from the US federal government, is how anybody could pretend to be surprised to learn what the agency is doing."

    So any long-established organization which gets its pay from the government is automatically a criminal conspiracy to subvert the constitution of the country?

  35. Brent Longborough

    Oh well...

    So Marc Andreessen joins a bunch of other doubtfuls like John Kerry and Jim Gilmore.

    These people need to stop cussing the toilet paper, and start examining the faeces.

  36. Shaha Alam

    There's a delicious irony in all the AC's talking up the need for NSA to break the law to do their jobs.

    what're you afraid of, the NSA already know who you are. they can see behind the AC mask, don't you know?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe because we have reasons for not putting our public names on comments. Not because of the NSA or GCHQ but because of the other people commenting on here.

  37. Sulivan1977

    And my country is a text book jerk.

    sorry, the underhanded crap my government was already doing I don't blame him for kissing and telling. There is knowing your country is doing some underhanded stuff and there is "knowing". And as they say light is the best disinfectant.

  38. CJ Hinke

    <Andreessen said: "The Germans knew full well what was happening, the Brits knew full well what was happening. The Russians knew full well what was happening.>

    Umm, what he really meant is that a handful of spooks in each country "knew" what was going on, probably compartmentalised so nobody had a complete picture. Perhaps surveillance took on a life of its own as components were imagined and added. This being government, its likely there was never a direct plan or even a big picture.

    But it's sure "the Germans", "the Brits", "the Russians", meaning citizens in whose name the surveillance was accomplished, the taxpayers who paid the spooks, were never informed.

    Frankly, Andreesen is the kind of right-wing dinosaur I want out of the tech industry. He ain't MY daddy!

  39. Daniel B.

    Oh dear.

    It proves that there are people in the IT industry that have been infested by conservatardism. Really sad.

    I would take him seriously if he were to say that he's a traitor in the sense that his whistle blowing activities are questionable, but no. He basically goes down the "everyone should've know about the NSA stuff and what he released was unnecessary but harmful". It was only "harmful" on US-based cloud computing stuff, which is probably why he's throwing a tantrum on Snowden's affair. And legally the NSA shouldn't be able to do all of this, but it is probably covered by the infamous PATRIOT Act. So no, nobody expected the NSA to pull off what amounts to a blanket wiretap on all US comms, including ordinary citizens. That is what angered people.

    1. Rottenham

      Re: Oh dear.

      Once you acquire money, as Andreessen has, you identify with the rich and powerful.

  40. Rottenham

    Just because Andreessen did one bright thing in his life doesn't mean he's some kind of oracle. Andreessen had his 15 minutes of fame long ago. It's over now, but he doesn't know it.

  41. Old Handle

    Nope, I just checked (Wikipedia) and it showed Guy Fawkes, not Snowden.

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