SO STEALING SECRETS IS COOL AGAIN?
Much of the news lately ha had a retro feel to it. No, I don’t mean the fever-pitch excitement over M.C. Hammer’s latest album dropping.
Okay, I’m kidding about that. But consider: O.J. is up for parole. McDonalds has a new burger – the quarter pounder WITH BACON! Betty White is cool again.
And then, there’s this. Apparently, stealing state secrets is cool again. Remember during the Cold War how every so often there’d be a story about some FBI agent or government flunky who’d get busted trying to sell our secrets to the Russians? Well, the good old days are back – but with a, I dunno, Robin Hood twist? Count of Monte Cristo? (Never actually read that.) Birdman of Alcatraz?
Army Private Bradley Manning was convicted of giving classified military documents to WikiLeaks. Edward Snowden is sitting in Russia, a man without a country, after similarly leaking classified information. The U.S. government, of course, wants him back so he can be tried and imprisoned.
Pretty typical Cold War stuff. Traitors will not be tolerated.
But here’s the thing.
The government is royally pissed about the leaks, obviously. But the public has a weird, bipolar thing going on. In general, we hate leakers who put our citizens and military at risk, but we LOVE whistleblowers. Especially in the case of Snowden, the public seems to be more angry at the NSA for harvesting our emails than they are Snowden for revealing it.
So here we are as a country talking about national security and espionage and THE RUSSIANS. Very James Bond, this all is. Very old school. We’ve gotten so accustomed, unfortunately, to talking about national issues of violence and terrorism, that as appalling as giving away state secrets may be, being able to talk about that instead is almost a refreshing change of pace.
I don’t know what that means and it feels weird to say.
But not knowing what stuff means and feeling weird is sort of what life is today.
International relations seemed so much easier when we could just stand atop the Berlin Wall and call for its destruction. Now we talk about extradition and whether or not Julian Assange will ever be tried and whether Snowden will go to Nicaragua or Venezuela.
Think I’ll go watch a James Bond movie. Connery, not Craig.