Three of the federal government's 2.7-million-odd employees gave BuzzFeed anonymous quotes about how they totally want to murder Edward Snowden to death, demonstrating the repercussions for violating the Bro Code of the nation's capital: Undermine our sense of self, and you will be talked about in a tough manner.
BuzzFeed's Benny Johnson, who lives in D.C. and has long been swirling around its conservative circles, relayed the threats to Snowden in a piece titled, "America’s Spies Want Edward Snowden Dead." Boom. Dead. You violated omerta, Ed, and now you must pay.
"In a world where I would not be restricted from killing an American," one said, "I personally would go and kill him myself." Another wants to "put a bullet in his head," and presumably he doesn't mean gently placing it in Snowden's mouth, like a lozenge. He means shooting him, which is the sort of fantasy that tough guys have about people they don't like. Ergo, America's spies want Snowden dead.
Here are the "spies" that said mean things about someone they probably didn't know on the condition that their identities be withheld and therefore they would suffer zero repercussions because sometimes repercussions can be frightening:
- "a current NSA analyst"
- "one Pentagon official, a former special forces officer"
- "a defense contractor … speaking from an overseas intelligence collections base"
- an "Army intelligence officer"
So, four people. Two of those people are "spies" in the loose sense of the word (#1 and #4). One is probably not (#2). One is certainly not (#3). It was #4 that had really thought this thing through though, fantasizing about pricking Snowden from behind with something to make him feel "woozy" and oh man did I lose the thread on this.
Johnson didn't let these anonymous quotes stand alone. He also got a guy from the Brookings Institute to say that, yes, these complaints seem legit. "These guys are emoting how pissed they are," says Peter Singer. Ah.
Ugh, but it's just so predictable. D.C. operates on this really weird attitude of self-importance which ... God bless it, but it just gets so tedious. "We are serious people in suits doing serious work, and hmm, and policy, and the Metro, and here is my title." The idea that three guys who work in government — guys who may possibly have joined the NSA or the military because it reinforces that tough guy sense of self — the idea that they get the OK to simply say, "I would totally murder that dude, no joke," which is barely even a paraphrase, is neither eye-opening nor useful.
Of course people are mad, of course people are mad who have committed their lives to the country, to its service, and are doing jobs that their colleagues and bosses and the president fervently believe are important to keep America safe. And nearly all of them would find this animalistic fury dumb and gross. But: Look what these jerks said; that is what "America's spies" think. At least John Bolton had the decency to put a name to his blood fantasy.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.