Ever since Edward Snowden’s arrival in Moscow, the whistleblower has quite literally vanished. The explanation for Snowden’s ‘dematerialization’ is rather simple: the leaker never existed in the first place. American NSA created the character of ‘Edward Snowden’ to distract the global audience from the real problem behind his persona – the vast espionage operation the US has been conducting for years.Given that George Lucas instructed the NSA on how to create a simulacrum, Snowden might well be a hologram.
If one starts thinking about Snowden’s story in retrospect, it actually becomes all too obvious. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post suggests that from the very beginning, Mr Snowden’s life seemed to follow the classic movie scenario of the ‘American-dream-gone-bad’. A high-school dropout, he became a lone hacker who turned out to be so bright and talented that he finally became an employee of a giant contractor to the CIA. He was a successful young man with a beautiful model girlfriend who, in turn, was a pole-dancing acrobat. The two lived in a cosy house in Hawaii and should have been together ‘until death did them part’.
At some point in his life, however, Mr Snowden has suddenly realized that his life might not be as perfect as it seems, and this is where the real thriller began. The young man decided that he cannot possibly live a ‘good life’ being aware that his country is spying on its own citizens. As a result, the brave hacker made a decision to sacrifice his future to expose the NSA’s most secretive program. Sounds like a great Spielberg film, doesn’t it? In this sense, it is far from incidental that the Financial Times claimed that “if Edward Snowden didn't exist, Hollywood would probably have invented him”.
But even if one assumes that Snowden does exist, why would a successful young man living on Hawaii with his perfect girlfriend ruin his life like this? According to Ezra Klein, the answer is less philosophical than it seems: he did this ‘heroic’ act because he isn’t real. The NSA created ‘Edward Snowden’ to keep the NSA programs safe. The information about American secret programs was leaking anyway – ever since 2010, when WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange published US military and diplomatic documents with assistance from his partners and US Army’s Bradley Manning, American security agencies have no longer been safe from info leaks.
As a result, the US government needed a distraction – something connected to the NSA, so covering it would still feel like covering the NSA story, but that would divert much of the press from covering the actual programs. From this perspective the character of ‘Edward Snowden’ was Obama’s diversionary tactic to get the masses following a narrative, an ‘emotional arc’, and thus forget about the essence of the problem.
And it worked. ‘It’s alive’, probably uttered the American President when the US government was actually able to divert attention and control the global debate on American espionage by calling the imaginary Snowden a traitor ’engaged in‘ espionage and fixating on the cat and mouse game. The media was a vital component of this propaganda strategy. As the US authorities feigned openness and called for justice enough, global mass media covered it hence avoiding the implications of the leaks.
Indeed, it is hard to find someone who had not heard of Edward Snowden. The whole world knows what flight he was supposed to be on and which countries he is considering as safe harbors. There will, presumably, even be an eventual resolution to the Snowden story, such that those following it feel they have a sense of closure and can move onto other topics. By that time, the term “Stellarwind” will probably be already forgotten by the general public.
For those still skeptical, ‘Edward Snowden’ might just be a high resolution hologram.Just as in Victor Pelevin's trippy, post-cyberpunk satire ‘Homo Zapiens’, Edward Snowden is a holographic, a virtual puppet of the NSA. Word on the street is that George Lucas had previously instructed his Industrial Light and Magic to advise the NSA and CIA on how best to create a digital simulacrum of a person. Lucas' best work in years.