Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is in a tizzy that Edward Snowden has been invited to speak (remotely) at a technology conference in Austin. In a letter to the conference organizers, SXSW, Pompeo alleges that Snowden’s “only apparent qualification is his willingness to steal from his own government and then flee to that beacon of First Amendment freedoms, the Russia of Vladimir Putin.” “I strongly urge you to withdraw this invitation,” Pompeo writes.
Curiously, being a man without a medical degree has not stopped Rep. Pompeo from speaking at conferences on issues surrounding women’s reproduction; and the hypocrisy doesn’t end there. There’s the obvious hypocrisy of criticizing Snowden’s choice of refuge (his only choice) as lacking in free speech protections while trying to deny Snowden an opportunity to speak.
Moreover, the criticism comes from someone described as “a subsidiary of the Koch brothers’ business empire” and “the congressman from Koch.” Those are the same Koch brothers who opposed net neutrality and use their wealth to secretly manipulate public discourse. Pompeo, who claims Snowden “undermines the very fairness and that SXSW and the ACLU purport to foster,” seems quite tolerant of abuses of fairness and freedom when they issue from his top campaign funders.
The rest of Pompeo’s letter repeats what we have heard many times before from the surveillance aristocracy: character assassination, baseless innuendo, and a demand for Snowden’s return to face what US officials quaintly call “justice.” Pompeo concludes by asking why the SXSW audience would find Snowden credible, a man “who deceived not only his employer, but his country.” If only Rep. Pompeo were equally worked up about NSA officials who deceived judges, Congress and the American people, he might have some credibility himself.