Edward Snowden conspiracies have been around since the moment the former NSA contractor went public with his intelligence disclosures. From the ease with which he was able to steal 200,000 classified documents to his unusual background, theories about who he is and who he's really working for are all over the Internet.
Prominent writers and politicians have accused Snowden of being everything from an NSA false flag to a secret Russian agent. He's looked at as both a hapless patsy and a stone cold deep cover operative. Depending on who you ask, he's either working for the Americans, the Russians, multiple government agencies at once, or maybe doesn't even exist at all. Obviously, all these theories can't be true. But it's possible that at least one is - and maybe more.Here are some of the most out-there Edward Snowden conspiracy theories ever circulated.
Snowden Is a Deep Cover NSA Plant
The Evidence: The idea of Edward Snowden actually being part of a complicated NSA plot essentially entails that the entire thing is a false flag operation. Why would the NSA expose its own secrets to the public? Writer Naomi Wolf had one possible explanation for it: make people afraid of the NSA by letting them know how pervasive its reach is:
She wrote in a lengthy 2013 Facebook post: "It is actually in the Police State’s interest to let everyone know that everything you write or say everywhere is being surveilled, and that awful things happen to people who challenge this. [...] In Eastern Germany [sic], for instance, it was the fear of a machine of surveillance that people believed watched them at all times — rather than the machine itself — that drove compliance and passivity. From the standpoint of the police state and its interests — why have a giant Big Brother apparatus spying on us at all times — unless we know about it?"
But, Why? Wolf's theory hinges on a number of educated guesses and anecdotal observations: that he's too organized, that he's not struggling for words in interviews, that he's too focused on what he lost to be a true whistle-blower. She focuses on the fact that at the time of his initial 2013 interview with Glenn Greenwald, he didn't have a lawyer by his side. But since then, Snowden has gotten legal representation in the US, Germany, and Russia, where he's living.Beyond that, it's not clear what the NSA would get by exposing its deepest secrets. People try to find ways around surveillance when they know it's there - and the surveillance in places like East Germany was far more pervasive than anywhere in the US or Western Europe. If Snowden is a deep cover operative, he's committed more than three years to an operation that doesn't seem to have a real purpose.
Snowden Doesn't Exist and Is an NSA Construct
The Evidence: A few writers and conspiracy bloggers have taken Klein's idea that Snowden might be an NSA agent even farther - claiming that there is no actual Edward Snowden, only a constructed fiction built around an actor spewing lines fed to him by the NSA. Using an actor to make people afraid of the surveillance state makes him not just an NSA plant, but an NSA creation, able to be used for any purpose, as long as he plays along.But, Why? Snowden as a fictitious person makes no more sense than Snowden as a fictitious whistle-blower. Beyond that, Snowden has given many interviews in the three years since his initial revelations. From his new home in Russia, he's spoken with everyone from Neil deGrasse Tyson to the New Yorker to John Oliver, and has maintained an active social media presence. If "Snowden" were an actor, it would be the performance of a lifetime.
We're Not Saying It Was Aliens... But It Was Aliens
The Evidence: Surprisingly, a number of the files Snowden took when he left the US are related to aliens and communications from space - specifically, why we haven't gotten any. Snowden claims that if aliens were sending us signals, we wouldn't have the technology to de-encrypt and translate them. He also revealed that one of the ways the government discredits people is linking them to belief in aliens and UFO sightings. Not only that, but Iran claimed that it had obtained leaked Snowden documents that revealed the US government was run by “tall white aliens."But, Why? While it's likely that any alien signal being broadcast to Earth would be incredibly difficult to decode, the Iranian report was pure fiction. Full of outlandish claims - including one that holds 80 alien races are on earth preparing for galactic war - the Iranian story, pushed by their official news agency, was taken straight from the conspiracy theory blog What Does It Mean, a purveyor of mountain-size piles of crap. There are no "tall white aliens" running the US government (...that we know of).
He's a CIA Triple Agent Working For... Someone
The Evidence: Webster Tarpley, a crony of conspiracy-mongering fringe politician Lyndon LaRouche, proposed that Snowden is actually a triple agent. On the first level, Snowden pretends to work for the NSA and on the second level, he’s a whistle-blower, trying to expose their surveillance. But who’s he really really working for? “At bottom, where is his bread really buttered? CIA,” said Tarpley on his radio show. “At the bottom, he’s a CIA agent all along.”But, Why? According to Tarpley, the purpose of the CIA’s operation (conducted with various international interests) is to weaken President Obama with his liberal base, and push the US to intervene in Syria, which, conveniently, the White House announced it would do shortly after Tarpley proposed his theory. Sadly, there's virtually no evidence that any of what he's proposing is true, or why any of it would be taking place.