Snowden Wikipedia page edited from a Senate computer to say ‘traitor’
The Wikipedia page for the man responsible for leaking classified National Security Agency files to the media has been updated hundreds of times since he started sharing sensitive documents in early June, but one of those revisions — and a questionable one at that — comes courtesy of someone in the United States Senate.
On Friday, someone logged into Wikipedia and changed a line in Snowden’s biography from "American dissident” to "American traitor.” Joe Klock at The Daily Dot website was the first one to report on the edit, and quickly noticed that the revision was made from a computer connected to the Internet from within the walls of a US Senate building.
The word change only stayed on the Snowden page for around one minute, but it still managed to create quite a stir.
On a discussion page for the entry, one Wikipedia editor confirmed that the change was made by someone with access to a Senate computer.
“The edit was made by this IP and the IP does belong to the US Senate. The edit was reverted within 1 minute due to the fact that it does not reflect a neutral point of view which is one of the Five Pillars that governs how Wikipedia operates. In that way, Wikipedia not only performed as it should but it did so incredibly quickly,” the post reads.
Nailing the perpetrator responsible for that single edit will likely be task all too impossible, though. While the IP address behind the change is indeed registered to the Senate, it isn’t restricted to one particular user.
“If the agency or facility uses proxy servers, this IP address may represent many users at many personal computers or devices,” the discussion page acknowledges.
Should someone want to do some serious digging, though, determining who made the change might not be all too impossible. As Klock pointed out, though, that same Senate IP address has logged onto Wikipedia a handful of times during the last few weeks to make other revisions, including edits on the page of the novel Five People You Meet in Heaven and another for a tiki bar located inside a San Francisco hotel.
Of course, Snowden does already have his fair share of critics on Capitol Hill. Last month, the bi-partisan Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously for the Department of State to consider sanctioning any country willing to assist Snowden as he battles extradition attempts from the US government. That bill’s author, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), told the committee, “I don’t know if he’s going to stay in Russia forever. I don’t know where he’s going to go . . . But I know this: That the right thing to do is to send him back home so he can face charges for the crimes he’s allegedly committed.”
Previously, Sen. Graham said the US should boycott next year’s Sochi Olympics if Snowden remains in Russia. Last week, he was granted one years of asylum there. Upon news that his request was approved, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) called Russia’s response “a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States.”
“It is a slap in the face of all Americans. Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Putin’s Russia,” said Sen. McCain.
“Regardless of the fact that Russia is granting asylum for one year, the action is a setback to U.S.-Russia relations,” added Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey).
That isn’t to say, though, that Snowden is equally hated among American lawmakers. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) said “Snowden told the truth in the name of privacy,” and Gordon Humphrey, a former Republican senator for New Hampshire, wrote Snowden to thank him “for exposing astonishing violations of the US Constitution.”
Meanwhile, the executive branch isn’t sure how to handle the issue yet either. The White House is expected to announce this week if President Barack Obama will proceed with plans to meet with Russia’s Pres. Putin at a previously scheduled summit in Moscow.