Why do we care about Edward Snowden's girlfriend?
For all the wrong reasons, it seems
Edward Snowden's personal life should be investigated for a number of reasons. While he claims to have leaked classified information about the NSA because he couldn't "in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties," it's still the responsibility of journalists to look for any personal connections that would signal ulterior motives.
That makes Snowden's girlfriend, who he lived with in Hawaii, fair game for some scrutiny. But what sort of important details did the media discover after the bastion of journalistic integrity Inside Edition named her as 28-year-old Lindsay Mills?
Photos of a woman in dance clothes, on a stripper pole, and posing in her underwear — all taken from what is purportedly Mills' blog and displayed to a wider internet audience for the sake of journalism. If she were dressed in military fatigues burning an effigy of President Obama, that might be news. Instead we get a BuzzFeed post titled "This Might Be The Girlfriend Edward Snowden Left Behind" consisting only of photos of Mills in various states of undress. Gawker at least includes some additional content in the form of an entry from her blog and Twitter account along with the photos and video of her dancing on a pole.
The New York Post made sure to get "pole-dancing" in its headline (she was a member of the Waikiki Acrobatic Troupe and a former ballerina who attended the Maryland Institute College of Art) while The Daily Mail describes her as "an extrovert who enjoys walking around naked whenever she can."
Plenty of people have expressed displeasure with how much attention Mills has been receiving:
The Guardian, which initially broke the story of Snowden's NSA leaks, hasn't even verified that the woman in the photos is the same Lindsay that Snowden referred to in his interview, although her blog posts — in which she appears with Snowden several times and refers to a boyfriend called "E" — certainly do seem to suggest it.
If Mills is indeed Snowden's girlfriend, then there is arguably value in some of the uncovered information. Perhaps, as The Guardian reports, a photo that Mills shared of a woman, possibly herself, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, the symbol of the Anonymous movement. Or maybe even the following passage she was quoted as writing last year on the Fourth of July:
For the land that I love is ever-changing and I fear that it's straying from the freedom it has always represented. America is still one of the greatest, but she's falling in my eyes. I hope her people see where she's going and ask themselves "is this really how I want to live?" The 4th is always an eye-opening day for me. [New York Magazine]
Those last two tidbits could potentially contribute to our understanding of Edward Snowden and his motivations. But, considering the sheer number of body-baring photos in almost every story about Lindsay Mills, it seems doubtful they're the primary reason the media seems so transfixed on her.