Integrity and Courage Criminalized in the case of Edward Snowden

As the interview ended you could almost see the pundits running for their nearest sniveling reporter. “He’s a traitor,” they claim. “He has done irrevocable damage to our security,” rolls off their tongues like it’s pre-programmed.

NBC’s interview with Edward Snowden elicited emotions and brought out the surveillance apologists who claim the former NSA employees’ leaks have done grave damage to the country’s security. They say he has endangered the lives of spies and soldiers world-wide. These “apologists” make these claims, but can not site one specific Snowden document released by journalists that specifically endangers troops or spies. Not one.

These “apologists” will claim it doesn’t matter. They say he has the documents,  and he could give the green light for The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald to release them at any time.

We all knew that the US Government was in the spy business, but Snowden’s revelations struck those that cherish liberty to their core. The blatant disregard for the Constitution and civil liberties by the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations was staggering. Bush with the incessant prodding from his Vice President Dick Cheney implemented a system of domestic surveillance that was unprecedented in American history. Obama, promising to bring in air of transparency to the White House, has not only embraced these unlawful measures, but he has expanded their use.

Obama entered White House promising a new day of “Hope and Change.” Instead it has meant the expansion of the surveillance state. It has also meant the prosecution of those inside the government who dare speak against their superiors. The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistle-blowers and leakers under the Espionage Act than any other administration in the history of the United States. 11 total people prosecuted under the Act, with 7 under Obama. Free and open ? I think not.

So, as televisions clicked off en masse after Snowden’s interview last night I could mentally see the power brokers, the true elites scrambling to get their specific talking head on the airwaves to try to re-but Snowden’s assertions.

He was called “naive and gravely mistaken” by the former Director of Counter-Terrorism, Michael Leiter. Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says that the Snowden revelations had “damaged American diplomatic relationships with friendly countries.” Why is that Mr. McFaul ? Could it be that those relationships were damaged because we were lying to their faces and then spying on them through their cell phones through our sophisticated surveillance systems ?

Secretary of State John Kerry has called Snowden a “coward and traitor.” He also called him “pretty dumb” on Thursday afternoon.

Snowden’s revelations highlighted 13 years of domestic spying and surveillance on American citizens. They did this using a wide net to capture internet, telephone and text messages. Not only compiling this information and storing it for long-term use, supposedly for when they might need it. Snowden released the treasure-trove of documents to Greenwald, with the caveat that Greenwald only release documents that wouldn’t do harm to soldiers, security officials or spies. Intelligence officials claim the documents being released show the methods by which the United States gathers intelligence, and that significantly hampers the country’s security efforts.

Greenwald has said he works in concert with Snowden when documents are going to be released. Greenwald says he tries to get US officials to discuss some of the classified information which is slated for release, much of the time to no avail.

American officials have called on Snowden to come home and “face the music” for what he has done. But, as Snowden said last night. If one is accused under the Espionage Act they are not allowed to defend themselves utilizing the protections of the Constitution. He says because of the nature of the charges, the government will be able to prosecute, but a defense is nearly impossible because the documents that would be used for a defense are classified. And, in the past, the government has not allowed classified documents to be used by a defendant in an espionage case.

To these surveillance “apologists” Snowden is the worst of the worst. “A turn-coat,” they say. A man who sold his country out. And, they say regardless of whether the US government is breaking the law or not, surveillance is needed to protect the country.

Those of us that see Snowden as a hero, see a man who gave up his own personal freedom to try and make a difference in a country that is slowly sliding into an abyss of wide-spread surveillance. Surveillance in a digital age that makes it nearly impossible to have any sort of digital freedom. We see a man who verified our suspicions about a government that purports to defend freedom and liberty and then tries to strip those liberties in the name of security.

In closing Snowden added, “sometimes to do the right thing, you have to break the law.”


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