Nov 11

Edward J. Snowden: Whistleblowing Hero

Hero Not Villain—

Anybody not living in a cave in a remote corner of the globe knows that Edward J. Snowden, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, downloaded a treasure trove of revealing documents showing that the agency was operating beyond its mandate to acquire intelligence that might reveal terrorist plots against America.

I won’t repeat the whole story here since most readers know a bit about the history of Mr. Snowden, now under the protection of Russia following his flight to avoid imprisonment and trial for violating the Espionage Act, a musty old law that has been resurrected from near death to punish whistleblowers like Mr. Snowden. I will add that what most people know is the propaganda on Snowden being peddled by the ever-compliant mainstream media who are repeating the government’s lies.

With the help of journalist Glenn Greenwald and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, a portion of those documents have been revealed through The Guardian in Britain and other newspapers throughout the world. Though the revelations in the documents downloaded by Snowden have been repeatedly denied by the intelligence community, President Obama and Senator Diane Feinstein (would it be otherwise?), they have proven to be accurate and, indeed, embarrassing to the United States. President Obama is either not being kept in the loop by his intelligence advisors or, most likely, lying about his lack of knowledge.

Now, Obama and Secretary-of-state Kerry are having to deal with world leaders (whose governments are no doubt also spying on allies) who are angry at learning that the NSA spying on them personally. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another, but in any case, the revelations are proving not only accurate but, as I have already pointed out, greatly embarrassing to the American government.

Let there be no doubt that the main reason Edward Snowden is being zealously pursued and having his character besmirched through a compliant mainstream press is that America is being accurately shown to the world as hypocrites and liars.

When the Obama administration failed to find Snowden aboard the Bolivian president’s plane after a high-handed maneuver that amounted to international kidnapping, they redoubled their efforts to lay hands on Snowden. He outsmarted them and, with the willing help of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, showed just how hapless the United States has become on the world stage. Embarrassment is hardly adequate to describe it when, according to Forbes magazine, Barack Obama has been displaced by the likes of Vladimir Putin as the world’s most powerful leader.

Some are saying that Snowden is a thief and a traitor and should be prosecuted by the United States. One fact is clear: he is a whistleblower who has revealed to the world that the United States is violating its own constitution by eavesdropping on the private communications of law-abiding Americans and on millions of others in the world, regardless of citizenship and innocence.

A second fact is clear: the Snowden carefully-selected revelations accurately reveal that there is rampant NSA law-breaking, often aided by the secret FISA court, the majority of the court’s members having been appointed by conservative Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Chew on that for a while.

A third fact is also clear: despite Snowden’s whistleblowing revelations being accurate, his belief was well-founded that he would be fired and prosecuted if he reported those revelations to his superiors at the NSA.

A quick review of similar whistleblowing firings and prosecutions in recent history shows numerous similar cases have resulted in unjust persecution of the whistleblowers by government or corporate superiors who wanted the information kept secret to protect themselves or to protect corporate profits. Put more clearly, the firing and prosecution of whistleblowing truth-tellers are the punishments superiors use to protect themselves and their interests. Most of those cases have resulted in vindication of the whistleblower. Thus, Edward Snowden’s flight was entirely reasonable and rational. That his carefully selected revelations were the meat-on-the-bones proof of what had previously been unproven speculation about government law-breaking shows why Mr. Snowden is being so zealously pursued by the American government.

Many people are saying that they don’t mind the government invading their privacy because they have nothing to hide.  It appears that those people don’t mind that their own government is violating the nation’s constitution as well as invading their own privacy. The president takes an oath that he/she will uphold the constitution, and it doesn’t count that he or she may be crossing their fingers and believing that they are protecting the citizens against terrorists. It’s a clear violation of the law.

It is still quite doable to observe the constitution AND protect the citizens against the bad guys. America is said to be a nation of laws and the constitution is the foundational law of the land. It is necessary to rein in the government law-breakers while still allowing them to do their job.

Insist that your representatives carefully craft laws that will protect whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and the citizens who look to the government to protect them from terrorists. Don’t get taken in by the specious argument that you are innocent so why worry about a little law-breaking. A little leads to more and the next thing you know, you are living in an Orwellian nightmare world.

So Edward Snowden should be recognized as a hero, not a villain. The revelations of the documents he selected have helped the world to see that America’s government is breaking the law. Rein the government in, but don’t allow them to pillory Edward Snowden in the process.