Monday, June 24, 2013

Edward Snowden - a man without a country

Edward Snowden is on the run and on the lam.  Snowden who passed government secrets and documents to two newspapers, The Guardian and The Washington Post, and made public our NSA's secret surveillance program to the world, has been charged with espionage by the U.S.  

He has left Hong Kong and has flown to and has landed in Moscow, Russia as of yesterday afternoon.  And, now he has disappeared.  No one knows precisely where he is.  That Snowden has had to turn to rogue nations for protection is a sad day in U.S. history.

Is Edward Snowden a a heroic whistle blower or a traitor as the U.S. has charged and branded him?  I have asked this question in an earlier post and I honestly did not have an answer.  But, on the other hand, how is he any different than Daniel Ellsberg who had the Pentagon Papers published in the New York Times?

One thing I do believe is that Snowden should not be charged with espionage.  Yes, he can be charged with stealing government documents and breaching his contract with the NSA and government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, but he should not be charged with espionage.

Snowden took those sensitive documents and went to two newspapers to publish the fact that our government has been lying to us, is in violation of the U.S. Constitution, and has a surveillance program that affects every American living in this country and any foreigner that any American speaks with.  

By going to these two newspapers, Snowden has not committed espionage.  Espionage is going to a foreign country and selling these secret documents and information to the foreign country as a spy.   That is not what Snowden did.  He went to the press to have these documents published for the world to see. He is shining a light on a very dark aspect of our government.  

Espionage is defined as the act or practice of spying in Webster's New World Dictionary.  Who is guilty of the act or practice of spying is the United States, not Snowden.  Snowden merely brought the espionage to light in the world.  

My own experience tells me why Snowden brought this espionage to light.  When I taught overseas for the Department of Defense, I took an oath, the same one our soldiers in the military take.  It says in part . . . "I swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution and to fight its enemies both foreign and domestic . . ."  

There it is folks.  Snowden believes he is fighting the domestic enemies of our Constitution.  By this electronic spying by the U.S., our government is in violation of our own constitution, I believe the fourth and twelfth amendments of the Constitution.  As Snowden has said, there needs to be a national discussion on this topic before further spying continues.  And, he is right.  He is upholding the United States Constitution.

I'm not so naive as to think that the U.S. cannot spy on other countries, especially those that spy on us, but when the phone records, e-mails, and Internet use is surveyed by our own government on our own citizens without our knowledge, I draw the line there.  We do need to have that discussion that Snowden suggests and we, as citizens of the U.S., need to determine how much surveillance we are to allow our government to take on us. 

How much privacy are U.S. citizens willing to give up and trade off for security?  That is the question.  And only we as citizens can determine that.

"1984" and Big Brother, have both arrived in the U.S.  In the hands of a benevolent president such as President Barak Obama, we are probably somewhat safe.  But, such a program in the hands of any future malevolent president, could cost us our lives. (Remember, Richard Nixon)   This is why Snowden made the NSA's program public and I believe he was right to do so.  I, for one, am glad to know exactly what my government is doing.

I understand the government's concern in Snowden's publishing this NSA program,  hampering their attempts to keep us safe from foreign enemies of the U.S.   But, there has to be a happy medium, where Americans are aware of what is going on via our representatives and senators, balanced with the secrecy needed to run such a program via the NSA.  

Today, Snowden is a man without a country with his U.S. passport being rescinded by the United States government.  How sad is that when it is the U.S government that has been conducting the espionage, not Edward Snowden.  Edward Snowden is not a spy.

Copyright (c)  2013  Suzannah Wolf Walker  all rights reserved