Is Snowden’s fight with Obama or all of America?
Removing top-secret information from your government, giving it to another country and then being protected by your country’s enemies certainly sounds like treason, right? What if that information contains plans for our government to assassinate civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr and it is August 27th, 1963…the day before his epic “I Have a Dream” speech. The person making that information public is a hero in my book, not a traitor.
My point is not that treason depends on your perspective, but, conversely, that America is a belief and doctrine rooted in the ideal human state of being free, independently powerful, self sufficient and equally important. This is more of a set of basic standards that reign above all else, government or otherwise. This means if someone is acting directly and clearly in support of that doctrine, then, I say, it is not a matter of one’s perspective whether someone is a hero or traitor, but a matter of provable and undeniable facts. If the person is reasonably attempting to defend the rights of a civil rights leader like MLK, a group of people or the country as a whole, they act not traitorously, but patriotically.
In the case of Edward Snowden, it is clear his intent was to reveal a direct and purposeful attack on an important right to privacy. The Obama administration, the entity that established this policy of mass collection of data, claims it was a justified program because they started it for our own safety. This claim of ‘good intentions’ I am not challenging here. This administration’s true intentions or the good or bad manner in which this data is used can change and is not what is important. What matters and is provable, good intentions aside, is the government was working to some degree against our right to privacy. Even if it is for our own good, no politician, no government agency, no branch or entity of any sort has the right to limit our right to privacy.
Some wish to downplay the actions of the Obama administration as the simple collection of public records. This is provably not true () and not germane to the issue of Edward Snowden’s actions. It can not be denied that Snowden was clearly concerned about the secret activities of our government that might be violating an important right. He was trying to inform a potentially victimized public. There was nothing in his actions that appears to have been intended to strengthen an enemy, like giving nuclear technology to China () nor any attempt to weaken our military, like military troop movements or secret weapon designs.
An argument can be easily made that Snowden revealed our government engaging in secret actions that limit a core right of ours. In this, it appears he was making an honest attempt to keep us safe from eventual government misuse of the data and thus protecting our ability to keep ourselves a free people. Had he been an actual employee of the government, instead of a contractor, he would have been protected by Whistleblower Protection Act’s of 1989 and 2012 and treated as a defender of freedom.
Ultimately, he clearly was trying to make sure we were able to defend our rights. He, in fact, sacrificed a very nice life in the paradise of Hawaii with a girlfriend, good job and the ability to live in peace. He knew exposing these secret government programs would mean the end of his good days and a new future on the run, in a federal prison or worse. All of that was on the table and he blew the whistle anyway…and blew it loudly and clearly. These acts, I believe, are the acts of a hero or, at minimum, a deeply concerned citizen. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Martin Luther King Jr. and many others who risked everything protecting our rights would certainly agree.
Also published on Medium.