SnThe national and international response to the developments in the NSA Surveillance Scandal have been volatile to say the least. There are definitely factions emerging within the debate regarding the actions of Edward Snowden, former employee of private intelligence agency Booz Allen Hamilton, who leaked a trove of documents verifying the existence of a full scale international surveillance program initiated by the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, despite the fact that the majority of the focus in the American media has been the topic of the PRISM program as well as the collection of phone records of all Verizon Wireless customers. I gave my initial thoughts on this issue in an analysis I wrote last week regarding the embryonic stages of development in this scandal. Many things have developed since my last piece and there are many aspects of this debate that still need clarity. Here are five things in particular that have been bothering me regarding the emerging debate of this issue.
1. The Traitorous Attitudes of the Press Towards Investigative Journalists.
This past Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’, government puppet David Gregory interviewed Glenn Greenwald, the journalist for the Guardian who originally was contacted by Snowden for the purpose of breaking the story. During the interview, Gregory asked Greenwald “To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” Greenwald replied by saying it was “pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies,” It is pretty extraordinary, but this is the reality that we are living in, a reality where journalists are no longer journalists, but watchdogs for the establishment, knowingly or unknowingly. Of course, such a question from David Gregory implies ludicrous claims which are absolutely unfounded and dangerous, the danger aspect of it something I will cover in a bit. The sheer stupidity on the part of these establishment “journalists” shows in their ability to research their claims, as shown in this piece highlighting false claims made about Greenwalds relationship with Snowden prior to the leak and why such claims are indeed false.
2. Suggestion That Snowden Actually Committed Espionage
Okay, we have been hearing political drivel from the White House talking about Edward Snowden and how he committed espionage by aiding and abetting the “enemy”. The question that people need to be asking here is exactly “who is the enemy”? Is the enemy China? Not likely, as the entire vendetta against the rising economic power is basically due to being afraid of their rising economic power and likelihood of overtaking the US as the world’s number one economy in the near future. Is the enemy Russia? If anyone remembers the more insane statements from the 2012 presidential election, it was that statement from Mitt Romney when he stated that Russia was still our number one geopolitical foe, a view that gained a bi-partisan rebuking from Colin Powell and John Kerry. So who is the actual enemy here? Well if we take the actual definition of espionage which says “Espionage, commonly known as spying, is the practice of secretly gathering information about a foreign government or a competing industry, with the purpose of placing one’s own government or corporation at some strategic or financial advantage.” So, who was Edward Snowden spying for? He said himself that “…I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.” It seems in this case he was aiming to give an advantage to the people over the government, which would make sense of Ron Paul’s epic quote when he said “My understanding is that espionage means giving secret or classified information to the enemy. Since Snowden shared information with the American people, his indictment for espionage could reveal (or confirm) that the US Government views you and me as the enemy.” Indeed the perceived enemy might just be the people of the world.
3. Further Suggestions Saying the Revelations Aid Terrorism
In my last piece on this topic, I linked the readers to an op-ed that Richard Clarke wrote for the NY Daily News, where the former head of counterterrorism for three US presidents dispelled the argument that the revelations of NSA activity aided terrorism. The argument that Clarke made is that the terrorists operate under the assumption that each call or each post they make on the internet is being monitored, and that only the American people are ignorant of such activity. A recent piece in Bloomberg made two excellent points that expand not only on Clarke’s point, but also point out something dangerous. The article explained that most terrorists operate in a place called the “undernet”, which is a part of the internet that is hard to track. According to the article, the majority of the internet is unable to be tracked, due to people being able to communicate on forums that are not indexed by commonly used search engines. Google itself has only been able to index 0.004 percent of the known information on the internet. Since most of the terrorist networks operate on the deep web, it is fair to suggest that these surveillance programs are more oriented towards the activities of non-terrorists, such as private citizens around the world who do use these search engines.
4. Selective Presidential Administration Leaks
As pointed out in an excellent piece written for Antiwar.com, the Obama administration has no problem with leaked information if such information is favorable to the policies of the administration. The case that the writer alludes to is that of Najibullah Zazi, who was a member of Al-Qaeda living in Colorado who plotted to bomb the New York subways in 2009. The argument was that this plot was foiled by the presence of the surveillance techniques used in PRISM. If that was the case, shouldn’t the information have been as classified as anything leaked by Snowden? Even if you don’t buy the argument that the White House allowed that case to be leaked to the media, it is still telling that there was no question regarding the journalist or that journalist’s source regarding spying on the White House, because this particular case was considered a success story.
5. Snowden is a Coward for Running Away and Such an Act Should Question His Character
The very suggestion that Snowden is “running” from justice is a farce. There are people in the media that have suggested that the mere fact that Snowden is running should imply that his motives should be questioned. I am sure Edward Snowden would love nothing more than to stand trial in the US for his actions, especially after the way the United States government mistreated Bradley Manning for similar such acts (acts of mistreatment which a judge already acknowledged and will factor into a possible prison sentence). Perhaps if the US government wasn’t declaring an open vendetta against investigative journalism or treating whistle blowers as enemies of the state, Edward Snowden would have more incentive to try to clear his name using the justice system. Right now that is not the case, and the Manning trial shows that the US justice system does not play even by it’s own rules.
With all that being said, I continue to support the actions of Edward Snowden. We as a people have to protect the free press and free speech if we want to say we live in a civilized and free country.