Edward Snowden might be Robin Hood, Daniel Ellsberg, or Bradley Manning but does it matter?
Bradley Manning released hundreds of thousands of documents into enemy hands which put his fellow soldiers’ lives in danger according to the testimony being given in his trial which is underway. I don’t want to try Manning on this site. He is on trail and his guilt will be decided in court. Having read some of the documents he leaked, it does appear that Manning is a traitor. Nothing Snowden has done so far appears to rise to that level – yet. It has the potential however.
Daniel Ellsberg is another leaker or traitor who escaped punishment. He was a former US military analyst who was employed by the Rand Corporation when in 1971 he released the Pentagon Papers, which detailed a top-secret study of US government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War. He gave the papers to The New York Times and other newspapers.
Ellsberg embarrassed the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and also the new Nixon administration. The papers revealed that the government had knowledge, early on, that the war could most likely not be won, and that continuing the war would lead to many times more casualties than was ever admitted publicly.
The New York Times editor wrote much later on that these documents “demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had systematically lied to the public and to Congress.
When Ellsberg surrendered, he said:
“I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public. I did this clearly at my own jeopardy and I am prepared to answer to all the consequences of this decision.”
Ellsberg went through a trial and a mistrial. The government claimed to have lost records of illegally wiretapping Ellsberg and Ellsberg escaped conviction after a mistrial.
Snowden might fall somewhere between Manning and Ellsberg.
John Boehner called Snowden a “traitor.” Senators Feinstein and Nelson agree with Boehner’s assessment. One newspaper said Snowden only earned half the salary he claimed, adding that Snowden made $120,000 a year not $200,000 – they can’t even divide. The papers are demeaning Snowden saying he didn’t graduate high school though some admit he earned a GED. The fact is that he is obviously intelligent and was trained for his job.
The point is that we don’t know yet. Snowden appears to be a kind of Robin Hood, believing he is saving the masses from the would-be oppressors. He sounds like a man of conviction until you think about the fact that he lied when he swore to keep the information he obtained a secret. Snowden violated a sacred oath. He has also promised to reveal more.
He told the Hong Kong Morning Post today – allegedly from Hong Kong – that it is his intention to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide his fate.
“I have been given no reason to doubt your system.’’
“People who think I made a mistake in picking HK as a location misunderstand my intentions,” Snowden said. “I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality.”
Snowden is making himself a possible pawn of the Chinese Communists by letting them decide the right or wrong of what he is doing.
He also told the Morning Post, “I am neither a traitor or a hero, I am an American.”
That remains to be seen.
Secret collection of all Americans Internet records, which will include our health and financial records thanks to Obamacare, is not very different from a secret police force over which we have no control. Only the elite have control and from the sound of it, there is not much oversight from Congress and not much pushback from the FISA court. In fact, once the metadata of phone records and Internet usage are collected, FISA has no control over it.
Fox News researched FISA records over the last ten years and found that, out of 18,740 requests made of the FISA court by the government, only 10 were rejected.
The Heritage Foundation said the reason for that is the government does an excellent job of only bringing cases that will pass muster. If that were the case, how did FISA allow unbridled spying on all Americans Internet communications? FISA seems rather like a rubber stamp.
The snooping programs are rapidly becoming the sole jurisdiction of the Executive.
Does it matter who or what Snowden is? The answer is a resounding, “NO!” What matters is that we have an out-of-control government that cannot be solely blamed on the current administration. The agencies are too large and, by this administration’s own admission [David Axelrod], they cannot be controlled.
The IRS officials, for example, are not only targeting people they don’t like, but they are getting away with it. Rep. Cummings said that it’s over and we should move on.
IRS agents leaked information against targeted right-wing people to left-wing Pro Publica to use against the victims.
Then there is the faux James Rosen spy case. James Rosen did nothing different than The New York Times did when they released the Pentagon Papers only his story was inconsequential and hurt no one. He was labeled a spy by the administration so they could spy on him without a warrant.
The AP records grab was a huge overreach and not targeted. The AP is left-leaning and it is sympathetic to this administration but they were displeased with this invasion and the chilling effect it had on their sources.
President Obama said that everyone in Congress knew about the government spying programs. Unnamed Administration sources told the Washington Post that Congress was briefed 22 times.
Congress was briefed but without any details whatsoever. Some didn’t even know PRISM existed.
Republican Senator Susan Collins was the top-ranking Republican on last year’s Homeland Security Committee and she said on Monday that she was never briefed on the extent of the government spying.
After a briefing on Tuesday, one Democratic congressman said it was the first time he has been to a briefing where he actually learned something. Democrat Hank Johnson said if he had known the details, it would have been something that he would not have voted for. Democrat Brad Sherman said, “I did not know a billion records a day were coming under control of the executive branch.”
As customers of Verizon, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration for their “dragnet” of customer records.
In their statement, they said:
“The practice is akin to snatching every American’s address book —- with annotations detailing whom we spoke to, when we talked, for how long, and from where,” the ACLU said in the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan.
“The fact that the government is collecting this information is likely to have a chilling effect on people who would otherwise contact” the ACLU.
Last week, James Clapper, Director of the NSA, said that the government was not collecting a billion records a day. We now know that they are and that he lied – again.
Putin commented on the NSA leak to Russia Today while visiting the station last week:
“Such methods are in demand. But you can’t just listen to the phone call in Russia; you need a special order from court. This is how this should be done in civilized society while tackling terrorism with the use of any technical means. If it is in the framework of the law, then it’s ok. If not, it is unacceptable.”
Putin disagreed with Obama’s statement that “You can’t have 100% security and 100% privacy.” Putin said it is possible to be done within the law.
European allies are very concerned about the information the US is collecting from them.
Reuters reported that German Justice Minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, in a guest editorial for Spiegel Online on Tuesday, said it was “deeply disconcerting” and portentially dangerous.
“The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is,” the Justice said.
“The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored. For that reason, openness and clarification by the U.S. administration itself is paramount at this point. All facts must be put on the table.”
One Parliament member compared it to the Gestapo. Markus Ferber, a member of Merkel’s Bavarian sister party who sits in the European Parliament accused Washington of using “American-style Stasi methods.”
“I thought this era had ended when the DDR fell,” he said, using the German initials for the failed German Democratic Republic.
We need to hear how this program keeps us safe and then let the citizens decide if it’s right or wrong. Maybe Snowden did us all a huge favor.