Thursday, June 05, 2014

Snowden's Options

Elizabeth CIty, NC

We have returned to one of our favorite stops, Elizabeth City.  Did you know that Elizabeth City is the home town of Edward Snowden?   I've said publicly that I support Snowden.  Many of my friends vehemently disagree.  Let me briefly explain my reasoning.

First: Snowden's basic complaint about NSA was that what NSA is doing goes beyond the line of what the American people think should be within the powers of government (even in the name of national security).   Further, that The President, The Congress, and the FISA court had all (secretly) signed off on approval of those activities.  That is not a matter that your boss at NSA, nor the NSA inspector general, nor the staff of a congressional committee can fix.  Therefore, the idea of going through channels with his complaint would be absurd.

Second: Responding to public anger over bulk surveillance, The President and The Congress have both moved to shut down bulk surveillance, and a Federal District Judge rules that the bulk surveillance was unconstitutional and "outrageous."  In other words, Snowden was right about what the American people won't tolerate, and The President, The Congress, and the FISA court who had approved it before were wrong.  Is is not a narrow question of law as the government would have you believe, the question at stake is government submitting to the will of the people.

Third: Snowden is charged under the espionage act.   If he was brought to trial, evidence against him would be classified.  Snowden's attorney, and sometimes even the judge would not be allowed to see the evidence.  He would not be allowed to assert a defense that his actions were justifiable.

Snowden should be charged under a law that allows him to argue to a jury that the public benefit of his whistle blowing outweighs the damage to national security.  To convict him, the government would have to do more than assert that security has been damages; they would have to prove it.  That is very far from giving a green light to all federal employees to willy nilly ignore their oath to not reveal classified information.  Facing a jury in any circumstances is a big roll of the dice that you might lose no matter what the facts.  A person who faces that risk is not getting off scot free.

I'll end with a quote from Nazi Reichsmarschall Hermann Wilhelm Göring:
Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
We need whistle blowers.  National security is not an exception.


  1. Bull hockey!! Snowden was in a position where he was entrusted with American security and leaked information to other countries. He is a traitor!! Shame on him!! He is arrogant and non apologetic. NSA was gathering information, it's their job, my god, what is wrong with you? Let's just air the American secrets over the Televison across the world and tell everyone how the United States protects itself. Grow up!!
    Why is it companies like Google, yahoo, Facebook can all collect information on you and not the NSA? Let's get real!

  2. LOL, who tells a 70 yr old to grow upon his own blog? Ignore the trolls dad, good essay.

  3. Dick - Well stated and supported view..I especially found the quote interesting. NSA has a job to do and we as citizens have Constitutional rights that are part of what makes this a good place to live.


  4. Dick, to answer the question: Snowden, traitor or patriot? we need to understand his motivation, which none of us yet does. If, as John Miller, the CBS blowhard analyst, suggested, Snowden was merely seeking his 15 minutes of fame, go with traitor. My gut reaction is that given the risk to his own life that he took in bucking our intelligence community, he may well be a patriot -- one of the most significant in a long time, akin to Tom Paine. We can't yet say. I would like nothing more than for my next project to be seeking the answer to this question. I do agree with most of your analysis.

  5. S-Ö Lindahl6/06/2014 9:10 AM

    A Citizens ultimate loyalty must be towards the principles on which the country is based, not towards those who abuse that foundation.

  6. Dick,

    I agree with you 100 percent. Period.


    westsail 32


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