Much has been written and discussed about Edward Snowden and his disclosure of certain information gathering by a private company hired by National Security Agency (NSA) to collect information communicated between citizens of the United States and foreigners.
NSA has been collecting information by listening to the telephone conversations, reading e/mails, looking up the websites visited by people for quite some time and all in the name of protecting the people of the US.
What Snowden’s disclosure in effect confirmed the suspicion about NSA’s activities, and expanded on this operation. Also Snowden provided additional information such as US government’s eavesdropping on foreigners outside of the US as well as foreign governments. Edward Snowden was making about $200,000 per year working for Booth Allen Hamilton which is a private company wholly owned by Carlyle Group and had a nice house in Hawaii and overall very comfortable life style. He then decided to spill the beans about what he was doing at his company and what kind of activities NSA was involved in.
Fourth Amendment of the Constitutions of the United States is designed to protect the people of the United States from unreasonable search and seizures by the government. When NSA is engaged in listening to the telephone conversations of the US citizens without any warrant or probable cause that is in violation of the 4th amendment. By the same token checking and tracking the websites that people visit is in violation of 4th amendment. Further, looking at the e/mails of the US citizens is in violation of 4th amendment as it is illegal search and seizures of the e/mails.
Typically a traitor is the one who gives away valuable, sensitive, and or classified information to individuals, entities, or governments for a gain. Snowden disclosed sensitive and perhaps classified information to the media and in return received nothing as he expected none. By doing so, Snowden jeopardized his future and basically destroyed the comfortable life that he had. He has become a homeless person who must constantly watch his back and without any opportunity to earn income. The chance of seeing his family has become almost impossible and his associations with friends and relatives non-existence. He has become the enemy of the state and shunned by many Americans. These are not the attributes and characteristics of a traitor.
Snowden could not have possibly done what he did if he was in the US. All one has to do is to remember what happened to Bradley Manning.
A Hero is a person who scarifies his own well being or interest for the benefit of another person, group, or society. Did Snowden loose his high paying job? Yes, he did. Did Snowden loose his house by not being able to return to his house? Yes, he did. Can Snowden visit his families and friend in the US freely without fear of any harm? No, he cannot. Did Snowden receive any financial benefits by disclosing the sensitive or classified information to the public? No, he did not. It could therefore be concluded that Snowden is a Hero.
Some argue that Snowden over did it by disclosing classified information to the Chinese and then Russian governments. Well, no one knows for sure what kind of information he has disclosed, if any. Perhaps the question of motive has not been extensively discussed. Per Snowden, he did it because he realized that his government was acting illegally and violating the people’s privacy and rights.
Some have argued that if Snowden really wanted to help the US citizens, he would have disclosed the information while he was in the US, not first leaving for Hong Kong and then making his allegations. He had ulterior motive. That sounds a logical argument on the surface. But examining the current atmosphere in the US against whistle blower, it would become very apparent that Snowden could not have possibly done what he did if he was in the US. All one has to do is to remember what happened to Bradley Manning. He was in the US and his conscious got better of him and decided to disclose sensitive and or classified information. He even contacted the New York Times and Washington Post first, but both these papers ignored him. He then went to Wiki Leaks and provided the information which showed that US involvement in some horrendous and if not criminal activities such as killing of the two Reuters reporters along with many other innocent Iraqis by- standers in Baghdad, Iraq. Bradley Manning was arrested, tortured, mistreated horribly and then was tried and now facing imprisonment for 90 years, basically jailed for life. This is the treatment that would have been waiting for Snowden, had he disclosed the information in the US. So, one cannot possibly criticize him for leaving the country before disclosing the information.
It is ironic that the US government had to promise the Russian government that if they turn over Snowden to the US, he will not be tortured and will be tried in court of law and having an attorney to defend him. The country that was founded on justice and equality for all and constantly brags about human rights and freedom has to make such promises to a country that is known for horrific human rights violations.
US government has engaged in many activities that are truly questionable and in violation of the US Constitutions and all done in the name of national security.
Since the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the US government has engaged in many activities that are truly questionable and in violation of the US Constitutions and all done in the name of national security. This is the easiest way for the government to control and keep the population at bay while in the process violating the US Constitutions which was designed to protect the people against the very same activities that US Government has been engaged in recent years. Snowden’s action should be admired and encouraged. The people of the United States deserve and have the rights to know what their government whom they have elected and paid for is doing, in particular when it involves activities against them.
Another big questions that not too many people have asked is why a private corporation which is for profit is allowed to gather some of the most sensitive and private information about millions of the US citizens? The concept of outsourcing is harming the US. First it was President Ronald Reagan who promoted outsourcing of manufacturing industries to set shops in cheap labor countries, causing the US looses millions of jobs and in effect destroying manufacturing jobs in the US.
Presidents Bush Senior and Junior promoted outsourcing of the defense work. Of course, President Obama has not been much help to change this policy. Mercenaries became private soldiers making over $100,000 fighting side by side a private who was making less than $12,000. Intelligence activities were shifted to private companies such as Booth Allen Hamilton, prisons are being run by private companies, and so on. Public expects that certain activities remain within the control of the government and not to be outsourced to a private for profit company.
The likelihood of abuse becomes much greater when a private company runs these functions and the interests of the public will be compromised. Besides it is a fallacy that a private and for profit company can manage the operation more cost effective than the government. All one has to do to study the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which were partly managed and run by private companies. As stated above the private soldiers make almost 10 times more that the soliders serving in the military. Examples of waste like this are plentiful. To build stronger, more democratic, and safer county we need to have more heroes like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. Granted there may be some embarrassments and losses, but in the long run the benefits will by far exceeds any potential costs. Being great is to recognize one’s weaknesses and rectify them.