We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

Edward Snowden: Whistle-blower or Traitor? What is YOUR perspective?

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By John W. Eyster
Monday, January 6, 2014

I myself agree with the New York Times’ editorial of the first day of 2014 – Edward Snowden is a WHISTLE-BLOWER. What is YOUR perspective? I hope you will add an explanation with your vote. I’ll be reading with interest.

We KNOW that there is a case for each of the perspectives. In fact, YOU will likely want to read Brian Knowlton’s report published by the New York Times yesterday, “Senators Differ Sharply on Penalty for Snowden.”

The article cites the statements made on the ABC News program, “This Week” by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Charles E. Schumer (D-NY).

Senator Rand Paul - “I don’t think Edward Snowden deserves a death penalty or life in prison; I think that’s inappropriate, and I think that’s why he fled, because that’s what he faced.”

Senator Charles E. Schumer - “I disagree with Rand Paul that we should plea-bargain with him prior to him coming back.” Schumer did support commitment to a fair trial with a “reasonable sentence.”

The article reviews the whole situation vis--vis Edward Snowden. Valuable information and perspective.

I agree with the New York Times’ January 1, 2014 editorial, “Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower.”

I am persuaded that WE THE PEOPLE of the US owe EDWARD SNOWDEN appreciation that he took courage and revealed the ways our own government was intruding – sometimes illegally – on our privacy. I do believe that the NSA did commit CRIMES against WE THE PEOPLE of the USA!

I agree with the Times’ editorial, “The public learned in great detail how the agency has exceeded its mandate and abused its authority, prompting outrage at kitchen tables and at the desks of Congress, which may finally begin to limit these practices.”

I agree with the Times’ editorial assertion after reviewing the judicial reviews of the NSA’s surveillance practices, “All of this is entirely because of information provided to journalists by Edward Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who stole a trove of highly classified documents after he became disillusioned with the agency’s voraciousness. Mr. Snowden is now living in Russia, on the run from American charges of espionage and theft, and he faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life looking over his shoulder.”

I agree with the conclusion, “Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.” How do YOU feel about the US negotiating a plea bargain or some form of clemency for Edward Snowden?

I do NOT accept the claim by President Obama that EDWARD SNOWDEN would have been protected as a “whistle-blower.” “If the concern was that somehow this was the only way to get this information out to the public, I signed an executive order well before Mr. Snowden leaked this information that provided whistle-blower protection to the intelligence community for the first time,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference. “So there were other avenues available for somebody whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions.” I would NOT trust the President or security officials! Would YOU?

Further clarification is provided by the editorial noting the official N.S.A. documents clarified that the President’s whistle-blower protection did NOT apply to contractors, only to intelligence employees. Snowden was NOT protected! And then, the editorial cites the Washington Post’s informative article, “Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished” noting that Snowden reports that he did report his misgivings to two superiors at the agency, showing them the volume of data collected by the N.S.A., and that they took no action. The editorial comments, “The N.S.A. says there is no evidence of this. That’s almost certainly because the agency and its leaders don’t consider these collection programs to be an abuse and would never have acted on Mr. Snowden’s concerns.”

I agree with the editorial’s analysis, “In retrospect, Mr. Snowden was clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not. Beyond the mass collection of phone and Internet data, consider just a few of the violations he revealed or the legal actions he provoked:

The editorial asserts, “The shrill brigade of his critics say Mr. Snowden has done profound damage to intelligence operations of the United States, but none has presented the slightest proof that his disclosures really hurt the nation’s security. Many of the mass-collection programs Mr. Snowden exposed would work just as well if they were reduced in scope and brought under strict outside oversight, as the presidential panel recommended.”

So, my final agreement is the conclusion, “When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government. That’s why Rick Ledgett, who leads the N.S.A.’s task force on the Snowden leaks, told CBS News’ “Inside the NSA” aired on December 15, 2013 that he would consider amnesty if Mr. Snowden would stop any additional leaks. And it’s why President Obama should tell his aides to begin finding a way to end Mr. Snowden’s vilification and give him an incentive to return home.”

Whistle-blower or Traitor? What is YOUR perspective?

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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