He may have broken a law in exposing the federal government’s spying on us. And whether he did the right thing is a matter of robust debate.
But whatever you think of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, we seriously doubt he’s a traitor as some seem to think, such as House Speaker John Boehner. It occurs to us that the term “traitor” connotes an intent not just to betray but to do harm by it.
There’s no evidence that’s the case here. In fact, everything appears to point to an intent to help the country, by alerting the citizenry that we’re being spied on by our government. The aim, arguably, would be to restore the kind of liberty enshrined in both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
That said, Edward Snowden really isn’t the issue. It’s us – and our relationship, as a supposedly self-governing people, to our elected government.
That relationship certainly appears to have changed drastically, horribly, in just the past few weeks, with the revelations of Department of Justice spying on journalists, IRS harassment of conservatives and now the NSA spying on millions of Americans’ phone and Internet records.
Maybe an administration that has shown itself to be duplicitous and untrustworthy creates whistleblowers of its own accord.
Frankly, at this point we wish there were more of them. Perhaps all government workers should be issued whistles.
Who’s doing the betraying here, anyway? Isn’t it this government that’s betraying our trust? Besides all the ongoing scandals – which include the Fast and Furious gun-running debacle and the Benghazi disaster, both of which got Americans killed – there’s the little matter of your federal government partying on your dollar as you scrape by to survive.
Remember “GSA Man” – the General Services Administration official who became the poster child for government waste with his unrepentant grin in a beverage-adorned Las Vegas tub at a lavish conference in 2010? A fresher scandal is now enveloping the IRS, which admits to having put on a $4.1 million conference in Anaheim, Calif. – which featured a now infamous and very amateurish video Star Trek spoof. Like GSA Man’s tub photo, the Star Trek video has instantly become an undying symbol of the in-your-face waste of your money by government bureaucrats.
You want to talk about a betrayal of trust? Let’s have that discussion!
This government is hardly in any position to lament someone else’s betrayal of trust.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has emerged as a beacon of civil liberties in this troubling time. We heartily support Sen. Paul’s effort to mobilize as many as 10 million Americans to protest the government’s spying on us. He plans a class-action lawsuit, as well as legislation enforcing our Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable and warrantless searches.
Paul calls the domestic spying “an astounding assault on the Constitution.” He’s right. And, noting that all that spying didn’t prevent the Boston Marathon bombing, he says burying national security officials in a billion calls a day, not to mention emails and Internet records, is “just bad police work.”
Moreover, while Paul says “this much power is too much power to give any government,” he reminds us that all that intelligence on us is currently in the hands of “a government that appears to target people based on their political beliefs. I don’t want my phone records being given to an administration that I can’t trust.”
Paul sounds very much like a former Senate colleague of his who, in the mid-2000s, bitterly decried domestic spying under President George W. Bush, saying his administration acted like “violating civil liberties is a way to enhance our security. It is not. There are no shortcuts to protecting America.”
That senator was Barack Obama – who, back then, warned against “undermining our Constitution and our freedom.”
Obama also once said:
• “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”
• “No more illegal wiretapping of American citizens.”
• “No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.”
• “We need to find a way forward to make sure that we can stop terrorists while protecting the privacy and liberty of innocent Americans.”
Congratulations, Mr. President. After the Boston bombing and the NSA scandal, we can truthfully say you’ve done neither.