Monday, June 24, 2013

The Edward Snowden Question

If you haven't kept up with the last few posts, or with the news, there's a guy by the name of Edward Snowden who worked for an NSA contractor, and used that position to gather information about how the NSA spies on basically everyone.  He gave the information to Glenn Greenwald, and then fled to Hong Kong.  On Friday, the United States filed espionage charges against Snowden and he has since fled Hong Kong and is flying to parts unknown via Russa.  

The typical players of the MSM, naturally, are calling for the prosecution of Snowden and Greenwald for espionage.  Granted, these are the same people who supported the Iraq War and who have turned a blind eye to the war crimes of the past Administration (and yes, torture is a war crime).  These are the same journalists who base their entire lives on getting access from the powers that be.  Hopefully, they all go the way of Howard Kurtz and work for Fox some day.

That said, should Snowden be prosecuted for giving up state secrets?  Well, that's a somewhat complex issue.  Snowden's leaked two types of information to the world - how the U.S. spies on its citizenry, and how it spies on the rest of the world.  The first bit of information, how the U.S. spies on its citizenry, is information of phenomenal importance.  We, as Americans, have to be able to debate whether our government should spy on us.  But we can't do so if we don't know whether the government is spying on us, and how the government is spying on us.  This information may be embarrassing, but we need to know about it, even if, as in this case, the spying is authorized by law, and reviewed by a court.

The second type of information, how the U.S. spies on the rest of the world, is a different story altogether.  Of course the United States should engage in espionage on the international stage.  Simply put, we need intelligence to inform our policy-makers when they make momentous decisions.  Had the Bush Administration listened to the CIA, for instance, it would known that Hussein had no biological/chemical/nuclear weapons (of course, it didn't care, but that's beside the point).  When policy-makers make decisions on foreign policy blind, PEOPLE DIE.

So ultimately, I think if Snowden had stopped with giving up information on how the U.S. spies on the citizenry, he might have had a case for why he should not be prosecuted.  He would have performed the public service he claims he performed.  But instead, he blabbed about spying on foreign governments, which is unforgivable.

Lastly, I think the contractor shouldn't be let off the hook.  Snowden claims he took the job specifically to spy on the NSA.  That, my friends, is one hell of security breach and falls within the classic definition of a spy.  Booz Allen Hamilton (Snowden's employer) has some explaining to do.

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