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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cheaters and Hypocrites: Some remarks concerning Edward Snowden


Concerning this whole Edward Snowden fiasco, I must admit, I think everyone's wrong.

President Obama deserves the considerable criticism for continuing policies he so vehemently criticized when Fmr. President Bush used them. You could make the argument that those things were said on the campaign trail and he's not bound to honor campaign promises (which is technically true) but it doesn't reflect well on him or his administration. The NSA's power and abilities need to be reigned in, and unfortunately Obama doesn't seem very interested in doing so.

But I am not a fan of Edward Snowden either. People will compare him to the people who took the Pentagon Papers to the Supreme Court, but the two events are actually fairly different. The people who fought and won the release of those documents played the game fair and won, in that they believed the Nixon Administration prohibiting the release of these documents was an injustice. So they took that injustice to a court-the highest in the land, eventually-and their case proved more valid than that of the Nixon Administration's.

Edward Snowden did not do the same. He was not a journalist, he worked in government security. A journalist's job is to report the news and hold the government accountable for their actions-and therefore, the people at the New York Times were doing their job where they saw injustice. When they saw obstacles to their reporting, they successfully worked around them in a legal manner. Working in a government entity, however, entails an agreement to keep government secrets safe. Edward Snowden did not honour that agreement-in simplest terms, he lied.

Now, what he released is obviously terrible news and the influence of entities like the NSA is definitely unsettling. But just because you find injustice does not mean you should go full-on vigilante. Snowden could have fought the injustices he saw without releasing sensitive material from within, and had he played his cards right, he may have been able to release the information in a legal manner. Had he been able to do that, he would have been commended for it rather than his path, which led to collecting dust in the Moscow Airport.

On another note, it's difficult to say a person has the US' best interest in heart when he runs off to Russia, a country with much less freedoms than our own and arguably still one of our rivals and appeals his case to the People's Republic of China, where doing the same thing with their secrets would surely get him killed.

I hesitate to call this man a traitor to the United States. Treason is a difficult crime to convict. But I do believe he needs to deal with the legal consequences, what he did was a violation of both trust and the law. But what he revealed about our own government is very much wrong and needs to be fought against as well.

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