Tag Archive | "Americans distrust government"

Edward Snowden: Patriot or Traitor?

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In the scandal-a-day political milieu that has become the second term of the Obama Administration, truth appears to be a relative concept.  Historians, with the advantage of hindsight, will undoubtedly have a better perspective on the impact of current revelations that have cast doubt on the direction that our country is taking.


As the American public collectively scratches its head over issues of domestic and foreign intrigue, many Americans are coming to the conclusion that our citizens are losing their personal freedoms and our country is losing its sovereignty to the relentless advance of globalism


While maintaining a free society undoubtedly requires “eternal vigilance,” Americans must – for our society to function – have more than a modicum of trust in our government officials, judiciary, law enforcement, and military.  Our Founding Fathers, distrustful of the abuses of centralized power, placed limits upon the federal government in our Constitution and enumerated individual rights and freedoms in the accompanying Bill of Rights.


Yet today, our government operates under a cloak of secrecy at a level that appears beyond that required to protect us from our enemies, a level above that which is needed to keep state secrets, a level that appears designed to shield the American public from the missteps, indiscretions, and power grabs of our elected and non-elected leaders of all political persuasions.


As large numbers of Americans, whether unemployed or under-employed, are still reeling from the Great Recession, each of our political parties appear to have its own agenda.  Both Democrats and Republicans seem intent on driving their own political positions, to the detriment of the American people.  Each party, it seems, has their own cable news network to spin their positions and those of their political adversaries.  The truth, lying somewhere in the middle of the extremes of liberalism and conservatism, is lost.


The question of truth arises in yet the latest scandal, arising from the leaking of information about NSA espionage involving telecommunications and emails of American citizens by a low-level employee of a government contractor.  Is the young man, Edward Snowden, who had access and leaked this information a hero whistleblower, a patriot; or, is he a traitor?


Mr. Snowden knowingly broke his employment contract by his action, as well as the conditions of whatever level of security clearance he held.  After his pronouncement, he fled – his last known whereabouts in Hong Kong.


Characteristically, some members of Congress have already dubbed him a “traitor” while others have called him a “patriot,” likening him to no less a personage than Paul Revere.  Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul has expressed concern that he may be targeted for assassination by his own government.  Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, has offered Snowden asylum.


Snowden has a difficult choice to make.  He can choose to return to the United States and face the music, or he can accept the Russian offer or continue to live on the lam like the fictional Philip Nolan in Edward Everett Hale’s The Man Without a Country.


If he does come home and there is a public trial, it likely would divide the country.  Was Snowden someone who betrayed secrets that will cost U.S. lives?  Or, did Snowden put the American people ahead of his own life and liberty?


Perhaps, Snowden has reason to hope.  During the Vietnam War, a young movie star traveled to North Vietnam – denouncing American foreign policy and giving aid and comfort to the enemy.  Far from being punished or even censured for her actions, Jane Fonda was celebrated.  This is the same Jane Fonda who has been an ardent supporter of various liberal causes and President Obama and who appeared on a 1999 Barbara Walters ABC special titled A Celebration: 100 Years of Great Women.


In a brief interview shown on TV, Edward Snowden commented about his action and stated that it was not his intent to leak classified information, but to alert the American public to actions by our government that infringed on the Constitutional rights and liberty of American citizens.


Snowden’s actions may ultimately prove a blessing in disguise.  Perhaps, the NSA and all government agencies may reform he way they deal with contractors and the way in which those contractors classify their employees and provide them access to sensitive or critical information.  The situation beckons the question, how could a low-level employee with minimal education gain access to information that could breach our national security?


Regardless of the answer to that question, Snowden’s actions have shaken the NSA and our entire federal government, as well as heightened the level of distrust that Americans have for their government.  Attributed to Thomas Jefferson is the expression “When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.”  In a free society, each of us must come to our own conclusion.  Who do you trust more, Edward Snowden or the federal government?



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