Edward Snowden, 29 years old, had top level access to NSA information, and he leaked some of it. Basically he pulled a Bradley Manning, only Edward Snowden’s clearance to government intelligence was on a much higher level. This is a guy who is obviously highly intelligent with a promising and successful career at the top echelons of US intelligence. Well not anymore, now he’s in Hong Kong, and does not expect that he’ll see home again.
If I had a chance to say just two words to people like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, it would be Thank You. Thanks for having the balls to do what’s right. They’re not enemies of the US. They do not hate the US. They saw the country they love abusing its power, and they did what they could to inform the American people, to give us the chance to decide how we felt about the actions of our country, actions funded by our taxes. To decide based on real intelligence, not the disinformation our corporate owned media offers up each day.
In the case of Bradley Manning, the media and the US Government didn’t seem one bit concerned with the cold blooded killing of Reuters reporters, or the double tap that ensued, killing the first responders. Instead they demonized Bradley Manning, tortured him, and now only time will tell if he’ll be spending the better part of his life behind bars, or be set free, for his trial is at last underway.
Glenn Greenwald interviews Edward Snowden
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Well, decide for yourself who you trust. Did Edward Snowden sound like a guy who was trying to compromise the US and put its citizens in harms way, or a man whose conscience lead him to a brave decision to inform the public?
Should this come as a surprise?
No, it shouldn’t. The Patriot Act laid the groundwork for this type of behavior. Our 4th Amendment rights were under heavy siege the moment that legislation was passed. Keep in mind that while George W Bush implemented the Patriot Act in the wake of the paralyzing fear of 9/11, Barack Obama could have allowed the bill to expire. All President Obama needed to do was veto the bill. That’s well within his executive power. Instead of choosing that path, he’s expanded on the unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens.
Words are but wind
When Barack Obama was running for his first term in the Oval Office hopes were high that he would bring change. It seemed almost impossible to imagine that he could be worse on civil liberties than the Bush Cheney disaster. To put this in context, let’s watch a couple of videos.
The first video is from August 1st, 2007 when then Senator Obama was on the campaign trail.
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This next video is from June 7th, a present day response to the leaked NSA information.
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“You Can’t Have 100% Security And Also Then Have 100% Privacy”
That quote and the surrounding context begins at approximately 2:30 into the above video. What’s definitely true is that we can’t have 100% security. No matter what. I don’t care how Orwellian the Government gets, there’s no such thing as 100% security. For the most part security is an illusion. Most of the people who are killed in the US by violence, overwhelmingly, are not victims of terrorist attacks. By orders of magnitude more people die from shootings, stabbings, and drunk driving incidents each year, just to name a few examples.
It’s bipartisan, so it’s cool
“The programs are secret in the sense that they are classified. They are not secret, in that every member of Congress has been briefed,” he said during a speech in San Jose, Calif. “These are programs that have been authored by large bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006. – President Obama
I don’t find this to be particularly reassuring. To the contrary; the fact both sides of the isle can get together on this issue, but are absolutely polarized when it comes to any meaningful action to create jobs or improve the living conditions of millions of Americans does not fill me with confidence.
If what you’re doing is a gross violation of the 4th Amendment, it sucks a whole lot more that everyone in the government is cool with it. Especially if you consider the dismal approval rating of the congress. Does anybody reading this article actually have an ounce of trust in what our politicians tell us anymore? We’re so anesthetized to them lying to us that we give them a pass based on the principle, ‘well politicians lie, what else do you expect?’ Not good enough.
Was Obama lying, or simply made to be realistic about the challenges of governing as President?
It’s easy to say that Barack Obama was lying back in 2007 when he spoke of defending civil liberties and ending warrantless wiretapping. Logically, it’s perfectly possible that he was telling the truth of his intent at the time, but that the pressures of his station changed his mind.
But I don’t much care.
They say a man is only as good as his word, and in society we’ve somehow managed to give politicians a pass when it comes to this old adage, despite they’re the ones we should hold most accountable when it comes to promises transforming into actions. We know their word isn’t worth the breath it’s expelled upon, so why make a big deal out of it? Politicians break campaign promises. I get it. But this was a fundamental campaign promise that spoke to the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. He let us down.
It’s progressives, Obama’s base, that should be the most outraged. His Presidency has been one of placating his adversaries and to a large extent ignoring his base. In this case, he’s pissed off most Americans, because the 4th Amendment isn’t treasured by the left more than the right. Our right to privacy is quintessential to our identity as Americans.
Are americans more adamant about their 2nd Amendment Rights over their 4th?
Let’s throw the 1st amendment in there too. What makes the 1st and 4th amendments so different than the 2nd? It’s not that Americans don’t value their right to free speech and to privacy, but as I see it there’s two reasons why the merest hint of a threat against the 2nd amendment brings about a much stronger backlash.
The first reason is, to me, rather obvious. There’s money backing the 2nd amendment in the form of the gun manufactures, and a well established lobby to carry out their PR and purchasing of politicians – or threatening of politicians with negative ad campaigns – with the NRA.
The second reason is a bit more abstract. A gun is a physical object. It can literally be taken away from you. The right to free speech and the right to privacy are rights that can dissipate before one realizes it. They might only start to really value these rights when they find themselves arrested for speaking out, or when they’re personally affected by the Government’s Orwellian approach to collecting and storing their personal information.
Support genuine whistleblowers
There’s a few of things that we, the people, can do to make a difference when it comes to these issues. The first is to stand up for whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. The second is to get as vehement about the rest of your rights as 2nd amendment enthusiasts do about their rights. You can do this by emailing, calling, or trying to set up a meeting with a local representative. You can do this by finding creative – non violent – ways of making your voice heard. You can do this by valuing your freedoms over the illusion of security and demanding more from our politicians.
If you’re a democrat and have a democrat representing your district, but you don’t like the way they vote, push for a primary. The same goes for republicans. Personally, if I were to pull out of thin air a ticket for 2016 it would be Elizabeth Warren and Gary Johnson. Maybe somehow that would work. And of course, there’s always pushing for an end to Citizen’s United by getting involved in a push for a constitutional convention. Getting money out of politics can’t hurt. Money in politics poisons all issues.
If you’re left on the fence still wondering if Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are better off in prison than being celebrated as American heroes, it can’t hurt to listen to the Vietnam whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg talk about his feelings on the subject while being interviewed about it on CNN by Don Lemon.
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UPDATE: There’s a petition that, as I write this, has over 200,000 signature supporting Edward Snowden. Please consider signing it.