Snowden, PRISM, and plot: Heroic Whistleblower

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By Alex Sousa, Managing Editor, @TwoFistedSousa

Edward Snowden is a hero. I don’t want to mince words here and I don’t want there to be any confusion. In that same spirit, allow me to explain some things clearly and simply. Edward Snowden is not “in hiding.” If he was hiding, no one would know his name, and no one would know where he was. Next, Snowden is running because Snowden could not have stayed in America. He spoke out against an intelligent entity that, as we know from other whistleblowers, is not above murder. No quarter would be given for someone so bold as that.

He had to leak the information to the press, because there was no way to fix it from the inside. The system he was working in is the problem; the people he was working for are the ones spying on American people. He couldn’t have gone to the government because they’re the ones writing the checks to make sure the program operates. It’s a system that was built to perpetuate itself. They keep the power, and men like Snowden are silenced.

He had to go to the foreign press because if he had leaked the story in America, it never would have been put into print. American media is a mess. It panders to the lowest common denominator. It suffers from pandemic-levels of media bias. As Glenn Greenwald explained, all those fancy news anchors that people see on TV, they’re not real reporters—they’re actors paid to look like reporters and instead of reporting the news, they frame the news in such a way as to enable the agendas of their employers.

And finally, there’s the simple fact that since Snowden leaked information about domestic espionage to the American people, so, unless the American people are enemies of the American government then Snowden can’t be called a traitor. That’s what Ron Paul was talking about when he said “my understanding is that espionage means giving secret or classified information to the enemy. Since Snowden shared information with the American people, his indictment for espionage could reveal (or confirm) that the US Government views you and me as the enemy.”

Sure, there was talk about Snowden leaking secrets to Russia and China, but simple research can reveal all of that to be based on media speculation. Snowden said “I never gave any information to either government, and they never took anything from my laptops.” And since he isn’t the one secretly spying on me, I’m more inclined to take his word.

Now, with all of that cleared up, let’s continue. Snowden gave up what was essentially a perfect life in order to tell the American people that their government was playing Big Brother. He gave up a good job in a tropical paradise with a beautiful woman to spend a month in the Moscow airport before finally being granted temporary asylum in Russia. Having been through the Moscow airport, I can say with relative authority that his life was much better before arriving there.

What Snowden was trying to say to the American people was that their basic human rights were being encroached upon. The Fourth Amendment to the United States’ Constitution states that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” With that in mind, consider that the government passed secret laws allowing them to read private emails, record personal call logs, collect tracking data, and build what is essentially a “Google” database of citizens’ information so that they could more easily search their data.

Snowden pulled back the curtain of the American government machine and showed the world what they were doing. Their response was to attack his character and call him a traitor. The American government would claim that their PRISM program had been used to stop terrorist attacks. Unsubstantiated claims, of course, which the most casual of philosophers should recognize as an “argument of ignorance.” The only terrorist attack that the American people have heard about was the Boston marathon bombing, but they don’t mention that. They maintain that they spy on American citizens for their own good. Big Brother knows best. “Ignorance is strength,” right?

Did Edward Snowden betray the American government? Yes, he did, but only because the American government was betraying its people long before that. This nation is still a nation of democracy, which means it’s a government by the people, for the people. It was a country founded on revolution, by men who were once, too, branded as traitors. Because of them, this is not a monarchy where a word against the king lands one on the business end of an executioner’s axe—at least, it shouldn’t be.