I've seen several diaries go up that make a point of insulting Edward Snowden. Not only the diaries, but most of the replies to the diaries are all making the same mistake. When we talk about Edward Snowden, we are taking part in a classic sort of neocon disinformation. The issue was never Edward Snowden, but we end up spending all of our time talking about him.
Whether you want him prosecuted or not, the issue is how much of our time we spend gathering intelligence on our citizens, and whether its legal or not. The scary thing about this event is the fact that even our own Senators are so surprised to learn about a lot of the intelligence gathering methods.
Whenever a neoconservative responds to this story, his first response is to attack Snowden, because it kills any useful conversation we could have. Some defend him, others don't, and in the end we never talk about the actual issues.
Whether Snowden is actually prosecuted or manages to hide overseas, the decision that he made is going to effect every decision he ever makes for the rest of his life. He will never have the life he knew again, and I doubt that he understood the consequences of his actions. The way that we treat him alone is evidence of just how much we've changed as a country over the years.
When Daniel Ellsberg willfully revealed military intelligence in 1971 in order to inform the country about how the Vietnam War had been conducted, he didn't flee the country. He publically surrendered to the police and gave this statement.
I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public. I did this clearly at my own jeopardy and I am prepared to answer to all the consequences of this decision. The Pentagon Papers were of tremendous importance to the country and helped bring a conclusion to the Vietnam War.However, Snowden himself has pointed out that he feels Snowden had to flee, because with the law and opinion the way it is today, he would be totally unable to publically state what he had done in any way. He would be locked away and confined and denied access to the press. Today, Ellsberg himself would have to flee after publishing the papers. He wrote a column stating that in the Washington Post.
The Pentagon Papers were of tremendous importance to the country and helped bring a conclusion to the Vietnam War. But as tremendously important as they were, I think that what Snowden revealed is actually more important.
If a police officer didn't like your looks, and he kicked open your door and searched your house without cause, we would object. However, if one of Google's camera happens to be overlooking your house, the NSA is capable of taking the feed and using it, for any reason it likes, and they need never report the fact that they have done so. That is literally how things stand right now.
As we speak, a young kid in a government building may go looking through your records for any reason he likes. It's possible that he may do things the NSA doesn't even specifically allow. He might use the information for credit card fraud, for instance. There certainly wasn't anything preventing Snowden from doing something like htat.
Every phone call you make, every web page you browse, and every movie ticket you buy is recorded information which they feel they have the right to analyze and record, even if they don't need the information now.
It's interesting to me that we feel we need to cut social programs and yet we spend billions on a bloated infrastructure of government intelligence groups who don't seem particularly answerable to everyone. Supposedly certain Senators were supposed to be informed of all this, but one stated publically on the record that he had no idea what they were doing.
Please stop running for every crumb thrown before you. Snowden is one man, but many people are effected by this, and it would be a shame if this opportunity to talk about where we are going as a country was wasted.