By now many if not most participants in this community are aware that more than two dozen organizations have banded together to sue the NSA. Because Snowden.
If that isn't evidence of public service, nothing, I repeat, nothing is.
A whistleblower is someone who reveals information of wrongdoing that is hidden.
That over two dozen groups have responded to Snowden's leaks by suing the NSA, clearlyWhether or not Snowden's leak brought new information to light or merely confirmed old information in a singularly, heretofore unprecedented and compelling way is a deliberate, irrelevant deflection, a false goalpost. The lawsuits provide prima facie evidence of meaningful whistleblowing. Efforts to deny this are efforts to rat-fuck the definition of whistleblowing for the sole purpose of preventing it to shield authority from public accountability.
1) they believe that the government is engaged in wrongdoing.
2) Snowden had reason to believe he was revealing evidence of wrongdoing.
3) He was performing the act of a whistleblower.
End of fucking debate.
Moving on to other goalposts.
As a rule, open societies provide protections for whistleblowers because they recognize that authorities will abuse power for various reasons. Open societies want hidden abuses of power revealed.
Authority abhors accountability. (Heck, most of us do.) So it is not surprising that laws written to ensure accountability will be engineered to hobble if not prevent it. As we have learned over and over, since 9/11 the state has amassed seemingly endless authority to indefinitely detain the Bill of Rights and construct and operate a modern SS for the purpose of "national security." Which was ostensibly the purpose of the original.
Authorities will seek to protect themselves from scrutiny, judgement, accountability and punishment by limiting information and individual rights. Containing whistleblowers within laws, rules and regulation are an important part of that.So yes, whistleblowers may have to break laws. No surprise there.
The first measure of this containment being used currently is to deny whistleblower status on a wide variety of technical criteria.
The second is to broadly classify information and make it illegal to disclose evidence of wrongdoing. This classification is part of the broad cloak of "national security," which is easy to justify and virtually impossible to separate from evidence of wrongdoing.
The fact that a record number of whistleblowers have been harassed, denied rights typically afforded citizens and whistleblowers, thwarted and/or punished while demonstrably serving the public interest and revealing hidden wrongdoing speaks volumes to how far authorities will go to avoid public accountability, first and foremost by denying them whistleblower status, and second by accusing them of law-breaking and threatening "national security." Again, no difficult task under the circumstances.
The litmus test for a public servant whistleblower should be whether or not his/her action could be reasonably assumed to disclose evidence of wrongdoing, not whether or not it injures national security, since the latter applies to virtually all classified information, including hidden evidence of wrongdoing by the state.In a time in which the public is broadly aware of government corruption and the undue influence of the 1% on private and public affairs in the nation as well as the government's post-9/11 over-reach to deny individual rights, rights of public and political assembly, physical and virtual, are vital and should be non-negotiable for any responsible, realistic citizen.
As the article at the above link explains, one of the things that these suits recognizes and argues is that the NSA's communications collection (AKA mass surveillance) activities has a chilling effect on public assembly and political activism by communications media.Duh. Is this not obvious? Is this not important? Hint: of course it is!
Those who would hide behind technicalities to deny Snowden whistleblower status in spite of undeniable proof are engaging in or supporting abuses of power. These lawsuits, for example, would not be happening if the authorities and their defenders had had their way.
But for the state's treatment of whistleblowers, there would no doubt be many more of them, much more evidence of wrongdoing and, hence, much less wrongdoing--such as corruption and other abuses of power--in the future... And many of us are just crazy enough to think that that would be a good thing.In addition, if the state declares itself unwilling to 1) recognize a whistleblower, 2) protect a whistleblower from recriminations and pressure up to and including maltreatment and torture, and 3) provide full due process, say, for "national security" reasons--because clearly it does not trust its own legal system to secure the "justice" it wants--then at a minimum it must recognize the rights of political asylum. The state cannot consider itself or be judged a lawful actor if it refuses to recognize the rights of its own political dissidents, especially whistleblowers.
Yes, people, prima facie evidence demonstrates that Snowden--in a time of widespread, breath-taking private-public corruption and over-reach, legalized or not, that extends across the entire spectrum of government activity and threatens these public institutions at their core, in the dwindling currency of public trust--is a 1) whistleblower and public servant of the highest order.
And therefore, 2) the state's actions to a) deny Snowden whistleblower status, b) refuse him protections as such, and c) reject his rights of political asylum, are i) unjust and ii) a threat to the public welfare, as they directly seek to
- impede the public's need and right to know of its "representative" government's activities, especially wrongdoing,
- protect personal and/or organizational interests of authority from public interests by preying upon public fears, and, as a result,
- increase justifiable distrust in the state.
Meanwhile, 3) the efforts of the EFF and dozens of others to sue the NSA demonstrate serious opinion otherwise to those claims made by many that the "mass surveillance" horse has left the barn and thus nothing can or should be done about it. These claims, btw, are often used as yet another goalpost, premature and illogical, to minimize the clear validity of Snowden's action as a whistleblower serving the public interest. i.e., why bother blowing the whistle if it won't change anything? Brilliant.
The NSA is charged of wrongdoing because Snowden. The administration's attack on Snowden and manner of pursuit of him as a cowardly enemy rather than a whistleblower, a brave public servant challenging powerful authorities at great personal risk, is unjust to him and the public interest. Organizations are demonstrating that we do not have to and should not simply give in to surveillance without a fight.On these points there should no longer be any debate among reasonable minds.
UPDATE: Recommended. Woot! Thanks!!