As I write this, Edward Snowden is most likely making his way to Ecuador in order to avoid extradition to the United States to face felony charges for stealing information from the NSA and giving it to The Guardian, a U.K. based newspaper. He has willingly encouraged the label “Whistle-blower” rather than “International spy”.
I have purposely avoided comment on this subject since it was first reported. I, unlike most people in the world, chose to hear more details not only about the NSA, but Snowden, as well. I think I’ve heard enough to warrant a somewhat educated opinion. Though, I’m sure, there are more details to come.
So, what do I think of Edward Snowden? To be brief, I think he is a traitor. He is a new bread of spy. These spies take their payment in fame rather than fortune (that will come later when they write their books). They hide behind the label whistle-blower, though they are far from it. They gladly hand over secret information in public so as not to appear treacherous, dishonest, or seedy, but rather electronic Robin Hoods, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. They believe the world will agree that what they do is wholesome and right, despite the unethical and criminal ways they carry themselves. These Undercover Egotists, these Public Snoopers are the most dangerous spies. For these spies don’t do it for ideology, country, or even money, but they do it for recognition and they are the hardest to detect until it is too late.
Now, I’m not supporting what the NSA did. As a former signal intelligence employee (USN ’90-’94) I’m appalled by their actions. However, I am just as appalled by Snowden’s actions. Here is why I think Snowden is a traitor and a spy.
- He stole government documents.
- He left the county in search of asylum.
- He handed over the documents to a foreign press.
Number one is the only reason I need. However, I know that there are some of you out there that are thinking, “Yeah, but, Gary, he’s a hero! He pulled back the curtain, revealed that our government is spying on us, we the people!” So what? The end does not justify the means. Haven’t we learned anything from the Middle East? We’ve meddled in the Middle East since the 1950s, overthrowing, supporting, and placing leaders that help us keep a foot in that sandbox, only to fight them at every turn fifty years later. We needed the oil and their favor, so the end justified the means. Or did it? Let’s ask the families of those that died on 9/11 or the families of our dead soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen. Let’s ask Daniel Pearl’s widow, or the countless innocent people caught in the crossfire in Iraq and Afghanistan. The point is, if Edward Snowden is as concerned with blowing the whistle on the NSA as he has stated, he should have gone through the proper channels.
And what channels, Mr. Allison, Mr. Know-it-all?
Allow me to introduce you to the Government Accountability Project, a.k.a. GAP (www.whistleblower.org).
Most famously, this outside agency has assisted NSA whistle-blowers Bill Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe. Who? For a concerned citizen jumping on the side of Snowden, you know very little of what is and has been going on since 9/11, my friend. Binney and Wiebe, after going through proper governmental departments to blow the whistle on NSA’s lack of scruples, retired from the NSA as they could not continue working for the agency in good conscience. They then reached out to GAP. Through GAP, they received legal council and advice on how to properly blow the whistle. It was not an easy battle as they were subjected to FBI raids, harassment from the NSA, and their top secret clearances taken away. However, in 2010, they both received letters of immunity from the DOJ and continue to advocate change in the NSA and encourage accountability for past crimes by the agency. These two men are true heroes. They used the press as a last resort, not seeking fame, but support and accountability. They never fled the country. They stood up for what they believed in and fought against those that disagreed. Snowden, on the other hand, is a coward and a thief. He’s a coward because he ran away and he’s a thief because he stole government papers, and every thief is a liar, putting into question every word that comes out of his mouth.
Now, GAP will disagree with me calling Snowden a traitor. That is fine. They have an agenda. I don’t. I’m just a citizen. They’re an organization and every organization has an agenda. That being said, I am still grateful for what they do. However, the difference between Snowden and most whistle-blowers is that, again, Snowden went straight for the press. He bypassed his superiors and Congress. In the military we call it a chain of command. You take up the chain and never jump links. If Snowden would have used his chain of command, which ends with Congress, and still did not get anywhere, then I would see no problem with him reaching out to the press… under legal council, of course, and without theft.
Snowden is a criminal; not a hero. He is the beginning of a slippery slope that will neither benefit the people of the United States, nor the people of the world. Not only has he revealed that the NSA was spying on U.S. citizens, but that they spy on China, including the when and where and how they do it. Yes, Snowden deserves a traitor’s trial and a traitor’s punishment. As for the NSA, Congress needs to stop closing their eyes and start calling people out on the carpet. In other words, start doing what we the people pay them to do, check and balance.