The campaign of character assassination waged against Edward Snowden is doomed to fail.
Snowden belongs to history. He will be judged by history. Yes, Snowden has immediate legal difficulties in the form of sealed espionage indictments, but whether Snowden ever serves a day in jail is no more than a detail in the larger tale.
The Snowden story told a hundred years from now will not resemble the fantasies that you read in mainstream media at this time.
Many are opinionated about Snowden. He is a divisive character. What dismays me is how folks who have a cursory understanding of the issues that he raised feel no compunction about judging him, and harshly.
“Snowden is a traitor,” is a common comment. I have no patience for this sort of bluster. Anyone who believes this has not done the work of understanding what he exposed. In short, you are permitting your opinions to be dictated to you by mass media, and while it may feel comfortable now, this view is based upon false premises, and you will experience cognitive dissonance as time passes and emerging facts undermine your views.
If you believe that Snowden is a traitor, then you do not understand the implications of the programs that he blew. Bottom line.
If you parrot the party line, and mindlessly regurgitate the “facts” as his critics have shaped them, you are participating in a form of group-think that enslaves you.
Snowden, as so many of us are, is an imperfect vehicle for our aspirations. So we should cease trying to control his person and his image and stop trying to use them in a peripheral battle that does not need to be fought.
The controversy is not over the patriotism or the treason of Edward Snowden. It is over the facts of mass surveillance as waged by the US government and its FVEY cohorts against the American people and the people of the world. That is the core issue. This is the core issue that NSA and its deep state defenders do not want you thinking about. They want you distracted with circuses and bread, they want you chanting “Snowden is a traitor,” and they absolutely do not want you to read any of the documents that Snowden revealed.
Those documents are illegal. They are classified. You do not have the clearance to read them. Our overseers will throw a barrage of rationales at you as they attempt to distract you from those inconvenient documents. So my conviction is that you should read them. You must read them. If you do read them, you will come away with an informed opinion, and “Snowden is a traitor” will not be the foremost thought in your mind. I guarantee this.
Some say that the NSA has a statutory mandate to surveil the world. I believe that NSA believes this to be true. When NSA engages in its statutory tasks which are explained in its organizational charter, its targets and purposes are defined. No one opposes the core task of securing the homeland. But “collect everything, collect on everyone, globally, all the time, forever,” is not enshrined in the NSA charter. It is a fundamental overreach, and it violates the Fourth Amendment.
It is when the NSA surveils the American people in order to anticipate terrorism that we cross lines and run afoul of our national character. When more Americans are surveilled by NSA than North Koreans, we have a problem. When more Americans are surveilled than Iranians, we have a problem. When more Americans are surveilled than Chinese or Russians, we have a problem.
NSA believes that we must surveil everybody in the world, the entire world is a target, because that is how NSA proposes to detect penetrations, moles, and potential dissidents and whistleblowers. And terrorists. And pedophiles. And narcotics smugglers.
What we should not do is engage in surveillance that is suspicionless and indiscriminate. Surveillance must be focused, precise, targeted, and legal. It must, in short, comply with the Fourth Amendment, which states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
That is it. That is the entirety of the Fourth Amendment. It is very clear, it is very simple, and you can immediately see that when NSA collects everything, everywhere, from everyone, it violates this cornerstone of American jurisprudence.
This is the bottom line. There is no need to debate the guilt or patriotism of Edward Snowden. Simply perceive that suspicionless mass surveillance is fundamentally incompatible with the Fourth Amendment, and this entire controversy vanishes.
All that we need to insist upon is this: get a warrant. From a real court, and a real judge, every time. And remember that the convenience of the federal government does not trump your Fourth Amendment rights.
If you believe this, then you are on the right side of history. Snowden’s guilt or patriotism is a sideshow, a distraction.
You will end up in this place if you simply read the Snowden documents. Do the forbidden. Be bad.
Sometimes we must.