It’s being said that whistle-blower Edward Snowden, is guilty of treason. The charge has been leveled by one of our U.S. Senators from California, Dianne Feinstein. I’m sorry she did that. Not because Snowden might not be guilty of treason, but because there are exceptions to every rule. What lawyers like to call “mitigating circumstances.” In this case, the mitigation could be Snowden feeling a need to try and salvage what’s left of the Republic. I don’t know, because I can’t get inside the guy’s head. No one can. The story is ongoing. Chances are, there’s much more to come. Nevertheless, some seem eager to pass judgement now. And”treason” is a very nasty word.
Some have suggested that in the interest of protecting national security, Mr. Snowden, could have and should have gone through proper channels to express his concerns. That he should have contacted those same government officials that are responsible for approving the vast overreach of the NSA to conduct wholesale spying on American citizens on American soil. That’s simply ridiculous. No one gets a fair and honest hearing from those who have committed the wrong one is trying to correct. In this case, it appears to be all three branches of government that have looked the other way while the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments went begging. These are government leaders, both elected and appointed, who have already been embarrassed by one whistle-blower, and now stand to be embarrassed by another.
Julian Assange embarrassed the U.S. Government with WikiLeaks, and is now forced to remain inside the walls of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, lest he should be arrested and face prosecution, on questionable charges, in both Sweden and then possibly through extradition to the United States. And now comes Edward Snowden, being accused of treason and unable to return to U.S. soil, following his release of information on government agencies that have obviously gone beyond the limits of constitutional propriety in what Daniel Ellsberg, calls the “United Stasi of America.”
People do not like being told they are wrong. They do not like being embarrassed, particularly when they are rich and powerful and the embarrassment contains charges of taking the nation in a direction that threatens to destroy the civil liberties and democratic underpinnings of the Republic.
“Whistle-blowers” are sometimes necessary. This may be one of those times. The question is, does it actually amount to “treason?” Those on the far-right have blocked nearly every piece of legislation that was introduced over the past several years with the stated goal of making the Democrats look bad. It had nothing to do with the good of the country and everything to do with seeking a political advantage with no regard for the harm that might be done. If that’s not treason through the obvious, ongoing and blatant betrayal of one’s country, then what is? At least Edward Snowden, appears to have credible mitigating circumstances on his side.
This story continues to unfold. The way we feel about it could change with new information. Until then, it might be better to withhold judgement on Edward Snowden and look to the obvious issues of secret overreach by the NSA, and the extensive use of private contractors following the attacks of 9-11. So much so, that we could now have a bloated Department of Homeland Security. A Department that might be vastly overrated, over-funded and out of control. How would we know, when the federal government now conducts so much of its business in secret – business that includes wholesale spying on American citizens by the U.S. military, and then permits that same military to kidnap American citizens from U.S. soil without the benefit of representation by an attorney in a civilian court of law?
If the only result of Snowden’s revelations is to fire up a national conversation about just how broken our federal government truly is and the need to restore our constitutional rights, then it’s possible that he has done us all a very great service.