I worry that I am suffering under romantic delusions when I think that Mr. Snowden is a persecuted patriot who deserves our support. Then I ask myself, if it was the Bush administration seeking this man would I doubt for a moment that what he had done was in the service of truth and justice? No. It is only because it is the Obama administration, supposed champions of democracy, openness and “transparency” that I hesitate in my support of Snowden. I have to finally accept that the President of change is really the President of more of the same.
On June 19th, Broden and Shane, in a NY Times article, provided some background on Snowden. His associates and his own words in blogs present a smart, ambitious, driven young man. In the 80’s someone with that profile would be making millions on Wall Street looking after his own self interests. However this is 2013 and in the era of the Arab Spring and movements across the globe promoting democratic ideals a bright young person has other priorities. Broden and Shane point out that, “For role models, Mr. Snowden, an introspective man who spent his formative years in the rebellious technogeek counterculture, could look not only to the young Army private [Manning], lionized by a global following, but also to dissenters at his own agencies.
From the N.S.A., Mr. Snowden’s most recent employer, there was Thomas A. Drake, who since his 2010 leak prosecution has denounced the agency as Big Brother on the lecture circuit. From the C.I.A., Mr. Snowden’s previous employer, there was John Kiriakou, who rallied supporters with his assertion that his prison term for leaking was payback for speaking out about waterboarding.”
I believe that Snowden saw himself as a hero. He is not the enemy of our nation – our government, which conceals, lies to us, is guilty of hypocrisy and conducting espionage on its own people, has become the enemy. We were supposed to be the shining light on the hill, a beacon, an example of free government, of and for the people. What happened to that? We extinguished that light. We allowed our legislatures to take away our liberties in the name of national security. The terrorists aren’t to blame for our loss of freedoms, we are for being complacent.
I’m no champion of Russia or China but I have to agree with them when a Russian spokesperson says the Snowden case exposed an American “policy of double standards.” or when Xinhua, the state-owned Chinese news agency, editorialized that “the United States, which has long been trying to play innocent as a victim of cyberattacks, has turned out to be the biggest villain in our age.”
We have lost the high ground and we need to regain it. Instead of persecuting and prosecuting Snowden, I’d like to have someone in our government apologize for the deceit and own up. If our government did that, we could once again stand tall in the world and we wouldn’t need whistle blowers.
Until then, I say Snowden is a patriot.