Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Whistleblowers

I have been reading and listening to TV pundits, friends and relatives all spout off their opinion of Ed Snowden.  The man has his own entry on Wikipedia for those of you living under a rock.  His situation raises some serious questions: Where is the line between "whistleblowing" and violating the law?  Is his continued evasion of the United States the actions of a traitor or someone who knows he will be persecuted for coming forward with the truth of our rights being violated?

When actions violate the rule of law, namely our Constitution, it is incumbent on those who swore to uphold the Constitution to call attention to it.  Some say that Ed Snowden is a traitor for letting the public know about PRISM.  Let us assume that PRISM is real and not a red herring or a hoax as some folks contend.  It is my understanding that Snowden would have taken two oaths and, when put in a rock and a hard place, chose to uphold the greater of the two.  What he did initially was good and right (note the emphasis).  In my interpretation, by blowing the whistle on the absurd practice of using a dragnet to collect all of our information, Snowden brought to light a practice that can be argued violates the 4th amendment.  The interpretation of how the 4th is to be applied in the digital age is a matter that will surely come up sooner rather than later in light of this scandal.  I would just like to point out that the 4th amendment protects people's "papers" as well as themselves, property, etc.  Today's "papers" are the emails, electronic documents and recordings we use.  Just because they are housed by third parties on servers does not mean they are any less ours!  But I digress.

Frankly, I think many of us suspected that our government might being doing this.  It sure confirmed a lot of conspiracy theories, to say the least.  Tin foilers everywhere have been vindicated.  Unfortunately, things are not turning out to be as clear cut as they did initially.

Listen to the story of Vincent Cefalu on the Mike Huckabee Show (6-14-2013).  Vince is an ATF agent who blew the whistle on Fast and Furious.  His life has been turned upside down for doing the right thing.  

Most whistleblowers stay in the U.S. even at great cost to their personal lives.  Snowden has not stayed in the U.S.  After hearing Vince's story, I cannot say that I blame Snowden for initially putting some distance between him and the NSA.  However, the longer he stays in countries that are at best "frenemies", the worse it reflects on his intentions.  Furthermore, the fact that he claims that he has the technical data on many other items is disturbing.  It is looking more and more like he is now treading on dangerous ground.  I waited on blogging on this topic for exactly this reason:  I wanted to see what he was going to do in the aftermath.  I do not know if Snowden has crossed a line yet.  What I do know is that releasing sensitive material that does not violate our rights and that harms the United States interests is not the way to win the battle.  I applaud Snowden for his whistleblowing, but he needs to come back to the U.S. and fight the battle here, not amongst others that do not have our best interest at heart.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the article. I thought I was the only one questioning why he was jumping from one 'frenemy' country to another. Seeing previous whistle-blowers I understand running off, but hanging around unfriendlies and threatening that he has more information I didn't like.

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    1. Hey CopperKnight,

      I had hoped he would stand and fight to be honest. Now that he's known, the Powers That Be would have a hard time sweeping him under the rug. He could then testify before Congress and do more good that way. Instead, he now runs the risk of doing more harm than good.

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  2. I completely agree with you. At this point, I'm really trying to figure out his true motivation behind the leaks. I don't think they are what he says they are...or at least, no longer. If anything, he's putting the very people he's trying to "inform" in potential danger. So you're right, he did a good thing, re-informing the people of what they should already know (b/c of the Patriot Act), but why divulge info that could possibly hurt our relations abroad. Also, what other info is he holding onto.

    Russia's condition was for him to stop releasing harmful US information. He doesn't even want to do that.

    I don't know. I'm certain we're not being told everything. It's a puzzle we need to put together, but IMO, he needs to come back and stand firm behind his actions. I dislike many things the government is doing, but I'm still American and I love my country. I'll be damned if I'm going to give personal info/ammunition to the "enemy" or barely friendly nations.

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    1. Good point, on the Russians. I'm okay with the NSA's capabilities, but not when they are used on our own. I don't see how divulging the details of the technical capabilities is helping anyone but our enemies at this point. But like you said, we do not know the details.

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