Hop on a “mental plane” with me for a moment, and let’s take a look at this situation from 50,000 feet.
Members of our “Intelligence community” want Edward Snowden murdered, and at least one is fantasizing about how he would do it, while another even believes we should dispense with this citizen’s constitutional right to a fair trial.
“In a world where I would not be restricted from killing an American, I personally would go and kill him myself,” a current NSA analyst told BuzzFeed. “A lot of people share this sentiment.”
“I would love to put a bullet in his head,” one Pentagon official, a former special forces officer, said bluntly. “I do not take pleasure in taking another human beings life, having to do it in uniform, but he is single-handedly the greatest traitor in American history.”
That violent hostility lies just beneath the surface of the domestic debate over NSA spying is still ongoing. Some members of Congress have hailed Snowden as a whistle-blower, the New York Times has called for clemency, and pundits regularly defend his actions on Sunday talk shows. In intelligence community circles, Snowden is considered a nothing short of a traitor in wartime.
“His name is cursed every day over here,” a defense contractor told BuzzFeed, speaking from an overseas intelligence collections base. “Most everyone I talk to says he needs to be tried and hung, forget the trial and just hang him.”
One Army intelligence officer even offered BuzzFeed a chillingly detailed fantasy.
“I think if we had the chance, we would end it very quickly,” he said. “Just casually walking on the streets of Moscow, coming back from buying his groceries. Going back to his flat and he is casually poked by a passerby. He thinks nothing of it at the time starts to feel a little woozy and thinks it’s a parasite from the local water. He goes home very innocently and next thing you know he dies in the shower.”
Snowden’s crime? Exposing unconstitutional surveillance activities by the Federal government and its contractors.
Some “spies” are perturbed because their “assets” no longer speak with them, out of fear they will be exposed. Perhaps these individuals should consider this as “collateral damage” (a term with which the military and intelligence communities are very familiar) in the quest to expose what the NSA is doing.
(I wonder if those quoted get as upset when their activities murder innocent people overseas, as they are by what Mr. Snowden did? Their desire to kill him may unwittingly reveal the answer—they’ve become callous about the sacrifice of human life in the pursuit of their objectives.)
Meanwhile, back home, American journalists recently experienced a chill amongst sources, who now fear speaking to them. Why? Because U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder approved wire-tapping of AP, Fox, and others who were simply doing their Constitutionally-protected jobs.
So, on the one hand we have taxpayer-paid folks mad about someone exposing their unconstitutional activities, and on the other we have government conducting further unconstitutional acts, yet we’re supposed to support the desire to murder a whistleblower, and to infringe on the actions of a free press?
In each of these cases Federal employees are saying “the Constitution be damned” and the other is merely attempting to fulfill its responsibilities in a free society.
Yes, it’s a worrisome thing that we’ve gone “partially blind” in regards to some of our legitimate intelligence needs. But perhaps we should see that it never would have happened had those Federal activities been properly limited by the Constitution the government was created to protect and defend.
I submit that the most dangerous blindness today is not in regards to foreign intelligence, but in refusing to see the thick line between upholding one’s oath to protect and defend the Constitution, versus defending the entity of the Federal government. Those tasks are emphatically not the same.
The Federal government has been foolishly released from what Thomas Jefferson termed “the chains of the Constitution” by which it was to be bound. It’s far past time to put those chains back in place.