I don’t always agree with the New York Times, but when I do… is now.
Seven months ago, the world began to learn the vast scope of the National Security Agency’s reach into the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the United States and around the globe, as it collects information about their phone calls, their email messages, their friends and contacts, how they spend their days and where they spend their nights. The public learned in great detail how the agency has exceeded its mandate and abused its authority, prompting outrage at kitchen tables and at the desks of Congress, which may finally begin to limit these practices.
The revelations have already prompted two federal judges to accuse the N.S.A. of violating the Constitution (although a third, unfortunately, found the dragnet surveillance to be legal). A panel appointed by President Obama issued a powerful indictment of the agency’s invasions of privacy and called for a major overhaul of its operations.
All of this is entirely because of information provided to journalists by Edward Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who stole a trove of highly classified documents after he became disillusioned with the agency’s voraciousness. Mr. Snowden is now living in Russia, on the run from American charges of espionage and theft, and he faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life looking over his shoulder.
Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.
I was laughing as I read Barack Obama’s quotes concerning his Presidential-Divine Fiat for whistle-blower protection, allegedly providing a way for Ed Snowden to have shared his concerns–that is SOOO rich, coming from a President who *specializes* in ignoring the legal path for his own desired changes to our system of government.
Then, the Times editorial board had me roaring when it immediately took a journalistic sword to him, and tersely said Obama’s statements were total lies anyway—Snowden would not have been protected by that Executive Order. Folks, that is what real journalists do: Quote a politician’s lie, then expose it!
In retrospect, Mr. Snowden was clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not.
Well said, NYT.
The NSA is a dangerous threat to freedom. The worst thing is that soulless men who can justify what they’ve already been doing are also more than capable of ignoring legitimate intel on a coming terrorist plot—allowing carnage—just to show us how much we “need them.” We’re on the back of a tiger.
Thankfully, the threat from foreign terrorists is far less than the hysteria we’ve been fed in order to justify massive expenditures on the NSA, Homeland Security, TSA, etc. Truly, the biggest threat to the American way of life is from within–these rogue Federal agencies—not from without.