“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” —Ben Franklin, 1759
Those of us who defended Edward Snowden in his efforts to expose our government’s illegal data collection activities were vindicated last week, as was Mr. Snowden. In essence, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Snowden was right and our government was wrong. One of the parties lied to us and it was not Edward Snowden.
Remember, Snowden exposed what our government was doing to us and then the government went after him in the most vindictive manhunt since Taylor Swift started back dating.
First, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said under oath before Congress that the government was not spying on us or collecting our phone call data: a lie. Then the government said it had the right to do it and continued doing so. Our courts just ruled otherwise.
All the while, Barack Obama defended the spy program. He has gone from his self-described “most transparent administration in history,” to being the nutty ex-lover who stalks you on the Internet.
Most Americans who are not paying attention to this really do not seem to care: “Oh well, I was not using my civil liberties anyway.”
Men seem more upset than women about Internet and cell phone snooping; we have more browser history that we’d like to remain secret. Women don’t mind Obama’s surveillance. They think it’s nice to have a man listen to them.
Both political parties defended the data gathering, since they were the ones gathering the data. They both called Edward Snowden a traitor. Loosely defined, a “whistleblower” is someone who hurts the other political party; a “traitor” is someone who hurts yours.
As we now finally get to decide the limits of what of ours the government can access from us, a healthy mistrust of government must be foremost. I’d like to think our government would only use the data collected to protect us from terrorism, but the way this White House goes after its enemies makes Nixon look like a piker. The IRS was used to target political opponents, and then “lost” its emails when caught. Harry Reid stood on the Senate floor and knowingly lied about Mitt Romney not paying his taxes. A Fox News journalist was wiretapped. Most troubling, our Justice Department seems more intent on settling racial and political scores than on prosecuting criminals.
Obama’s O-bots have a history of going after whistleblowers who defy him. He long ago ceded any moral high ground on this issue, and Democrats only care about maintaining power. If I were Snowden and heard buzzing overhead, I wouldn’t presume it to be cicadas. “Drone Ranger” Obama could be after another U.S. citizen abroad.
I am still pulling for Snowden as long as he does not give away major secrets. He is the hero here. Premised on ramped up post-9/11 fears, politicians since George W. Bush have built costly, perpetual bureaucracies in Washington. The political class has a vested interest in the spying program continuing: Scare the people, take their money, and build yourself an empire—that is what politicians do.
Don’t believe the self-serving hype that the Feds prevent terrorism with their spying and the trillions of tax dollars they spend. We could not avert the Boston bombing even when Russia gave us a heads up. Nor did they know anything about the two Islamic terrorists who tried to kill the cartoonists in Texas. Local police did their job and shot the guys, with no help from the NSA. Don’t mess with Texas!
At a minimum, what Edward Snowden did was throw a high and inside fastball to back the government off the plate and make it question what it is doing. He has done us a service. Hopefully, he makes the government rethink how it is trampling the Fourth Amendment and the Fourth Estate.
This case might end up in the Supreme Court. Perhaps the NSA, DOJ, Obama’s White House and the IRS didn’t violate any laws in doing what they did to us, but even more troubling is that they did not have to.
What Snowden did embarrassed and angered the political class. But a person does not go to jail for embarrassing our country. If so, Joe Biden would be serving a life term.
(Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com or visit RonaldHart.com)