Edward Snowden, the NSA Whistleblower who leaked details of a National Security Agency program called “PRISM,” is no hero, but should be pardoned. The reason is that Mr. Snowden talks as if he expects to be hunted, jailed, and punished, perhaps inviting the development of what has occurred: a ground swell of support for his actions, albeit from some questionable corners, like white supremacists. If he is hunted, jailed, and punished, the actions will only make others protest and perhaps try to commit acts of domestic terror – in other words, nothing will change.
But, if Edward Snowden received a Presidential Pardon, the move would be the ultimate take-away of the raison d’etre for the stirred emotions of civil libertarians and white supremacists would be silenced. Snowden would be left alone, become a celebrity on the talk show circuit, and all of this current rancor would fade into black.
Over time, Snowden would be regarded as a hero, but, as happens, that positive point of view would be countered by some negative one, the two would cancel each other out, and we would move on.
Meanwhile, President Obama would have gained a new level of populist popularity, and strengthened the overall stature of the Democratic Party.
That’s the strategy.
Now, here’s why Mr. Snowden is no hero.
First, Edward Snowden was given a high-level security clearance not without some briefing of what it was he would be asked to so, and not without some previous knowledge and experience with the kind of surveillance work he was asked to do at this higher level. He could have quit long ago, and he didn’t have to take the job at Boos Allen Hamilton, a position he held for three months.
Second, if you are surprised to know that the kind of phone data collection work that Edward Snowden says goes on, does, then you’re either not paying attention to events, or are not telling the truth, or really are totally unknowing of your surroundings. The existence of Big Brother has not only been in our popular culture, but there are many news articles and reports in publications like The New Yorker and Vanity Fair about our snoop and surveillance capabilities, and how they’ve improved over time.
And how many movies have we seen that featured the outing and murder of either American or British spies, or both? Can’t remember one? Try this one: Skyfall. Try another: Mission: Impossible.
Third, it’s the very kind of program and technology that has personally saved President Obama’s life many times over. Because he’s America’s first black President, there have been many threats on his life, and on his family’s life, increasing 400 percent over President George W. Bush. And the Guardian UK has reported that President Obama received as many as 30 death threats a day, starting in 2009.
I, for one, want to see President Obama finish his Administration and his life as other Presidents who are white have been able to do. If it takes a secret program (well, not any more) like PRISM to make that so, then so be it.
Finally, the reason why we have increased domestic surveillance activity is because of more and more incidents of domestic terrorism, from the Aurora Theater Shooting to The Oakland School Shooting, to Sandy Hook, and most recently Santa Monica. These events are becoming all too commonplace in America – something has to be done.
From my perspective, Edward Snowden revealed nothing new. He’s not a hero, but he is a Ron Paul supporter who has no formal college education, is a high school dropout, comes from the South, and may very well have harbored white nationalist views at some point in his life. (I don’t know this, but given his background it’s something one has come to expect.) Now, he worked off the taxpayer dime, for the government, only to decide to turn against it just as the President is black.
Now, I know some of you will take issue with my perspective, but where’s the proof to the contrary? I’d have felt much better if Edward Snowden was an Obama supporter and had raised money for and voted for him. But that he did none of that raises suspicions with me, and I am an Obama supporter.
Edward Snowden did not vote for President Obama, and says that he registered with “a third party” but will not tell us which one. Why?
And there’s your negative – that’s something Edward Snowden should be allowed to live with in the public forum, and not in a jail cell. Mr. Snowden’s not a hero, but I don’t want him to become a martyr either.