Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Snowden: Debate Continues Whether He's A Hero or Traitor or Both

Terrorist In U.S. Gets Why NSA Spying Such A Complicated Issue...The Onion

  • While The Onion is a satirical publication, the headline above summarizes the debate currently going on regarding Edward Snowden's revelations regarding NSA's surveillance activities. In fact, the debate is also making strange bedfellows. On one side, we have Glenn Beck siding with the likes of Michael Moore and Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame calling Snowden a hero.  On the other side, we have Republican Representative Peter King and Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein calling for Snowden's prosecution. So who is right?
  • The fact is both are right. While I don't like describing Snowden a "hero" (a word applied much too often to those who have not earned the honor), his disclosures have forced us to debate the issues of security vs. our freedoms and liberty (as I wrote about in my previous post). He also violated his oath to up-hold the Constitution.
  • On the other hand, I also find it disturbing to see many referring to someone as a "hero" who revealed some highly classified data and information.  As far as I know, his actions qualify as espionage. In other words, he revealed classified information without permission. He violated his oath to up-hold the Constitution. I also found it very strange and unusual that he would go to  Communist China for refuge, the country that has one of the worst human rights records in history.
  • Considering this debate or dilemma,  he's has done the country another favor. We now know NSA, in addition to the IRS, might have violated the Fourth Amendment. That's yet to be seen. However, all of these apologists for the actions of the NSA, appear to have forgotten history. In 2008, ABC News reported on the NSA's listening to PRIVATE phone calls of our troops overseas. So I raise the obvious question: if it was done once, who is to say it has not been done before? In other words, all of these folks who keep telling us it cannot happen are wrong. In fact, in USA Today, the paper reports that Snowden's ability to extract sensitive date from the NSA comes as no surprise to security personnel. "It's a dirty secret in IT that you can have thousands of people in the IT layer with the ability to survey all of your data, " said Udi Mokady, CEO of Cyber-Ark.
  • And I've asked the question on several occasions: if the NSA is so good at what they do (and, in most instances they appear to be), how did they let Snowden slip through their security fingers?
  • Whatever your opinion is of all these scandals, I tend to agree with Peggy Noonan's position when she wrote referring to the IRS scandal, "Details reveal that attacks were coordinated, political, terrifying." While the NSA scandal may not be political, the revelations certainly appear to be terrifying to most Americans. It's another reason this debate needs to be continued. It needs to continue not only to help many of us reconcile the dilemma we face, but it's needs to continue for the sake of our country. And, right now, we're not going in the right direction.