Edward Snowden: “If I had Revealed What I Knew… to Congress, They Would Have Charged Me with a Felony”

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Edward Snowden’s decision to expose the unconstitutional spying on every American, and by in large the world, by the NSA. Some call him a traitor for his actions while others call him a hero. Regardless of which term you apply to him, the main issue becomes the unconstitutional action of our government against its own citizens. Everyone can agree that not all spying is a bad thing; governments have been using many means to spy on each other to gather information on a variety of subjects from technological advances to military movements and strategies. However, when spying by the government is done indiscriminately for frivolous reasons totally unrelated to any issue involving securing or protecting the nation, the action has overstepped the accepted and practiced standard.

In a recent online session with Courage Foundation, Snowden, speaking from Russia, stated not all spying is bad and the United States has an opportunity to take the lead in acceptable targeted surveillance standards.

According to Snowden, “The biggest problem we face right now is the new technique of indiscriminate mass surveillance, where governments are seizing billions and billions and billions of innocents’ communication[s] every single day. This is not done because it’s necessary – after all, these programs are unprecedented in US history, and were begun in response to a threat that kills fewer Americans every year than bathtub falls and police officers – but because new technologies make it easy and cheap.”

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It has become “easy and cheap” to collect data due to new technology so our government just sweeps up everything. The government could be called “the Hoover” of information gathering. Personally, I would rather wax my legs than search a vacuum cleaner bag full of dust, dirt, cat and dog hair, and bacteria for that earring I might have lost behind the couch. It’s much more palatable to move the couch and search with a flashlight even though vacuuming is easier and quicker. Of course, there’s always the possibility I didn’t lose that earring behind the couch but somewhere else that with careful consideration of other information would be discovered without having to vacuum the entire house and search through a dirty bag. Maybe the time saved using the easy method would outweigh the disgusting, eye-watering, sneezing, coughing fit of searching that dirty disposable vacuum bag – not.

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But, this is the government view – collect it all then search through the numerous data about shopping trips, cooking recipe swaps, missing a loved one, meeting friends for dinner, meeting a person for the first time and having that dreaded colonoscopy you have been putting off for months in order to find that one, mind you one, incident of terrorism that threatens America on a national scale. Or, have they even found one with all the billions of billions of bits of data they have to search?

Supposedly gathered to find “threats against America,” this data has the potential to be misused by the government against innocent Americans who exercise free speech and disagree with the current agenda set by this administration. Now while some may believe that if you are not doing anything wrong there should be no reason for concern, these individuals are more than welcome to share their most secret phone conversations with their best friend with everyone else. If someone is not willing to do that voluntarily, then why is it acceptable for this information to be obtained involuntarily? Everyone has skeletons in their closet that would cause embarrassment which could be used as a means of control – think members of Congress, think political adversaries, think conservatives.

These are issues the government would like to “sweep under the rug,” (pardon the pun) and focus on the actions of Edward Snowden allowing the debate of whether he is a whistleblower or a traitor to continue.

News reports have surfaced claiming Snowden tricked or coerced other contractors to help him obtain the information he passed to Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald. Snowden denies these allegations stating “they are wrong.” Recently, Mike Rogers and Dianne Feinstein alleged Snowden had help from foreign spy entities in obtaining the information released. It seems anything and everything is being used to divert the attention away from the government wrong-doing to the actions of a man who could no longer stand by while Americans’ freedoms were being violated.

A more appropriate term in times past for this type of exposure would be “whistleblower.” So, why is not Edward Snowden termed a whistleblower by the government and offered protection under the Whistleblower Protection Act? According to Snowden, the current version of the Whistleblower Protection Act, signed into law by Obama in 2012, makes his return to the US under this law impossible.

According to the Guardian:

Snowden, who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, said he had made “tremendous efforts” to report NSA abuses to colleagues, but due to the limitations of the Whistleblower Protection Act – which does not cover contractors – he had little choice but to go to the press.

“If I had revealed what I knew about these unconstitutional but classified programs to Congress, they would have charged me with a felony,” he said.

So, if better whistleblower protection laws had been place, according to Snowden, he might not have had to leave the country, be charged with espionage, and be living in a foreign country under political asylum. Maybe Dianne Feinstein would care to weigh in on this as she indicated some time back that Snowden could have come to her committee with this information. Sorry, Feinstein, you are not the epitome of the doting grandmother who would listen to the troubles of a grandchild faced with problems then work to solve them much less the defender of justice and the Constitution. While Feinstein may see herself as the “Wonder Woman” of this Injustice League, which is a picture I care not to entertain.

Snowden suggested that a process of taking “reports of wrong-doing to real, independent arbiters rather than captured officials” would prevent situations like his from occurring. Whistleblower laws should protect those, regardless of where employed, who expose government wrong-doing and constitutional violations.

I have a better suggestion: the government needs to stop arbitrary unconstitutional spying on innocent Americans. Obama nor the criminal Congress and unconstitutional alphabet agencies would ever accept that since the easy road is less fuss and all this spying is done with good intentions. Well, the road to hell as they say is paved with good intentions and it seems America is fast traveling the easy paved good intention road.

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