The Edward Snowden case is a fascinating look at the changing political climate in America. People who base their political outlooks on the Constitution are up in arms. The outrageous invasion of privacy is nothing new but is, all the same, alarming. I cannot support any policy that allows the government to freely spy on Americans not suspected of a crime.
The main question that seems to have emerged among the public debate appears to be "Is Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor?"
One response you’ll likely hear from someone under 30 years old is, "I have nothing to hide, so I don’t care about privacy." Sadly, this person doesn’t have an answer based on principles or constitutional beliefs. Instead, they use their First Amendment right to try to restrict their Fourth Amendment rights. This American cares so little about their own rights that they believe everyone should relinquish their guaranteed rights, as well. I suppose that is one way to honor the ultimate sacrifice by generations of soldiers.
This is the worst kind of U.S. citizen. This voter gets lulled into the belief that they must be forced to choose between privacy and security. This is a fallacy and no such choice needs to be made.
Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself what Senator Obama described here as a "false choice." While we’re at it, let’s have a look at what Senator Biden said about this subject in 2006. I agreed with both senators then and I still agree today. I wonder if having absolute power has had anything to do with their changes in political principles?
On the flip side, many people are saying Snowden is a hero. They say that having someone come out and make the American public aware of injustices and overreaches by a rapidly expanding and intrusive government is a good thing. These people would point to a soldier being punished for not executing what he would consider an unlawful order as an apt comparison.
Treason is defined as the betrayal of one's own country by waging war against it or by consciously or purposely acting to aid its enemies. Common sense would dictate that if Snowden revealed the NSA programs to Americans, to be guilty of treason the American public would have to be the enemy of the United States government. Is this the case, yet?
When carefully weighing the evidence, I don’t think Edward Snowden is guilty of treason any more than the colonists in 1773 were guilty of treason in the Hutchinson Letters Affair. Unless you’re a keen student of history, do yourself a favor and click on that Hutchinson link. You’ll find out why the colonists were so concerned about having their privacy protected from an intrusive government that they made a special amendment on the topic.
In reality, the more the government uses the media to smear Snowden, the more I tend to believe the story he is peddling. In fact, unless further details emerge that somehow link the Snowden leaks to American deaths, I tend to think he has made a positive contribution to the American people.
By itself, the intrusive snooping of the NSA is not my primary reason for alarm. I’m more concerned with a government that violates my Fourth Amendment right to privacy while using the information it obtains to target political enemies. This is unacceptable, regardless of political affiliation. Once this type of behavior is accepted, democracy is dead.
In America, the executive branch works with their political opponents to find common ground. It doesn’t spy on them and then target these same political opponents for elimination. I propose we leave that type of political action in the annals of Europe history where it belongs.
John Mumper is married with two young daughters. He was born in Wisconsin and grew up on various types of farms throughout the state. John was educated at UW-Whitewater with degrees in Political Science and History and has traveled extensively throughout the world.
Today, he works closely with various types and sizes of manufacturers and building products suppliers as an outside salesman. In his spare time, he enjoys the Milwaukee Brewers, Green Bay Packers, politics and brewing his own powerful beers.