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Return Edward Snowden with honor and a pardon

January 7, 2014

I often disagree with the New York Times’ lead editorials – they’re too  loftily liberal rather than libertarian, which is what I am. But much of the  paper’s recent editorial that defended Edward Snowden got to the core of the  historic public service the former National Security Agency contractor  performed.

In return for all his efforts, President Barack Obama wants to charge Snowden  with espionage and a long prison term, which has caused him to seek refuge  abroad.

And crucial to judging Snowden are the NSA’s mass illegalities, which he  exposed:

“The NSA broke federal privacy laws, or exceeded its authority, thousands of  times per year, according to the agency’s own internal auditor.

“The agency broke into communications links of major data centers around the  world” – including those of our allies against terrorism – “allowing it to spy  on hundreds of millions of user accounts. …

“The NSA systematically undermined the basic encryption systems of the  Internet, making it impossible to know if sensitive banking or medical data is  truly private, damaging businesses that depended on this trust.

“His leaks revealed that James Clapper Jr., the director of national  intelligence, lied to Congress when testifying in March that the NSA was not  collecting data on millions of Americans. (There has been no discussion of  punishment for that lie.)”

At this point, think of how our founders would have judged Edward Snowden.  Imagine how James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Adams would have reacted  to what Snowden has revealed – and continues to reveal – as the NSA’s ever more  massive felonies continue.

They would respond, I believe, with respect and companionship.

As for the NSA’s delight in inventing new ways to even further disintegrate  our privacy in this digital age, Leonard Greene of the New York Post  reported:

“Big Brother is getting bigger. The National Security Agency is hard at work  on a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect  banking, medical, business and government records around the world.

“According to documents unloaded by leaker Edward Snowden, the loose-lipped  former NSA contractor, the agency is secretly (of course) developing a ‘quantum  computer’ that would be able to bypass secure websites, including those hosted  by foreign governments.”

This is “according to an internal document provided by Snowden” that was  given to the Washington Post (“NSA developing computer to crack any encryption,”  Leonard Greene, New York Post, Jan. 3).

Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald, who helped spread Snowden’s revelations,  commented on the young man’s rescuing of our rule of law in an article from  which I first reported on last summer:

“Numerous polls taken since our reporting on previously secret NSA activities  first began have strongly suggested major public opinion shifts in how NSA  surveillance and privacy (invasions) are viewed” (“Major opinion shifts, in the  U.S. and Congress, on NSA surveillance and privacy,” Glenn Greenwald, The  Guardian, July 29, 2013).

Greenwald continued: “A new comprehensive poll released … by (the reliable)  Pew Research provides the most compelling evidence yet of how stark the shift  is.

“Among other things, Pew finds that ‘a majority of Americans – 56 percent –  say that federal courts fail to provide adequate limits on the telephone and  Internet data the government is collecting as part of its anti-terrorism  efforts.’”

And dig this: “‘An even larger percentage (70 percent) believes that the  government uses this data for purposes other than investigating terrorism.’

“Moreover, ’63 percent think the government is also gathering information  about the content of communications.’”

Added Greenwald: “That demonstrates a decisive rejection of the U.S.  government’s three primary defenses of its secret programs: there is adequate  oversight; we’re not listening to the content of communication; and the spying  is only used to Keep You Safe.

“But the most striking finding is this one: ‘Overall, 47 percent say their  greater concern about government anti-terrorism policies is that they have gone  too far in restricting the average person’s civil liberties. … This is the first  time in Pew Research polling that more have expressed concern over civil  liberties than protection from terrorism since the question was first asked in  2004.’ …

“This Pew visual underscores what a radical shift has occurred from these  recent Pew disclosures.”

Furthermore, that awakening news shows Snowden’s key importance to We the  People regaining our self-governance in this republic.

As constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, an alumnus of President Ronald Reagan’s  legal staff, told Peter Baker of the New York Times: “Calling government to  account for breaking the law is a compelling civic duty of all citizens” (“Moves  to Curb Spying Help Drive the Clemency Argument for Snowden,” Peter Baker, New  York Times, Jan. 5).

So how can Edward Snowden’s revelations be considered espionage?

CREDIT TO:  Nat Hentoff / WND.COM



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