The question many people are asking themselves is whether whistleblower Edward Snowden is a criminal or a hero. I personally believe that the citizens of the United States deserve to know the truth, which is that their privacy has been invaded by various security networks associated with the U.S. government. If it were a matter of national security, and due process were followed, then yes, Uncle Sam should be able to obtain needed information with a court order. Even if due process were not followed, say in the case of a ticking bomb where time is of the essence and lives are on the line, an intrusion into one’s privacy could be excused. Yet these scenarios are a far cry from what our own government has been up to.
Right now, the central question seems to be whether our right to know about domestic espionage trumps the right of intelligence agencies to maintain secrecy in their work protecting the nation.
Has Edward Snowden gone too far, or has he created a turning point in cyber and national security, opened our eyes and ears, and moved us in the direction of protecting our privacy interests? The answer is directly linked to the scope of the information that the NSA is collecting. Did they really need to capture that conversation you had with your grandma last night? Are we more secure now that the federal government knows that Nana decided to add chocolate chips to her oatmeal cookies instead of raisins?
And what about spying on America’s allies like the German Chancellor or the Brazilian president? Yes, everyone knows that all countries spy, but best not get caught doing it to your friends – especially during peacetime. Worse still, the U.S. was spying on tens of millions of European Union citizens without cause. Those are really the key words to the whole Snowden affair, and why he’s attaining hero status in the U.S.: without cause. The NSA wasn’t caught spying on people whom it had cause to suspect of jeopardizing national security. They were caught spying on all of us, every day.
What Edward Snowden has done is commendable, and organizations such as the NSA need to be supervised. As a nation, we need to thank Snowden for standing up on our behalf and demanding justice. The United States has crossed a constitutional line by listening in to our conversations. We should not have to think that every time we speak on the phone there is someone or some computer on the other end eavesdropping on us. I’m sure that some of these programs have been put in place to protect civilians, but listening in on everyone including the governments and citizens of United States really crosses the line.
Edward Snowden should be protected by the public. He is now trying to extend his visa in Russia, and I really hope he manages to do so. We need more people like Snowden to speak out and tell the public the truth that they deserve to hear. Snowden and others like him need to be protected, not punished. It’s up to the officials the public has elected to stop these intrusive programs and protect those that have raised them to the surface for all to see.