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Edward Snowden: Hero or Traitor? [RT]

July 1, 2013

While the topic above was part of the discussion, we actually had a freewheeling discussion on everything from Snowden to MF Global, from corporate taxation to the financial impact of DOMA, and from bit coins to the frightening lack of privacy we have.

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  • Mark Levine July 1, 2013 3:01 pm

    This dichotemy has been presented by the media. Actually, I agree with you it is more grey than black and white.
    Snowden didn’t tell me much of anything I didn’t already know. I fought against the Government possession of metadata without a warrant back when I worked on the USA-PATRIOT Act. And I was quick to disclose more than eight years ago when the Bush Administration was shown to have spied on hundreds of millions of Americans without a warrant. My TV show for more than five years has begun with the phrase: “The President believes he can spy on two hundred million Americans without a warrant. Has he read this document (indicating the Constitution) which he has sworn to uphold?”
    Although Bush acted without any statutory or Constitutional authority from 2001-06, various FISA and PATRIOT Act reauthorizations have made what he did and what the Government is currently doing statutorily legal (though I still contend it violates the Fourth Amendment).
    My general rule is that you are a traitor if you expose the names of spies or disrupt an on-going operation designed to find information from or disrupt the activities of our enemies. By that description, Dick Cheney, Stephen Kim (if it is true what has been alleged he said to Jim Rosen), and Bradley Manning are traitors.
    You are a whistleblower hero, in my view, if you expose Government illegality or misconduct. Thomas Drake is a hero in my view, as is Mike German (the former FBI Agent I interviewed on my show).
    Snowden did not disrupt an on-going operation in the sense of exposing spies, although he may have harmed an operation against very stupid terrorists who did not realize what you and I knew — that the Government has been spying on our metadata for a long time. Did he expose illegality or misconduct? I believe he sort of did. He made it clear that were few safeguards to prevent renegade NSA members from spying on individual Americans without a warrant who have committed no crime. Yet as I said, I believe the program is statutorily, if not constitutionally, legal.
    I’m glad we are having this discussion and we wouldn’t be having it without him — so in that respect Snowden leans toward hero, but he did disclose classified information (leaning toward traitor). The real scandal here isn’t Snowden. It’s the perjury of National Intelligence Director Jim Clapper who denied this is going on. I would prosecute Clapper at least as much as Snowden. Perhaps more, since he is in a position of authority and I believe he knowingly lied to Congress.
    Bottom line: I agree with you and think you made the case well that Snowden is neither hero nor traitor but something inbetween.

  • Bob July 1, 2013 10:02 am

    You present a false dichotomy. He is neither hero nor traitor IMO. We obviously cannot have every federal worker with a security clearance deciding for themselves what should be unclassified, neither can we accept massive overreach of a secretive government. However, so far I’ve not seen anything come out of these leaks that we did not already know or suspect based on previous information and known policies. We knew they were collecting statistics on calls made and we hoped that that did not include reading or listening to conversations — Snowden did not reveal anything different from those assumptions. So why did Snowden think it so important to reveal what we pretty much already knew? Add to that the choices he made for his hiding and we do not see a hero here. No Mandela for sure. But since he did it because he thought he was doing the right thing to make the US a better place also probably makes him something other than a traitor (I don’t think he even qualifies for the legal definition of that in any case for other reasons — war time “adherence to the enemy” is missing, etc…). His charge is only disclosure of classified information. Bottom line is that there is a lot of gray in this case.