Monday, July 15, 2013

Traitor or Patriot ... J. D. Longstreet

Traitor or Patriot
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet

Whether Edward Snowden is a traitor or a patriot will never have a definitive answer.  At least -- that is my opinion.

No matter what happens from here on in, some will declare him a traitor and others a patriot.  It is the way of things.

I found it a bit disconcerting, to say the least, that he was supposedly laying bare secrets many of us had known from as far back as around 2006.  Heck, I thought everyone already knew the NSA was grabbing and storing all that data on us.  I just assumed they were filing every little jot and tittle of my e-mails away in some NSA dungeon somewhere for safe keeping in case I should ever get out of hand, so to speak.

Today, Snowden has set the world on fire spilling non-secret secrets.  How is that possible?  It just seems strange to me.

Is Snowden a spy?  I don’t think so.  I have no more information than anyone else living here in my swamp, but the feeling I have is that IF he is a spy, then he would be an “accidental spy” meaning that I don’t think he began by intending to spy on his country for a foreign power. That would make no difference in a court of law – nor should it.

As you can clearly see, I am torn. I am grateful that the curtain has been drawn back and now we can know, for sure, that our government IS spying on us. I am not happy about he manner in which that was achieved. 

In my family a tattletale was frowned upon.  I mean -- SERIOUSLY! It was considered dishonorable.  It was considered so bad that if myself, or one of my siblings, told on the other, the one telling to the parent was the sibling punished.  It was considered THAT dishonorable.

A whistle-blower IS a tattletale.

Then, too, I am concerned that a man of Mr. Snowden’s youth, education, and worldly experience could get so close to official secrets of the nation.  Seems to me that that, in itself, is a threat to national security. How did that happen?  Maybe there is something to the books we’ve read, and the movies we have seen, in which the government hires overly adventurous computer experts and hackers to work for various clandestine agencies of the government -- or go to jail. Maybe that’s the over-reaching of my overactive imagination, but it DOES make one wonder.

Ofttimes one can get a measure of the accuracy of a "whistle-blowers" report by the effort put forth by the agency having the light shone upon them to diminish the person blowing the whistle. There DOES seem to be a discernible effort by the US to do just that.  That, too, gives me pause and causes me to wonder.

Mr. Snowden denies being a spy for China. But it is not quite clear why, exactly, he fled to Hong Kong, of all places, and chose to surface there.  Hong Kong, does, in fact, belong to China, once again, after the British gave it back a few years ago.

You know, there is a chance that Mr. Snowden is everything he says he is.  It is entirely possible that he is motivated by love of country. Multiculturalism has so infected us now that we have difficulty recognizing real patriotism when it smacks us right between the eyes. Even my words here are strewn with doubt.

Whatever the final outcome of all this, methinks it would be a grand idea to have a thorough investigation of all our national security agencies to determine if they are spying ONLY on those they are legally allowed to spy upon, and, we need to look carefully at the thousands of government "contractors" working for those agencies to learn how they get to be government contractors in the first place.  How, and to what degree, are they vetted? What are the educational requirements and the work experience required for employment as a government contractor in ANY of the US national security agencies?

And finally we, the American people, need to lean on Congress and tell them, in no uncertain terms, that we do not approve of the spying on US citizens in any program such as that called "Prism" or any other such program that eavesdrops on the lives of American citizens.  Let them know that we take the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution very seriously and we expect the government to adhere to it one hundred percent. 

In the end, it may turn out that whether Mr. Snowden is a traitor or a patriot will make no difference and, in fact be of little importance.  If nothing else, his actions have brought all this out into the light of day and ignited a national and an international conversation about governments spying on their own citizens. There can be no doubt this confab was way overdue, especially in the US.

I'd like to see, although I don't expect it, the "Prism" program shut down and the huge data storage center in Utah shut down and padlocked or even sold to a private company in any kind of business except the intelligence business. I'd also like to see the Patriot Act repealed as well as the NDAA, which establishes funding levels for the various agencies in charge of our national defense.

There MUST be a better way!  Surely we have learned people at the highest levels of our government who can formulate a superior method of gathering intelligence and paying for the expense involved.

Most importantly, the US government must recognize that it cannot continue to violate the constitutional rights of its citizens.  There are consequences to both the government and its citizens for the government's continued usurpation of powers.

It must stop -- and it WILL -- one way or another.

© J. D. Longstreet

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