When I checked the daily poll at my hometown newspaper this morning the question of the day was: Is the NSA phone surveillance whistleblower a hero or villain? I clicked “hero,” thinking I would be a minority of one. I was wrong. (click through to see how wrong yourself.)
In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution.
Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.
The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: “It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp.”
I agree. In the comments section of this morning’s Marietta Times poll, the first comment asked:
Lets say you have a candy job. Its in of all places.. HAWAII! You have a beautiful young girlfriend. You have a really good retirement portfolio. Why would you ever throw all that away, just to become the most hated man in America? I Still cant figure it out.
Perhaps for the very same reason young men and women choose to serve their nation in our military: love of country that surpasses personal comfort and security.