Espionage is a word most commonly associated with a ‘James Bond’ type hero risking life and limb for queen and country. Despite his heroic efforts Edward Snowden is being treated less like James Bond and more like Pussy Galore.
In early 2013 Snowden leaked millions of classified documents revealing that the NSA had been collecting metadata from citizens private phone calls and emails, violating the fourth amendment to privacy.
When asked why he did it by the Guardian Snowden replied, “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them”.
From the moment the news broke, Snowden has been criticized, ridiculed and threatened. He has been called a traitor, a thief and possibly the most famous whistleblower ever. The actions of Edward Snowden have provided a great service to the American public and should be regarded as groundbreaking and above all necessary.
As in the case of past whistleblowers, like Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden must brace the storm that is American ignorance.
The government hasn’t learned from Daniel Ellsberg exposing the atrocities of America’s illegal war in Vietnam , they are still gavel happy and willing to charge any whistleblower with espionage.
Snowden is just like Chelsea Manning, who in 2010 stole and released almost a million articles of classified military data documenting unarmed civilian deaths, uninvestigated civilian deaths and torture to Wikileaks.
According to The Guardian in 2013 Manning was sentenced to serve 35 years in military prison for espionage and Snowden is seeking a presidential pardon for the same charges, even though the leaks have actually changed U.S. law.
Newsweek reported that since Snowden exposed the violations to the fourth amendment the Patriot Act has been replaced with the rights-preserving Freedom Act (RPFA). The RPFA specifies the amount and type of data the government can collect. The fact that Snowden’s revelations alone had such positive change proves he’s twice the hero James Bond can ever be.
Daniel Ellsberg the man who leaked the Pentagon papers spoke of Snowden to NBC news and said, “Edward Snowden has done more for our constitution in terms of the fourth amendment than anyone else I know”.
As President Obama prepares to leave office, a time in which most presidents often pardon,supporters of Snowden are hopeful that he might be in the President’s plans.
“Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but perhaps this is why the pardon power exists — for the exceptions, Snowden said in an interview with the Guardian “For the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, and when we look at the results, it seems obvious that these were necessary things.”
According to rbth.com Snowden has 1 more year left on his permit in Russia upon conclution he may be forced to return to the U.S and face charges.
Pardonsnowden.com has been set up to generate awareness for Snowden’s pardon request. The site flashes a countdown of Presidents Obama’s days in office, as well a list of all the prominent Snowden supporters and an option to donate to the campaign.
The website is in partnership with some of the world’s best known civil rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union. Hope is far from lost for America’s most prolific whistle-blower.
Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning did commit a crime, and Edward Snowden will most likely be punished in the same manner as Manning. The contributions that both have made to the American psyche is invaluable. Punished as they may be, to the American public they should be regarded as the forerunners in a new era of consciousness, one where the government can no longer be blindly trusted and its citizens are careful.
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