Treason Or Not Treason?
We have yet another scandal floating around out in the aether, this time regarding the NSA. I’m not giving out a link, if you don’t know about it already, don’t bother reading the rest of this, because you are almost certainly don’t have a pulse, and I’m sure there are better things to be doing in the afterlife than discovering my opinions. (Especially true if you actually get 72 virgins.)
We have a guy, Snowden is his name, who apparently leaked the story about the NSA’s data mining operation, and they are now talking about bringing him up on criminal charges. I want to contrast him, based on what we know right now, with Bradley Manning, who is also up on similar charges because of his release of countless privileged documents.
In Manning’s case, he just leaked everything he could get his hands on, and so I do think that is treason. One of the key reasons he seems to have done this was a video (most of the details escape me) that showed civilians being killed by a US military helicopter, from the choppers FLIR system. If he had released just that, I wouldn’t be calling him a traitor. I think those who ‘blow the whistle’ on illegal activities, both private and government, should be protected.
Now, there is some debate about whether these civilians were knowingly killed, or whether it was a case of mistaken identity, or some other kind of mistake. If it was a mistake, it’s still bad, but it’s not criminal. Procedures and the ROE might be at fault, but civilians suffer and die in war, that’s just the way it is. I don’t like it, but I don’t like mayonnaise either, and sometimes it still gets put on my hamburgers. It’s the same type of thing, no one meant to do it, there are ways to avoid it in the future, but it’s still an unavoidable part of the burger making process.
But Manning didn’t so much blow a whistle as he did throw the baby out with the bath water, he had no idea what it was re was releasing, didn’t even try to figure it out.
It may be the case that this guy who leaked the info about the NSA program, has done something similar, but all indications at this point seem to be that he just blew the whistle on illegal government activities. So based on what we know now, I don’t think we can call it treason, and I don’t think he should be charged with any other crimes. From my point of view, it seems similar to a situation where a robber breaks into a house, trips on a foot stool, and sues the homeowner.
I contend that the is the scenario we are looking at. The government has broken into our home, tripped over a foot stool, and broke it’s leg, now it’s blaming someone else and ignoring the fact that it happened during the commission of a crime.
It may turn out that this man is a traitor, maybe he should be led to the gallows, we just don’t know at this point, but if nothing new comes to light, I can’t agree that he is a traitor.
Update: Snowden’s story seems to be unraveling a bit, so the truth may not be as clear cut as it has appeared thus far.