By Billy Dennis
From Michael Moore to Glenn Beck, people on both sides of the political spectrum have hailed National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden as a whistleblower and a hero. But make no mistake about it, Snowden is a traitor and a coward, and as such, deserves to be tried as a spy.
Let’s set aside whether or not you agree or disagree with the NSA’s surveillance and metadata storage capabilities.
The debate should be about the constitutionality of the various NSA programs that protect Americans from the asymmetrical threats we face from terrorists and rogue states like North Korea and Iran. However, a little nuance interjected into the debate would be nice.
Let’s discuss the act of stealing the data and scattering the sensitive national security information around the world — in some cases to our own enemies.
Snowden, 29 at the time, didn’t betray his NSA contract and country for humanitarian reasons. Like all narcissists, he did it for his 15 minutes of fame and at the cost America’s security and standing in the world.
If Snowden truly believed what was being done at the NSA violated U.S. law, then he could have pursued a number of avenues that wouldn’t have involved him betraying his country and breaking the law himself. Many sympathetic congressmen and women would’ve happily looked into the allegations he was making.
What exactly did he think the NSA’s purpose was? He must have had some idea as to its mission. My 8-year-old nephew certainly did.
Snowden instead dumped the information into the hands of American journalists. While journalists may have been wiser in how they disseminated information, he does not get to decide who has access to this information.
Snowden does not get to unilaterally decide for himself what is and what is not constitutional. He also does not get to make the decision as to who is qualified to see the information.
In fact, I don’t believe he was even qualified to see the information.
Journalists are certainly not qualified to determine if the information could threaten American lives. Searching for a Pulitzer has, in the past, often meant putting American lives in jeopardy.
Let’s also not forget that Snowden fled with his stolen loot to China and Russia, two countries that are some of the worse abusers of civil rights in the world. Does anyone seriously think China and Russia are giving him sanctuary on humanitarian grounds? Of course, Russia and China now have the information he stole. They are also our biggest rivals in terms of intelligence in the world.
Snowden’s espionage activities will cause untold damage for years.
So when I heard that The New York Times editorial board was recently calling on President Obama to award him amnesty, I was outraged.
That might be the most naïve thing I have ever heard. Even if you believe Snowden is a hero, you must realize the implications of such action. That would set an extremely dangerous precedent.
It would give intelligence officials and military personal carte blanche to decide on their own what orders and protocols they will follow.
What happens the next time a soldier is asked to carry out a drone strike on suspected Islamic radicals and they don’t feel the strike is warranted? Are they going to refuse the orders? Are they going to carry out the orders and then release the particulars to Al Jazeera?
The world is full of narcissists who are desperately looking for the chance to become famous. Giving Snowden amnesty will not only allow the traitor admittance back into the United States, but it will embolden those seeking the spotlight to repeat his actions.