Thankful for Edward Snowden?
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The Holidays are here. A prepackaged X-mas was already shoved on to store shelves before we had time to recover from Halloween. But before we are thrust into yet another greed driven melee over yet another black Friday discount-palooza, millions of Americans will take the rare opportunity to gather with friends and family and celebrate Thanksgiving. While there are many things we have to be thankful for and surely a great many more that will slip our mental checklist just as we share what we are thankful for, I would like to offer an addition to the list for public consideration. That is I would like you to consider being thankful for Edward Snowden. In the same spirit that brought us the timeless parable, “don’t kill the messenger,” I believe it is the right of the American people to know that programs like X-Key Score, Prism, Lovelace and even Egotistical Giraffe are being operated by our tax dollars. While some analysts would argue Mr. Snowden’s actions have considerably weakened America’s intelligence gathering capabilities, I would contend with another parable, “knowledge is power” and while he might have undoubtedly weakened the N.S.A.’s abilities, he has also in the same right made “we the people” more powerful. And I’m not the only one who thinks so …
A group located in Washington D.C. has purchased full-length bus ads brandishing Mr. Snowden’s face apparently thanking him for his series of leaks.
That’s the concept behind the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund’s plan to put the message “Thank you Edward Snowden!” on a District bus along with a blown up photograph of the former N.S.A. contractor. The Group’s website, ThankyouEdSnowden.org states, “The U.S. government is threatening to send whistleblower Edward Snowden to prison for life.” The organization says on its website, “But millions stand behind him. We thank him for standing up and telling the truth, at great personal cost. Join the movement to defend our constitutional rights and right to privacy.”
The government has charged Snowden with unauthorized communication of classified material under the Espionage Act. He has revealed classified details about the N.S.A.’s global surveillance networks through a series of slides released to reporter Glenn Greenwald as well as contacts at the Washington Post, New York Times , and the Guardian. A Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokeswoman confirms that an ad, sponsored and paid for by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, will be placed on one Metrobus for four weeks beginning on or around Nov. 25. Though it’s not just this group that has weighed in favor of Mr. Snowden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a host of other E.U. leaders voiced concern over revelations of N.S.A. activity, their voices were even echoed recently by President Bill Clinton.
In a Beijing hotel ballroom, former President Clinton (who was in Beijing for meetings with China’s President Xi Jinping), was questioned about Edward Snowden and the ex commander and chief skillfully diverted an obvious attempt to force him into criticizing the now infamous whistle blower. Instead he said he believed it was “perfectly legitimate” for the US government to search “big data pools… to see if there are patterns of communication between certain numbers or sites and others known to be in the possession of terrorist groups.” He continued by further stating, “The question is when, if ever, is the government justified in going beyond the patterns to listen to telephone calls, read emails, read text messages, and who’s supposed to decide that? Mr. Snowden obviously thought that it was excessive.”
He then added, “[The fact that Snowden was able to receive a top-secret security clearance despite having only been a contractor for several months] made me think that we are on the verge of having the worst of all worlds: We’ll have no security and no privacy.” Clinton further added, “I think the U.S. and China and everybody else, we’re going to have to be more upfront with each other and probably with our own people about what it is we’re looking for and listening to.” Of course, it is unlikely that anything will change, much to the detriment of U.S. companies with international operations such as Google, who recently lost a court case connected with N.S.A. surveillance and now must pay a settlement of some 17 million dollars to several states in part due to the blowback resulting from the Snowden revelations. Whether this will be a limited, one-time event remains to be seen. But one thing is clear; in order for a democracy to properly function “we the people” must be armed with the proper information on how the government which represents us behaves. President Clinton as well as millions of other Americans and other World leaders have voiced approval for this man’s actions, I hope that this Thanksgiving maybe others will discover more information or see those ads and also become…Thankful For Edward Snowden, but until that day, I hope logic will prevail.
Pictures Featured from top to bottom: Edward Snowden receiving the Sam Adams Award, Bus Ad mockup by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, Former President Bill Clinton meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping
Link to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund’s site