Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Whistle Blows Snowden into Injury Time?

I like whistleblowers. I dodged a military career because I had read enough to know that generals do not like to hear you say, "Sir, that is the dumbest idea I've ever heard." No one told me that ambassadors don't like it either.

But governments need to be reminded every once in a while by whistleblowers that all of their employees are also taxpayers and voters and citizens - and at least some of them will live up to those obligations by calling out the government when it forgets who it is supposed to serve. Some of these people are just cranks but some are genuine whistleblowers and their efforts force a change in how we do things and how our government does things.

Snowden seems to be moving beyond that role and appears increasingly to be simply the guy who didn't get it and didn't fit in. It may be that he will yet turn out to be the Daniel Ellsberg of government eavesdropping - but the jury is still out on that.

Do I think that what he has done will help or hurt the US? Yes - on both. Do I think he should be punished under the law? Yes. One of the things about being a whistleblower versus a mere crank, is that the whistleblower stands up and takes the chance that his eventual punishment under the law will be mitigated by a general conclusion that he or she has actually done both government and citizenry a public service. I realized a long time ago that one person can accomplish anything - as long as they are also willing to pay the price.
This post appeared earlier today on The Military Philosopher on Face Book, inspired by this article from Foreign Policy: 
Whistleblowers: Thanks for Nothing, Snowden
When Edward Snowden first started revealing secrets about the National Security Agency's massive surveillance operations, the small community of U.S. government whistleblowers and their advocates publicly leapt to Snowden's