The Snowden Dilemma

In somewhat of a daze, my wife and I left the theater after watching the movie Snowden. I was quite happy with the movie. It did not seem too bias one way or another and it provided a pleasant story for those who do not keep up with politics or world news. I could not wait to get in the car and start picking my wife’s mind about the issues the movie brought up – only to get stopped by one of those mall venders who pester you to buy something or try some invention of theirs. He got my attention by standing in front of our path and asking, “What movie did you see?” Slightly put off by his action to stop us, I tried to walk around him and muttered, “Snowden”.

 

As most people are when they hear the word Snowden, he was taken aback and asked, “I hear the movie was biased and make him out to be a hero. I think he should be hung – he is responsible for American deaths! What do you think?” I was clearly not wanting to talk to the man – and his question isn’t something that can be answered right there in the middle of a mall – but his clear ignorance of the issues warranted my response. Plus, there are many people who don’t clearly know what Snowden did, or the outcome of his actions, or what should be done with him. the Snowden case will undoubtedly go down as a historical and moral questions that will decide the direction of our nation.

 

Edward Snowden was an extreamly capable and intelligent student. He excelled in his career and was considered a computer wizard at the CIA making him highly desired. Although Snowden loved working at the CIA, he quickly began seeing dubious actions in their international affairs. For example, at his first diplomatic mission in Geneva, he witnessed the CIA successfully bribe the Geneva police and judiciary. Although he did not report this, the whole mission left Snowden uneasy.

 

Later in his career, Snowden began working at the NSA’s Hawaii Regional operations center where he was a system administrator – technically an “Infrastructure Analyst” where he would look for new ways to break into the internet and telephone traffic. This is where Snowden had a problem with his job: although his job was directed at China and North Korea, he witnessed the government using back-door methods of entry into electronic devices of U.S. Citizens and keeping that data unlawfully. Snowden did actually try to express his concerns to officials multiple times – but was warned not to say anything. Snowden has said

The NSA has records—they have copies of emails right now to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks from me raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities. I had raised these complaints not just officially in writing through email, but to my supervisors, to my colleagues, in more than one office. I did it in Fort Meade. I did it in Hawaii. And many, many of these individuals were shocked by these programs. They had never seen them themselves. And the ones who had, went, “You know, you’re right. … But if you say something about this, they’re going to destroy you”

It would seem that the same whistle blowing standards the government holds to corporations does not apply to the NSA. Stuck in a rut, Snowden took drastic actions looking to change the course of surveillance. May 20 2013, Snowden arrived in Hong Kong in a leave of absence to meet with Guardian reporters to leak the information – which was over 1.5 million files. He finally left his hotel room and sneaked through security to board a plane to Russia which was then to take him to Ecuador to live with Wikileak founder Julian Assange. Snowden had had a ticket to Havana, Cuba but did not board his flight saying later in an interview, “I was ticketed for onward travel via Havana—a planeload of reporters documented the seat I was supposed to be in—but the State Department decided they wanted me in Moscow, and cancelled my passport.” Snowden assumed the reason they wanted him in Moscow was to label him a Russian spy. He is still in Moscow today waiting for another place to find asylum.

The idea that Snowden is a Russian spy and released information that has had Americans killed is not found in fact. And the recent election of Donald Trump has made the situation much more clear. Fox News and NBC has heard reports that Russian officials have found that Snowden has no more value to the government and could be a useful bargaining chip for Putin to cozy up to Trump. As a response, Snowden tweeted:

Finally: irrefutable evidence that I never cooperated with Russian intel. No country trades away spies, as the rest would fear they’re next.

A very clear observation. In fact, the Ecuadorian government is feeling the same way about Assange whilst he released Clinton’s emails in the 2016 election. Could this be the end of Wikileaks and whistle-blowing? That lies with the world leaders. No doubt, as long as Snowden has asylum, he will be safe – it is the transportation that is dangerous for him. But one must ask – what would the world be like it the world governments’ secrets cannot be held up to the light? This will be a pivotal question our generation has to answer.

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