Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.), a 73-year-old civil rights icon on par with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., stepped away from the thinking of many of his Congressional peers in a recent interview with The Guardian, in praising whistle-blower Edward Snowden as a man appealing to “a higher law.”
Via The Guardian:
Asked in interview with the Guardian whether Snowden was engaged in an act of civil disobedience, Lewis nodded and replied: “In keeping with the philosophy and the discipline of non-violence, in keeping with the teaching of Henry David Thoreau and people like Gandhi and others, if you believe something that is not right, something is unjust, and you are willing to defy customs, traditions, bad laws, then you have a conscience. You have a right to defy those laws and be willing to pay the price.”
“That is what we did,” he added. “I got arrested 40 times during the sixties. Since I’ve been in Congress I’ve been arrested four times. Sometimes you have to act by the dictates of your conscience. You have to do it.”
Meanwhile, many other members of Congress and President Barack Obama have been less appreciative of Snowden’s actions. Some of his harshest detractors include Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who called the whistle-blower’s actions treasonous, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who called him a traitor.
Last month, Lewis was among lawmakers who voted in favor of a narrowly defeated amendment in the House to end the NSA’s bulk collection of millions of phone records.
President Obama and many others have referred to Lewis as “the conscience of the U.S. Congress” on more than one occasion.
Well, Mr. President, it seems your conscience has spoken.