Will NSA Whistle-Blower Be Hanged In Public Square As Monument To Federal Omnipotence?

Edward Snowden

National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been accused of treason by a handful of lawmakers and media pundits for making public the Federal government’s habit of collecting Americans’ electronic communications data.

But Snowden didn’t reveal anything that many Americans were not already aware of or, at least, were suspicious about. The young insider simply blew the whistle in a way that disallowed what is America’s truest equivalent to Oceania’s Ministry of Truth to drown him out.

While George Orwell’s 1984 mind molders worked in a sinister centralized location where they manipulated all mass-produced information to fit the government agenda, the reality of America’s information manipulation apparatus is far less centralized, if only slightly less sinister.

Further compounding his likelihood of being vilified as a seditious terror-enabler has been Snowden’s decision to head for Hong Kong in an attempt to elude government prosecution for as long as possible after he provided NSA information to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald for publication.

Over the weekend, three previous NSA whistle-blowers, who have spent years informing Americans of the spy agency’s massive collection of citizen data, sat down for a roundtable discussion at the request of USA Today.

Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe are likely three men whom Snowden spent time thinking about before making the decision to make public NSA documents. But his whistle-blowing predecessors largely failed to create a mainstream buzz with complaints of the NSA’s Constitutional abuse. The trio’s failure to garner attention was not because they were failing to present shocking information of totalitarian surveillance; rather, they failed because they — for the most part — followed rules put in place by the system to avoid being snuffed out by the bureaucratic machine.

Each action they took gave government a chance to counteract in the interest of quieting public outrage; and when the power structure tired of attempts to reveal NSA’s actions, the marked men were easily bound and gagged with red tape.

Binney explains why no one within government will ever recognize a problem and enact change by following the structured patch of revealing problems to the chain of command or other government agencies before putting the information directly in the public square.

“We tried to stay for the better part of seven years inside the government trying to get the government to recognize the unconstitutional, illegal activity that they were doing and openly admit that and devise certain ways that would be constitutionally and legally acceptable to achieve the ends they were really after,” Binney said. “And that just failed totally because no one in Congress or — we couldn’t get anybody in the courts, and certainly the Department of Justice and inspector general’s office didn’t pay any attention to it. And all of the efforts we made just produced no change whatsoever. All it did was continue to get worse and expand.”

Of the three men, Drake is probably most familiar with the dangers of trying to reveal problems with government by going through the “proper” channels.

For his efforts of trying to reveal problems stemming from certain NSA data-collection efforts to his superiors and Congressional investigators, NSA management cut funding to programs under his control at the agency, marginalized him and increasingly scrutinized his every action. Having earned himself a scarlet letter within the intelligence community, Drake attempted a different approach and began communicating with a Baltimore Sun reporter with the condition that he would provide the journalist with no classified information.

The Sun story, lacking revelations of classified information, simply documented the NSA’s continuance of a costly, ineffectual intelligence-gathering program — a $1.2 billion failure that reeked of agency fraud, waste and abuse.

Resultant increased public awareness over how American intelligence officials are using taxpayer money served as a catalyst for a separate major story about the NSA in The New York Times, for which Drake was not a source. The story documented wiretapping and all manner of disregard for American privacy from the highest ranks in the NSA. It also sparked a “leak” investigation that gave government prosecutors a reason to go after Drake — who had done nothing but point out matters of unclassified public interest — for making bureaucrats look bad with the original Sun story.

Drake’s house was raided by FBI agents, and he was forced out of his job at the NSA. The former intelligence official took work at a local Apple computer store and dealt with more than two and a half years’ of harassment by government investigators before the government decided to levy 10 separate charges against him. Five of the charges brought against him were justified under the Espionage Act — a 1917 piece of legislation intended to be used against spies.

Eventually, with help from the Government Accountability Project, Drake was cleared of all charges related to the government’s goal of putting him in jail for “the rest of his natural life.” He pleaded guilty to a simple misdemeanor of “exceeding authorized use of a computer” and was sentenced to one year of probation and community service. While, perhaps, the justice system didn’t completely fail Drake in the end, the government he angered effectively dismantled his career and disrupted his life in terrible ways.

But when Drake spoke about Snowden’s actions on Sunday, he made clear why he is a whistle-blower and why he respects his young colleague’s actions. In his view, revelations like those recently made are likely the only way to get the public to realize just how much privacy has eroded with respect to the Founders’ original intentions.

“He’s an American who has been exposed to some incredible information regarding the deepest secrets of the United States government,” he said. “And we are seeing the initial outlines and contours of a very systemic, very broad, a Leviathan surveillance state and much of it is in violation of the fundamental basis for our own country — in fact, the very reason we even had our own American Revolution. And the Fourth Amendment for all intents and purposes was revoked after 9/11.”

Drake continued with regard to how Snowden should be perceived from a legal prospective: “He is by all definitions a classic whistle-blower and by all definitions he exposed information in the public interest. We’re now finally having the debate that we’ve never had since 9/11.”

The three men see torture, incarceration and probable execution at the hands of the Federal government in Snowden’s future — but say it’s a reality that lawmakers have a responsibility to challenge.

“Now there is another possibility, that a few of the good people on Capitol Hill — the ones who say the threat is much greater than what we thought it was — will step forward and say give this man an honest day’s hearing,” Wiebe said. “You know what I mean. Let’s get him up here. Ask him to verify, because if he is right — and all pointers are that he was — all he did was point to law-breaking. What is the crime of that?”

Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

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  • jon

    The law makers are the ones who are treasonous and should be jailed for running America like they are. Snowden has the Constitution as his pardon for what he did our so called law makers do not.

  • 128517

    The citizens need to take back their country or they will be treated as cattle to be used and slaughtered. Hang the perpetrators

  • ezekiel22


  • Si Vis Pacem ParaBellum

    If what he did brings to light and justice those who break the law, whether it be an agent or the President on the United States. Even lawmakers and our own security agencies should be and need to be held responsible for their actions just like they want to do to all of us!

  • Warrior

    SOOOOO many “investigations”, SOOOO little time! Have you ever given much thought about why all the senate and congressional hearings? Mostly “gubmint workers ” being called upon to testify before a body of other “gubmint workers” about the potential “wrong doing of “gubmint workers”. Every so often, you get a “baseball player” being questioned about his accomplishments! These “busy people” are just soooo damn busy.
    Rick Perry said the most “profound” statement during the last election cycle. “I want to make “gubmint” inconsequential.”

  • John W

    I understand Mr. Snowden’s leaving the country, after all, our government is not any where near honest and it would be in charge of the prosecution against him, to wit, it would use every tactic, even lie, to make sure the man is found guilty. The ones who should be on trial aren’t even in the picture. Those government officials, elected and not elected, screaming traitor need to get a mirror so they can see the real traitors.

  • gunny55

    This guy must know some stuff that Washington doesn’t want us to know. Both the libs and the conservs are in a sweat.

  • agbjr

    Are we NOT a nation of laws? Do we NOT acknowledge the supremacy of the Constitution and with it the Bill of Rights? As free citizens of OUR Republic do we NOT have a duty to uphold OUR God-given rights and publicly call-out those in government who would trample our rights? This matter is not one of treason or even bad judgment; it is a matter of the Constitution. It is about the Constitution!

    “Whatever government is not a government of laws, is a despotism, let it be called what they may.”

    Daniel Webster

  • jim b

    After this is over there will be no more Whistle-Blowing within the Government, EVER! Caesar’s kingdom is crumbling, while Rome burns!

    Ben Franklin remembered:

    “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”.

    This quotation, slightly altered, is inscribed on a plaque in the stairwell of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    But since the majority of the country missed this lesson, and many lessons like it, during their 12 year sentence, ostensibly because the government had it removed from the indoctrination within their progressive education system. And now government tyranny is winning over liberty and freedom. History is doomed to repeat itself, Rome will fall yet again, only quicker this time. Our children’s children will be working for government wages, government housing, clothing, food, and medication, just ask a Russian how well that worked out for them.

    And so my second favorite quote of Ben:

    “A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins”.

  • Carlucci

    How this (heroic) young man could be guilty of “treason” is beyond me. All he did was talk to a newspaper in the U.K. That is not the definition of treason. Jefferson Davis was accused of treason, but it didn’t stick. Has anyone noticed that once the criminal element’s (a.k.a. Fedzilla) shenanigans are exposed, all hell breaks loose and they go on the warpath? Proof positive that the emperor has no clothes……

  • Alex

    Let’s hear the same fervent support for Bradley Manning!

    Press the government to release Manning and award him the Medal of Honor he so rightly deserves1

    • vicki

      Oh my, something that Alex and I agree on.

  • ChuckS123

    Snowden was a hero for revealing/publicizing spying on everyone. However, he’s also a villain for telling, especially details, about hacking China. He should be punished. I hope he doesn’t give any more info like that. I wonder if he’s a typical public school product who thinks America is bad, warmongering, war criminal, racist, etc.

    • rhondareichel

      It’s not as if China doesn’t know they are being hacked…..they hack us constantly too. That’s not news to them.

      • ChuckS123

        Telling how much will help them resist it. Also, I think he gave some details on how.

  • westerling

    The treasonous rogues are members of the Barack Obama government and not Edward Snowden, who is a true PATRIOT, like Patrick Henry.

  • Patriot66

    I thought this information was already known under the Carnivore project. Where it was revealed that NSA had direct links into major internet hubs that copiyed everything for later scrutiny. Is this something different? I’ve known about this for at least 5 years.