Earlier today I spoke with foreign policy expert Stephen Yates, who worked for the NSA for several years and served as an adviser to former VP Dick Cheney.
Yates notes that Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the United States, yet it is interesting that Snowden chose there of all places. “To a simple minded-person, it’s close to Hawaii, has a lot of international connections. Maybe someone in a rush thought transportation-wise, this is convenient.”
“Hong Kong is part of the People’s Republic of China, probably the premier surveillance state on the planet. This guy has to be one of the stupidest humans I’ve ever heard of,” says Yates. Yet in terms of Beijing using him for intel, Yates remarks “They probably have better intel on us than this guy can offer.”
Yates says it is very coincidental that this occurred the same week that the President Obama met with China’s President Xi Jinping where the dominant topic of discourse was cyber warfare. “The disadvantage was of his [Obama’s] own making … He declared the war on terror over abroad but then wants to apply some of the most aggressive, extraordinary measures at home on his own citizens.”
Others have made the false equivalence between the USPS and what the NSA did, except the NSA mined private data from private entities. Americans who use the postal service do so knowing that they are submitting their information to a government-run entity that will see their location, partner in discourse, and deduce the nature of the correspondence (wedding invite? Christmas card?). They’re absolutely not the same thing.
The idea that Americans are innocent until proven guilty is woven into the DNA of our civil liberties. What we’re told by lawmakers and their apologists is that their pansified way of dealing with threats, the choking political correctness, their outright impotence means that we as free citizens must shoulder the burden of limited privacy rights by way of a program that has no demonstrable record of success. Make no mistake, that’s what this is: because of political correctness we all get profiled. The expectation of privacy is now suspicious. If you want privacy that must mean you’ve something to hide. It’s lazy enforcement of law. It’s lazy preemption. It’s offensive.
I am entitled to my privacy. I’ve a right to be secure in my effects, my correspondence, unless law enforcement can produce probable cause and a warrant to violate my privacy. If we were all using government-run forms of communication wholly subsidized by American taxpayers, I could better see an argument for federal monitoring.
But we aren’t.
So I don’t.
No one is demanding that everyone trust the guy and only time will tell if he’s a traitor or a saint. I’m going to wait for this story to play out a bit more before deciding that Snowden is a devil damned to a traitor’s reputation. This isn’t to say that I don’t have questions. The questions I have about Snowden at the moment pale in comparison to the questions I have for our own government — especially those who are still, at this moment, defending the mass surveillance of innocent American citizens in the name of a security that has eluded them.
What came first, the chicken or the egg? The government’s illegal abuse of power of the whistleblower who rats them out? Is it illegal to rat out blatantly illegal activity by our government?
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