A Liberal Look: Snowden No Hero
January 6, 2014

 

In 1992, the short-lived ABC investigative news program “Primetime Live”, following up on reports by former employees, revealed that national grocery chain “Food Lion” was engaging in “cost cutting measures” that included cleaning old food that had already been tossed in the dumpster (eg: cutting off the discolored spots on broccoli), washing expired meat with bleach and then repackaging it as fresh, and changing the expiration date on meat that had already been on the shelves past their original expiration date. The grocery chain sued ABC News… not for false reporting (though they claimed such) or defamation, but the fact that reporters “lied on their job applications” to gain access behind the scenes. And in 1997, a jury ruled that two of ABC’s journalists had gone “too far”, ruling in favor of “Food Lion”. I remember how incredulous many of us were to learn that jury deliberations took so long (5 days) because one juror, an elderly woman, stubbornly argued that “Food Lion” had done “nothing wrong” and believed the $5.5 million dollar judgement against ABC News wasn’t harsh enough. There was outrage among many in the public… myself included… that ABC should have to pay anything while the grocery chain got off scot-free. They had done us all a great service by exposing “Food Lion’s” practices, and deserved our praise, not slapped with a huge fine that might discourage similar investigations in the future. With that in mind, I now find myself on the opposite side of many of my fellow Liberals because I don’t consider NSA Leaker Edward Snowden to be “a hero” nor a “Whistle Blower”. With a twinge of false modesty, Snowden himself declared, “I’m neither a traitor nor a hero. I’m an American.” No Mr. Snowden, you’re another Wannabee-cop not unlike George Zimmerman. And now there’s a movement to grant Mr. Snowden “clemency” that would allow him to return to the U.S. if he promises to turn over all the data he took and not leak any further information. And I find myself asking, “How is it I can defend ABC for exposing Food Lion’s criminal practices 21 years ago, but not support Edward Snowden today?” Does that make me a hypocrite? It’s a question I’ve been wrestling with for weeks now because my #1 Pet Peeve in this world are hypocrites, and the last thing I want to be accused of is being a hypocrite (synonymous with “Republican” in my book.)

Clemency for Snowden?

That’s the big question. Why promise Snowden that you won’t prosecute him (“clemency” and “pardon” mean the same thing, requiring an admission of guilt, unlike “amnesty” which is protection from prosecution) in exchange for his cooperation? I’m reminded… fairly or unfairly… of promising a kidnapper or thief that you won’t prosecute them so long as they return your belongings safe & sound. Does Snowden deserve to be compared to a kidnapper? Well, he IS threatening further harm to his “hostage” (National Security) if we don’t meet his demands. So there’s that.

One of my favorite movies ever is 2005’s “V for Vendetta” about a man, once tortured by a brutal fascist regime that had taken over the government by staging a fake terrorist attack, who exacts revenge by murdering each of the government officials that brutalized him, murdered hundreds of thousands, and assisted their takeover of England. He is branded a “terrorist” by the government, and then executes a terrorist attack to bring down the brutal and criminal dictatorship that was repressing its citizenry. The movie has become an “anti-hero anthem” among critics of the government, often donning “Guy Fawkes” masks identical to the one worn in the movie, to hide their identity (though the movie character did so partly because he had been disfigured in a fire, not because he was seeking anonymity). Again, I find myself asking, “How is what Snowden doing any different?” (Listen to the linked clip above in the context of Snowden and it does seem to make a convincing case.)

First off, let’s get a few facts straight. Snowden sought out jobs that would give him access to Top Secret information with the intent of revealing it. He wasn’t an investigative reporter sent on assignment by his Editor. He’s not “Woodward & Bernstein”, he’s James O’Keefe. He decided he wanted to play rent-a-cop to expose the extent of NSA wiretapping that was already in the news. He’s not “V”, he’s George Zimmerman. He hadn’t been personally victimized as far as he knew or suffered any detriment by the government misdeeds (not crimes) that he suspected them of doing. He didn’t act on any specific information. He’s not Daniel Ellsberg, he’s Edward Snowden. Neither Hero nor Traitor, but definitely not a “Whistle Blower”. He sought out a job with the intent to “expose something” but knew not what. He took FAR more Top Secret info than he could possibly have read (over 20,000 documents by some estimates), has threatened to trade on that information for personal gain (seeking asylum), and is now deciding for himself what we do or do not deserve to know.

Even if you disagree with our government’s wholesale warrantless domestic spying program (that began under Bush’s “Patriot Act” and has only grown under Obama), we’re not a brutal fascist dictatorship that rules by fear. That’s the GOP:

Convention of Fear

The 2004 Republican National Convention

Snowden isn’t “exacting revenge” upon the people who “harmed him” personally. And, unlike “V”, in the end (spoiler alert), “V” was willing to die for what he believed in.

Snowden has been described by some on the Right as a “Liberal Hero”. That bugs the crap out of me. Because this is one Liberal that does not consider him a “hero”. And judging by the replies to radio-host Randi Rhodes’ question whether Snowden is a “hero or a traitor?”, many of my fellow Lefties feel the same way.

Before Edward Snowden, there was Private Bradley (turned Chelsey) Manning who leaked to the public the largest collection of Top Secret Intelligence documents in history. Manning didn’t go looking for material to steal. He actually SAW evidence of crimes while on the job that he knew needed to be exposed (most notably the “Baghdad airstrike” video), released the information, accepted responsibility and then stood trial. Snowden’s case is the exact opposite in every instance.

On Fox “news” Sunday yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul cited former Director of National Intelligence “James Clapper” who lied to Congress last March when he testified that the government does not collect “any type of data on hundreds of millions of Americans.” Turns out that was a total lie, and it is only because of Snowden’s leaks that we now know this not to be true. Unsurprisingly, Paul says he does not defend Snowden’s actions and believes he needs to stand trial. This is another of those rare times where Paul & I agree. Snowden’s revelations HAVE exposed some great misdeeds by our government. I shall not deny that. But do the ends justify the means? The 1st Amendment doesn’t protect “Whistle Blowers” from prosecution and being held responsible for their actions. I think that was the lesson we all tried to explain to “Duck Dynasty” fans two weeks ago defending cast member Phil Robertson who was (as it turned out, temporarily) fired after being caught on a viral video going on a jaw-dropping homophobic rant that offended hundreds of thousands (if not millions). Fans of the show protested that Robertson’s “Right to Free Speech” had been “violated” by the network, and it took Liberals like myself to point out that “free speech” is not “freedom from consequences”. Even Fox “news” Sunday shocked me when the entire panel took the side of “A&E” over defenders of Mr. Robertson (a leading Fox demographic), pointing out that “the government” isn’t suppressing Robertson’s ability to speak, he can still go out and say whatever he wants, just not on his employers TV show (at least not then, but in an amazing show of spinelessness, A&E rehired Robertson following a torrent of redneck outrage.)

So does the fact that some good has come from Snowden’s revelations negate the way in which he came by that information? As in the “Food Lion” case I spoke of earlier, exposing Food Lion didn’t aid those who wish to harm us. Unlike Snowden’s revelations, lives were not put at risk by ABC’s revelations. ABC’s reporters weren’t vigilantes operating on their own seeking personal glory, and when the s#it hit the fan, they accepted responsibility as their network went to trial. So, No, I don’t consider myself a hypocrite for defending REAL “whistle blowers” like ABC News or Private Manning while condemning the actions of Edward Snowden. I hope you agree.
 

Snowden trading on secrets

Note: I added a new video to our “FREE MOVIES” section: “Freedom Fries: And Other Stupidity We’ll Have to Explain to Our Grandchildren”; a look at the linking of “Patriotism” to “Consumerism”. Enjoy!

 


 

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January 6, 2014 · Admin Mugsy · 2 Comments - Add
Posted in: Crime, Rants, Scandals, Seems Obvious to Me, Unconstitutional

Comments
  • Grant in Texas January 6, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    As a registered Republican until age 33, didn’t like it that one had to be of one mind or else labeled a RINO.  Don’t like ideologues in the Democratic Party either.  I have several PURE “progressives” as Facebook friends and have to be neutral since most of my family and childhood mates tend to support the Tea Party.  I joined that social site to see pictures of friends’ growing families and keep up with their careers and not to have some use MY page to preach their politics or religion.  I’ve already been “unfriended” by a “brothers forever” pledge brother of 55 years because he deducted from a statement I must have made that I am no longer the YAF member he remembered from college.  I have never seen such a partisan divide in our nation in my lifetime living under 13 presidents now,  It didn’t seem to be this bad even in the tumultuous 60’s.  I am finding as a Democrat now, you either take the “right” side on issues like GMO’s, Keystone pipeline, drones and now Snowden or you are NOT a REAL progressive in the minds of some.  As far as Snowden, as a child of the 1930’s I am glad he wasn’t around during WWII or else we might all be speaking German or Japanese now.

     
  • Grant in Texas January 8, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    Adding to my list of “loose lips” is former Sec. of Defense Bob Gates.  In an atmosphere of hoped-for bipartisanship, Obama elected to keep on a left-over from the Bush administration and it has backfired. Hate seeing people leaving a high paying job to then turn on their former bosses, revealing privileged information best kept until they are out of office.  I am sure Karzai knows that he was not a favorite of President Obama, but probably didn’t expect to hear it from a big mouth out to make a buck from a book.  Gates did no favors for Hillary Clinton nor Joe Biden, either. 

     
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