Merlene Davis: Snowden is a traitor, not a hero

Herald-Leader columnistJune 29, 2013 

Edward Snowden, the man who revealed U.S. intelligence gathering methods to the whole world, is a traitor.

I don't know how you can describe him as anything else.

True, Snowden showed us just how little privacy we have because the government has been gathering phone and data information for quite some time. Supposedly, that information is used to counter potential terrorist attacks, keeping us citizens safer. I'm not convinced that it wouldn't be used for other purposes if the situation called for it, however.

But in this era of digital everything, just how private did you think your phone calls and Internet searches were?

If the IT folks can take control of my computer from two floors down or a couple of countries away, why would I think the government didn't have that same ability to monitor me?

And just what is Siri? Doesn't that technology know a little too much about you? Why do you assume that information just stays in your car or your phone?

So don't count me among the surprised that privacy doesn't really exist. I've always assumed Big Brother was watching, and I don't own a single tinfoil hat. Does it go against everything we believe in and what the U.S. Constitution says the government can't do? Yes it does.

But couldn't Snowden have revealed all that in a different way? Without sleeping with the enemy?

Snowden told not only American citizens and allies they are being watched, but he told our enemies, China and Russia, as well.

National Security Agency director Keith Alexander said that Snowden, who worked for a contractor at that agency, gained access to information that was above his clearance level and then copied everything he found.

Snowden then flew to Hong Kong and reportedly gave a British newspaper and probably China information about the hacking that the United States has done in that country. Then he went to Russia and took up temporary residence in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. I'm sure the Russian government, which is not hailed as a bastion of privacy or humanitarianism, got what it wanted from him as well.

How is what he did so different from what William Colton Millay, 24, did in 2011 when he tried to sell military secrets to an FBI agent posing as a Russian? He was recently sentenced to 16 years in prison, and Russia didn't get a thing.

And what about Earl Edwin Pitts, a former FBI agent, who was sentenced in 1997 to 27 years in prison for selling classified information to Moscow over a five-year period?

Both men are considered traitors.

Instead of selling data, Snowden is giving it away.

You can't tell me Russia and China haven't taken all the information Snowden was carrying and gained a better foothold on this country's intelligence gathering as he stayed with them looking for a new home.

Although Millay and Pitts were traitors for money and Snowden thinks he's being magnanimous by freely sharing the information with the world, the cow pile still smells the same.

In our family, my parents admonished their children to keep family business within the family. If we had a problem with a relative, we were to address that relative or tell a trusted family member who would get the issue settled quicker and more firmly than anyone else could.

It was never acceptable to take concerns to people who held grudges against the family or to strangers.

Snowden did just that.

Can you tell me how thumbing your nose at America while seeking refuge in Hong Kong or Russia or Ecuador will teach this government a lesson?

Now, how will Snowden get the freedom and privacy he sold his soul for? Every country he lands in will assume he will bite the hand that feeds him.

Snowden should have taken his information to an organization or politician in this country who was willing to stand with him as he blew the whistle. There are plenty of them around. He could have started with the Libertarians.

The surprised among us could have then chastised the government and demanded reform. More people would have hailed him as a Paul Revere and his conscience would have been clear.

Instead, he took our dirty laundry to our enemies who have no problem lording it over us and using it against us. When you give the enemy an advantage over your homeland, you become a Benedict Arnold, who also thought he was a true patriot.

I hope Snowden finds happiness somewhere, but I don't think he will ever again have the freedom he experienced in America.

Once you have betrayed your own, no one really trusts you again.

Merlene Davis: (859) 231-3218. Email: mdavis1@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @reportmerle. Blog: merlenedavis.bloginky.com.

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