Diaries Magazine

Edward Snowden is a Goddamn Hero

Posted on the 29 May 2014 by Jillofalltrades @JillDeTrabajos
Can I be super cereal for a sec, guyz?
al gore, super cereal, super serial, south park
I am an account holder at Google, Facebook, and Twitter.  This basically means the government can know everything about me in an instant due to loopholes in privacy laws--in short, a third party can collect all the information it wants on you as long as you give it some kind of vaguely-worded permission when you click "agree"on those long-ass Terms and Conditions pages you never read.  Our constitutional privacy laws are meant to protect us from the government (precisely because a person should be free to express anti-government, anti-establishment, anti-anything opinions in the privacy of his own home without fear of preemptive, "preventative" action by the feds).  But these laws allow that information the government gleans from a third party is legal and can be used to watch you.
Go watch this movie (it's on Netflix):


Come on.  You're reading my blog.  You clearly have nothing better to do.

Soooooooo...that means Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, the phone companies, the internet service providers, the people who run that XXXHOTBABESXXX.com site you frequent--you know, all the people who have a vested interest in knowing every single possible thing about you.
A few people (the kinds of people who actually read those Terms and Conditions pages) started to piece all this together over recent years.  But as much as everyone was pretty sure they were somehow selling their soul to the internet, and a few of us were pretty sure the government was watching us more than we thought, most of us never really bothered to stop and figure out exactly what that meant--and almost no one guessed how far it went.
Then a man who worked a low-level NSA job discovered something terrifying--the government has been watching everything you do.  The NSA has in place (yes, I say has--it hasn't stopped) a system of illegal surveillance over millions of Americans--innocent Americans.  This man found this unconstitutional and dangerous.  He decided that the people needed to know this was happening to them, and he leaked documents to The Guardian proving it.  This ended up being the largest intelligence breach in U.S. history.
Edward Snowden quote constitution
He did not have to go public.  He could have leaked the story anonymously and put the journalists who published it through the awful process of trying to protect their sources.  He could have hidden and hoped no one would figure out it was him.  But he chose to be more than the outlet of this vital information to the American people--he risked himself in order to stand up behind his words; to be the man who was so sure he was doing the right thing that he openly stood up and said it.  He is currently in Russia, which has given him asylum, and over 100,000 Americans have petitioned the President to pardon him, but he is still being asked to return and face criminal charges as a spy.  If he returned and did face those charges, he would be unable to defend himself by the very nature of the issue--the evidence he could use in his defense would be classified information, which would make it not a fair and just trial.  He will probably never be able to return home, and will eventually apply for Russian citizenship.  He has lost his entire way of life, lost his home, and in many, many people's opinions has earned a scathing reputation.  But even the very people who condemn him for his actions are still suddenly paying attention to the government.  Many Americans are extremely concerned and this issue is now broadly and unavoidably in the public eye.  Edward Snowden did a lot more than release the information America needed--he was the whistleblower America needed.
Batman Edward Snowden
The debate rages about whether he was a hero or a traitor--whether he put people in danger by releasing this information, whether he gave terrorists a leg up on understanding the government's security and surveillance techniques, etc.  I see why people are feeling that way.  My husband is a member of the military and frankly, there are all kinds of things that could be leaked (there probably were all kinds of things leaked in the clusterfuck that was Wikileaks--but that's a different story) that could truly endanger him.  But I'll tell you something.
I'm a lot more worried about him being endangered by the government than I am about him being endangered by terrorists.
I understand that we are fighting a "war on terror" and that everyone is afraid.  I understand why we are relying heavily on our government to protect us, and why we want them to have all the power and resources they need to be able to do so.  But that is exactly how bullshit like privacy infraction happens.  Fear.  Look at Soviet Russia for fuck's sake.  Look at Nazi Germany.  Look at most of history, and you'll find that fear has over and over again been the key to the government-control door.

Machiavelli Fear Quote

This is only from, you know, the bible for dictators.

I don't know about you, but I want to live in a world where I can make a private "fuck America" joke without being worried the FBI is going to come knock down my door.  I want to be free to look up whatever the fuck I want on the internet (free access to information, people...book banning sound familiar??) without being pegged as a terrorist and kidnapped and tortured with no legal recourse.  I want to be free to plan a protest without the government spying on it and shutting it down beforehand. 
Yes, I'm afraid of terrorists.  If it weren't for the government doing some amount of surveillance (I believe they caught him with a whole bunch of flagged words like "bomb" and such in emails, and then began communicating with him undercover, and finally got him to basically hold his finger over the trigger to a fake bomb before arresting him), the Christmas tree lighting in my beloved Portland (and some of my friends along with it) would have been blown up by some asshole from Oregon State a few years ago. 

Portland Christmas Tree Lighting Pioneer Square 2007

Thanks, PortlandBridges.com

But I'm far more worried about the government knowing every detail about me, spying on my every move, jumping on my every suspicious word, shutting down my activism, profiling me, and knowing where to find me and my friends and my family at any given moment.  I'm worried that if there were ever a revolution necessary that all the power would be in the hands of the government.  I'm worried that the next generation is being set up to think this kind of invasion is normal and okay.  These are things that I'm truly afraid could and would happen, precisely because they can, and sometimes do, and no one is stopping them.  Except Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden, dork turned hero, spiderman

Classic Dork-Turned-Hero story, a la Peter Parker.

So I say--hero.  It had to be done.  Is it perfect?  No.  But life isn't, and the "right thing" isn't always black and white.  Some people were endangered when they dumped all the tea into the Boston Harbor too, and when they crowded the streets of Cairo, and when they had sit-ins to protest the Vietnam War, and when they spoke out against Apartheid, but all those things were right too.  I say good for him.  He did the right thing.  I stand behind him, and I don't consider him a traitor at all.  A traitor turns his back on America, but Edward Snowden did precisely the opposite.  He turned his back on the government, sure, but America is the people--and that's exactly who he was standing up for.

team edward snowden hero

Courtesty of Siliconrepublic.com

That's my two cents.  I'm all for open discussion, but please, if you post in the comments, keep it respectful.  Or else:
YOU WILL BE DELETED, cyberman, doctor who

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