U.S. Intelligence Establishment: Hero or Traitor?

By John Perkins

Ever since Edward Snowden admitted that he was responsible for the biggest intelligence breach in U.S. history, the media has been in a frenzy over whether this man is a hero or a traitor. Snowden’s leaked evidence of two sweeping U.S. surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA) fuels the fire of the debate over the clash between national security and privacy.

Daniel Ellsberg, author of the Pentagon Papers, wrote an op-ed for The Guardian claiming, “there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material.”

Among other allegations, Snowden maintains that the US has been hacking public officials in Hong Kong and China for years. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Snowden said that he would put his trust in the Hong Kong legal system over U.S. courts. The first official comment delivered by the Chinese (through the state-run China Daily) stated: “Observers said how the case is handled could pose a challenge to the burgeoning goodwill between Beijing and Washington given that Snowden is in Chinese territory and the Sino-US relationship is constantly soured on cybersecurity.”

The real question is not whether this individual is a hero or traitor. The question we should be asking is whether a country like the U.S. can continue to infringe upon human rights – the right to privacy, freedom of the press, and the right to living in a land with a transparent government. What Snowden did may be illegal, but what about the acts of our government? The killing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan? The use of drones? Eavesdropping? Allowing tax evasion by huge profitable corporations and so much more?

In a republic such as the U.S. with a constitution that protects our rights, there is no justification for spying on all the people all the time. The dangers of these NSA abuses include the fact that many people (from the relatively low levels of employment like Snowden to the top brass) have information on individuals who later may want to run for Congress, the Senate, or the Presidency. Emails, texts, and cell phone calls from their entire lives can be used to blackmail them. We now know that J. Edgar Hoover abused his position of power by collecting private intelligence files on John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and many more. Outrageous as that was it pales in comparison to this modern debacle.

Let’s seek answers to the real questions.
• Rather than asking “did Edward Snowden betray his country?” let’s ask “did his country betray its people?”
• Now knowing what we know, what should be done to end this “big brother” behavior?
• How do we insure protection of our privacy as intended by the U.S. Constitution?

What are your thoughts? Join me in the discussion on twitter by using #PerkinsNSA

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