View From The Middle
Edward Snowden could be Everyman, with all due respect to Philip Roth. The undistinguished North Carolina native, who grew up in Maryland not far from the headquarters of the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), certainly looks ordinary: bespectacled, rather intelligent looking, not necessarily a “clothes horse,” yet not someone who would stand out in a crowd.
But Edward Snowden has a secret.
No, Edward Snowden has several million secrets.
How he got them and what he’s going to do with them is now the question that is befuddling to the Intelligence community of the U.S.A. Some are saying that he is guilty of espionage and out-and-out spying. Some say he’s just over-enthusiastic and, well, a patriot. Word came only a couple of weeks ago when Snowden told a British newspaper, the Guardian, his whole story, but what grabbed me most is his quote: “I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity….”
What purity of thought! What NAÏVE purity of thought!
What he has disclosed to the world are some of the most revealing secrets ever perpetrated on individual Americans; nitty-gritty stuff that at one time you wouldn’t think twice about when talking on your telephone or cell phone or over the Internet. In his quest for “truth,” as part of his work for the CIA for ten years and then as a contact in Hawaii for the NSA, he has recorded statistics on everything from what kind of garbage cans you use to, well, what kind of garbage cans you DON’T use.
Problem is, he has only revealed what the GOVERNMENT has been putting under surveillance all along — actually for years. Can we all be surprised at this? How many times have you been talking to a friend and jokingly said something that could be construed (or misconstrued) as a terrorist-like statement and, laughingly, we’d say, “Whoa! Better stop the conversation…. Big Brother is probably listening in!”
Well, what do you know??? Big Brother has been there all along! You know it and I know it and, oh, yes, those terrorist types know it too. And, somewhere in the back of our minds, we thought about George Orwell’s Establishment and how that totalitarian government has been looking over (and under) our shoulders all along!
It’s not that Snowden is necessarily so deep, but, come to think of it, it seems that if he had clandestine activities in mind, he certainly WOULD head to China or Iran or some other anti-American country and, at worst, make a pile of money out of his motives. There are only a couple of reasons the 29- year-old high school dropout would take part in whistleblowing the biggest intelligence leak in the history of the NSA, equivalent (if not worse) to the “leaks” perpetrated by Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning.
In a note accompanying his first interviews by the Guardian, he said, “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, but I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.” He knows, probably better than most people, what kind of sophisticated technology is available to CIA operatives throughout the world and how easy it will be to just grab him off the street and throw him into the nearest jail until he’s extradited. As if they don’t know EXACTLY where he is now.
Later, he told his interviewers that he evaluated every single document that he disclosed to ensure that each was “legitimately in the public interest,” noting that there were many others that would have made a deeper impact “because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”
Edward Snowden might be a traitor — or he might be a hero. I think it’s anybody’s guess right now, although I would prefer to lean on the side of patriotism; however naïve it might be.