Monday, December 30, 2013

Yes, there's an NSA spying scandal--it's just not the one everyone's talking about

The far Left and the far Right are full of paranoid antigovernment zealots who think Snowden is a hero for revealing the gummint's evil plot to spy on us all. But it wasn't and isn't, as a less paranoid court recently adjudicated (on this case's way to the Supreme Court).

The real scandal is how the National Security Agency let someone--not even an employee, but an outside contractor--steal a boatload of Top Secrets. That reveals a kind of incompetence that's truly scary. Heads should roll when we find out how this happened.

Of course the Republicans don't care whether our security apparatus works well or not--only whether they can lay their hands on a lever that can get them back into the White House.

As for Snowden--he isn't a whistleblower. A whistleblower is a member of an institution who comes to believe that the institution he belongs to does bad things in the dark that conflict with the things it says in public.

Snowden has stated that he sought the position he held in order to steal secrets from the NSA and reveal them. That makes him a spy in doing so--and remember, someone can be a spy for money or for ideology. They're a spy either way.

And then he revealed things about American spying activities that damaged our national interests. Since Snowden is an American citizen, that makes him a traitor. And now he's promising to reveal further secrets about America in exchange for residency and protection in another country.

It is true that whistleblowers are frequently punished severely for their actions. That's unjust and corrupt, but it isn't germane to Snowden.

The question for those inclined to treat Snowden as a hero is whether they're taking into account the damage he did the nation in the course of making his revelations.

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