Edward Snowden: Guilty or Not?

Maggie Kelso, Writer

By now, Edward Snowden has undoubtedly become a household name. His whistle-blowing, as some have called it, made public many of our great nation’s darker secrets. Scores of information regarding illegal NSA surveillance have been released to both the press and the general public by this disquieted computer specialist. The U.S. government is outraged, and perhaps in some ways it has a right to be. But, just like a man whose been found lying to his wife, our government is now attempting to downplay these revelations by persecuting Snowden for airing its dirty laundry. Overall, however, their response to Snowden’s actions has been appalling.

It is true that leaking such sensitive material breaks several of our countries laws—for example, the Espionage Act, which was enacted in order to maintain such standards of privacy—but the vehemence with which our government has responded to his actions is indicative of ulterior motives behind charging Snowden with two counts of espionage and theft. After all, the NSA surveillance indicated by the leaked documents is against America’s constitutionally supported right to privacy. Edward Snowden’s actions simply pointed out a fallacy in the way a portion of our government’s security forces treated its citizens and did so with pinpoint accuracy.

Does this mean that the U.S. government was justified for once considering the death penalty a viable punishment for Snowden’s actions? Probably not. Though this is no longer a sought-after sentence for him, it is surely no more than a small comfort for a man currently granted political asylum in Russia only until mid-2014. The U.S. government treats him as though he is a traitor. At present, the United States has revoked his passport, and with no way to leave Russia, he is faced with the decision to either return to the United States or continue to flee. Ultimately, for Snowden, this is a choice that is becoming clearer and clearer, as America threatens to place sanctions against the Russian economy in response to Snowden’s sanctuary. One must ask the questions: When does our government cross the line? How can the persecution of one man be so important to us? Such excessive attention shows a lack of judgment toward the proper handling of this situation on America’s behalf. Surely, the government has better uses for its time than chasing a man around the world for the greater part of a year.

In this increasingly ‘Ray Bradbury’ America, Snowden has shown the government that its citizens will take unprecedented action to ensure that our basic human rights are appreciated and respected. Should we always condemn people for simply telling the truth, or for taking action against a world that is quickly becoming like that of a science-fiction novel? The U.S. government might have charged Snowden in concordance with its own laws, but such charges vilify his actions. Snowden’s choices were facilitated and justified by the need for American citizens to know the truth, and, in the long run, our government’s reaction has been an overreaction.

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