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Author: Subject: The Snowden Principle by John Cusack

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  posted on 6/16/2013 at 08:49 PM
Here's a great article from The Huffington Post written by actor John Cusack on the Prism scandal. I agree with the principle here, but I just don't think any real damage has been caused, unless authorities bring additional attention to citizens for non-terroristic crimes. Then, I'll change my tune.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-cusack/snowden-principle_b_3441237.html


The Snowden Principle
Posted: 06/14/2013 10:45 am

At the heart of Edward Snowden's decision to expose the NSA's massive phone and Internet spying programs was a fundamental belief in the people's right-to-know. "My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them," he said in an interview with the Guardian.

From the State's point of view, he's committed a crime. From his point of view, and the view of many others, he has sacrificed for the greater good because he knows people have the right to know what the government is doing in their name. And legal, or not, he saw what the government was doing as a crime against the people and our rights.

For the sake of argument -- This should be called The Snowden Principle.

When The Snowden Principle is invoked and revelations of this magnitude are revealed; it is always met with predictable establishment blowback from the red and blue elites of state power. Those in charge are prone to hysteria and engage in character assassination, as are many in the establishment press that have been co-opted by government access . When The Snowden Principle is evoked the fix is always in and instead of looking at the wrongdoing exposed, they parrot the government position no matter what the facts

The Snowden Principle just cannot be tolerated...

Even mental illness is pondered as a possible reason that these pariahs would insist on the public's right to know at the highest personal costs to their lives and the destruction of their good names. The public's right to know---This is the treason. The utter corruption, the crime.

But as law professor Jonathan Turley reminds us, a lie told by everyone is not the truth. "The Republican and Democratic parties have achieved a bipartisan purpose in uniting against the public's need to know about massive surveillance programs and the need to redefine privacy in a more surveillance friendly image," he wrote recently.

We can watch as The Snowden Principle is predictably followed in the reaction from many of the fourth estate - who serve at the pleasure of the king.

Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC suggests that Glenn Greenwald's coverage was "misleading" and said he was too "close to the story." Snowden was no whistleblower, and Glenn was no journalist she suggests.

Jeffrey Toobin, at the New Yorker, calls Snowden "a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison."

Another journalist, Willard Foxton, asserted that Glenn Greenwald amounted to the leader of a "creepy cult."

David Brooks of the New York Times accuses Snowden- not the Gov--of betraying everything from the Constitution to all American privacy ...

Michael Grunwald of TIME seems to suggest that that if you are against the NSA spying program you want to make America less safe.

Then there's Richard Cohen at the Washington Post, who as Gawker points out, almost seems to be arguing that a journalist's job is to keep government secrets not actually report on them.

The Snowden Principle makes for some tortured logic.

The government's reaction has been even worse. Senators have called Snowden a "traitor," the authorities claim they're going to treat his case as espionage. Rep. Peter King outrageously called for the prosecution of Glenn Greenwald for exercising his basic First Amendment rights. Attacks like this are precisely the reason I joined the Freedom of the Press Foundation board (where Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras also serve as board members)

As Chris Hedges rightly pointed out, this cuts to the heart of one of the most important questions in a democracy: will we have an independent free press that reports on government crimes and serves the public's right to know?

It cannot be criminal to report a crime or an abuse of power. Freedom of the Press Foundation co-founder Daniel Ellsberg argues that Snowden's leaks could be a tipping point in America. This week he wrote "there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material," including his own leak of the Pentagon Papers.

The Snowden Principle, and that fire that inspired him to take unimaginable risks, is fundamentally about fostering an informed and engaged public. The Constitution embraces that idea. Mr. Snowden says his motivation was to expose crimes -spark a debate, and let the public know of secret policies he could not in good conscience ignore - whether you agree with his tactics or not, that debate has begun. Now, we are faced with a choice, we can embrace the debate or we can try to shut the debate down and maintain the status quo.

If these policies are just, then debate them in sunlight. If we believe the debate for transparency is worth having we need to demand it. Snowden said it well, "You can't wait around for someone else to act."

Within hours of the NSA's leaks, a massive coalition of groups came together to plan an international campaign to oppose and fix the NSA spying regime. You can join them here - I already did. The groups span across the political spectrum, from Dick Armey's FreedomWorks to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and longtime civil rights groups like ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Free Press.

As more people find out about these abuses, the outrage mounts and the debate expands. Many in the mainstream media have shown that the public can't count on them to stand up to internal pressure when The Snowden Principle is evoked to serve the national interest, and protect our core fundamental rights.

The questions The Snowden Principle raises when evoked will not go away....How long do they expect rational people to accept using the word "terror" to justify and excuse ever expanding executive and state power ? Why are so many in our government and press and intellectual class so afraid of an informed public? Why are they so afraid of a Free Press and the people's right to know?

It's the government's obligation to keep us safe while protecting our constitution . To suggest it's one or the other is simply wrong.

Professor Turley issues us a dire warning:

"In his press conference, Obama repeated the siren call of all authoritarian figures throughout history: while these powers are great, our motives are benign. So there you have it. The government is promising to better protect you if you just surrender this last measure of privacy. Perhaps it is time. After all, it was Benjamin Franklin who warned that "those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

See what's happened already in the short time only because the PRISM program was made public, here.


 
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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 12:06 AM
One hopes that the accumulation of recent scandals wakes up enough people from their X-Box/PS3/American Idol slumbers and gets them engaged in the debate. The subject of liberty is at the core of at least three of the current scandals. Not in recent history has there been such an opportunity for Libertarian principles to take hold and influence the national agenda.

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 06:24 AM
People who can not see the broad picture are in for a rude awakening ,we are loosing this country a little bit at a time all the while being spoon fed the words" it is all right " we are just protecting you .

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 07:35 AM
Good article from USA Today about former NSA whistle-blowers, how they tried to report problems internally, how gov't turned against them for doing so, and how they feel about Snowden...

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/16/snowden-whistleblowe r-nsa-officials-roundtable/2428809/

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 09:19 AM
quote:
Good article from USA Today about former NSA whistle-blowers, how they tried to report problems internally, how gov't turned against them for doing so, and how they feel about Snowden...

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/16/snowden-whistleblowe r-nsa-officials-roundtable/2428809/



Excellent article, Fuij. Thanks for sharing it.

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 11:43 AM

Good editorial. As a social and ecological progressive, I don't regret supporting our President. But his continued support of the direction this country has been headed (since 2001) with respect to civil liberties is most disappointing.

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 11:47 AM
Everyone knows how I feel about the Obama administration. Nevetheless, the idea that a barely vetted contract worker could expose classified material and flee to China and not be considered as committing wrongdoing by significant segments of this country is as or more frighteneing to me than anything the government has been accused of doing. If one direction lies the way of tyranny, the other lies the way of anarchy. This man is a criminal and should be extradited and prosecuted.

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 12:36 PM
quote:
Everyone knows how I feel about the Obama administration. Nevetheless, the idea that a barely vetted contract worker could expose classified material and flee to China and not be considered as committing wrongdoing by significant segments of this country is as or more frighteneing to me than anything the government has been accused of doing. If one direction lies the way of tyranny, the other lies the way of anarchy. This man is a criminal and should be extradited and prosecuted.


Did you read the USA Today article Fuij provided above?

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 01:17 PM
quote:
quote:
Everyone knows how I feel about the Obama administration. Nevetheless, the idea that a barely vetted contract worker could expose classified material and flee to China and not be considered as committing wrongdoing by significant segments of this country is as or more frighteneing to me than anything the government has been accused of doing. If one direction lies the way of tyranny, the other lies the way of anarchy. This man is a criminal and should be extradited and prosecuted.

Did you read the USA Today article Fuij provided above?

Unfortunately, this seems to be the trend with whistle-blowers. Once they raise uncomfortable questions of almighty gov't, it's likely that gov't pitbulls will be unleashed upon them.

Try to work within the system; you'll likely be hammered. Take it outside the system; you'll likely be hammered. There's no winning. But thankfully people of conscious still want to speak out.

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 01:54 PM
quote:
But thankfully people of conscious still want to speak out.

Yeah, damn those unconscious people, they rarely sat anything.

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 02:45 PM
quote:
quote:
But thankfully people of conscious still want to speak out.

Yeah, damn those unconscious people, they rarely sat anything.



 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 02:57 PM
quote:
quote:
But thankfully people of conscious still want to speak out.

Yeah, damn those unconscious people, they rarely sat anything.



Got me - conscience - better?

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 03:19 PM
doug - i read the usatoday article this morning. and that kind of sealed it for me that this guy was acting out his conscience. please read the article. i found it enlightening and frightening. frightening because i wonder what i would do in that same situation. continue to lead a comfortable life at the expense of my conscience or lead a life on the run with my conscience set free.

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 03:49 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
But thankfully people of conscious still want to speak out.

Yeah, damn those unconscious people, they rarely say anything.



Got me - conscience - better?

Couldn't resist.

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 06:59 PM
I agree with the priciples of both articles. I wish we lived in a Utopian world like John Lennon's "Imagine". But we don't. We have terrorists trying to kill us. I wish American rights were never trampled by our government, but if that were the case, we might be in a lot more trouble than we are today. This Prism program does invade our privacies, and does go against the Constitution, but it is in our best interest. They are not "out to get" anyone except terrorists. What harm has been caused? What damaged has been caused to the American people, other than some people feeling uncomfortable?

As for Snowden...he willfully pursued a career with the American government. More specifically, he voluntarily pursued a career with the CIA! Everyone knows what the CIA is about, and when you accept that position, you are expected to adhere to the oath. I don't understand this "conscience" crap....nobody with a conscience/integrity would pursue a career with an organization like the CIA, known for its infamous espionage tactics, and expectations as an employee. If someone is so concerned about fairness and upholding rights, the last place you'd apply is the CIA. It seems to me he wanted to cause trouble for the government before he ever applied to work there. I don't know what the appropriate result is for him, but he is no hero.

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 07:39 PM
quote:
As for Snowden...he willfully pursued a career with the American government. More specifically, he voluntarily pursued a career with the CIA! Everyone knows what the CIA is about, and when you accept that position, you are expected to adhere to the oath. I don't understand this "conscience" crap....nobody with a conscience/integrity would pursue a career with an organization like the CIA, known for its infamous espionage tactics, and expectations as an employee. If someone is so concerned about fairness and upholding rights, the last place you'd apply is the CIA. It seems to me he wanted to cause trouble for the government before he ever applied to work there. I don't know what the appropriate result is for him, but he is no hero.

The oath is one's adherence to the Constitution, not whatever policies might be in vogue in a given agency on a given day. Numerous folks saw, up close, that these new tools were destructive to their oath because they violated Constitutional principles. They tried to use the internal pathways available to report these violations, and were destroyed by the system for doing so.

So here's the questions: if gov't is so well intentioned and trustworthy, why did it set about to destroy it's own workers for trying to bring problems to light using the whistle-blower process gov't itself created? If gov't turns and attacks it's own for trying to improve the system, what does that say about what it intends to do with said system and it's output? Why do people trying to ensure that the system runs within guidelines become enemies if the system as a whole is benign to the general public in the first place?

Gov't will never stop grasping at more power and control. To not anticipate this and be proactive in managing it's voracious desires is to not understand it's nature.

 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 07:47 PM
In all seriousness, is the US out to punish him? I haven't heard anything about that.
 

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  posted on 6/17/2013 at 09:11 PM
quote:
In all seriousness, is the US out to punish him? I haven't heard anything about that.

When was the last time the CIA/NSA broadcasted their targets?

 

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  posted on 6/18/2013 at 12:14 AM
quote:
So here's the questions: if gov't is so well intentioned and trustworthy, why did it set about to destroy it's own workers for trying to bring problems to light using the whistle-blower process gov't itself created? If gov't turns and attacks it's own for trying to improve the system, what does that say about what it intends to do with said system and it's output? Why do people trying to ensure that the system runs within guidelines become enemies if the system as a whole is benign to the general public in the first place?


I think it would be wrong to convict him of a crime, since he leaked info about actions against the American people. If he leaked foreign affair data, or foreign policy secrets, then he absolutely should be convicted as a traitor.

 

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  posted on 6/18/2013 at 10:56 AM
Snowden is a H._E._R._0. I think the American public should at least be aware of what is being recorded and that there are the appropriate guidelines in place to avoid a bored surveilance tech from randomly accesssing someones personal informaton with no consequences.

How soon will the NSA compile a data dump of the keywords SNOWDEN + HERE-0 ? I dont want my personal information to bubble to the surface for more NSA fun and games.



[Edited on 6/18/2013 by OriginalGoober]

 

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  posted on 6/18/2013 at 12:02 PM
quote:
I agree with the priciples of both articles. I wish we lived in a Utopian world like John Lennon's "Imagine". But we don't. We have terrorists trying to kill us. I wish American rights were never trampled by our government, but if that were the case, we might be in a lot more trouble than we are today. This Prism program does invade our privacies, and does go against the Constitution, but it is in our best interest. They are not "out to get" anyone except terrorists. What harm has been caused? What damaged has been caused to the American people, other than some people feeling uncomfortable?

As for Snowden...he willfully pursued a career with the American government. More specifically, he voluntarily pursued a career with the CIA! Everyone knows what the CIA is about, and when you accept that position, you are expected to adhere to the oath. I don't understand this "conscience" crap....nobody with a conscience/integrity would pursue a career with an organization like the CIA, known for its infamous espionage tactics, and expectations as an employee. If someone is so concerned about fairness and upholding rights, the last place you'd apply is the CIA. It seems to me he wanted to cause trouble for the government before he ever applied to work there. I don't know what the appropriate result is for him, but he is no hero.


The real question is how a loose canon like this got access to classified information so easily.

 

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  posted on 6/18/2013 at 12:05 PM
quote:
quote:
As for Snowden...he willfully pursued a career with the American government. More specifically, he voluntarily pursued a career with the CIA! Everyone knows what the CIA is about, and when you accept that position, you are expected to adhere to the oath. I don't understand this "conscience" crap....nobody with a conscience/integrity would pursue a career with an organization like the CIA, known for its infamous espionage tactics, and expectations as an employee. If someone is so concerned about fairness and upholding rights, the last place you'd apply is the CIA. It seems to me he wanted to cause trouble for the government before he ever applied to work there. I don't know what the appropriate result is for him, but he is no hero.

The oath is one's adherence to the Constitution, not whatever policies might be in vogue in a given agency on a given day. Numerous folks saw, up close, that these new tools were destructive to their oath because they violated Constitutional principles. They tried to use the internal pathways available to report these violations, and were destroyed by the system for doing so.

So here's the questions: if gov't is so well intentioned and trustworthy, why did it set about to destroy it's own workers for trying to bring problems to light using the whistle-blower process gov't itself created? If gov't turns and attacks it's own for trying to improve the system, what does that say about what it intends to do with said system and it's output? Why do people trying to ensure that the system runs within guidelines become enemies if the system as a whole is benign to the general public in the first place?

Gov't will never stop grasping at more power and control. To not anticipate this and be proactive in managing it's voracious desires is to not understand it's nature.


The oath he gave was to keep the secrets he was given access to. Intelligence cannot function without secrecy. Period.

 

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  posted on 6/18/2013 at 12:06 PM
quote:
In all seriousness, is the US out to punish him? I haven't heard anything about that.


He will be arrested and prosecuted if he sets foot in the U.S. again.

 

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  posted on 6/18/2013 at 12:07 PM
I find it funny that the NSA is now apparently the new CIA right down to the idea that the NSA which operates out of the White House not a separate agency building, is somehow outside the knowledge or scope of the president.

 

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  posted on 6/18/2013 at 12:22 PM
quote:
quote:
I agree with the priciples of both articles. I wish we lived in a Utopian world like John Lennon's "Imagine". But we don't. We have terrorists trying to kill us. I wish American rights were never trampled by our government, but if that were the case, we might be in a lot more trouble than we are today. This Prism program does invade our privacies, and does go against the Constitution, but it is in our best interest. They are not "out to get" anyone except terrorists. What harm has been caused? What damaged has been caused to the American people, other than some people feeling uncomfortable?

As for Snowden...he willfully pursued a career with the American government. More specifically, he voluntarily pursued a career with the CIA! Everyone knows what the CIA is about, and when you accept that position, you are expected to adhere to the oath. I don't understand this "conscience" crap....nobody with a conscience/integrity would pursue a career with an organization like the CIA, known for its infamous espionage tactics, and expectations as an employee. If someone is so concerned about fairness and upholding rights, the last place you'd apply is the CIA. It seems to me he wanted to cause trouble for the government before he ever applied to work there. I don't know what the appropriate result is for him, but he is no hero.


The real question is how a loose canon like this got access to classified information so easily.


I don't want to get into defending Snowden personally, b/c I don't know him or his motives. BUT, speaking of the extent to which the NSA is spying on citizens of this country in generic terms is not a threat to national security. It should provide a legitimate discussion within our society, in the media, and ultimately among our representatives about the issues that pit security against freedom and privacy. At what point have we so blatantly ignored our own principles in order to protect them, that we can no longer claim to be what we claim to be on the world's stage? Instead, we are spending our time ridiculing someone that (ostensibly) did what they thought was right and sacrificed many of their own freedoms in the process.
It is possible he was, at first, no different than any other individual working in a similar capacity....and the more he saw, the more compelled he felt to do something about it. If when push came to shove, his loyalty to the Constitution of the United States of America and to his fellow citizenry trumped his loyalty to a secretive agency supposedly in their employ, then good for him. That doesn't make him a loose cannon. Again, I'm taking the leak at face value.

 
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