I think we can all agree on one thing: Edward Snowden is a whistleblower. What many of us can't agree on is whether he is a traitor or a hero. And today, I know what it feels like to be called a traitor; because my own fellow liberal Democrats, my fellow progressives on the left are calling me a sellout ... for being honest. Here's the truth: I trust the government more than I trust Edward Snowden.
Where should I start? How about the fact that the American government's been obtaining phone records from as far back as 2003 when it started with AT&T and that is known by the American people. How about the fact that many of these companies provide your phone number, email, etc. to corporations which call, email and solicit your business as consumers? How about the fact that anyone can read Facebook or Twitter and that any computer geek can hack into your email? So what is the big revelation? Where is the spying?
PRISM is a program that was described to me as the government getting shoes from all of us, storing them in a huge warehouse and then when they're investigating potential crime or terrorism, they specifically look for, let's say, red patent leather shoes, size 6 1/2, with 3 inch heels, beige interior with a peep toe and bow on the back. Then they look through that information. Get it? It's not monitoring our phone calls. And in this case, they do it with both legal and Congressional approval.
And I'm not alone in my lack of fear of our government. Pew research shows that 51 percent of Americans don't mind their phone bills being obtained, and by a margin of 2 to 1, they favor security over their own privacy. As with myself, most Americans know they have nothing to fear if they have nothing to hide.
Now, let me talk about my issue with Mr. Snowden and why I do not perceive him as a hero. I don't trust him. Why? Here's my list.
- He only went to the Washington Post with his information, demanded they print what he provided within 72 hours and to their credit, the Washington Post said no because they wanted to verify his information. He said he wanted to help Americans, yet he went to a British newspaper after approaching only one American news source?!?
- He lied about his salary. He claimed to make $200,000 when he made $122,000. He lied about his girlfriend. He said she was a ballerina, but she is a pole dancer. (And as someone who took ballet as a young girl, I can assure you that there was no pole.) Maybe I watch too much "Law & Order;" but if he lied about that, what else is he lying about??
- He claimed he could "wiretap" the president. Without revealing my source, that's B.S. Someone at his level, even with his security clearance, could not just wire tap the president. Period.
- Also, if he was helping Americans, then why reveal himself? You know he will benefit from this. This guy's an egomaniac; someone who feels superior to us. Criminal profilers and psychologists will tell you so; don't just take my word for it. He did this for personal gain – that's my gut, my woman's intuition; and mark my words, he'll make more than $122,000 off of this.
- Lastly, Snowden states that he had enjoyed a "very comfortable life," but one marked by mounting disillusionment with what he views as government intrusion into the private lives of American citizens. "I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under," he said. So he moves to Hong Kong?!? Part of Communist China?!?
A hero doesn't run, a coward does; or someone who wants their name in lights or a great book deal – which I suspect he's already signing as I write this.
I leave you with these two things America: First if the government's PRISM program or reading an email has or can save one life from a terrorist is it worth it? And second no matter how much you think our privacy is being trampled on, having lived in other countries, I can tell you from experience that on our worst day, we're freer than any other nation hands down. You can take to the bank; but you won't hear it from Mr. Snowden.
- Read Robert Schlesinger: The Story Behind JFK's 1963 Landmark Civil Rights Speech
- Read Anneke E. Green: Bush and Bolick's 'Immigration Wars' Points the Way on Reform
- Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad
Corrected on 6/12/13: An earlier version of this blog post incorrectly identified Edward Snowden's girlfriend as a stripper. She is pole-dancer.