No, Obama’s Remarks on Changes to NSA Surveillance Programs Don’t Vindicate Edward Snowden’s Actions

edward-snowdenPresident Obama recently held a press conference where he announced several modest changes to how the NSA can collect data and how they handle their surveillance programs.  Changes that apparently neither NSA opponents nor NSA defenders are happy with.

Well, the cheers of “Edward Snowden the patriot” have suddenly become louder as his defenders see this shift by the Obama Administration as a direct result of Mr. Snowden’s actions last year.

And on some level, they’re right.  Snowden’s actions are responsible for much of this being brought to the public’s attention.

But that doesn’t make him a patriot and Obama’s comments damn sure don’t vindicate what he did.

By just what I’ve witnessed, Snowden is an arrogant individual who did this for his own personal reasons.  This wasn’t a selfless act of heroism, it was one man’s quest to try to make himself a celebrity.  I really believe he thought he would do this and there would be countries all over the world fighting for the right to offer him asylum from United States prosecution.

He didn’t leak this stuff, then stay in the shadows.  He didn’t take a few carefully selected pieces of information and leak them out to the American press to bring to light.  No, he took the information, ran to China then began giving interviews with foreign news agencies.

He wanted to become famous for doing this.  He just thought after he did it that things would go much differently for him.

While I’ll admit some of what he exposed is stuff the public should have known, there are ways to do things and ways not to do things.  This man has actually tried to use some of the information he has to bribe other countries into giving him asylum.  Essentially he’s willing to sell out the United States and our information to save his own ass.

Those aren’t actions of a hero and they’re sure as hell not the actions of a patriot.

Liberals often don’t like my stance on our national security, and that’s fine.  But I see national security for what it is — something that 99.99% of Americans know absolutely nothing about.  We have no idea what has been prevented due to these programs.  But I do know if we were to be attacked, much in the same way we were on 9/11, millions of Americans would be outraged over the “failed intelligence” that left us vulnerable to that attack.

Just look at President Obama.  He was fairly pro-transparency on issues such as our national security prior to moving into the White House.  Then it seems once he actually learned the insides of what presidents find out — his stance seemed to change.

Does it ever occur to people that there’s a whole lot going on in the world of national security that we don’t have a clue about?  That there’s a reason why a lot of this needs to be kept secret?

Isn’t it kind of ridiculous that we build these strong opinions about our national security when we honestly have no idea what really goes on?

Americans love our freedom and security, but the truth is we really don’t want to know how we keep it.

It’s like the analogy I used about steak.  Millions of Americans love a good steak.  Just most of them don’t want to meet the cow or see how it was butchered before eating it.

What Edward Snowden did was illegally take millions of classified documents, went public with them — then tried to turn himself into a celebrity.

Hell, did you see the ridiculous video he released around Christmas?  He went on some rant about children never being able to know privacy and how we carry around with us devices which allow us to be tracked at every moment (I’m assuming he meant cell phones).

Snowden said:

“A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalysed thought. And that’s a problem because privacy matters; privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.”

What the hell does that even mean?  Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be?  Actually sociology says our peers, environment and family are the biggest determining factors in how we turn out and ultimately who we choose to be.

What he said is just some babbling philosophical b.s. that might sound great to those who want to agree with him — it just doesn’t make any sense.  It’s nothing more than over the top rhetoric.

Besides, who was really “shocked” by what he released?  It’s been my understanding, judging by many of the reactions that I’ve seen, that most Americans kind of figured this was going on anyway.  So was anything Snowden “brought to light” really that groundbreaking?

I hate to tell you, but the Patriot Act is just window dressing.  These agencies will get into whatever records they want to, at any time they want to, whether or not they have congressional approval to do so.  And that’s not a Bush thing; or an Obama thing; or a Democrat thing; or a Republican thing — because I promise you it’s been going on since the dawn of national security.

And again, heroes and patriots don’t run to places like China and Russia while blackmailing the United States.  He wants to act like he’s disgusted by how the United States behaves — while he saves his own ass in Russia?  A country with horrific anti-LGBT policies and almost assuredly has far more invasive spying programs that we do.

It seems he had no problem accepting temporary asylum there because that benefitted him.

And if you don’t believe that he hasn’t turned over some of that information to the Russian government, you’re fooling yourself.

Edward Snowden strikes me as a guy who’ll say or do whatever he can to save his own ass.  He pretends to live on this high ground of morality without seemingly once asking himself what him leaking this information out might do to our national security in the long run.  All while he seems to have no issues seeking refuge in Russia, basically an enemy to the United States, and a country whose government is far more corrupt.

So, while I fully admit that Snowden is partially responsible for these revelations about the NSA spying programs that led to President Obama announcing moderate changes in how information is collected, that’s not a vindication of his actions.

What he did goes beyond a simple “leak” about the NSA controversially tracking phone records.  He made sure to make this about himself. He’s used information to try to bribe other countries into offering him asylum.  He’s taken up in Russia and has almost assuredly given them some of the information he has and he’s leaked information about our spying programs on other countries in what appeared to be nothing more than an attempt to entice some country into offering him protection by making them angry at the United States.

His actions aren’t those of a hero, but of a guy who seemed to have a plan — but that plan fell completely apart.  Now he’s doing whatever he can to save his own ass and has shown he has no problem selling out the United States government to other governments that are probably doing the exact same thing as long as it might benefit him.

So I’m sorry, but Edward Snowden being right about a small percentage of something simply doesn’t nullify everything else he’s done wrong.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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