Whistleblower Edward Snowden: Question of Patriotism

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Whistleblower is not a new topic nor is it a new term, deciding whether a whistleblower is a traitor or a hero relies on the implications of their actions. Is every whistleblower considered to be betraying the company they work for, should they be considered untrustworthy, assuming that they are, then employees who blow the whistle would have to be willing to concede this. Most conceptions of whistleblowing were opposed by contradictions and labeled as infornments. However, lately the situation associated with whistleblowing has decreased due to the work of Edward Snowden and others alike, who had disclosed a ton of very valuable information by leaking documents.

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Snowden is going in history as one of the most important whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for spreading information with the help of Journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman and The Guardian′s Ewen MacAskill were awarded as co-recipients of the 2013 George Polk Award, which they have dedicated to Edward Snowden. There is a lot of conflict towards whether Edward Snowden is a hero or traitor, in a note accompanying a set of documents he provided to the Guardian, he wrote: 'I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,' but 'I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.' (the Guardian, 2019)

Edward was born in North Carolina, at a young age edward encountered problems, he had a serious case of mononucleosis which kept him 9 months straight out of high school which then he made the choice of dropping out of high school and then beginning his journey of studying computer at Anne Arundel Community College, in Maryland.

He later enrolled into the special forces, which is where he broke both of his legs or if he had shin splints is still is not clear yet. After that he worked as a security guard at a college in Maryland, he was then able to land a job with the CIA. Snowden first made his discovery of the corruption in the government while on a mission in Switzerland. That was when he started thinking about blowing the whistle but he left because he grew suspicious there, later on he joined an IT company working as a contractor. He landed a job where he would work in the NSA, which is actually when he noticed a breach in security and thought about leaking it.

Snowden has claimed that his sole motive for leaking the documents was to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them. Arguing in his own defense, by appealing to the interests of the international community, Snowden cites Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He also states: I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience.” Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.” (Tavani, 2014)

Explaining why he decided to leave the US and go to Russia; where he found asylum, he told the Guardian: 'I don't want to live in a society that does these sorts of things… I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded.' The US has charged Mr Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence (UK, 2019).

The global mass surveillance system which Edward revealed to be used to spy on personal communications of Americans, including private emails, without any relevant information regarding why this was done and without the consent of the data subjects or even a warrant. Snowden’s actions made some positive results, it resulted in the US government adding/modifying laws in order to restrict government surveillance and companies as Facebook and Whatsapp started creating and using new and stronger ways to encrypt and protect users personal information.

Greenwald Kilroy: No Place to Hide Produced by The Berkeley Electronic Press, 2016 100 states that he struggled with the decision to make this information public, knowing the possible implications for releasing the actual documents. Yet, he argues in the text that the public’s right to know the extent to which the U.S. government has violated U.S. citizen’s civil liberties by conducting what he considered to be illegal actions clearly superseded the need to protect national security or intelligence sources and methods. (Greenwald, 2016)

The way Snowden leaked the information is questionable, if he was patriotic whistleblower, he would have thought of legal ways to address his pursuit on battling with the NSA. He could have appealed to a higher court, congress members who have been chosen to speak for the American People. Instead, he went straight to Gleenward, other newspaper editors, foreign journalists and made them hold the responsibility to choose and decide which secrets will reach the public domain and which secrets will be kept. What qualifications do these journalists and editors have in order for them to be left which such a decision, while probably their own interests are how much they can profit from these stories and not thinking of how leaking this information could put the US national security at risk.

Snowden claimed that he was doing this to stand for the Americans, meanwhile the information he leaked probably created as much good as harm, because the majority of the discoveries he released were about the U.S. government spying on other countries and not staying with the limits of his country. Which risked the U.S.’s relationship with other nations. If he had been a patriot and only had interests in protecting the American constitution, which he claims he does, he would have shifted his leaks to focus on the information that documented the NSA’s powers in spying on the American people.

Upon discussing this among the members of the group, I was opposing his way of treating the information he had, but giving more thought on how he was very pressured and as we discussed, he was probably in shock with what he had found and thought about releasing it before the NSA find out that he had stolen information and to be fair we can’t expect him to do right every step of his way while he was in life threatening situations. But we thought that if he had gone to someone of higher power in the NSA instead of the press it would have been much easier to protect himself in court.

Snowden would like to come back to America, he has asked for a public trial by jury, and the Constitution guarantees that he is entitled to one. Presumably it would be in Hawaii, where his offense took place. Snowden fears a closed court proceeding, but said he would return if assured he'd receive an open trial. There is no good reason that should not be the case (Goldfarb, 2017). 

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