The world is not as large as it once was. In an age of the internet and social media, people from opposite sides of the globe can interact almost as if they were in the same room. Yet the same technology that has made life so much easier and more efficient also has a dark side. Privacy, often assumed to be a fundamental right, has become increasingly rare. In a fast paced world it is easy to take things for granted and assume that one’s rights will always be intact. That is why Edward Snowden is not a traitor. He has brought to the attention of the world that which would otherwise be kept in the dark.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution says that the people must be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects unless a warrant is issued. Further, no such warrant can be issued except when there is probable cause. In other words, the government must actually have a reason to search through someone’s belongings, and the must be able to give evidence of that reason to a judge.
One could, of course, argue that digital information is not the same as personal effects and that there is no expectation of online privacy. Since there were no computers when the Bill of Rights was written, it is a moot point. Clearly though, the concept of privacy was something that was important to the America’s founders.
By revealing many of the NSA’s secrets, Snowden has caused a major public relations problem for the NSA and the United States government as a whole. However, the NSA has only itself to blame. If the government violated the privacy of its own citizens, then the American people ought to know the truth. Snowden is not a traitor for telling the truth. Sometimes the truth is painful.
By blowing the whistle on what he saw as a constitutional violation Snowden showed patriotism. In any case, Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution says that treason only consists of waging war against the United States, adhering to its enemies, or giving them comfort or aid. One could possibly twist the situation to make it seem as if Snowden has given aid to his country’s enemies. If so it would only be indirect and unintentional. He certainly has not been waging war on the United States.
For what it’s worth, according to an NSA memo, Snowden stole a password from a fellow employee in order to get access to classified material. In fact, he has been alleged to have obtained passwords from multiple people. If true, one might wonder at the security being employed by the NSA.
So why is it that some people, like Congressman John Boehner, insist on calling Snowden a traitor? Certainly Snowden did break laws, but by calling him a traitor attention is focused more on his crime and less on his message. If the message that Snowden brought forth is true, shouldn’t that be where the attention is? Snowden is not a traitor, unless standing for principle is counted as treason.
Editorial By Zach Kirkman