Many of us can remember last year’s breaking news that sent the heads of thousands spinning. Edward Snowden’s release of thousands of intelligence files from the U.S., UK and Australia brought dozens of news forces to focus on this story. No one would argue that Snowden’s actions were not influential, viral or powerful. Few would contend that Edward Snowden still stands as an icon of cultural freedom.
It’s therefore very interesting to hear Sen. Rand Paul’s recent comments on the nature of Snowden’s actions, and his overall standpoint of how related events with the National Security Administration have been received with the U.S. Paul himself has not often been well received with his own Republican Party members, but has nevertheless provided in-depth and worthwhile commentary on the climate of national security since Snowden’s file leaks.
With the type of groundbreaking and arguably game-changing actions that Snowden took, most people would feel inclined to rapidly pick the side of bashing him. Paul was much closer to hitting the nail on the head by offering up more statements that backed Snowden up rather than statements that criticized his actions. Last Saturday, the Kentucky Senator released such comments at an event held by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Citizens United.
I would favor the side of Snowden having taken the actions of a lionheart more emphatically than Paul, however. Edward Snowden took a large risk, but the wake of his choices has the potential to help him stand in history as an icon of cultural freedom. The Senator’s comments as they related to Snowden’s operations of justice were more inspiring. I completely agree with Paul when he said that there is essentially no chance that the information Snowden brought into the open would have been disclosed outside of such actions.
It also appears to make sense when Paul mentions that it doesn’t seem logical that Snowden is currently staying in Russia, a country that due to its recent political actions does not seem the most promising of shelters for people like Snowden. The country is also not known for its bolstering of civil liberties.
Snowden could easily be using this to his advantage, however. The U.S. is not likely to be able to engage harmoniously with Russia any time soon, and so by remaining there, Snowden could have a cover of sorts through the fact that it is not presently a favorable territory for the U.S.
Droves of people consider Edward Snowden a traitor. They view his bold initiative as a series of actions that only brought about further conflict and frustration, both at home and abroad. I would posit that without Snowden’s actions, the U.S. would have far less of an idea about how much the truth really needs to be told.
Take for instance the car you drive, and think back to the point at which it was purchased. Now imagine if surveillance equipment was installed in your car, unbeknownst to you. After having seen your car up close for a long enough period of time to move forward with concrete evidence, your friend makes the move to inform you of the state of your car. You would be shocked, of course, but you would undoubtedly thank your friend for the courage they had to step forward as they did. You would likely be more displeased with the dealership you bought the car from, rather than your friend.
It is like this fictional example that the choices of Edward Snowden echo in real life. For a country that works so hard on maintaining its most fundamental freedoms, the U.S. needs to realize that we need truth-brandishers from time to time, or else we risk the freedoms that we possess to speak out in the first place. The freedom to do anything worthwhile in life comes at a sacrifice, and Edward Snowden will undoubtedly stand as a cultural icon of the freedom he sought for each individual to experience.
Opinion by Brad Johnson