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JDPriestly's Journal
JDPriestly's Journal
September 18, 2013

Beecause the US does not respect our human rights enough to treat Snowden with respect for the

service he rendered to our democracy.

The people who defend the NSA have not thought through what the surveillance means for our country. In the late 1970s when the Supreme Court ruled that police may collect metadata, they were deciding a specific case concerning the collection of evidence in the narrow facts of a legitimate investigation of a crime that had occurred. That is not what the NSA surveillance is about. Not at all.

You have a First Amendment right to freedom of association. That means that Congress can pass no law that permits anyone in government to interfere with your free association with anyone in the world. The First Amendment arguably does not apply to foreign nationals outside the US. But it most definitely applies to all communications of Americans. It is not a freedom that is limited geographically to "within the United States," not in my reading of the plain text. It prohibits the government from limiting the association of Americans, period. That is my opinion. If the Congress has enabled the NSA to collect all the metadata on your communications, how can you or anyone else associate with others or ultimately organize freely?

You have a First Amendment right of freedom of religion. That means that the government cannot pass a law that authorizes any employee to limit your right to freedom of religion at all. But if the NSA can collect your metadata without any cause at all, much less probable cause, how can you really be free in your religious search, expression and association?

You have a First Amendment right of freedom of the press. That means that the government cannot pass or impose any law that abridges (limits) your right to read any news or obtain any information from the media that the media can provide. How can you enjoy the freedom of the press if the NSA is spying on reporters to discover their sources?

And in that context, think of Thomas Paine. He published the documents that stirred the hearts of the patriots in our American Revolution. The NSA and our government would surely have threatened him as they threaten Edward Snowden. We are supposed to be a country that encourages freedom of information and free dissent. A criminal, including terrorists, is defined as one who has committed a crime. How can a journalist be a criminal under the First Amendment? So why should journalists be under investigation.

Our government is far too dependent on its secrecy laws for keeping the peace and establishing what it considers to be "security" in the country. Think about what happened with the Occupy movement. Were they a threat to the security of the country? I don't think so. A messy inconvenience at most in all places in which they were nonviolent. (And that was most everywhere.)

The NSA and our military are a small elite in the country. They are not elected. They barely even answer to our elected officials. They have willingly and conspicuously lied to our Congress. We should be finding out much more about what is going on in their hidden, undemocratic, possibly very corrupt halls. The existence of such a "special" protected cabal within our otherwise democratically elected government is a huge threat. Snowden and his revelations are no threat at all compared to the threat of this very powerful, very secretive clique in our government. Which, by the way, has taken access to all kind of information that could be used to intimidate or blackmail at the NSA's whim.

The NSA spying is incompatible with even a shadow of a democracy. It makes a mockery of everything that previous generations of Americans fought and died for. It is in my opinion unconstitutional.

There was a time when slavery was considered to be lawful, to comply with the Constitution. The NSA spying enslaves our communications, and will destroy what we have left of democracy. I know this sounds extreme, hair-on-fire they say. But think about it. If you do, you will agree with me.

Of course those under 65 probably did not take a good government course and probably never really learned much about the US Constitution. The Nixon administration and the right wing of the US got so scared after the Viet Nam demonstrations that the serious study of government was all but removed from high school curricula.

To whom did the files that Edward Snowden allegedly "stole" really belong? To that elite clique in the NSA who were never elected and who live and "serve" through series of weak administrations and snub their noses at money-grubbing members of Congress, waiting until they get the right court in order to expand NSA power?

No. The files that Edward Snowden "stole" belong to you and me and every other American.

So, no. I don't see Edward Snowden as the person who violated an enforceable law here. He was acting in the greatest American tradition which places limits on unrestrained, out-of-control authority in a nonviolent way.

I don't think of Edward Snowden as a hero. I think of him as having done the job that others in the NSA should have been doing on behalf of his employers, the American people.

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