I just watched an interview with Brian Williams and Edward Snowden.
Is Snowden a hero or villain? I'm curious about what others on atheist nexus think.

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Joan, it sounds very much like religion.

Government and religion are natural allies and evangelicals all but own the GOP.

And to think, the Repub Party's current troubles started in the 1950s when Bircher Repubs started expelling moderates. A recent history of the Party reminded me that they had called Eisenhower a Communist.

I see it as good news that in some states Chamber of Commerce Repubs are refusing to support TP Repubs, and even supporting Democrats.

Here's an interesting take on the issue by Charlie Pierce:


Charlie wrote, "uncertain people is a people easily led." That is absolutely the way life is! 

"uncertainty" is the key. It is how you erode inconvenient freedoms and the institutions designed to protect them from within. You make lawyers uncertain whether they can talk to their clients. You make sources uncertain whether they should talk to reporters. You create a climate within a self-governing citizenry in which certain unspecified offenses against order carry certain unspecified punishments. You create a nation that is gun-shy of its own founding principles, and you make its people gun-shy about standing up for themselves. You control the shadows in the inaccessible parts of the government. You can make those shadows fall wherever you want. And, those people will console themselves with the idea that "everybody knew" this was going on after 9/11, or with the idea that, hell, Amazon has your information, so what do you care if the NSA has it - those people should notice that this isn't about "national security" and terrorism any more."

Emphasis mine.  

In order go to the media you can't go with just your word alone - you need proof.  In every instance I have read or heard about there has always been that little requirement called "fact checking" everything before its printed or put on the air. (Granted there are some in the media who are a little lax on this matter.) Often newspapers and magazines will sit on information for a long time, in one case for over a year, before they print anything to make sure the information is correct.  In spite of our laws which guarantee Freedom of The Press, there are restrictions that can result in libel charges, et al, if they print things that are not verifable.  

Our current administration is very edgy about leaks of any kind, as have been those in the past.  Newspapers often call the White House to announce they are going to print things that may be in conflict with the administration.  To think for one moment someone can just call up CBS, NBC or any other network or newspaper and tell them you have some "whistleblowing information" without supplying them with written and verifiable information, and think they will take your word and run with it, would be delusional.

Snowden acquired the information, planned who he would release it to, and then released it. For him to say he "knows about" what is happening within the NSA without actually providing the proof would have been foolish and no one, including me, would have listened to him. After all our airways are filled with people spouting off and saying they know critical information and yet cannot provide verifiable proof.   Whether everyone agrees, we are a pretty much a Show Me The Proof kind of society.  Releasing anything but the actual files would have been a waste of his effort and he would have been quickly silenced and prevented from doing anything meaningful about it in the future. 

Breaking the law can not be okay for one entitity and not the other.  The NSA was breaking the laws of the U.S. by spying on and gathering information of our people.  Snowden is said to have broken a law to stop it.  I consider his actions justiable civil disobedience, a practice that has been existence for a very long time and, unless the government squashes it, we can only hope it will continue. 

It was my opinion and I tried to write it that way - as an opinion.  As long as you are happy with the power we have given to our government and are happy with the way they conduct themselves, it is not for me to try and change your mind or be confrontational at all. 

Yes, we have laws.  Some of them good and some of them bad.  Some were written and passed soley for the benefit of individual groups, and often to further empower our government.

One particular bad piece of legislation which indirectly led to Snowden's action is The Patriot Act. It was passed to further empower our government in their search for terrorists, or at least that is the reason they used.   It has some rather interesting parts to it which affect our daily lives.  People have been up in arms and protesting it for some time.  It still stands.  Many of our lawmakers signed it and didn't even read it.

We are all debating whether Edward Snowden was right or wrong and yet few of us discuss the Patriot Act. When we have laws which allow our local police, county sheriffs,  state police, Homeland Security, FBI, NSA, DOJ and other federal entities to come into our homes without warrants, search our email and other electronic transmission without a warrant then the people in general, in my opinion, really have to be willing to take a stand. If The Patriot Act had not expanded the government's right to gather information, in my opinion, the Snowden episode may not have happened.  Instead of fighting back about that particular bad law we attack Snowden who did something about it.  

I agree with you on the warrant thing, Freethinker31. I personally don't know of anyone given a warrant and subjected to search and siezure. I also find no evidence when people go out of their way to claim Obama wants your gun, FEMA death camps, or any other such politically generated nonsense. I do believe, however, that most of our e-mail is read and gone through often in sifting for useful information on terrorism. In these readings names are not even noted unless something appears amiss. In other words, your affair and secret sexuality are safe unless you are planning some terrorist acts somewhere.


Another brutal truth I learned while I was doing hardball politics:

The best slaves of all are those who believe they are free.

And yet, F31, you repeat yourself so often.

Does nobody else find the Snowden situation to be peculiar? The most notable whistleblower in history is sitting comfortably at arms length from the country that clandestinely usurped the basic rights of its citizens, which form the basis for which its Constitution was constructed? The surveillance programs of this country became far too large to hide anymore, physically and financially, so their exposure was becoming inevitable. Knowing this, the government would be stupid to not do their best to control how that exposure unfolds.

I'm not the least bit convinced that Snowden is not a part of that controlled release. He sits wherever we're told he is, while we are told he cannot be extradited, time goes by while the citizenry slowly succumbs to the fact that regardless of what we think our rights are, we now have zero rights to the reasonable expectation of privacy.

I see Snowden as far more of a tool for generating talking points and discussions than an authentic whistleblower. That reality is easily masked by all the support and outrage exhibited by the pawns in this game. Eventually, the boil will transition to a simmer, once we have been adequately acclimated to our new environment of massively invasive surveillance, all supposedly the response to the terrorism boogeyman.

fwiw, I see Snowden as an authentic whistle blower, not as part of a conspiracy to acclimate us to the controlled release of information.  It's a thought that I didn't have before, but it doesn't strike me as plausible as the idea that he's just what he presents.

As to what I think overall about Snowden, I guess I have mixed views.  

So a government goes to the extreme of secretly using hundreds of billions of tax dollars to build, staff and maintain secret facilities to spy on those citizens who contributed those tax dollars, and you find it implausible for that government to conjure up a false narrative as part of an effort to stay in front of the inevitable disclosure of what it did? Why? Because the false narrative would be dishonest?

Mind you, meanwhile the country borrows money at a reckless rate, building a deficit that will burden many future generations, while simultaneously ignoring badly deteriorated infrastructure. All for what? A program with a zero percent success rate for doing what we are told it is meant for? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the true objectives of this surveillance program have nothing to do with fighting terrorism.

This is the real purpose of the current state of surveillance in the US:





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