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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If the folks here who question Ed Snowden's motives will read James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me, they will understand America better. It's subtitled Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.

First published in 1995, it reached and remained on best seller lists. About his 2007 Second Edition, he says "It's safe to say that Lies didn't influence textbook publishers very much."

One hostile reader called it "Marxist/hippie/socialist/anti-American/anti-Christian."

I can't make a decission on Snowden exactly because I don't have all the information. Possibly in the end what he did will come out as a good thing. Going through "normal channels" doesn't always work.

Going through channels does not work! I know from sad experience and do not trust my government to act in my interests. I don't know that it ever has. I read the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration as a school girl and fell for the concepts of equality and justice. I failed to realize the limits our documents put on women and people of color. I know, now. These documents were written by white, male, lawyers, landowners, leaders with an agenda that did not include working people, women, or people of color (I hate that phrase). 

If I fail to understand what is true, I will fail to understand the limits placed on people who work for a living, or who own small businesses. With a corporation being a person, we lost whatever government we had for the people. When a corporation goes to the death chamber for a crime, when it pays its fair share of taxes, when it includes workers in pension sharing, when it empowers individuals to flourish in exchange for the work they do, I will reconsider my position. 

Folks who repeat the slogan "We are a nation of laws, not of men" have stopped thinking.

They have closed their minds to at least three realities:

Laws are written by men, interpreted by men, and enforced by men.

That slogan does what slogan-makers intend; it stirs an emotion and people stop thinking.

Tom, you are correct in your description. Too bad a little 10 year old girl couldn't figure that out. I like your reference to stirring emotions that stop thinking. Sounds like religion, doesn't it! 

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.

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.




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