NSA vs. SNOWDEN: A POSTSCRIPT

27Dec13

While starting the construction of a new blog relative to interviewers, it was noticed that a federal judge declared that he believed the NSA’s spying on the American people would be unconstitutional and several people are suggesting that pardons would be in order for Mr. Snowden if there would be guarantees that the rest of his information would not be released (while yet another judge just issued his take on the matter that the NSA’ spying was constitutional).     When doing the above background work, I rediscovered several journalists who had maintained a great deal of creditability relative to defending our freedoms through the Fourth amendment.   I found some of the statements that were made by Edward R Morrow very relative to the government’s responsibility to the people they serve and its need to be open and honest and they caught my eye.

Sometimes (I believe) our country has not always made the “right” decisions relative to what our founding fathers “envisioned” that a fair and just people would do under “all” circumstances.  We fought a war with ourselves over slavery and the subjection of a specific race of people inferring that they were less human because of the color of their skin.   We moved indigenous people from their land with the simple justification that they didn’t deserve to be there.  We refused the right of franchise to a major segment of our population because of their sex.  We fought another war against another country while interning those people of the same ethnic background.  And we’ve chastised (castigated in some cases as well)a group of people because of their sexual preferences using religion as a justification.

We’ve also used patriotism as a justification to force citizens to enlist in our military and we’ve branded anyone who doesn’t believe in the government’s rules as traitors simply for questioning its actions (as seen recently by a group of people to alleged that Mr. Kerry was less suitable to fulfill the role of President because of his questioning our governments justification for waging a war in Vietnam after serving heroically in it).  We allowed J. Edgar Hoover to amass personal information on Americans which had the effect of intimidating anyone that he thought was a threat to what he believed was his American ideal (or a threat to his power base).  And lately we’ve been very “anti” towards anyone (other than the rich or super intelligent) wishing to migrate to this country, or have snuck in even if their services are quite depended upon economically. 

As (true) Americans, we should be aghast at these actions and we should be vigilant to all actions which might cause these inequalities to exist or perpetuate them.  It was the hope with my generation that by using education all of the above would be eradicated and we would all be a better people for it.  However, this it appears that this ideal has failed to materialize and so many citizens have been left out of the value of the education this ideal envisioned.  Through technology, our government has acquired the ability to assess every person’s value system and, with that the possibility, it has the ability to modify anyone’s behavior at its will.  It is not sufficient to assume, or accept, statements promising that such powers will not be misused.  We have seen case after case already of such misuses.  Some cases in point are how religious beliefs were used to instill fear about potential leaders and their policies as was the cases associated with Kennedy, Romney, and Obama.  Mental stability questions were used to question the stability of Eagleton and Goldwater.  And there have been a number of political candidates and office holders who have been purged due to sexual activities.

I wish to delineate a strong difference between the actions of Aldrich Ames, along with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to make sure that their intentions are not confused with Americans who believed that our government has overstepped its bounds.  In a free society bound by laws protecting the rights of its people through a set of codified laws outlining limits of conduct, everyone has a responsibility to protect those ideals against infringements which might occur whether imagined or real.  The basic (and only) difference between our society and a totalitarian one is that the questioners are allowed to present their concerns without intimidation, threats, or abuse through conversation and law.  When one’s recourse is so limited or restricted, the moral recourse within our system must provide an option to circumvent normal channels to raise legitimate questions and we call this process “whistle blowing”.  Deepthroat (and there was a reason that his name was never disclosed until recently) used it in the case of Mr. Nixon’s abuse of power and Joseph Wilson used it relative to weapons of mass destruction relative to the Iraqi war.  Is it not possible that both Bradley (Chelsea) Manning and Edward Snowden have both acted in the same way for the same reasons?

Where would we be today if   Edward R Morrow hadn’t decided to take on Joseph McCarthy, the Senator from Wisconsin, who characterized anyone who didn’t agree with his views as being communistic and a threat?  One of his statements, “If we confuse dissent with disloyalty — if we deny the right of the individual to be wrong, unpopular, eccentric or unorthodox — if we deny the essence of racial equality then hundreds of millions in Asia and Africa who are shopping about for a new allegiance will conclude that we are concerned to defend a myth and our present privileged status. Every act that denies or limits the freedom of the individual in this country costs us the … confidence of men and women who aspire to that freedom and independence of which we speak and for which our ancestors fought” Dan Rather stated when asked about Morrow, “What separated Murrow from the pack was courage” because of his willingness to put his ideals above his securities (i.e. personal status, wealth, reputation etc.)and thus he made a difference that reaffirmed our rights to our individual beliefs without fear of intimidation.  Walther Cronkite made the same impact when he stated in a newscast that “we have lost the war in Vietnam” after he had visited the country and saw firsthand what was happening there.

Other cases, which affected the “all men are created equal” statement in the Declaration of Independence and the fourteenth amendment’s reaffirmation that “no state shall…deny to any person… equal protection of the law” clause of the constitution (and lets face the fact that had we not won the revolutionary war along with the war of 1812, our founding fathers would have all been convicted of treason and the two aforementioned documents would have been less than footnotes in history),  include Roger Sherman Baldwin and John Quincy Adams’ willingness to defend the right to freedom of the slaves aboard the La Amistad in 1839 who had mutinied against the crew to regain their freedom.  In retrospect the defense of these people created a great deal of consternation among our government, many of our southern citizens and foreign governments.  When the Supreme Court ruled in their favor, it became the precursor to the beginnings of the Civil War which occurred some 20 years later.  But without the convictions of a few brave men who believed that enslavement was wrong and were willing to stand up and fight for such principles no matter what the current government said, the emancipation proclamation may never have occurred.

Both Susan B Anthony and Margaret Sanger faced extreme pressures as they attempted to change political restrictions of our country through the democratic process and their beliefs transcended the current laws of the land which cause tremendous backlashes as well as personal attacks, which in some cases are still not accepted as part of the “law of the land”.  Ms. Anthony championed women’s suffrage while Ms. Sanger chose to support the right of women to choose their own destiny.  Although women do today have the right to vote, their decisions relative to birth control are still in question.  And likewise, even though people of color legally have been given the rights to expect the same treatment as other segments of the population have, there are still many “Americans” who do not accept that right.  Those people working for our government must be given the same protection to inform us, the people, of actions which may be deemed as inappropriate and castigated when questions arise. 

The one certainty about this issue is that it will be brought before and adjudicated by our Supreme Court which is what should happen in this matter because of its importance.  We are supposed to be a country governed by law and the established laws were put in place to protect us.  The question concerning our privacy and the governments right to spy on us is just in its infancy and when one learns that our government has also sought to make every communication device open to its scrutiny relative to inscription source codes within all of these gadgets, we should really become concerned that it already may be too late to restrict our governments agenda!



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