“But over time that awareness of wrongdoing sort of builds up and you feel compelled to talk about (it)… eventually you realize that these things need to be determined by the public and not by somebody who was simply hired by the government.” – Excerpt from Edward Snowden’s Interview with the Guardian
Edward Snowden, the former Booz Allen Hamilton infrastructure analyst who worked as a contractor for the National Security Administration (NSA) has leaked to the public the details of the NSA’s spying program PRISM. As a result of his actions he spent several days hiding in China. On Sunday, he arrived in Moscow and had reportedly applied for asylum in Equador at the time of this writing. He faces a Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal investigation, and is being called a traitor by many in American main-stream media.
On Fox News Sunday former VP Dick Cheney (or as author Andrew Feinstein called him the politician-entrepreneur) stated, “I think he’s a traitor…I think it’s one of the worst occasions in my memory of somebody with access to classified information doing enormous damage to the national security interests of the United States.”
Well, Cheney should know. But I question his assessment of “worst” occasions of somebody doing enormous damage to the United States. Unlike Cheney, Snowden has not facilitated the divulging of the identity of a CIA agent to The New York Times. Snowden has not lied to the American people in order to garner support of the illegal invasion of a sovereign country. Thousands of US troops have not died as a result of Snowden’s actions regarding Afghanistan and Iraq. Basically, Snowden has embarrassed the Government by informing the American people of its highly questionable spying programs.
Unlike Cheney, Snowden’s access to classified information has not provided him financial remuneration. According to Andrew Feinstein’s The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, “Over the seven years that Cheney served as VP, Halliburton [Cheney was CEO from 1993-2000] was awarded more than $20bn in contracts…As VP [Cheney] held 1.2 million Halliburton stock options from which he collected millions every year in dividends…”
As Charles “Chuck” Lewis, the executive director of the Center for Public Integrity stated, “They have classified clearances, they go to classified meetings and they’re with companies getting billions of dollars in classified contracts.”
In 2004 Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) published in Iraq on the Record: The Bush Administration’s Public Statements on Iraq, “a comprehensive examination of the statements made by the five Administration officials most responsible for providing public information and shaping public opinion on Iraq: President George Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.” The report found “…that the five officials made misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 125 public appearances. The report and an accompanying database identify 237 specific misleading statements by the five officials.”
According to the report, between March 17, 2002, and January 22, 2004, Vice President Cheney made 51 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 25 separate public appearances. It said, “The statements began at least a year before the commencement of hostilities in Iraq, when Vice President Cheney stated on March 17, 2002: ‘We know they have biological and chemical weapons.’ The Administration’s misleading statements continued through January 22, 2004, when Vice President Cheney insisted: ‘there’s overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government.’”
One can only wonder if Cheney and his henchmen’s personal financial interests played any role in their “patriotic” decisions to invade Iraq and Afghanistan and mislead the American people into supporting those actions.
Based upon this data, if anyone is going to be an expert regarding “doing enormous damage to the national security interests of the United States”, it is going to be Cheney. This begs the question of why Fox News anchor Chris Wallace failed to challenge Cheney with this data during their Sunday interview.
During the Fox News Sunday interview, Cheney misrepresented the scope of the program when he stated, “When you consider somebody smuggling a nuclear device into the United States, it becomes very important to gather intelligence on your enemies and stop that attack before it ever gets launched.”
Very few people will debate that scenario but according to The Guardian the NSA’s PRISM program required domestic telecom companies to provide “…communication records of millions of US citizens…collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.”
When did innocent American citizens become enemies of the state?
Snowden stated, “I think that the public is owed an explanation of the motivations behind the people who make these disclosures that are outside of the democratic model. When you are subverting the power of government that’s a fundamentally dangerous thing to democracy and if you do that in secret consistently as the government does when it wants to benefit from a secret action that it took.”
Snowden’s statement and motivations made me think about a few lines in the Declaration of Independence, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
The Edward Snowden’s, Bradley Manning’s, and Dr. Daniel Ellsberg’s may or may not be traitors. The American public and history will make those determinations. But when the likes of a Vice President Dick Cheney makes such assertions with his long history of duplicity and “51 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 25 separate public appearances” it makes me wonder how the pot can call the kettle black and go unchallenged.
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the Sirius/XM Satellite radio channel 110 call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Leon” Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email:firstname.lastname@example.org. www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com