Pardon Edward Snowden

This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller. You can read the original here


I do not come to praise Edward Snowden, but to pardon him — or at least, to suggest that President Barack Obama do so, if and when he is charged. Even if Snowden has committed crimes, he has done his country, and free people everywhere, a service.

There is heated debate as to whether Snowden is a hero or a villain. Having leaked particulars of the National Security Agency’s information-gathering program, the former CIA employee has given those who would condemn or canonize him much to consider.

He has a hero’s bravery, inasmuch as he opted to follow his conscience and forgo a normal life, honking off the most powerful government on Earth in the process. Conversely, there is some measure of villainy in being given the confidence of an intelligence outfit, only to reveal its methods to the world.

But doing the right thing on a large stage is no proof of heroism. Most heroes don’t get to be famous.

One wishes there were more circumspection from political leaders about the charges Snowden has put forward — that the NSA collects and retains all emails, along with phone records, of U.S. citizens, and has constructed an apparatus for “turnkey tyranny,” in the name of fighting terror.

Instead, we’ve got Sen. Lindsey Graham storming around like Nathan Jessup, insisting these excesses save lives. Sen. Dianne Feinstein accused Snowden of treason. Indeed, politicians of both parties are burnishing their terrorist-warrior credentials by finding new and exciting ways to call this guy a traitor.

Even the most admirable man in American public discourse, Charles Krauthammer, is wrong on this one. He likens the government hoarding private information to police having guns, suggesting neither empowerment is proof of abuse. But besides that the National Safety Council concludes you are eight times more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist, the larger question is what befits a free society.

A common tack of both liberals and conservatives defending government surveillance is to state that it is “legal” and “constitutional,” as though that were the end of it.

In the first place, “legal” has never been a synonym for “moral,” or for “wise.” As to “constitutional,” we have become inured to the notion that just about anything can be judged so, if you read deeply enough into those squiggly letters on parchment.

Lest we forget, slavery was once legal and, by some notorious interpretations, constitutional, too.

But let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that if you stand on one leg, tilt your head, and squint just right, you can somehow read this egregiousness as “constitutional.”

You know what else is “constitutional”? The Fourth Amendment. It reads:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Both cannot be true. Either the warrantless collection of emails and phone data from supposedly free citizens is unconstitutional, or the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment does not mean what it says.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Pixabay
Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

4 anti-scientific beliefs and their damaging consequences

The rise of anti-scientific thinking and conspiracy is a concerning trend.

Moon Landing Apollo
popular
  • Fifty years later after one of the greatest achievements of mankind, there's a growing number of moon landing deniers. They are part of a larger trend of anti-scientific thinking.
  • Climate change, anti-vaccination and other assorted conspiratorial mindsets are a detriment and show a tangible impediment to fostering real progress or societal change.
  • All of these separate anti-scientific beliefs share a troubling root of intellectual dishonesty and ignorance.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less