Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

June 14, 2013

Are we all enemies of the state?

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The United States Constitution defines treason as specific acts, namely “levying War against [the United States], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

FBI Director Robert Mueller said on Thursday that the federal government has launched a criminal investigation and is taking “all necessary steps” to prosecute Edward Snowden for exposing secret U.S. surveillance programs.

Snowden’s crime — as you should be well aware — is exposing a secret surveillance program being conducted by the National Security Agency in which the government was (and likely still is) collecting millions of U.S. phone records along with digital communications stored by nine major Internet companies.

So basically Snowden is being investigated for calling out the American government for spying on law-abiding American citizens. He may be prosecuted for telling the American people that their government is sketchy.

I think it’s safe to say that that isn’t “levying War.” Nor is it “adhering to” our enemies. Nor is it giving them “Aid and Comfort.”

Unless of course, the American people are the enemies.

There’s been much discussion about whether Snowden was right or wrong in revealing what he learned while working as a sub-contractor handling computer networks for the NSA.

Is he a patriot? Or a traitor?

Those defending the PRISM program would say that in exposing the NSA’s methods, he has caused irreparable harm to their ability to conduct counter-terrorism surveillance. I’m sure they’d add something like, “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you haven’t got anything to worry about.”

Those defending Snowden would say that the PRISM program far oversteps the bounds allowed by the Patriot Act and other provisions that have followed. I’m sure they would also argue that those provisions — including the Patriot Act — go too far to begin with.

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