At a press conference, President Obama refused to characterize N.S.A. leaker Edward Snowden as either a whistleblower or a patriot. He countered those descriptions by saying the debate going on in this country about N.S.A.(National Security Agency) spying was something he had already put in motion and "...we would have arrived at the same place we are now whether Snowden's leaks had occurred or not." The President was lying.
At a hearing of his judiciary committee, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy also condemned Snowden, but then in the next breath admitted the debate on this subject could not have taken place without the information he revealed. Leahy, along with Oregon Senator Ron Widen and Colorado Senator Marc Udall, admits all of this information was classified...no one could mention it publically...senators who had concerns about civil liberties and the 4th amendment had to raise those concerns in private out of the public eye...his hearing would never have been possible before Snowden.
We now know the head of national intelligence, James Clapper, lied in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Asked if the N.S.A. was vacuuming up billions of bits of information about American's phone calls, emails and all online activity, Clapper said no such program existed. He dared to lie in front of senators he knew could not contradict him in public and he didn't care if a rebuke came in private. After Snowden's revelations, Clapper had to publically acknowledge his lies. He will suffer no punishment for his actions. (do you remember what they tried to do to Roger Clemens for supposedly lying about BASEBALL?)
Recently, the House of Representatives came up 7 votes short in an attempt to end the N.S.A. spying program. Democrats and Republicans showed bi-partisan outrage for what they had learned from Edward Snowden about this unprecedented government intrusion. Is there any doubt about whether this amendment and subsequent vote would have taken place if Snowden had stayed quiet?
Obama promised some reforms of the N.S.A. spying. Maybe they will look at a few less calls...maybe they will open up the secret F.I.S.A. (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court to more scrutiny...maybe there will be an oversight group which will include some civil libertarians. Despite these inconsequential, and by no means guaranteed, steps the president did not narrow the scope or continued overreach of the spying. It will be business as usual for the N.S.A. Obama said he welcomed this debate and now we know why....it was rigged.
The past couple of weeks show in clear details how Snowden is the classic whistleblower. He was an insider who saw something wrong. He knew enough to realize any complaints or concerns he might have will go nowhere if he presents them through regular channels. He has to go outside the government to get anyone to pay attention. As all whistleblowers learn first hand, he also discovers he will be vilified, pursued, attacked and portrayed as a traitor by those protecting the status quo...all for daring to air the dirty laundry of the N.S.A. and this administration in public. Despite, or maybe because, he didn't believe his country would punish him for committing truth, Snowden went forward. He didn't trust the corporate media for good reason, so he went to the British newspaper the Guardian and journalist Glenn Greenwald. He knew they would publish what he had.
The result is Americans, and now Europeans, are aware of this massive invasion of their privacy. France, Germany and other members of the European Union, have discovered they and their citizens are being spied on and they want answers. If Snowden doesn't blow the whistle, everyone goes along in blissful ignorance at how the 4th amendment has been severely compromised.
If the President doesn't want to call Snowden a patriot, it's only because he and his administration got caught with their fingers in the cookie jar. He knows there is no distance he can put between himself and Bush/Cheney on national security policy. His legacy will "not" be one, which differentiates him from the Bush era. He has compromised all his promises on creating a different model of government on national security and civil liberties.
The president will not meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin. He was perfectly willing to meet with Putin despite Russia continuing to sell arms and anti-missile systems to Syria prolonging the Syrian civil war and creating severe national security problems for this country...despite Russia's refusal to agree to stringent sanctions against Iran for attempting to build a nuclear weapon...despite Russia passing a law making it illegal to support homosexual rights threatening gay athletes who compete in the Olympics in Sochi. However, when Russia granted Snowden asylum, now the president has had it and won't sit down with Putin. Snowden took a huge swipe at the emperor's clothes and in sticking his head up found out there are quite a few people who want to blow it off.
As far as patriotism is concerned...a patriot loves his or her country; wants the best for it, wishes it to live up to its principles. An American patriot wants the government to honor the constitution and be honest with the people. Snowden had access to the deepest, darkest, most sensitive secrets this nation owns. He could have revealed information compromising covert agents and operations, (like Cheney did to Valerie Plame), identities, intelligence practices as well as real-time information on our very real enemies. He consciously chose not to reveal what he knew. He didn't sell secrets to our enemies, like the Walker spy ring, or give it away out of ideological convictions like Jonathan Pollard. Snowden blew the whistle on something hidden from Americans which he felt they should know. He walks in the shadow of Daniel Ellsberg and others who would not go along to get along nor were they willing to just look the other way.
President Obama was at the podium of a press conference talking about the N.S.A. because of Edward Snowden...the House vote was because of Edward Snowden...Leahy's hearings were because of Snowden...Clapper's come to Jesus moment about his lies was brought about by Snowden...any kind of new oversight of the N.S.A. is because of Snowden...America could use a few more Snowdens.
N.B. The recent closing of Embassies in the Middle East and other areas has been seized upon by N.S.A. defenders as proof of how the agency works and the efficacy of its spying and intercepts. These defenders crow at how critics will now have to be silent and the criticism of the agency will go away. Really? Communications between Yemen and Pakistan were intercepted revealing a possible plot. No phone calls to America...no American emails...no Americans in a chat room or searching Google for a good Ethiopian restaurant...no American nexus at all. How did sucking up every bit of online activity by average Americans result in information about threats to foreign embassies?