Monday, June 24, 2013

Civil Disobedience as Espionage

(c) 2010
I find the uproar over Snowden to be interesting. Snowden is not the traditional Civil Disobedient in the mold of Gandhi, MLK Jr, or Nelson Mandela or any of the other political prisoners including Bradley Manning. The practitioners of classical civil disobedience all realized that paying the penalty for their disobedience was part of what they had to endure and the educative function of civil disobedience was the fact that they went to jail for their beliefs and their refusal to bend to the demands of then current political morality. 
Snowden did not (although he may yet do so) go to jail. That causes me to believe that CD is an ongoing  political event. That being said it does not mean that Snowden is not a whistleblower.  We probably all suspected the existence of the NSA program if we actually thought about the technology available to the Government and the Government's secret contractors such as Bozz-Allen.. All he did to earn the enmity of the right wing noise machine and the various servants of government overreaching such as Feinstein, Schumer, Graham and McCain,Obama and Holder and the lesser lights or dimmer bulbs if you will like King, Gohmert et al was to disclose the actual existence of a tornadic covert program that sweeps up everything its path. He gave us concrete proof, direct evidence if you will  that we are being surveilled by our own Government.  This is not the same as saying that we are currently being listened to by agents of the government or agents of the privatized government such as Snowden's former employer. What he has established is  that all of what we say, hear, speak and write is being vacuumed up and stored for later use. Archived if you will. As someone said recently this is not a search and seizure. It's a  seizure and the search is yet to come. Snowden is going to be used by Chinese and Russian politicians. There is no doubt about that.  That does not make him a bad guy (at least as I understand the term) and much more importantly it does not mean that his disclosures are any the less important to us as citizens off the US. What we make of this is up to us.
Snowden's actions are certainly less criminal than the lies told by James Clapper under oath to congress this past spring nor less criminal than the disclosure of the identity of a CIA operative by Dick Cheney...something that deprived our nation of the services of Valerie Plame as a covert agent of our government.  That was certainly more of an espionage operation than Snowden's disclosures.

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