For me, certainly 2013 was the year of Edward Snowden.
You can look at all of the other stories and none really impact the world more than this one. It turned on a light switch not only here but abroad. His public revelations on the US government's unbridled, unsupervised and unwarranted spying here and abroad touched every person's life. Obamacare, Pope Francis's proclamations, the government shutdown, bills that didn't get voted on -- those all are majorly significant. Yet to know that our government has been, and currently is, snooping on us doing everything from writing an email, to making a phone call, and in some cases to taking a shower, is abhorrent. The revelation that there is no place to hide, that there is no such thing as privacy and that our government officials, while knowing this illegal gathering of info has been going on, have done nothing about it repulses me.
Abuses run deep. So when pointing the finger of blame, I'm quite comfortable in blaming the top dog -- Obama. But I pay a lot of attention to the man who brought this all to light. He surely knows more about the data gathering than most of us do. Maybe even more than Obama does, according to him.
Where does he put the blame for this runaway train of intelligence gathering and invasion of our Constitutional privacy guarantees? He places it squarely on Congress. THE HILL:
Edward Snowden says if Congress had been doing its job, he wouldn’t have needed to leak reams of classified material about National Security Agency programs.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Snowden singled out the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence panels for allowing the executive branch to conduct the surveillance programs.
By neglecting their duties, the two effectively elected Snowden to take the responsibility of leaking the material, the former government contractor said.
Snowden goes so far as to blame two people in particular: Sen. Feinstein (D-Calif.) who leads the Senate Intelligence panel and Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) who chairs the House panel. Snowden professes that if they had done their jobs properly, things wouldn't have gotten out of hand. And maybe he's right.
Did that give Snowden permission to make an unauthorized copy of classified material? That's a decision all of us have to determine for ourselves. Did we somewhere along the line give up our rights to freedom of speech? Did we give up our right to privacy? I don't remember being asked or told that we had. As a matter of fact, all I remember is repudiation that this was being done. Remember James Clapper's denials during the Senate Intelligence hearings?
The so called Patriot Act wasn't the first step in unauthorized spying, but it did open the door widely. And in marched the war hawks who see a threat in everything from peace treaties to their jello desserts.
Why did we let this happen? Maybe someday we'll find out. But what can we do about it now? We need to hold Congress's feet to the fire. Find out why they thought this was legal. Let's bring the Justice Department into this and find out what they knew and when.
Torture is wrong and illegal yet some within the DOJ gave tacit approval to Cheney and Bush to render outlawed actions during interrogations in the Iraq war years. At least 'the gang that couldn't shoot straight' got permission first. It was faulty and limited, but they got it. Did Obama get approval? Did the NSA receive some secret authorization or have they gone rogue?
Now that the cat's out of the bag, I think it's time to turn on all the lights, not just the one's Snowden's switched on. Let's find out if he was a traitor or a hero -- and the same for Feinstein and Rogers.
Feinstein and Rogers have both harshly criticized Snowden over the leaks.
Feinstein has called him a traitor, and both have said he should be prosecuted and have no chance at amnesty.
Complicating matters is earlier this month, U.S. District Court judge Richard Leon granted a request for an injunction that would halt NSA collection of phone metadata on two individuals. He called it likely unconstitutional.
Then last Friday, another layer of confusion was added to flame this conflagration. U.S. District Judge, William Pauley in New York has ruled that the National Security Agency's massive collection of American citizens' telephone records is both legal and useful. In essence, the government's counter-punch to the controversy. But we wouldn't even be discussing it if it hadn't been for Snowden.
Blowing the lid off this whole issue is of international importance. Transparency is needed here. And the two people who seem hell bent on keeping us in the dark are the two Congressional leaders who want to string up Snowden without a trial -- Feinstein and Rogers. If we give amnesty to murderers and violent felons to get to the bottom of the truth, why not with Snowden? Why not learn the entire story from the horses mouth? What harm would granting immunity do? No one's been killed based on these leaks.
Don't you find that a bit curious that the two people who accuse the perpetrator of these alleged espionage crimes are the two elected officials who want him silenced?
Yessirree Bob. I do think when all is analyzed, said and done, Eric Snowden is the biggest story of 2013.